3 a.m. questions

did i remember to turn off the oven after supper

what should i wear to church tomorrow … how do we know there is only one true religion … will we go to hell if we make the wrong choice … how can i find out in time … is there a god … what if there isn’t … would that mean life is absurd … i have lived half my life already or is it two-thirds … what do i have to show for it … will i ever be satisfied with who i am … will i have regrets when my life is over … who will come to my funeral … will anyone remember me after i’m gone … why am i here … is my life absurd

how long would the oven need to be on before it catches fire and burns down the house

is the pain in my neck and shoulders from stress or am i having a heart attack … what is that noise … when did i start feeling so anxious all the time … why am i so afraid of what people think of me … what can they do to me anyway

if the house does catch on fire is the smoke alarm working

when are we going to get some rain … has climate change already begun … what can we do about it … have we already passed the point of no return … do we really need electricity and cars … do the amish have the right idea after all … is there a way to eat meat without enabling cruelty to animals … speaking of critters, will the cats be okay by themselves while we’re out of town

when was the last time i changed the battery in the smoke alarm

will social security still be around when I’m 90 or will the government allow wall street to gamble it all away … will the 1 percent grab our pensions as well … what will it feel like to be homeless when i’m 90 … does anyone else lie awake in the middle of the night asking questions like these or am i just weird … is it generalized anxiety disorder … bag lady syndrome … should i see a shrink

maybe i should just get up and check the oven

3 P.M. Question

Why can’t I be this tired at 3 o’clock in the morning??!!

 

My Gratitude List

Happy Thanksgiving weekend! I figure this is as good a time as any to compile a gratitude list, and I have plenty to be grateful for this year:

My marriage. As usual, my husband tops my gratitude list. After 32 years together, I still consider him a gift from a loving God. He’s kind, generous, all-around decent and caring, my best friend, the wind beneath my wings, and the best thing that ever happened to me. I love that man to the moon and back!

My family. I have sisters who double as best friends. Good parents (it was an awe-inspiring experience to hear story after story about their generosity when I stood in the receiving line at Dad’s visitation a few years ago). And wonderful nieces, nephews and dozens of cousins I’m now in touch with thanks to Facebook.

Our kitties. I have two sweet babies who come running whenever I sit down so they can hop into my lap, who curl up next to me in bed, who love me unconditionally.

Our health. After a cancer scare for my husband, a cardiac scare for me, and a lengthy hospitalization/convalescence for my mother, we’re all still here alive and well (or at least recovering) for the holidays. Thanks be to God!!!!! And while our medical bills this year would pay for a small house, we’re fortunate to have insurance that covered most of it.

Our dream house, with its cozy fireplace, sunroom, eat-in kitchen, office space for each of us, yard filled with flower beds and lovely neighborhood.

Good friends, past and present – those irreplaceable people who know my quirks and flaws and love me anyway.

My writing ability. I’ve known since third grade that writing would play some role in my life’s purpose, and from young adulthood on, this gift from God has reassured me that I’ll never starve. Or get bored even after retiring.

Our retirement fund. It has been so nice to be able to retire and not have to worry (at least not too much) about how we’re going to survive. To travel to places like Ireland, Germany, the Scandinavian countries, Israel and Palestine. To afford household help.

Mother Nature in all her majesty. This year I’ve gotten to enjoy wildflowers along the roadsides in summer. Gentle soaking rain after a period of drought. Fall leaves that riot! Beautiful sunsets. Sixty-degree days in late November.

Our new church home. We belong to a congregation where the people actually try to live out the values they profess. Our brothers and sisters in Christ have even survived the merger of three congregations and are still speaking to each other. Amazing!

Supportive people. I’m not sure we’re expected to be grateful for affliction – after all, I’m not a masochist. But we certainly are grateful for the people God put in our lives to help us through the scary stuff – competent medical professionals, and the friends, family, church people and total strangers who prayed for us this year.

Little things. I’ve also decided to be grateful for “ordinary” days when broken appliances are all we need to fret about. For the sprinkler system in our yard that saved me so much time over a long dry summer. Not to mention low-calorie food that actually tastes good.

I’m grateful the things that caused fear and worry over the past year have been resolved, that my husband and I are doing well, and that tomorrow brings new adventures.

