7 Practices for 2013

I’ve already begun incorporating some of these practices and resolutions into my life. I like to ease my way into resolutions; never pushing too hard or expecting huge change. I sort of nudge and gently flow my way into healthier, happier ways of living. Last year I made one, small daily change that ended up having a huge, positive impact on my life: exercise. I plan on continuing (and building upon) that in the coming year.

1. Early bedtime + daily naps. I am already in bed by 9pm each evening. And each day, at 2pm, I take a 20 minute nap. I’ve learned the hard way that getting 8 hours of sleep every night is simply non-negotiable. There is simply no substitute for a good night’s sleep. This is a practice I plan on continuing. The one area where I need improvement is in taking my daily nap.

2. 5:30am exercise. Taking care of myself first thing each day is so important to my overall well-being. I attend bootcamp 4x a week. I plan on continuing this. The one area where I need improvement is adding a stretching/yoga regimen into my weekly schedule.

3. Weekly date night + therapy. The sad truth is that we’ve totally neglected spending time together alone. But now that our oldest can babysit, we really have no excuse. I used to work on Saturday nights. This year, I plan on saving our Saturday nights for our marriage.

4. Disciplined writing time. I’ve discovered that I work best in the morning. However, I run out of creative energy by 2pm. My writing hours are 8:30am-1:30pm. After that, I eat lunch, take a nap and spend the rest of the day caring for my family. I need to improve my lunch time plans: healthier options, advance prep.

5. Read more. I’ve decided to read the Business section of the newspaper every Sunday. I don’t understand business and money. But I want to learn! I’ve also decided to read poetry in Spanish. I took three years of highschool Spanish. I can get by–a little. I want to improve my Spanish by reading poetry and listening to music. I’ve also decided to read more fiction this year. I’ve focused almost exclusively on non-fiction and memoirs in the past three years. I need to branch out a little bit. Recommendations?

6. Try to read the Bible again. One of the lingering effects of fundamentalism is that I still have trouble reading my Bible for personal study and reflection. Going to Mass and hearing Scripture sung or read aloud (without an overlay of interpretation) has helped relieve some of my anxiety. But I would like to find a method of personal study that I can do at home, too. I also want to read the Catholic version of the Bible–including books I’ve always ignored like Tobit and the Book of Wisdom. Ideas for reading Scripture in a non-threatening way? 

7. Play with my kids. Sometimes I feel more like a janitor than a nurturer. I want to make more time for playing with my kids because THEY love that. Kids’ love-language is play. I’m always glad I make time to take them on outings, read books together, act out a story or do something special together. I can make this happen by scheduling activities in advance. 

How about you? What are your practices/resolutions for 2013?

  • http://www.on-the-other-hand.com Lydia Schoch

    I have only one resolution this year – to be more diligent with my writing. At the moment I tend to write in spurts. Either everything gets written or nothing does. Often I put off projects until the last minute as well.

    I’d like to be steadier in 2013.

  • Elizabeth

    I like your list and your approach to resolutions – not January 1 or bust, but more of a slow and steady lifestyle change. I’m inspired by you to think that way about any resolutions I have as well!

    I love, love, love reading fiction, but tastes vary so much that I don’t often give recommendations. What sort of fiction do you enjoy? Modern/historical, realistic/fluff, mystery/action/romance? My favorite author of all time is Dorothy L. Sayers, who wrote mystery novels in the 1930s, most notably her Lord Peter Wimsey series. I like her more romantic-themed books better than her straight mysteries, but I really love her whole series. Her plotting is excellent and many people love reading her for the 1930s setting, but my favorite aspect of her books is the character development and her portrayal of relationships. Sayers was an academic (attending Oxford before they granted degrees to women) and she wrote Christian apologetics as well as fiction. She’s not to everyone’s taste, but if you’re genuinely looking for recommendations, I’m tossing her out as my fave. :)

  • http://twitter.com/SandraHeretic Sandra

    I like #6. I have Bible PTSD, too. I have been looking for a couple years now for a way to study the bible again. I’ve tried different versions, definitely don’t use the version you grew up with, but that only helped very minimally.

    I like to hear the Jesuits’ Pray-as-You-Go podcasts (but I don’t do it often enough) and hearing their daily scripture is nurturing not damning to me. So I thought about trying an audio-bible but haven’t found one that is convenient for me.

    Cindy at Under Much Grace recommends very small bits of bible. For example she used the daily guides put out by….oh, what’s that group called? anyway those little guides that last just a month or so at a time? and reading only the portion for the day.

    that was a terrible idea for me because my grandparents used those same little devotionals every morning and it set me off. Also, I have problems with the theology in them.

