My Year of Living Deliberately

I don’t have enough time. Or money. Or control of my life.
And I’ve realized that’s all my fault.

For quite some time I’ve been living in survival mode. I think we all hit that sometimes, when we’re just holding on, trying to keep lives and spouses and children together, barely squeaking by month-to-month, existing with an underlying anxiousness that at any moment, something may fly off and send the precarious balance of our lives in a tailspin.

I’ve also realized that’s a stupid way to live, and I can actually do something about it.

I’ve realized I can live Deliberately. (Yes, with a capital D.)

Some weeks ago I read these words by Quentin L. Cook, and apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

We need to recognize that there is a seriousness of purpose that must undergird our approach to life and all our choices. Distractions and rationalizations limit our progress.

This has become my mantra for 2015.

My life is more than halfway over.
At age 45, I suppose I’ve hit some kind of midlife crisis.
Where I work I see many people in their 60s, 70s, and 80s, and I’ve noticed two different groups.

 One group is always in survival mode, and rationalizing that way of life. “I can’t lose weight. I can’t be better. I’ve always had bad genes. I’m going back to the doctor for another prescription. I need more help. ” They whine, they complain, and they age rapidly.

The second group—and I work directly with several in this group—are living Deliberately. “I’ve given up sugar and soda, and I feel so much better. I’m exercising more now than ever. Yes, I have some aches and pains, but that’s not going to stop me from working today. I’ve got babysitting my great-grandkids today after work.” They smile, they tackle their challenges, and they’re aging hardly at all.

In Falcon in the Barn (yes, it’s still on track to come out in early spring!) Perrin is thrown into a level of depression he’s never before encountered. He no longer acts, but is acted upon. Not too give too much away, he becomes a shadow of the man he used to be, and he hates it.

At some point in editing those chapters, I realized I had fallen into the same slump as Perrin, frustrated with my feeble attempts to reduce our debt, to improve our home, to make some progress in my life. Nothing was happening as I wished, because I was letting our circumstances work on me, instead of the other way around.

I’ve observed that successful people have Deliberateness in their lives, a seriousness of purpose, an attitude of I refuse to be the victim. As Cook said, 

My concern is not only about the big tipping-point decisions but also the middle ground—the workaday world and seemingly ordinary decisions where we spend most of our time. In these areas, we need to emphasize moderation, balance, and especially wisdom. It is important to rise above rationalizations and make the best choices.

So, tired of limping along, I have decided 2015 will be my year of Deliberateness—my year of making every choice one of careful examination, and wasting nothing. I’ve distinctly felt God nudging me in this direction for the past few weeks, and I’ve learned that it’s never a good idea to ignore the promptings from the Almighty. And to hold myself accountable (because accountability is the essence of life) I’m proclaiming my goals here.

First, I’m Deliberately trying to write neater, which may not sound like much, but I haven’t been able to decipher my own penmanship for a decade now. I pulled out a leather journal given to me eight years ago which I never before dared to use, bought myself a mechanical pencil, and have already filled three pages with completely legible writing.
I had no idea I was capable of that.

Second, I’m Deliberately eating better. I have issues with gluten, and at Thanksgiving realized I needed to limit my diet again. It was either my brain, or my bread. Since I’m a bit on the zombie side, I decided BRAINS! I Deliberately chose better foods, tried some vegan dishes, and limited my intake of sweets, all in an effort to improve my health.

Something shocking happened. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s I LOST 8 pounds! The last time I lost weight over the holidays, I had to give birth to a baby. Eating healthier was SO much easier. I’ve discovered that I like cilantro, brown rice, and quinoa. (I even know how to pronounce quinoa properly, too.) At this rate, I might actually become the weight I’m supposed to be by the end of summer.
I had no idea I could do that.

Third, I’m Deliberately reducing my time in frivolousness. That means that although I’m a reading junking, I’m refusing to read every little post, link, or meme on Facebook, and I will no longer waste time on silly quizzes that tell me the color of my wind (I’m suspecting it’s brown).
Before I started writing my book series, I gave up watching TV (never miss it), gave up my magazine subscriptions (never miss those, either) and deleted Scrabble and Free Cell from my computer (the only games I ever played). Suddenly, I had enough time to pursue my real goals. I Deliberately follow only two blogs, and when I go to Pinterest, I’ve vowed it will now be ONLY to find a new vegan recipe.

I’m also now writing a tongue-in-cheek pregnancy and baby care book, and reducing my dawdling on Facebook and Pinterest gives me the time to do that as well.
I didn’t realize such a small change could make such a big difference.

I love how Cook puts this:

Sometimes it feels like we are drowning in frivolous foolishness, nonsensical noise, and continuous contention. When we turn down the volume and examine the substance, there is very little that will assist us in our eternal quest toward righteous goals. One father wisely responds to his children with their numerous requests to participate in these distractions. He simply asks them, “Will this make you a better person?”

I desperately want to be a better person.

So I’m also Deliberately going to bed earlier and Deliberately getting up the first time my alarm blares.

I’m Deliberately scheduling time to write and study, and I’m Deliberately watching my bank account every day. I will Deliberately pay an extra $5 here and there to chip away at the debt that plagues us, and will keep track to prove to myself that every little bit really does help. I may be chipping away at an iceberg with a butter knife, but it’s better than pretending that iceberg isn’t about to engulf me.

Yeah, that’s a big list. I’m going to fail at all of those points at some time or another, but so what? I’ll Deliberately begin again. And again. And again. Because at some point when I was writing about Perrin’s struggles (don’t worry—no spoilers here) I realized that if he could make some changes, certainly I could as well.

Because I’m running out of life.
I’ve got less than half of it left, and I want to be healthy enough to play with my three-year-old’s children when he eventually has them.
I want to be mentally, physically, and spiritually strong enough to help all of my nine children when they need it.
I want to write another dozen books.
I want to work long enough to drag us completely out of debt.
I want to be the one pushing that friend’s wheelchair in thirty-five years, not the one riding in it.
I want to look back on my life with few regrets, and I want to feel that I took charge of my circumstances, and lived a Deliberately full life.

When Perrin woke up, he wanted that morning to be significant, to be the day he was truly a new man. He could no longer allow himself to be consumed by himself. There were too many other people needing him, and he could no longer remain indulgently weak. . . .
What was his goal today? Not to be the kind of man the world wanted, but to be the kind of leader the Creator wanted him to be. 

~Falcon in the Barn

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