And so I resolve to wake up and remind myself each day: Today is the day our Creator has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Letting some balls drop

After writing down all those areas of my life that felt not-so-well ordered, I shared my “late-night laundry list” with my spiritual director and showed her the graphic I created to illustrate my current spiritual condition:

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Looking the graphic over for a moment, she asked, “What stands out for you?”

I pointed out the “God ball” at the foot of the clutter pile.

I half expected her to supply some relevant Bible verses about the Godliness of cleanliness and self-discipline. Instead she recommended a children’s book – The Clown of God, “an old story” told and illustrated by Tomie de Paola.

The tale stars a small boy whose special talent is juggling:

He would juggle sticks. Plates. Then he would balance the plates on the sticks and twirl them. He would juggle clubs, rings and burning torches. Finally he would toss a red ball and an orange ball. Then a yellow ball. A green, a blue and a violet ball until it looked as if he were juggling the rainbow. “And now for the Sun in the Heavens,” he would cry. Still juggling, he would pick up a shining golden ball and toss it higher and higher, faster and faster. And how the crowds would cheer.

The small boy grew up and became very famous for his juggling act, the story continues. He traveled far and wide and the crowds loved him, until … he DROPPED the golden Sun in the Heavens ball “and the rainbow of balls came crashing down and the crowd stood around him and laughed! But not from joy.” Feeling utterly defeated, he made the decision to give up juggling forever.

But the story doesn’t end there. As it turned out, his best performance was yet to come. (Click HERE to hear the story yourself.)

Instead of incorporating my own “God ball” back into the rotation of balls I was juggling, my spiritual director suggested I might want to just leave it where it is for now. “Just sit with it,” she said.

Back at the drawing board (Photoshop, that is), I pulled up my Clutter Mountain graphic and painted my “God ball” gold like the one in the children’s book. I then imagined myself crawling out from under the clutter pile and sitting next to the golden “God ball” with my eyes closed and my back to everything else – a cup of warm coffee in my hands and my two cats at my side.

Clutter Mountain with gold God ball FINAL_edited-1

Of course this meant the other balls I was juggling would drop – at least temporarily, I told my spiritual director when I showed her the edited graphic.

“That’s okay,” she said. “Those other balls will still be there when it’s time for you to get back to them. They’re not going anywhere.”

Irresistible veggie recipes wanted!

“Cardiac event” was most definitely not on my To-Do list.

Following an extended pull-my-hair-out busy patch that seems to happen for at least two weeks each month despite my retirement, I was looking forward to a short stretch of downtime. Instead, I began a beautiful October weekend with a ride in the back of an ambulance.

The good news: My radiating chest pain and rapid heart rate (200-plus beats per minute) turned out not to be a heart attack. The bad news: After an overnight stay in the hospital spent hooked up to a Holter monitor, I left with a diagnosis of A-fib and “diastolic dysfunction.”

The upshot: My eagerly-awaited downtime this past couple of weeks has been supplanted by a round of follow-up doctor visits. I’ll need to add three new heart medications to my ever-expanding drug salad, and a lot more salads to my increasingly restricted diet. And veggies.

Alas, since I prefer chocolate-covered peanut butter cookie bars to celery, it is even harder for me to adhere to a healthy eating plan than it was for me to quit smoking 15 years ago. Add to that, the challenge of finding recipes my husband and I can both stand. We each have veggies we like and veggies we loathe. Problem is, the ones I like are on his “loathe list” and vice versa.

But the cardiac event that hijacked my calendar has reminded me of my need to keep “self-care” on my list of priorities – after all, 1 Corinthians 6:19 says my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. It’s past time to stop taking my health for granted.

So I’d love to have readers of this blog share their irresistible veggie recipes. Or yummy salad recipes. “Quick and easy to prepare” is a plus.

Count on my husband to add a bit of levity to a tense situation. While waiting for me to be released from the hospital, he and I were discussing the health issues we’ve both been experiencing this past year.

I said, “At our age, we probably need to get used to this. It’s going to be the new normal.”

To which my sweetie pie replied, “You mean the new abnormal? We were NEVER normal, my dear!”

Feeling like the Apostle Paul

It’s not that I haven’t tried to address the issues detailed in my late-night laundry list, I told my spiritual advisor at our second meeting.

