Before the day begins, and by that I mean before you start ‘doing’ all the things you usually do in the day, before you get going and are off and on your way, stop.
What is one of the first things many people do in the morning after settling in and beginning to get ready? People these days go online. It’s 7.38am and I’ve been up since 5.50am (this night owl’s attempts to become more of a morning person are beginning to bring forth some fruit, albeit gradually 🙂 ) and I spent the first hour and a half or so offline, in this beautiful little analogue world 🙂
I encourage you to take some time before ‘switching on’ to the busy, noisy world around you and the online world, as inspiring as it can be, to wait, to breathe in this morning, your own morning, and connect with your own life. How did I spend my time? In prayer, in writing down my thoughts as they came to me, thanking God, gratitude, a little bit of colouring in my yearly planner and a picture I’m working on, drinking tea and eating breakfast without distraction. I feel all the better for it. To be honest my mood wasn’t the best at the start but spending some time just connecting with my own life without comparison has lifted me. I now feel more motivated to continue with my day – prayer, Bible study, exercise, work, and all that the day holds for me. Even if you have just five or ten minutes to spare at first, just take that time, to switch on internally before you switch on any devices. It will help you embrace the day with greater authenticity and inspiration. Be blessed. x
Challenge: What would you do with that ‘analogue time’ in the morning?
Working in an office, a factory, on site, or even potentially from a home office depending on how you have set things up, can leave you feeling a bit detached and disconnected from the beauty of life, if you’re not careful.
I think one of the most uplifting and refreshing things in life is to be in the midst of nature. There is something about the slow, steady, seasonal and gentle pace of watching life grow that helps take us out of the frenzied hurry we often let ourselves be drawn into.
This lunchtime, I walked 3 times around my building, as it is a lovely sunny day with blue skies which can be a rare occurrence here. I sometimes go to the park, but it is a longer walk, and I have to cross traffic, etc. to get there. However, even though I didn’t get to the park, there are trees nearby, and some greenery edging the circumference of our office building area. Maybe not a lot, but enough to contribute to the satisfaction and peace that feeling more connected with nature, even just a little more, can bring.
Maybe you are in a busy central location and don’t have much greenery nearby. Maybe you work in an industrial, built up area, where everything seems to be “bricks and windows, windows and bricks” in the words of Willy Lowman (‘Death of a Salesman’ – Arthur Miller). That doesn’t mean you can’t introduce some indoor plants to your work space, maybe some succulents that are low maintenance – I keep meaning to find a cactus and give it a little home on my desk at work. These small changes can be good for us over time, and bring little bursts of happiness into our day, leaving us feeling even just that little more connected with that beautiful, natural and peaceful way of life that being near nature, and greenery brings.
For some reason, society in general views single adults negatively. Romantic relationships have become something of an ‘idol’, a false ‘god’ that we fall down and worship as the ultimate source of happiness, fulfilment, joy and purpose in life. In magazines, television, film, online and among family and friendship groups, falling in love, getting married and having children is viewed as the purpose of life, and if you haven’t ‘achieved’ this in life, you may be looked upon with pity, while other people attempt to ‘fix’ whatever they think is ‘wrong’ with your life by looking for someone to complete you and fill the void in your lonely heart and life.
Don’t get me wrong, I recognise love, marriage and family as an important part of life, and a gift from God, for the purpose of honouring God. Ever since I was a little girl, I saw that as a big part of my life, but for whatever reason, it hasn’t worked out that way so far. And if I allow myself to be honest, I think I am grateful for this. Still hopeful for the future, but grateful for the present. I am very unlikely to idolize marriage in the way many people do. Christ is first in my heart and mind, and I am so thankful for that. I am more aware of the reality of marriage from my friend’s lives, that they are not always the ‘fairy-tales’ they once dreamt of, and therefore I am not looking to another person to be emotionally resilient for me, which I have learned to be for myself. Even if you are not a Christian, these lessons still apply.
In times past, and if you have read any of Jane Austen’s novels you will be well aware of the societal norms of the time, marriage was closely related to social class, division of labour, financial stability, life expectancy and gender based roles, and the separation of work and home life. Therefore, to not be married by a certain age would be to have a somewhat insecure place in society and with fewer opportunities especially for women, single women beyond a certain age would generally be looked down upon old maids with no future prospects, and the gossipy societal view of such women would be particularly bleak.
However, times have changed, and although our desires for love and companionship and family for the most part remain, singleness can be viewed very differently in today’s society at least in most Western countries. Young and ‘middle aged’ women and men have more opportunities available to them, generally have longer life expectancy and therefore what was once considered middle aged in the past can still be considered young today.
