Guest post writer Alexandra Kuykendall shares with us 10 small ways you can love your actual life right now, in your present circumstances.
I was living an unsustainable life. I knew I needed a change. I also knew the big things were here to stay; my marriage, my children, my work, none of those things were going away. And yet I wasn’t living in a way that appreciated the good these God-given gifts had to offer.
A recalibration was in order to better love my actual life. Not the one I dreamed of or wished for, but this one right here.
So I began a nine-month experiment to love my days a little more. Since the big things were here to stay, I focused on small changes I could control, those that could be implemented within 24-hours. If I could make the change in a day, I was more likely to implement it and continue past day one of the experiment.
As a result, I found some practices that were easy to implement, yet had a big impact. I call them ‘practices’ because I must do them continually if they are going to make a lasting difference.
10 Small Ways to Love Your Actual Life.
1) Get up before my family.
Half an hour with coffee, some quiet, some reading and prayer help me start the day on the right track. It is a daily recalibration built into my schedule where I can soak up the fresh start ahead. Every day is God’s gift to me. It helps when I begin the morning with that perspective on the forefront of my mind. Implementing this will help you as well to love your actual life.
2) Have my fridge stocked with lunch stuff.
Lunches are my most hated meal to prepare. Even though lunchtime arrives every day, I constantly feel unprepared. And yet if I create a formula to pack lunches (sandwich, chips, fruit, and treat) they are easy-peasy. If all of the necessary components are available in plenty it’s also easier for my kids to make their own! (Talk about loving my actual days a little more.)
3) Take Facebook off of my phone.
As part of my experiment, I took a whole month off from social media. Whew! What a break. But I can’t do that all of the time. One small way for me to minimize the time wasted on these platforms is to remove them from my phone. I am forced to be more intentional about when I check and browse. It takes the constant out of the virtual noise. Cutting out or reducing social media will help you love your actual life.
4) Prepare a space for guests.
We have a designated guestroom in our home. However, it is rarely presentable to anyone outside of our family. The wrapping paper and unfolded laundry on the bed make it less than welcoming. Cleaning up that space created a mindset that our home is available and ready for visitors at any time. This attitude has spilled over to other areas of my home, motivating me to be ready for who God might send our way.
5) Buy a water bottle.
I realized it had been years since I’d purchased any workout clothes for myself. So I bought myself new running shoes and a pink water bottle. It made working out and drinking water more fun. But it also reminded me that while I’m taking care of everyone else, I need to make my own body’s care a priority. Little purchases that motivate me toward healthy behavior are worth it.
6) Make a List.
Sometimes my brain works so hard just to hold in all of the details. Whether it’s my tasks for the day ahead, a grocery list for dinners the next four nights, or a packing list for a trip, when I put it down on paper, I relax a little and worry less about what I’m forgetting. I can put all of that additional mental energy into loving what is right around me. Having a brain dump area will help you love your actual life.
7) Change my driving route.
Every day, yes every single school day, I’m driving the same routes back and forth to various schools and home. When I simply change the scenery, I get a fresh take on the place I live. I remember there are a whole bunch of neighbors for me yet to know and it helps fight the boredom of a task that has to be done. It just doesn’t have to be done in the same way.
8) Have Dinner Outside.
When we move the meal from inside to out, especially in the summer months, we are moving dinner from mere sustenance to a special event. We can even use fancy words like ‘dining al fresco’ to describe what we are doing as we feast under the stringed patio lights. One small move makes for one significant transformation and pretty soon you will love your actual life.
9) Write a Poem.
To some, this might be no big deal. But to me it is! It feels vulnerable and I feel unqualified and yet I know God calls me to use my creative juices in ways that feel risky. Whether it’s trying a new recipe or planting a vegetable garden we are meant to reflect God’s creative nature by making and calling our creation good. It adds to the adventure when there is some type of risk involved.
10) Make Eye Contact.
No matter if it’s the person behind the counter at the post office or my four-year-old wrapped around my leg, the practice of stopping to make eye contact forces me to notice the person right in front of me. I listen better, notice better, love better when I’m working to fully see the person making small talk, asking a question, or telling a story. And that what God wants from me anyway. To love him and those right around me.
Our life is a string of small moments, so no surprise small changes can have a huge impact on the quality of life. Our moments turn into hours which turn into days and then weeks and years. They can be captured and intentionally turned to reflect our priorities. And when we are living from our priorities you are much more likely to love your actual life.
Tricia says: I have created a free printable to help us remember these 10 Small Ways to Love Your Actual Life.
Alexandra Kuykendall spends her days washing dishes, driving to and from different schools, and trying to find a better solution to the laundry dilemma. She is the author of Loving My Actual Life: An Experiment in Relishing What’s Right in Front of Me and The Artist’s Daughter: A Memoir. From church basements to the set of Good Morning America, Alex offers women a grounded perspective on how to approach the “crazy busy” in front of them.
Connect at AlexandraKuykendall.com.