My bookshelves literally overflow with self-help books: First Things First, Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much, Take Back Your Time and Stop Screaming at the Microwave! My husband and I like to joke that we’re powerless over self-help books and that our bookshelves have become unmanageable. However, I don’t need a self-help book or a therapist to tell me I should practice self-care and set better boundaries.

I know intellectually what I need to do to get my life in order: eat right, exercise, get enough sleep, stay away from toxic people or environments, pay more attention to my relationships and practice self-discipline. The challenge lies in translating that intellectual knowledge into action. I’m usually so immersed in all the dramas of my life that I ignore problems until they become a crisis that can’t be ignored any longer. My life seems to be in crisis mode about half the time.

Periodically I grab myself up by the scruff of the neck and resolve to do better – on New Year’s Day, the first day of Lent, my birthday, the first day of spring or summer or fall, or any month in which the first day falls on a Sunday or Monday. I vow I’m going to turn over a new leaf, get my priorities straight and start doing things differently. My reform efforts may work for a week or two, or if I really buckle down, for a month. But then my life returns to the same chaotic reality that has become the new normal for me in recent years.

Sometimes it seems as if my life has been reduced to crossing items off endless To-Do lists: my To-Do List for volunteer work, my To-Do List for household chores, my To-Do List of personal self-care routines, my To-Do List of urgent matters, even a Master List to keep track of all the To-Do Lists. This elaborate system of lists was suggested by the day-planner I carry around constantly and jokingly call “my conscience.” I’m constantly juggling so many balls in the air, I’m convinced I have to keep these multiple To-Do Lists or I won’t remember to do simple things like brush my teeth. Despite all the To-Do lists designed to help me hold myself accountable for how I spend my time, I can’t seem to keep up with all the demands.

Repeated efforts to get my life under better control often leave me feeling more frustrated than ever, I told my spiritual advisor. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul, when he says in Romans 7: “I don’t understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. … I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” Yep. That’s me, all right.

The good news is, I’m nowhere near the state of spiritual bankruptcy I was in 25 years ago, when the combination of psychic pain and fear for my future led me to put down the booze and start attending 12-Step meetings. Nor does my life feel quite as out of control as it did prior to my retirement, when I was juggling the 24/7 demands of running a social service agency, caring for an aging parent and trying to have a life at the same time. My current state feels more like a case of spiritual sleepwalking alternating with existential questioning.

But I also know I need to make some changes if I want the next chapter of my life to amount to more than eating, sleeping, dodging other people’s dramas and crossing items off To-Do lists.

 

Late-night laundry list

The other night I gave up on sleeping, after tossing and turning until 2 a.m., and began journaling instead. Using the “Clutter Mountain” graphic I created earlier as a starting point, I listed those areas of my life that felt not-so-well-ordered:

My relationships. My family and friends are scattered all over the U.S., and even in a couple of other countries, so it’s hard for me to visit them as often as I’d like to. I keep in touch with many of them on Facebook, but I know that’s really no substitute for face-to-face conversations.

Our house. I’m a packrat married to another packrat. In this case, one plus one does not equal two. One packrat plus one packrat equals ten tons of rubble! (My friend Patti came up with that gem.) Clothes, dishes, books, office supplies, unopened mail, knick knacks, stacks of paper and boxes marked “miscellaneous” clutter nearly every surface, especially in the basement. When I even think about trying to sort through the whole chaotic mess, I don’t know whether to laugh, cry or stick my fingers in my ears and scream at the top of my lungs until the frustration dissipates.

My schedule. Since I’ve retired, my life hasn’t slowed down much at all. In fact, retirement mostly means I’ve replaced full-time paid work with full-time work I now do for free. The support group I facilitate for adults with autism and their family members has evolved into a 501(c) 3 organization offering recreational activities and life skills training, and my “job description” has expanded accordingly. Meanwhile, people looking for volunteers at church wink, nod and say “you know how those retired people get busier than ever” as they suggest another obligation to stuff into my chock-full calendar.

My talent for procrastination. I always have some deadline hanging over me – bills to pay, tax returns due, a volunteer commitment – and a talent for putting things off until the last possible minute. This means that when little things go wrong – a computer hard drive needs replacing, the iron stops working, the refrigerator starts leaking water all over the kitchen floor – I’m so overloaded with urgent tasks that must get done immediately, I throw up my hands and scream at the offending appliance, “No!!! I can’t handle your crap right now!!!”

