What I Learned in April

I’ve always been inspired by Anne Bogel and Emily P. Freeman who make a list of the things they have learned at the end of each month. This month I started my own informal list, and since I have a shiny new blog, I thought I would post those things here. These things aren’t necessarily life altering, in fact, some of them may even be deemed as trivial, but they matter to me and that is what counts. Here are some things I learned in April:

My day tends to go better when I am not constantly checking my phone.

This may seem like a no-brainer, but for me it was a game-changer. I didn’t really how often during the day I was reaching for my phone. In line at the grocery store, at the Starbucks drive-through, sitting at my desk at work, I found myself checking my phone again, and again, and again. I read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport this month, and he suggests limiting the time you spend on digital technology with a great amount of intention. I put into practice some of his suggestions this month by purchasing an app that removes all of the distracting apps from my phone for a designated time period that I set. This simple change has made a profound difference in my day-to-day life. I finally feel that I am in control of my phone, and it is not in control of my time, focus, and attention.

Keeping a daily journal of events helps me to reflect on my life an be more grateful for the little things.

This is another idea that I read/heard from Emily P. Freeman. I’ve never been one to keep a diary, but I’ve started keeping a very simple list of the things that happen in my life. Usually, I do it the day after, and I make the list as simple as possible. A sample entry is: Watched American Idol with the boys. I’m not sure what it is about this super simple practice, but it has really brought out a profound sense of gratitude for the things in my life that I tend to overlook. Writing things down helps my ordinary days take on more meaning. Not that they weren’t meaningful before, but I had a tendency to overlook the meaning that was already there. The simple list is helping me appreciate my life more fully.

The way that I start my day actually matters.

I read the Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren this month, and she makes several points about our daily practices (you can see my review of her book here) One of the points she makes early in the book deals with the way in which we start our days. Warren mentions that the way we start our days actually “imprints” us–or impacts the rest of our day. As someone who checks her cell phone and Instagram account on waking, this idea made an impression on me. The morning after I read this section, I prayed instead of checking my cell phone while I waited for my Kuerig to heat up. The difference was more profound that I anticipated. It’s a tiny thing, but it is one that is making a difference for me right now.

I really like having a blog again.

This is a simple one, but it’s worth noting. I’ve had a blog in the past, but they served a different purpose for me. I really like the opportunity and the physical space to write. There is nothing magical about writing, but for me, it is a way to reflect and respond to the things that happen in my life. This blog is a perfect space for that in my life.

Evening walks while listening to a Podcast is a great end to the day.

This is another simple yet profound observation for me. I tend to want to do not much of anything in the evenings. I like to sit in my library and read, mindlessly scroll through Instagram or watch TV. I have found thought that taking a walk with one of my favorite podcasts playing after dinner but before my favorite prime time TV shows come on is a “live-giving” activity as Emily P. Freeman would say. It takes some extra effort for me to change into some walking clothes and head out the door, but I’m always glad I did.

I’m allowed to intentionally create space for myself–whatever that means for me.

As a chronic overachiever, I tend to pile too much on. I have come to accept about myself that I need time to myself in the same way that I need food to eat. I’ve always felt guilty about this need as if it is something to be ashamed of, but I’m giving myself some grace in this area and accepting the fact that this is part of who I am. I’m learning that I can ask my family for this time for myself, and they will graciously give it to me as long as I appreciate and respect my family’s needs as well. Striking this balance sometimes takes some work, but it is another one of those things that is always worth the effort.

What did you learn in April?

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