Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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Happy New Year!

Happy 2017 to you! Before I move on to this next year, I’m taking a moment to look back at the past 12 months. Here are just a few of my highlights!

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My 2016 Reading List Recap

pexels-photo-46274If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you probably realize how important acquiring knowledge is to me. I love learning! And up until June, I did most of that through Audible books on my commute. However, now that I work from home, I didn’t make it through as many books as I normally would during a year. That was probably the only bummer about losing my commute. But I made a big attempt during the first half of the year to compensate, and I’ll certainly squeeze in another one or two during my holiday travels.

Here’s my recap:

If you need more suggestions, here are my previous lists:

And if you’re in a short or no commute situation like me, but you still want to learn, try podcasts. I began substituting more podcasts for books since they are shorter, but still convey a lot of information. Here are the ones that top my list:

Interested in trying Audible? Click the image below.

*30 days of membership free, plus two free audiobooks to keep.
*1 credit a month after trial, good for any book regardless of price.
*Exclusive members savings. Get 30% off any additional audiobooks.
*Easy exchanges. Don’t love a book? Swap it for free, anytime. Seriously.

HAPPY LEARNING!

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My First Personal Retreat

me timeI’ve taken several vacations by myself, but New Year’s Day marked my first personal retreat. And it was time. Actually, it was way overdue.

At the end of last year, I was exhausted in every way, and had chosen RENEW as my word/theme for the year. I really wanted to cling to that word, but needed a catalyst to help get me there. So, I used some hotel points to get away. I knew if I stayed home I’d find too many distractions.

Rome, Georgia, ended up being the destination. And I was able to check in early and check out late, to maximize my stay. I had my computer, a few books, and a ready heart. (And, of course, a change of clothes.) I’d already been collecting resources that I wanted to work through, but as I predicted, ending up following a few rabbit trails, too.

My original intent was just to spend the night and fit in all my retreat activities into that 24 hour period. But I was tired and kept stumbling upon new resources so I ended up extending the retreat through the weekend, at home. Being able to focus at the hotel proved to be a great starting point, though. It gave me the energy and determination to keep up the work . . . but there may have been a pedicure and couple Netflix breaks. I mean, come on, we’re talking about 72 hours here. I’m not a monk.

These are the primary resources that I spent time with:

They are awesome, and I’d recommend any of them. They greatly enhanced my retreat, and I believe, came to me at just the right time.

There are also a few (hopefully) regular practices that came out of this weekend, which I believe will help to keep me RENEWed during the year. The first is The Five Minute Journal, mentioned above. I hate journaling, but this one was recommended on a podcast I listen to, and it sounded like something I could do. It’s just a couple bullet points to answer each morning and evening, and there is an introduction that shows the reasoning and science behind the questions. So far, even in my most groggy morning state, I’ve been able to keep up.

The second is meditation. I’ve tried it before, and failed miserably. My mind is constantly going 90 miles an hour! But like journaling, I know the benefits and want to reap them. I need to be able to clear my mind and listen in silence. That will do me a world of good. And meditation is one of those things that kept popping up around me in various ways at the end of the year, so I knew it was time to try again. The blog post mentioned above by Rick Warren also speaks in-depth to the practice. (Funny note: I have a book called The Will Power Instinct that I started several years ago. But the first chapter says that you have to be able to meditate for 10 minutes to continue the book in order to get the most out of it—so, yep, I’ve never finished. Maybe this is the year!)

The third is, well, to borrow another Rick Warren-ism, purposeful relaxation. The second half of that blog post was what I actually went online to find, and strangely, it was paired with meditation. I’d heard him speak on the topic before at a conference, and couldn’t remember exactly how it was phrased. I love the way he puts it: divert daily, withdraw weekly and abandon annually. Honestly, it’s going to be hard. I’m a multi-tasker. But for me, one of the best ways to do this is to unplug for a while. I’m usually connected even when I travel, so there is usually a nagging feeling that something needs my attention. It’s going to be a hard lesson to learn, and hard to fit into life when there is always something pressing. However, as he notes, if Jesus felt the need to do it, I should too. So, I’m trying to weave more of this into my life.