My writing. So much for all those articles and books I planned to write once I retired. A gazillion ideas ricochet around in my head competing to be written down first, but I can’t seem to get my thoughts organized enough to finish an article, let alone focus on one idea long enough to write a book.

Our finances. The stock market has become increasingly volatile in recent years, which makes me constantly nervous about the portion of our retirement nest egg invested there. The advisors who handle our investments tell us we’re in good shape, but ever since the Crash of 2008, I have great difficulty trusting financial institutions or advisors.

My health: I have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, on and off-again high blood sugar, hypothyroidism, periodic muscle cramps, aches and pains everywhere, and a mystery rash on my skin that no one can explain. I suspect some of my health problems don’t just stem from the fact that I’m aging, but from the fact that I need to take off a lot of weight. I keep making efforts to get on track with a healthy eating plan, but have been unable to sustain it for more than a few days or weeks at a time.

My emotional life. With all the bickering among my Facebook friends in response to our current political situation – on top of the stress resulting from too many commitments on my calendar – my resentment machine has been working overtime cranking out surly thoughts. When I’m not wallowing in resentment, I’m stewing in anxiety: Has climate change gone beyond the point of no return? … Is North Korea going to blow us all up? … Did I remember to turn the oven off before I left the house? Some days I feel like I have become a walking bundle of fears and resentments.

The outside world: When I was younger, my friends and I knew exactly what our life purpose was. We were going to change the world – nothing more and nothing less. We marched for civil rights, for environmental awareness, for peace. Now all our efforts seem like a cosmic joke. Members of Congress can’t agree on even the most trivial issues. War rages in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and God only knows where else. Each week it seems, we hear about another terrorist attack or mass shooting at a mall, a concert or even a church. The gap between the rich and poor has become a yawning chasm.

My spiritual life: I mostly like the people at my church, but am not sure I agree with parts of the theology – something I’m reluctant to share with the others in our adult Sunday School class. And on those nights when I’m lying awake at 3 a.m., the doubts and questions proliferate: How do I know Christianity is the one true religion? … Will I go to hell if I make the wrong denominational choice or agree with the wrong person’s interpretation of certain Biblical passages? … What is God’s will for my life, now that I’ve most likely lived roughly two-thirds of it already? … Who is God, anyway?

I know my life will continue to feel chaotic, and I will continue to experience both physical and spiritual angst, until I slow down, learn how to stop letting myself be pulled in 20 different directions, and make time to answer (at least for myself) some of those existential questions. And I’m beginning to think my spiritual director – whom I meet again at the end of this week – has her work cut out for her.

 

Clutter Mountain

One of the first assignments my spiritual director gave me was to come up with an image that best symbolizes my present spiritual condition.

An image came to mind almost immediately. I saw myself buried under a mountain of clutter – piles and piles of papers and boxes and boxes of miscellaneous stuff. I transferred the image in my head to the computer screen using Photoshop. (I always love a good excuse to play with Photoshop.)

As I created this image, I realized the clutter in my life consisted of more than just the endless piles of paper and other physical items. It also included the various distractions that keep me away from my priorities.

For example, I could spend hours mindlessly surfing the Internet, getting locked into political fights with friends and total strangers on Facebook, or actually clicking on “news” articles about Miley, Taylor and the Kardashians. I am particularly likely to do this when I’m anxious or subconsciously avoiding a task on my to-do list. I added a computer to the graphic, with the words “Click Bait” on the screen.

Junk food could qualify as nutritional clutter, I decided. When I put it into my body, it clogs my arteries and accumulates on my hips and around my waist. I added a bag of chips to the image.

My calendar presented another source of clutter. Some of the commitments really matter to me: time with my husband, a meal with family or friends, the autism support group I facilitate, singing in the church choir. But several other commitments have crept into my schedule because I can’t say no to people who must think I don’t have enough to do now that I’m retired. I tossed a To-Do list onto the pile.

I added a rope to the image to represent the tug-of-war over everything from my time to my personal values caused by competing demands and continual conflict.

Underneath the papers and boxes, I placed several boulders with labels on them – fear, resentment, pain – to represent the steady stream of anxieties and resentments that keep me awake at night and pre-occupied during the day. I added some baggage for good measure.