    Finding something that doesn’t assume the same-old,same-old doctrinal interpretations that were so harmful seems to be crucial. So I avoid any translation that is popular with the evangelical crowd. I like the Scholar’s Version a lot but they only have the Gospels and the Letters of Paul (and while I take issue with some of their theological and cultural assumptions as well, I don’t get shaky and sweaty and nauseous when I read it).

    Try reading the bible in spanish. having it in another language may sidestep that PTSD reaction. Especially if you have to work to translate it in your head, you may find unusual words coming to mind that provoke interpretations very different than what you were taught as a child.

    Get a Jewish Tanakh (spelling may be wrong) instead of the usual old Testament. The Jewish translators will have had different theological assumptions that the evangelical translators had and you may be pleasantly surprised by them.

    • Agnes

      If you have a smartphone, the YouVersion app is amazing. You have hundreds of plans to choose from, chronological, Bible-in-a-year, themed studies such as ‘worry’, etc. and then Bible verses related to that will come up daily for whatever set of time you choose, e.g. 1 week study on ‘peace’ for example. You can create your own plan, and then either listen to it on audio or read or both. It’s just the Bible scriptures, no add-on’s so you take from God’s word whatever it speaks to you. I like to listen to it when I’m getting ready in the morning or walking to work. Love it.

      • Agnes

        oh yeah and PS you can choose whatever translation you want, there are lots.

      • http://twitter.com/SandraHeretic Sandra

        thank you, Agnes. I will look into that one. I also found The Unvarnished Gospels in my local used bookstore the other day and am liking it. A non-theological translation of the Gospels directly from the Greek.

  • Jen in Ontario, Canada

    I have been using Shorter Christian Prayer, a laity friendly version of the Liturgy of the Hours, and I have really been enjoying it. It has lots of Scripture,but also plenty of prayer.

    • http://twitter.com/byzcathwife priest’s wife

      me too! I love it

  • Maria Maberto

    My recommendation for some good fiction is anything written by Kate Morton. She is a fairly new author from Australia. Her writing style is what I call “flashback.” A modern day character discovers something in her/her family’s past which leads to a lot of great mystery and discovery. Her detail is beautiful and makes for a real page-turner. The House at Riverton. The Forgotten Garden. The Distant Hours. And her latest, The Secret Keeper.

  • sarahlcc

    I switched to a different translation than the one I had ‘grown up’ with and that helped a lot with the other annoying voices of interpretation/condemnation that came every time I read the Bible.

    I’m going to incorporate more exercise this year, exercise other than walking!

  • http://www.likeawarmcupofcoffee.com Sarah Mae

    These are great, I think I’m going to write some practices down. As for fiction, I’m reading Stephen King’s “11/22/63″ and it’s good so far. I read the Night Circus and wasn’t super impressed – I liked it, but I wish I would have felt a connection to the characters, and I didn’t. You could give Les Mis a try ;)
    I’m assuming you’ve read the Hunger Games? If not, read that series.

  • http://www.facebook.com/joycemoyerhostetter Joyce Moyer Hostetter

    1. I think I want to get up and get dressed first thing every morning. My writing benefits from acting like I am going to work. Uh oh, better go change.

    2. Move more. Get up from my office chair and “write” while cleaning, mowing, organizing etc.

    3. Get out of my home. Write at the library once a week.

    4. I have a friend who sends me a daily scripture from her little file of scripture cards. I’m part of a group that get this email. Sometimes we have mini Bible studies/discussions over one verse. I want to be sure to engage more with that one verse that comes in each day.

    A favorite way for me to approach scripture is to write myself into the story as one of the characters observing or maybe joining in with the events but then again, that is more writing so I haven’t actually done it for a long time.

  • Cathfisch

    I like Sandra’s suggestions for getting over fear of Scripture. I, too, struggled for years with this one. I didn’t grow up or come to Christ in the fundamentalist church I later left, so I’ve gone back to my original translation. I think it helps to read a translation you love. I have benefited from Kenneth Wuest’s An Expanded Translation of the New Testament. He was a Greek scholar, taught at Wheaton (I’m pretty sure), so has an evangelical Protestant bias. But his expansion of certain tenses of Greek that cannot be translated into English has helped solidify my faith and gain confidence in Scripture again. Check out the first review on Amazon.com that includes an expanded translation of Hebrews 13:5,6–which, coincidentally, has become one of my favorite verses.
    Another practice that has helped me in this area has been reading Scripture in large chunks rather than doing topical studies. Reading the shorter letters of Paul in their entirety or longer ones several chapters at a time is great for context. I have practiced reading until either God speaks to me, or I get too anxious to keep going. Morning “quiet time” was a big thing, so I now read my Bible before bed or when a verse comes to me out of the blue. I don’t insist on a daily practice of Bible reading–or prayer–though I tend to pray daily. I think it depends on what the church in your background elevated to “God’s will”: buck those trends a good bit.