And that’s it! That was my personal retreat. It was wonderful. Another lesson that came from this time was just how valuable it was, and that this is something I should continue however I can. I usually try and fit books and articles and podcasts into the busyness, but having this dedicated time for it, with a specific purpose in mind, was well, RENEWing.

The reality of life hit me hard just after my personal retreat. Of course it did. Of. Course. It. Did. And it was frustrating because I wanted to keep the good vibes going. Life was interrupting my zen! But I realized that I wouldn’t have been prepared for it without this retreat. So, it’s already served me well in ways I couldn’t predict, and I guess that’s just another reason I should continue.

First one down, hopefully many more to go.

 

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My Word for 2016

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RENEW. Sorry, I just couldn’t hold it in! I’ve been bursting to tell you that my word for the year is RENEW!

It came to me almost instantly about a month ago. In the car that morning, I thought it was time to start thinking forward to 2016, and it just popped in my head. And I knew immediately that it was right. (Strangely enough, it was also written on the mug of a co-worker I sat behind in staff meeting just an hour later!)

In coming to the end of last year, I was exhausted . . . mentally. After dealing with chronic illness for three and a half years, I know what physical exhaustion is. But mental exhaustion was settling in fast, and I was kind of panicking. Thinking of this word, though, gave me hope. Shortly after, I met with my mentor, Holly. A mentor is someone everyone needs in their life, and Holly has blessed me immensely. She comforted me, encouraged me, supported me, and then empowered me with some Bible passages she’d just read earlier that same day. It was no chance that we met that morning.

Isaiah 43: 16-21 MSG

Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
    —the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
    rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
    the people I made especially for myself,
    a people custom-made to praise me.

This is one of the scriptures she read to me that morning, and now it is also my verse for the year. I think it paints a beautiful picture, and one that will bring me comfort this year.

And I’m a little surprised, considering where I was just a few weeks ago, but I’m actually excited this year is starting. There’s just something special and enticing about “new.” And now I feel better prepared as well.

Coming very soon, I’ll tell you all about the personal retreat I took this weekend to RENEW and recharge. It was the first of its kind for me, and I would not have been ready for 2016 without it. It definitely helped get me on the right track. Maybe it can help you too.

For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy my (RE)NEW YEAR.

Do you have a word for the year? If so, I’d love to hear it.

And you can read about last year’s word here.

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So, what is all this word for the year business? So glad you asked! I love telling people about it. Basically, a few friends and I started this tradition a number of years ago. It’s a way to look at the year intentionally and proactively in the beginning, rather than only coming to the end of a year and reflecting. We think the latter is more of a reactive stance, and should be more helpful. So, we wanted to set a tone for our year that would help us get where we wanted to go.

This tradition was reinforced again for me a few days ago when I started my Five Minute Journal. It was recommended on a podcast I listened to and sounded really interesting, so I ordered it and started on January 1.

But here’s a snippet from their introduction:

There’s a small part of your brain called the reticular activation system (RAS) that turns on and off your perception of ideas and thoughts, and determines the lenses through which you look at the world. When you take an action like buying a new car, you’ve taken a major step in redefining your possessions and your RAS changes to accommodate your new acquisition. And everywhere you go, your RAS will gently remind you of this change by pointing out others who have the same car as you.

When you write ‘What would make today great?’ (one of the daily questions asked), you’re taking a step to influence your RAS to point out and engage in activities that would make your day better. You’re building new pathways in your brain that allow you to ‘see’ what you can do to improve your well being every day. You’re creating a new program in your mind that naturally leans to improve your happiness. Doing this consistently gives you consistently better days. It’s that simple.

Voila! And you thought I just made this stuff up. 😉

And I discovered as I prepared for 2015 that there are a lot more people who utilize a word for the year. If you’re interested, here are two other great resources to help get you started:

One Word That Will Change Your Life

My One Word

Wishing you a wonderful 2016!

 

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