Keeping Promises to Myself

I love this pic of me and Kirk that I captured in Naples, FL. 

It's like my eyes are saying, "Hi there. I see you."

While I was in California last month, I found myself growing more and more excited to come home and re-engage in my day-to-day life with Kirk. I am totally a homebody personality, which means, for example,  that I can be home in the house for three days straight and never once step foot outside and be perfectly content with that.

So, as much as I loved being in California for an extended period of time, I also looked forward to being back in the life and surroundings I hold quite dear and enjoy very much.

Another part of my anticipation and excitement of coming home were the goals I had set for myself upon my return. One of those goals had to do with the decision to hold my mornings as intently sacred. Another one of those goals was to take better care of my body, since I, admittedly, don't treat it very well.

When I set those goals for myself in California, I had very specific ideas about what the accomplishment of them would look like in my daily life back home. For instance, holding my mornings sacred meant carving out specific hours of each morning for me and God to share in the company of my desk, my Bible, my typewriter, and my mug of coffee. And when I say "specific hours," I'm serious: from the vantage point of my California eyes, I decided that I wanted four hours each morning for this sacred space, and that meant (given other commitments in my life) waking at six in the morning each day. Since this sacred time was important to me, I decided waking early was worth it.

When it came to body care, I had specific ideas about that, too. Those ideas included occasional morning walks and eating better foods. I also decided that hosting solo impromptu dance parties in my house in the afternoons -- turning on some adrenaline-infused music and cranking the volume high! -- would be a fun alternative to cardio work at our gym.

But when I got home, I did none of these things. Sure, I spent time in quiet at my desk almost every single day, but instead of waking at six, like I had planned, I woke at nine or ten. And since I wanted to begin my days with a time of quiet and was unwilling to compromise on that, this kept pushing the rest of my day back. I felt perpetually behind.

I never did have one of those dance parties.

It didn't take long for great disappointment and shame to creep in around all of this. I felt discouraged, and no matter how many times I set my alarm to wake at six, I never could do it.

Kirk encouraged me, then, to start a bit more gently. Instead of waking at six, why not try for eight instead? Instead of completely changing up my diet or conducting spontaneous afternoon dance parties, perhaps I could start with just cutting soda out of my diet at first.

Start gently. See how it feels to make little promises with yourself and keep them. Build up your self-trust.

I've been taking that to heart.

Instead of setting my alarm for six, I've been setting it for eight. I'm usually up by 8:30 these days, and that is a huge improvement. And I've been drinking water instead of soda. Pepsi has been my nemesis for years, but I'm getting used to going without it. Water is starting to feel more normal to my routine than soda these days, which feels good.

All of this is about building trust between the one part of me that makes plans and the other part of me that keeps (or breaks) them. It's about learning to keep promises to myself. It's about teaching myself that, when it comes to setting goals and keeping them, I'm trustworthy.

PS: I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I re-opened my Journey Toward Nonviolence blog on MLK's birthday. It's been fun to write in that space again about a subject that has captivated my heart these past couple years, and I'm enjoying the superb dialogue that always taking place in the comments section of each post. You're welcome to join us over there and join in the dialogue.

PPS: In related news, I re-opened my Still Forming website this week and have posted a couple entries that I hope will be meaningful and encouraging to you. Still Forming a space devoted to the process of spiritual formation, the practice of prayer, and the contemplative life. It's a sacred space I hold dear and that I hope will provide a place of respite and reflection for you in your spiritual journey.