  • http://thechuppies.com/ Kara @ The Chuppies

    I love your list…
    And could/would benefit from a lot of the same practices :)
    Especially the sleep-is-a-priority-plan.
    Mine are fairly similar…

    1.Keep on with our weekly date nights (started this fall) as our oldest can also now babysit– WOO-HOO!!!

    2. Read more fiction. I’ve been stuck in biographies & nonfiction since summer…fiction develops empathy and helps us delight in God’s beauty. I need it. If you haven’t read Hannah Coulter (Wendell Berry) you might enjoy it… I have a stack, but need something I can pick up & put down easily-er …thinking about going back to some of my favorite books from childhood (Caddie Woodlawn, A Wrinkle in Time, Nancy Drew series). I make bad choices with books like The Hunger Games…stay up ALL night reading.

    3. Keep/restart the exercise routine. I meet friends a couple days, but use a treadmill on others while watching through some sort of “quality” old tv series. Right now I’m in season 1 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer… I know…

    4. Pick a few blogs of people I care about to follow faithfully…and give up any guilt about not responding/reading if there isn’t time…rest in grace.

    5. Read my Bible regularly– I’m planning to read through Colossians again. But…whenever I’m feeling scared (or numb) towards digging back in…I just go to the Psalms and rest there for a bit. You could join our Inspire to Action FB group…it’s just a good check in spot (mostly all West Coast people). I don’t always do whatever the group is doing…but just stop in and try to share something I pulled from whatever I read. All you need is “one more group”–right? :)

    6. Put on my to-do-list each day…”read, game, puzzle, draw”. With our crew… Spend more time outside. And with the kids outside.

    I’m sure there’s more…this was fun…thanks!

  • Melissa

    Two fiction recommendations from my past couple of months, and they could not be more different:

    1. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson – it’s like poetry with a story. Brought me closer to God.

    2. The Passage and The Twelve by Justin Cronin – technically this is about vampires. But think Michael Crichton, not Stephanie Meyer, and some lovely explorations of family relationships.

  • http://cuppboard.blogspot.com Elizabeth Erazo

    Oooh, spanish music suggestions! Definitely check out Ana Tijoux’s latest album. Look up “Shock” and “La Bala” on youtube. Even if you are not a rap junkie, I can almost guarantee these will stick with you. It’s good for exercising too.

    Julieta Venegas and Natalia Lafourcade are great, Manu Chao of course, Aterciopelados’ album “Rio”, Cafe Tacuba, Carla Morrison, and Fakuta.

    Those are just off the top of my head. Maybe I should make a playlist. ;)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=11018683 Elizabeth Larson-DiPippo

      I second Julieta Venegas. I have used her lyrics with my spanish classes and they are great songs. I’m new to Ana Tijoux but loving it! Thanks for the recommendation! :)

      • http://cuppboard.blogspot.com Elizabeth Erazo

        No problem. There is a really good translation of Tijoux’s song “Shock” here. It also has some background info of Chilean politics to better understand the song. Really good stuff. :)

  • http://twitter.com/byzcathwife priest’s wife

    I agree with sandra and the ‘pray as you go’ recommendation- we use it for morning prayer at breakfast

    you might try reading the Bible in a different translation- the Douay-Rheims is very poetic

  • http://thereforeiambic.blogspot.com/ Elena Johnston

    I love reading the Bible on my Kindle, because it jolts me out of reading it like it’s the Bible… Also, I second the recommendation about reading it in another language.

  • Katie S.

    This may be a strange suggestion, but I remember reading once how you have a hard time not hearing a triggering voice when you read scripture. It helps me to sing the words out loud–or if that’s not possible, to imagine them being sung in soprano- opera style.

  • Brook

    sometimes, I pour my coffee, and sit down with the bible and have a chat with God, and then ask Him to show me something about Him. Like we’re just friends sitting down with coffee together. Me and Him….also I keep it in the bottom of the stroller at times and then when the kiddo falls asleep I sneak a peek wherever we park. He already knows whats on our minds and when I go to scripture that way it’s me being honest…I can’t seem to make it a ritual thing…and anyway, he says “come as you are” right?

  • Amanda

    When I left Mormonism, I had a very difficult time reading any form of scripture. What really helped me was getting a new Bible, I have the HarperCollins Study Bible, and taking a secular class on it. There is one at my local community college. I don’t, necessarily agree with everything taught, but it helped me read the Bible as a book, in its original context. The more I read, the more I realize how things can be taken out of context.

  • http://somewiseguy.com/ ThatGuyKC

    I like the concept of practices over resolutions because they key to success is creating new habits. Which incidentally requires practice. :)

    Two of my practices for 2013 is to read the bible daily (even if it’s just one verse) and drink more water.