I’ve been thinking, this week, about the little things we all do to stay happy and feel balanced. I have a wonderful friend, Trina, who teaches classes about keeping a notebook and journaling (hers is gorgeous)–it’s something that she’s passionate about for a number of reasons, but the one that I love most is that it forces her to slow down just a little and take some time for herself.
One of Trina’s posts this week started me thinking about the things I do that make me feel balanced and whole in that same way. I believe everyone needs an outlet (or seven), so I’m sharing mine here, in hopes maybe it’ll nudge one or two of you to think about taking some time for yourselves, finding what sparks your creativity, and what makes you feel a little more you.
- I read. In the bathtub, in a hammock in my backyard, in bed for three minutes until the book falls on my face…whenever I can cram it in. Reading was my first love–my first hobby, and I feel like I kind of can’t function if I’m not working on a book. Sometimes I finish an entire book in one day, and sometimes it takes me close to a month, but I love words and the worlds created by them. So I read.
- I knit. So hey, I know it’s not for everyone, but knitting is weirdly the most relaxing creative hobby I’ve ever had. I used to sew, and I’m good at it, but it’s oddly stressful for me. Knitting isn’t meant to be particularly fast, and there’s something soothing about the repetitive motion. Sometimes I actually lull myself right off to a nap when I knit. That said, I love the colors and fibers and the finished items just as much as the process. Whether you paint or crochet or tool leather, I think everyone’s got a creative hobby lurking under the surface somewhere. Using that ability to create is immensely fulfilling and so worthwhile!
- I play the piano, I sing, and sometimes I dance like an idiot in the kitchen. Not everyone plays an instrument, and not everyone thinks they can sing. But I hope you sing along with the radio when no one’s listening, and I say more power to you, sister. A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of sitting behind a young lady in church who sang as loudly and joyfully as her little heart would allow. She was as off pitch as a person could be, and I found her so delightful I could hardly stand it. I hope she never stops singing. There’s joy in music, and I think we care far too much about what other people think or whether they’re watching. Find the joy.
- I try really hard to be open. This is a tough one for me. I’m an introvert, by nature, and new people and situations scare me. As brave as I usually am, I like to control my surroundings and know how people will react. But I like to be open: to new ideas, to trying new things, to marching in to scary situations and not hiding who I am. I’ve tried hiding, and found that it’s incredibly unhealthy for me. There’s great power in sharing, no matter how scary the outcome might seem to be. There’s also great power in discovering who is there to catch you when fall. Being open and brave, for me, is healthy.
- I try to thank people. I feel really strongly about the power of gratitude and kindness. I believe in being grateful for what I have, and for the kindness other people show me. I believe most people are good and want to connect with other people (even if they sometimes show it in odd ways). It makes me so frustrated when I see someone treating a customer service person unkindly, just for doing their job. I believe in being gracious. I believe a little extra kindness goes a long way. I believe “thank you” is always appreciated. I believe expressing my gratitude makes me a healthier person.
- I pray. True story: Every day, I pray. Again, I know it’s not for everyone, but it keeps my life focused and centered exactly where I want it to be: on God and my family. I get an enormous amount of peace from starting every day with prayer. If you’ve never tried it, it might be worth a shot.
- I read scriptures. This is one I struggled with for a long, long time. I didn’t see the point in bothering to read from “boring old” scripture on a daily basis. I tried it a few times over the years, plugged away for a few days, then gave up. But this past year has changed my outlook on the practice completely. I’ve spent the last year reading every morning, just for a few minutes. In a way similar to how Trina talks about her writing forcing her to slow down, reading scriptural language can create that same kind of mental breath. It allows a connection to oneself, but also a connection to the author and to Deity that can’t really be found in any other place. I’ve found that I get ideas and answers to questions I’ve been mulling over while I read, because my mind is finally quiet and there’s finally no outside noise: no kids, no music, no anything else. Pure inspiration can finally come when I read my scriptures. I’ve been so grateful for that time, and now I look forward to it every morning.
What kinds of things do you do to feel balanced, whole, and healthy? What makes you feel just a little more you?