Sticking out of Clutter Mountain, my arms juggled several balls in the air: family, friends, volunteer work, the house. A couple more balls had been dropped and were nestled on the ground at the bottom of the heap: my writing, self-care, God.

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So how would God react to this image I just created? Am I about to provoke a bolt of lighting? Seriously, my sense is that God already knows what’s going on and might even be glad to see me acknowledge this reality.

God is there, of course, but after creating this image, I can see vividly how clutter blocks my spiritual path.

Getting started

My spiritual director and I spent most of our first session getting acquainted. Her demeanor was very pleasant, and we immediately discovered one thing in common – we both grew up on farms.

She gave me a handout explaining her conception of what spiritual direction is and isn’t. It is NOT therapy or counseling, primarily informative or advisory, or a relinquishing of personal responsibility, she said.

Spiritual direction is a partnership in which one Christian helps another grow in a personal relationship with God, her handout said. It encourages us to “recognize, explore and unpack areas of darkness and unfreedom” that get in the way of this relationship. Ultimately, it can empower people to experience “greater interior freedom, deeper joy, a more integrated life” and more intimate relationships with God, self and others.

Spiritual direction does not focus only on the “soul,” but instead reflects the Hebrew notion of a “whole person” – body, mind and spirit – as reflected in 1 Thessalonians 5:23: “May the God of peace make you perfect in holiness. May He preserve you whole and entire, spirit, mind and body, irreproachable at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And perhaps most important to me, it is not “directive” in the sense of telling a person what to do.

My first assignment, which she had already given me over the phone prior to our initial session, was to answer the question, “Where am I right now?” What got me to the place of seeking spiritual direction?

I shared a brief synopsis of my reasons: the transition in focus and priorities prompted by my retirement, the internal tug-of-war over my own values brought on by the increasing divisiveness and polarization in our society, the “time is limited” epiphany that comes with being 60-something and losing loved ones, and the questions about faith and a church’s true purpose raised by reading the Bible from cover to cover and serving on my church’s evangelism committee.

I also described the chaos that seems to permeate my life, stemming from my own challenges with organizing skills, my difficulty saying “no” to demands on my time, and my penchant for getting sucked into other people’s dramas. “I feel like I’m buried in STUFF!” I told her. “I live in a beautiful home, but it’s always a mess.”

She listened to this without negative judgment – at least none that I was able to detect, and asked me, “Have you ever questioned the existence of God?” She didn’t flinch when I said, “Oh yeah. More than once.”

So far, so good.

My spiritual director explained how the process will work. Since I’m a writer and journal during my morning meditation sessions, I can write my thoughts on a series of suggested topics, if I choose. Or, since I’m a rather “visual” person, I can use imagery to describe what I’m experiencing at any given time. She will also suggest resources to read.

At first we will meet every couple of weeks, a period during which we decide whether we are compatible and can work well together. Gradually we will move to meeting once a month.

She ended the session by giving me a variety of suggestions for homework assignments to help get me started, allowing me to choose which ones I’d find most helpful.

And thus begins my journey.

 

Pesky questions

On my birthday, during communion at church, I made a commitment for the coming year: Develop a better understanding of God, so I can fulfill God’s purpose for my life, discern what my values should be, and live accordingly.

My husband and I attend church almost weekly. I’ve read the Bible from cover to cover, along with a shelf full of books on religion and spirituality. I’ve developed a morning meditation ritual – sitting in my recliner in front of the fireplace with a cat in my lap and a cup of coffee by my side while I journal about my priorities for the upcoming day. For years, these activities have helped center my thoughts and keep me focused on what’s important.

But lately, I have found myself journaling about the “big” or “ultimate” questions: What do I actually believe about God and why? What is God’s purpose for my life? What are my values, or what should they be? How do I live my life in a way that is consistent with my beliefs and values? Apparently, these are not questions I’ve been able to answer for myself once and for all.

When I detach myself from the daily drama of my life long enough to think about it, I realize several factors have led to this renewed questioning of beliefs I’d previously taken for granted:

My recent retirement – a major transition. I know one thing for sure. Now that I no longer punch a time clock, I want my life to mean something more than sleepwalking through my days while I rush-rush-rush to meet one deadline after another so I can spend my paycheck accumulating more stuff than the neighbors have and wind up at the top of some proverbial heap. I’m entering a new chapter of my life. What should it look like?

