All Work and No Play

Blog1Have you ever been in a season where everything was going right but something felt slightly off on the inside? You couldn’t put your finger on it, but just knew…something is a little out of whack. Perhaps you felt tired… lacked motivation to do the things you love, but knew you weren’t feeling down, just less energetic?

I found myself there this past year. When people asked how I, or my family, were doing – my response was, “We are good.” And we really were – for the most part we had a great year, and personally I saw long awaited promises from God unfold. But inwardly I thought and outwardly I shared with only those closest to me, the sentiment that maybe we just had too many good things happening. So many, that in all honesty our pace felt non-stop. For me, I work two jobs, have four kids, two in select soccer, a high-schooler nearing graduation, friends to keep up with, doctors appointments and dental appointments to keep up with, a house to clean — the list is endless. My husband and I went on date nights occasionally and hung out with friends, sometimes, but our social lives this last year suffered due to our schedule. Our world never stopped.

Or perhaps.. a healthier way to look at it is that we didn’t stop our world of seemingly more important activities enough to enjoy life and friends and laughter and fun. And like the frog in the water, I didn’t perceive the danger of living this way.

So how did I figure out what was going on before it got the best of me? Well first, I asked a few close friends to pray for me – to help me pinpoint why, with everything going so right something just felt wrong. And then not long after, I picked up a book to read that I received as a part of a launch team to promote it, called ‘Your Best Year Ever,’ by Michael Hyatt. There I found my issue – several pages in – with what the book calls the Life Score Test.

The book is a goal setting book, so in order to help the readers see where they are doing a great job with setting goals and where they are doing a poor job with setting goals initially, they encourage them to take this test to see where they land across ten areas of goal setting: Spiritual, Intellectual, Emotional, Physical, Marital, Parental, Social, Vocational, Avocational, and financial.

When I got my results, I laughed at first when I got to the last one. My results read:

Based on your score, I can tell that…

  • You’re experiencing success in multiple areas of life
  • You’re proficient at setting clear goals ( that’s what helped you get where you are today)
  • You’re spending a majority of your time focused on getting ahead at work, but may have neglected fun and rejuvenating pastimes

I thought, who has time for fun and rejuvenation? Are you serious? I’m reading a book about setting goals and getting ahead and this is the area where I’m lacking. Who sets goals for fun?!

Then it hit me… fun was what was missing. Everything suddenly made sense. There is a reason we say the cliche statement, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The key to staying sharp, energetic, and excited about vocational and other passions is to have some avocational, recreational ones. Light bulbs went off. Horns sounded. Eureka!! This is what I was searching for.

So here it is — 2018. When people ask me what my goals are for this year, how I want to grow as a person to continue stretching and expanding as a mom and as a ministry leader to take new ground, my answer is, “I am going to schedule time for fun this year.”

I am where God wants me to be. I am doing what he has called and created me to do. His promises are unfolding before my very eyes. He is faithful! Now I have the wisdom to walk this out in a well rounded way that will be sustainable.  So, in addition to my other goals, I’m going to set some fun goals this year.  A fun bucket list for 2018, so to speak. I’ve already got the ball rolling. I’m also going to put some boundaries on my “me-time”, fun time, and time spent with family and friends – it’s okay to not be on call to whomever needs us all the time. It’s ok to let texts go when you are out enjoying life. You can respond later. It’s ok to let calls go to voicemail and get back to people. Fun space needs to be sacred and protected.

One of the most fun things to see in just the short time since my eyes were opened, is that my friends are totally on board! My goal to incorporate and schedule more time into my life, bleeds over to their lives. People are making plans to join me on this fun journey.

So here’s to a fun 2018! I am more excited about this year in every way, and the flames of passion for my areas of purpose are already being rekindled as I fix my eyes on being well rounded, rather than having tunnel vision on my other dreams and goals at the expense of this one.

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Jump Into Summer

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As recently posted on the http://www.AustinCru.com website. I hope this article will inspire working and non-working mom’s alike to… Jump Into Summer!

I recently took my three youngest kids to one of our local pools specially designed with water slides and a tubing river for families to enjoy. I worked all day, so my plan was to relax on a lounger, sip sparkling water and read a book while my kids played away. I scoped it out, found a great spot to relax, and settled in to enjoy the unseasonably cool, cloudy summer evening.

