4 Keys to a Sustainable Lifestyle

I’m going into my fourth year as an author, and while it’s not a full-time job (I’m still employed as a chauffeur, referee, and chef by day, haha!) it requires a lot more of me than I expected. Or, it could be that I tend to go “all-in” when I sign up to do something. If you didn’t know, us perfectionists have a hard time slacking off. 😉 So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that I got very sick a few months ago during the month of November. Somehow (I say this sarcastically because no one was at fault besides me) I found myself with 3 book releases in the span of 2 weeks. On top of that, I had some extra family stuff to attend to, and I wasn’t sleeping much. Then … come to find out just last week … I had forgotten to pay a very big and important bill that month. Ouch! Realizing I had dropped the ball like that and then having to tell hubby about it—you can bet I’m not doing that ever again.

Can we say, lesson learned? Not only did I learn I have to write everything down these days (or else I’ll forget about it), I also learned the way I was living was not sustainable. I was barely getting by and my body knew it. Unfortunately, it took going to the extreme side of busyness for me to see this. But now that I know what is “too much” for me, I have a better sense of what is “just right”. And what helps me stay sane and healthy is holding onto these four keys to a sustainable lifestyle.

  1. Sleep enough. I hate to admit it when my hubby’s right, but he’s right about me needing more sleep. I used to stay up until 2AM to work, even though I knew I’d need to be up around 7AM to get the kids ready for school. Now, I make myself turn in at midnight, so I wake up feeling more energetic. More energy also means a less grumpy mama, which my kiddos really appreciate. 😉
  2. Let God in. The older I get, the more I realize letting God into my daily life isn’t about seeming more spiritual or feeling better about myself, it’s simply about survival. Life is hard, and being human is hard. Bible verses I used to skim through when I was younger make so much sense now and bring me peace and comfort in this crazy world.
  3. Ask for help. Eeks. Another thing that perfectionists don’t like to do is ask for help. Why would they when they have everything under control—or so they like to think. 😉 But asking for help is part of being human. And it’s good to give others a chance to love on you.
  4. Admit your limits. You don’t have to do everything. In fact, there’s no way you can do everything. And you’re not supposed to do everything. Even God took a day off. And Jesus rested. If you have any doubts, repeat these last two sentences again. 😉

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but a practical way to start making some changes toward a more balanced lifestyle. I also highly recommend the following list of 10 Guideposts for Wholehearted Living. I recently stumbled across it online, and I loved it so much, I got it printed as a poster at Costco. I’m going to hang it up in our bedroom where I can see it every day. (You can click on the image if you’d like to print your own, too!)

Image courtesy of https://leoniedawson.com

The guideposts are a good reminder that we were made to be so much more than workaholics. We are meant to be authentic, compassionate, resilient, joyful, grateful, creative, and calm. So let’s let go of the things that suck us dry and cultivate the things that give us life. 🙂

I know I shared this song before, but it’s something that gives me life. And this particular performance brought me to tears. Here’s Keala Settle singing, “This Is Me”, from The Greatest Showman.

What things do you need to let go and what things do you need to cultivate in your life?

The Wonder of Your First Crush

I was once a teenager. This may not come as a shock to most, but to my kids, it’s a bit weird to think of their mom as someone not much older than they are now. As I watch my munchkins grow older and taller, it’s a bit weird for me to think they’ll soon be going through puberty and all the lovely stuff that goes with it. Aside from those first glimpses of love (aka. infatuation), there’s nothing truly glamorous about adolescence. Oh, but to be able to experience all the giddiness and wonder of your first crush? That’s something worth remembering.

I remember my first crush back in third grade—yes, I started a bit young, but that might explain how I ended up being a romance author. 😉 Anyhow, my first crush was on a cute Asian boy in my class. I don’t remember his name, but I do remember that I stood next to him in our class photo. Fast forward to high school, and I fixed my sights on a blond football player who played the trumpet in band class. His name I do recall, but I’ll keep it to myself so as not to embarrass anyone. 😉

The great thing about these crushes was how innocent and endearing they were. There was no drama, only moments of daydreaming and hoping.

This is the kind of love I tried to capture in my newest release, Romantically Ever After. Gracie and Brady’s story is just plain sweet and maybe a tad bit naive, but I love how their relationship develops in an organic and genuine way. Not too much drama, but lots of tenderness and blushing. Just the way young love should be.

Here’s an excerpt:

Brady Hansen shook off his puffy winter jacket and fell onto his bed. He covered his eyes with his hands, his palms quickly warming from the heat in his face. Great. If he had a penny for each time he blushed in front of Gracie, he’d have enough money to buy her a couple dozen roses. Not that he ever would do such a thing. Nope, that’d be way too obvious. He was already sure she thought something was up with the way he escaped her company as quickly as possible. He sighed. It was either escape or confess how he felt about her, something he wasn’t ready to do. Not today, tomorrow, or ever.

 

He dug his phone from his jean pocket and switched it on. He clicked on his photo album and scrolled through the pictures he had saved to a folder titled with a simple letter “G”. G for Gracie, of course. Scrolling through the pictures, he stopped at ones they had taken a few months ago when they happened to both be wearing their green Oregon Ducks hoodies. He remembered that day well. They were sitting together at a cafe off campus and playing around with her new selfie stick. They’d taken a series of photos, each one showcasing a different expression. The faces they made ranged from normal to serious to downright silly. The last photo though was the one he loved the most. Gracie called it his trademark Brady face, also known as his “make a mental note” face. When they took it, with the two of them squeezing one eye shut and twisting their mouths to the side, he’d realized something.

 

He was in love with his best friend.

 

Brady loved that Gracie got him. She saw his goofy side and his clumsiness, and she accepted him for who he was. But that was the problem. Everything that she accepted about him was everything she wasn’t looking for in a guy. How did he know? It was obvious from the way she went gaga over the actors in those chick flicks she watched. They were all tall, handsome, and charming. Oh, he had the tall part down, but with it came feet that were too big for his body. Handsome and charming though? He’d need a fairy godmother for that.

 

That’s how he knew Gracie would never feel the same way about him that he felt about her. And why he couldn’t tell her how he felt. And also why he couldn’t be near her because every time he was, he ended up going gaga and doing something so not cool. Like falling onto her in an elevator and squashing her.

 

She had smelled so good though. Like fresh strawberries on a stack of homemade pancakes, the fluffy kind his mom used to make for him as a kid. He missed his parents and even his two older brothers living back in California, but not as much as he longed for his best friend down the hall. He missed hanging out with Gracie and studying with her. If only there was a way to turn off his heart, so it’d stop trying to fly out of his chest like those old cartoon characters’ did whenever they saw the girl they liked.

 

Knock, knock!

 

“Brady, open up! I have something to tell you!”

 

He shot up and almost fell off the bed at the sound of Gracie’s voice outside his door. Whoa. She sounded more excited that he’d ever heard her. Could it be? His heart started pounding as he wondered what she wanted to tell him.

I hope you’ll check out Romantically Ever After! It’ll for sure get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day.

Here’s a sweet song about young love, Kenny Holland’s “Less Than Three” that matches this story perfectly.

Do you remember your first crush?