The increasing divisiveness and polarization in our society. Neither the liberal nor the conservative ideologies align completely with my own worldview. However, I’ve felt more and more pressured to adopt positions I don’t totally agree with on a variety of issues so I can be ideologically correct and fit in with the people around me – or at least avoid being the target of shouting and name-calling. As people on either side of the political/ideological divide – including people who are close to me – pressure me to take sides, I’ve come to realize how much my own belief system has been shaped by the people around me. Now I’m asking myself: Should I continue holding onto these beliefs and values? Should some of them be changed or discarded?

Reading the Bible from cover to cover. As I read through the entire Bible a couple of years ago, I kept encountering passages that prompted me to say, “So that’s where [Lutherans, Catholics, Pentecostals, fill in the blank] get their beliefs.” In some ways, this only raised more questions than answers.

Serving on my church’s Evangelism Committee. The committee’s (and congregation’s) priority seems to be attracting more young families to join our church so we can increase the number of members by a certain percentage. But are numbers and demographics the appropriate areas of focus? What is a church’s purpose, anyway? What should it be?

The “time is limited” epiphany that comes with being 60-something. While I’m back to discerning God’s will for my life, I know my purpose consists of much more than eating, sleeping, mindless Internet surfing, getting sucked into other people’s dramas and endlessly checking items off to-do lists. Lately, it seems even church has become an item to cross off the to-do list as soon as the service is over. This needs to change.

I plan to use my Morning Meditation sessions to journal about my beliefs and values, why I hold those particular values and what impact this should be having on how I conduct my life, so I can answer those questions in a way that satisfies me. I want to develop a value system that works for me, rather than simply a value system that lets me fit in chameleon-like with my surroundings.

For me, this starts with questioning a lot of things I think I know, along with values other people want me to hold – whether those other people be liberals or conservatives, Lutherans or evangelicals or some other religion that is Christian or non-Christian. I’m not interested at this point in what various philosophers or other academic “experts” think. I want to come up with answers that I can honestly believe.

To help me sort through these questions, I’ve decided to engage a spiritual director. According to Liz Budd Ellmann, M.Div., former executive director of Spiritual Directors International, spiritual direction helps us “learn how to live in peace, with compassion, promoting justice, as humble servants of that which lies beyond all names.”

I must admit the idea of working with a spiritual director makes me a bit nervous. While I would encourage this person to ask the hard questions, I don’t want someone who will merely push me to adopt their own belief system. I need this person to be nonjudgmental and open to the idea that I’m questioning all kinds of dogma from the spiritual to the political to the ideological.

A couple friends of mine have gone through this process and reported that it was a positive experience for them. Since number one on my list of priorities for the coming year is to improve my relationship with God, I’m going to take a deep breath and give it a try. Wish me luck on my journey …

My priorities

In what has become an annual birthday tradition, I like to start my “personal New Year” by reviewing my priorities. Are they the same as they were last year, or has something changed?

As I sat in my recliner earlier this week, with a cat on my lap and a morning cup of coffee next to me, I started by identifying what is important to me right now:

 Developing a better understanding of God, so I can fulfill God’s purpose for my life, discern what my values should be and live accordingly.

  Staying healthy for as long as possible and helping my husband do the same.

  Staying in contact with family and friends and maintaining good relationships with them.

  Creating and maintaining a beautiful home that serves as a sanctuary for ourselves, our family and friends, and maybe even a stranger or two I can turn into friends.

  Writing – articles, essays, blog entries and, yes, at least one book.

  Using at least a portion of my time, money and talent in a way that helps others and creates positive change in the world.

  Eliminating the backlog tasks and clutter that keep my life more chaotic than it needs to be.

  Achieving serenity by practicing mindfulness and finding at least one thing each day to be grateful for.

These will be my priorities for the coming year – a personal relationship with God, self-care, family and friends, our home, my writing, service to others, elimination of needless clutter, and serenity.

Over the next few days, I’ll reflect on why each priority matters to me and set some goals. Then, about every month or so, I will check in and see how well my daily activities reflect these priorities.

For several years now, this little exercise has helped me stay focused so extraneous STUFF doesn’t crowd out what’s most important in my life.

Time for some good orderly direction!