And yet, some of the stereotypes (for example the single woman alone in an apartment surrounded by cats…where on earth did that come from?!) remain, and may even be ingrained in the psyche of certain generations. For whatever reason you find yourself at your particular age and stage and season of life as a single person, I invite you to ditch the stereotype and lie that your life can’t be purposeful, abundant and fulfilling. We can be a generation that inspires, that views this time and season of our lives as single people, whether it turns out to be temporary or ‘permanent’, as one in which we can be world changers, inspirers, people who put something positive into the world and make a difference.
And if you want to sit in an apartment full of cats, then that is your choice….but it is by no means your destiny! 🙂
Everyday, take a few moments to think of 5 things that you are grateful for about your work / work place. You might be surprised both at how much negativity you may have absorbed from those around you, or that you yourself have contributed to, and also just how much you have to be thankful for regarding your working life.
It can be all too easy to get caught up in the cycle of negativity, but you can change things and increase your happiness and satisfaction at work as well as contributing to a more positive environment and working life for your colleagues. This is so simple, you can think of the 5 things, or if you wish you can write them down every day.
When thinking about this today, I realised that one of my ‘5 a day’ was that I have developed some long standing friendships with people from work, who I didn’t even work in the same team with, and some of whom have now left the company, but our friendships continue, and I still have a couple of good friends at work. It may be rare, but it is something to be treasured and very thankful for.
What about you? Do you have something you can think of to be thankful for about your work today? Do you enjoy your tasks, work in a clean building, have a canteen, a park or shops nearby, friendly colleagues? Try to think of more positive things than negative, and see how your wellbeing at work improves over time!
Sometimes mornings can be hard. We know what we want our ideal morning routine to be like, but maybe we’ve had a bad sleep, have chronic health problems, wake up in physical pain or simply just “get out on the wrong side of the bed” as the saying goes.
It can be too easy to let our not so great morning experience dictate the rest of the day for us. We might think the day is over before it’s started and already be wishing for another new day, or be thinking about getting everything over and done with and curling up in bed.
But with that outlook, have we given our day a chance? Think of your day as a story, a narrative, a novel in miniature even, and you as the protagonist – the hero or heroine of your story. So, the opening scene happens to be a bit gloomy, but that simply builds suspense and anticipation, for the hero / heroine to find that determination and courageously write a new story for themselves. Look up, have faith, and put your best foot forward, even if your first steps were a bit of a stumble into the day….the day isn’t over yet, give it a chance, who knows, the conclusion of the day’s story might be pretty wonderful indeed! 🙂
Do you ever find that some mornings you wake up and feel bright, positive and eager to make the most of the day ahead, while on others you feel more unsettled about your life and yourself? You know those days, when a thought, a seed of doubt or anxiety creeps in, and suddenly you are drawn towards thinking of the things that make you insecure about yourself as you stand, bleary-eyed in front of the mirror? I am sure that everyone has had mornings like that. And with the thought comes an emotion, and if we’re not careful we can let this slip into a negative frame of mind, and negative ‘self talk’.
Our Creator made us and sees the beauty in us as His Creation, individual, unique, special. And yet our society is so focused on an airbrushed external version of life that we can be left feeling inadequate and critical of ourselves. In the morning, I like to remind myself of the Truth of who God says I am – ‘fearfully and wonderfully made’, precious in His sight, important to and uniquely loved by Him.
Yet, there is another component to our thoughts, and this is what we say to and about ourselves and how we talk to ourselves. No matter what you believe in terms of faith, everyone has ‘self talk’, and the morning is a good time to be aware of how we are approaching our day, what we are saying to ourselves, and find ways to intentionally be kinder to ourselves in our thoughts and actions. Would you say what you are saying to yourself to a friend? If you did, would they still be your friend? If something is amiss, then it’s a good point in the day to change our thoughts before going off into a world that is already critical enough of everyone. We need to be kinder to ourselves, and in turn to others. And don’t you think this morning is as good a time as any to say something kind about yourself? I encourage you, right here, right now, be kind. x
Do you find yourself trudging through your working week – whether you work for an employer, work from home, or are your own boss – wishing that the weekend would hurry up and arrive already? If so, you may not be doing yourself many favours. Think about how much of your time is portioned up with work, whatever type of labour that may be. If you work a standard 7 day, 9 – 5 work week, then that is a huge chunk of your time. It is wonderful if you love and enjoy your work and find meaning and purpose from it, but I personally think that even if you aren’t doing exactly what you always wanted to, a lot of the value you find in work will come down to your attitude – do you view the challenges and opportunities in work negatively? Or can you view them with a positive attitude? You will have come across people, perhaps the majority of people who always have something to moan or complain about with regards to their workplace, even if they have relatively good conditions. Are you one of those people? Do you tend to comment that you can’t wait for the weekend to arrive? If so, try to look at things differently and if you already do, then find ways to inspire other people…inspire them not to wish their lives away and find the positive in their work day – and if you can’t find something positive – then be the change you wish to see and create it! Enjoy your day 🙂