As I sat, I found myself watching parents go down the water slides with their children. These were people, like me, who’d probably worked all day, yet there they were – fully living in the moment. There was something so beautiful about it. The smiles on their faces, parents and children alike, were priceless! As fun as it seemed for them, I didn’t follow suit. I didn’t want to get chlorine in my hair; I didn’t want to go under…. I made excuses to sit on the sidelines and watch life happen right before my eyes.

I took my kids again a few days later. At first, I sat and watched again. I watched my kids laugh, I watched parents laugh, and then I watched my two middle boys leave their baby sister out. I watched her go up the large slide and come down, and then do it again, with a little less joy than normal. Finally, I called out to her across the pool and asked, “Kylie would you like me to go down the slide with you?”

To say she jumped at my offer would be an understatement; she pounced on it! We met by the slide, she took me by the hand and proudly walked me up the stairs. We went down together and laughed, and yes, we did it again and again! Did my hair get wet? Absolutely. Did I go under? You bet! Did I have a moment with my daughter I will treasure forever? No doubt.

I have learned it takes planning and intentionality to set the table for these moments to happen, especially in light of all the hats we wear and all we do. It also takes the decision to jump in and fully embrace these special “to be treasured” times with our kids!

If you need a little help with your summer planning to make this summer an extra special one, here’s a list of some fun things available for you to do in the Austin area. If you live in another city, Google is rich with lists to consider for fun in the sun with your fam! Whatever you choose, my hope for you is that you jump in and make the most of it, that you laugh a lot and be a child again yourself! It’s good for the soul.

Happy summer!

Amy O’Donnell

Plan Ahead for Summer

Happy Summer! I thought some of you who read my blog might enjoy this re-post of an article I wrote for a great online health newsletter, Fit For the King(FFTK). There are many inspiring articles and tips for summer and more in this month’s edition. You can read FFTK in it’s entirety at http://www.shoreline.net/fftk.

Amy

Plan Ahead for Summer

As a mom of four kids you can imagine my life gets pretty hectic at times.  My husband, my children and I all wear multiple hats and go in many directions. Family, work, ministry, extracurricular activities and friends keep us on our toes. The bulk of what we do falls in line with a school calendar year, and summer tends to be low key in comparison.

Several years ago, when my youngest started pre-school, I mistakenly thought that when summer came all four kids would be so happy to downshift for a season and co-exist under the same roof, that we would have “Kodak Perfect” family moments unfolding before our very eyes. I had visions of all three boys getting along great with one another and their baby sister. The house was going to stay clean, no one was going to get bored and all would go well. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong! After the first week I knew I was in trouble, and by the end of the summer I was at my wits end!

That summer taught us that we needed to have a plan for our family summers to unfold well. So, the following summer we decided to get away for a family vacation at the beginning of summer, without realizing what a blessing this would be. What we found, was that getting away together at the beginning of summer enabled us to reconnect, re-calibrate and get used to being around each other again. We were so thrilled with the way this changed the tone of our summers, we have applied it ever since. We also learned to be okay with the transition time it takes for us all to be back together, in close proximity, for longer lengths of time. And we learned to lay out plans and guidelines to help things flow smoothly, while still allowing room for flexibility and individual summer goals to be met.

What we learned here really can be applied to every area of our lives. When we have a plan, rather than just waiting and hoping things will come together, we are much more likely to reach our desired end destination. It’s like I always say (but sometimes forget to follow myself-ha!), “Begin with the end in mind!” It’s true for our lives personally, with our families, with our health and fitness goals. When we know what it is we want to see accomplished and set a plan to reach it, we are much more likely to get there.

Summer truly is a great time to re-calibrate, to rest and reflect, to reset and get ready for the fall and the busyness it brings.  It’s a season to carve out time with those we love… enjoy a barbecue or two, or more…  soak in some vitamin D as we sit in the sun… take advantage of the longer days… and starry, warm nights… and play a little more… to be a kid again ourselves. I am praying this summer you begin it with the end in mind and that as it comes to a close you will look back and say, “That was the best summer ever!”

Happy planning for a summer filled with great memories!

Amy O’Donnell