Now that the nest is empty, and because my husband has always been impossible to supervise, I am down to only managing me. Me and occasionally a feisty senior citizen Bichon named Dobby.
Turns out, I am a bit of a handful.
My friends over at #FridayFive decided to explore “5 Boundaries” this week. The first thing that comes to mind when I hear the word boundaries is the ways in which we set up healthy “borders” with the people in our life. How do I learn to say yes or no in ways that honor and respect other peoples’ desires without forgoing my own needs?
One of the gifts of being over 50 is I rarely struggle setting boundaries with other people anymore. While it is not my favorite, I have learned how to say no and mean it. Being married for a thousand years and raising two children almost to adulthood has given me ample opportunity to learn to choose when and if I am going to buy a ticket to ride someone else’s emotional rollercoaster. Been there, done that.
However, setting up healthy boundaries for myself and how I spend my time is proving to be a bit more of a challenge these days. The good news is I have a fair amount of self awareness about where I struggle. The bad news is I tend to be somewhat hard-headed about making changes when I need to do so. I often need a firm hand to whip me into shape and, since I am a grown up, I am my responsibility to manage.
So, in honor of my #FridayFive sisters and our collective exploration of boundaries, here are the 5 boundaries I am learning to set for myself:
First Things First- I have found I function better, I enjoy more peace, I am easier to live with and I am just an all around nicer person if I begin each day with prayer. I have tried praying on the run and I have tried setting aside prayer time later in the day. For me, it just doesn’t work. Like a lamp that needs to be plugged in to utilize electricity, I need to plug into Spirit in order to be my best self. My latest deal with myself is no Facebook until I have prayed. The same with exercise. I feel better if I exercise and I’m more likely to get it done, if I do it early in the day. It’s not rocket science. It is just what works. No short cuts, first things first.
Write It Down- I am also more productive if I plan my day in advance. I am a visual learner and I need to see it in writing. If it is not on my list, it probably isn’t going to happen. I am fairly consistent with making lists and checking things off. However, I am still struggling with writing down my schedule and sticking to it. One of the joys of this season of my life is a fair amount of flexibility with my schedule. The danger of this freedom is an unreasonable sense of unlimited time. I tend to waste time because of my faulty perception I have plenty of time. If I put my priorities into a schedule, it is more likely to happen.
Choose my Best Yes- I have many interests and, as I mentioned above, I have some freedom right now to explore those interests. However, I know myself well enough to realize just because something is a worthwhile thing to do, it doesn’t mean it is MY worthwhile thing. My enthusiastic, high energy inclination is to sign up for everything that piques my interest. However, I have a limited attention span and a tendency to not follow through once my enthusiasm has waned. At Storyline last year, one of the speakers encouraged us to choose no more than 3 major projects at a time. For this season, my 3 projects are my home, The Lamb Center and my writing/ speaking ministry. Balancing those 3 projects with my desire for connection with family and friends requires me to make those my focus for now.
Connection, Not Comparison- In addition to connecting with God, I need to schedule time with friends and family. Written down on the calendar scheduling. I am an extrovert by nature and I am fed emotionally and spiritually by my people. If I don’t make time for face to face interaction, I find myself spending too much time on social media because I am lonely and a little lazy. Social media is wonderful, but too much time spent there is like eating candy when I am need of a healthy dinner. Part of prioritizing connection is remembering true intimacy with my people requires vulnerability and authenticity. When I am real, others are too and we all receive the healing of Me Too. When I pretend and wear masks, we fall prey to comparison and competition. I’m too old for that garbage anymore. I need my people and I only have time these days for those who are willing to be real.
Progress, Not Perfection- I end with this because, as I said, I’m a bit of a handful. My tendency is to be disorganized and undisciplined. In addition, I sometimes have the attention span of a fruit fly. I get really excited about a multitude of important causes, but get distracted easily. I struggle every single day to impose discipline on myself. HOWEVER, I am making progress. And, when harnessed appropriately, the character traits which get me into trouble are also my biggest strengths. I am learning to play to my strengths and gently and lovingly discipline myself to overcome my weaknesses. So I pick my battles with myself, give myself a break, laugh at my foibles and remember that God simultaneously sees me as holy and blameless and is still in the process of completing the good work He has begun in me.
Your turn! What ways have you found to choose structure and boundaries which make you healthier and stronger? Would love to hear your answers in the comments.