I’m super honoured to have my friend Amanda share today on Refresh. As long as I’ve known Amanda, she’s been a refreshing person to be around and has a good balance of when to say no to extra things. I so appreciate what she shared with me and I know you will enjoy it too. Thanks again, Amanda!!
Breanne asked me to write a guest post on the theme of “Refresh” and my immediate thought was, “I don’t take time to refresh myself… I have no idea what to write about!” I’ve been surprised by how much time I’ve had to spend considering the theme and what it looks like in my life; I usually don’t have time to be refreshed in the ways that people write about in those “Top 10 Ways to Relax” lists – life is just too busy!
But I realized I do find ways to be refreshed that work for me and my life. My health suffers when I push myself too hard and don’t give my brain and body a chance to relax and be refreshed. I’ve learned the importance of letting go and not letting the to-do list control my every waking moment, but it takes effort to choose to live that way. The to-do list will never go away, but I need to give my brain a chance to step away and reset so the demands of life aren’t so draining.
The amount of time and the method used to feel refreshed varies depending on the day or season of life. When I was single, I would sometimes just cuddle up in a comfy chair and stare off into space daydreaming or I would spend four hours on a Saturday watching movies and giving myself the perfect pedicure; I no longer indulge in those luxuries.
I grew up in a big, busy family and I think it trained my brain to regroup and refresh in a short pause – with three younger brothers, that’s usually all the time I had available. The challenge is choosing to take that necessary pause. Sometimes spending a few seconds to look out the window at the light in the trees and appreciate the beauty is all I need to step away from the task at-hand before diving back into life feeling renewed. Other times it takes more time and effort to create a place of calm.
One of the best things I can do to refresh my soul and mind is to do something artistic. Photography is the hobby I’m most known for, and it does relax me, but often creating something with my hands brings me to a deeper place of calm. Earlier this year I couldn’t find decent postcards for the women at my sister-in-law’s baby shower to write on (I planned to send her a postcard each month throughout her first year of motherhood), so I decided to try drawing and painting simple cartoon animals on watercolour paper postcards. I was shocked by how deeply I felt the refreshment after taking time to be creative! It had been years since I did anything artistic like that, but I realized I needed to make it more of a priority in my life.
My husband once called me on his way home and asked me how I was doing before asking with a smirk, “Are you at Michael’s?” He knows me so well. I love spending an hour or two wandering around the craft store, developing ideas, admiring the pretty things, and gasping at the prices. Whether I use my 40% off coupon or leave empty-handed, wandering around gives me the chance to pause and enjoy things that encourage my creative side.
We try to protect Sundays to relax and not do any chores, but when we start feeling overwhelmed with running around after work and watching our weekends book up far too fast, we mark the calendar with a quiet evening. We brew mugs of tea, toast banana bread and wear flannel. Sometimes there’s a specific topic we need to sort out, but often our conversation just wanders. We laugh at our lazy dog or talk about our dreams for the future.
Sometimes I let my mind drift over decorating ideas for the living room because it makes me feel like a ‘proper wife’ who has time to make the house pretty. I haven’t had time to buy curtains or display pictures, but thinking about it somehow makes me feel better (we got married 19 months ago and 13 of those months have been spent renovating our home with both of us still working full-time).
Hunting suits me well – outdoors, quiet, beautiful, and time with my husband away from the busyness of life. He says I’m his favourite hunting buddy because he gets kisses and eye candy on the trail.
Before Tony leaves for work each morning, he wakes me up and we chat for a few minutes and then he lays his hands over mine and prays for us and our day. Those little moments are soul-food for me. We finish each day praying and reading the bible together – I must admit I often struggle to focus and stay awake, but I love it. It’s not an intense time of studying; it’s a time of quiet together with God. It’s a time when we can unravel our joys and desires and share them with God and each other.
It brings a different kind of refreshment compared to photographing autumn leaves or enjoying a piece of fresh pie, but it makes me pause in the midst of life and think about the things that really matter.
An effective way to adjust my attitude and unwind is to stop focusing on myself and do something for somebody else. I know that doesn’t sound fun – isn’t refreshment supposed to be about me-time? But helping someone else, even in a small way, brings joy and refreshment to my soul. Little things like passing along my shopping cart to somebody else and not taking their quarter, smiling at the check-out clerk and asking when her shift is done, giving a meal to a new mom, telling an older woman her outfit looks cute, or helping lift a stroller over a curb. It doesn’t take much, but it turns me away from just focusing on my life to bringing light to someone’s day.
I’m refreshed when I stop dwelling on what needs to be done and instead pause to do something that feeds my soul.