You have . . . clothed me with joy,
so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. —Psalm 30:11, 12 (NRSV)
When my daughter was in high school, I wanted her to improve her math scores. She has always been exceptional in reading and writing, but the ’rithmetic part took more work. I wanted her to apply herself, so I talked with her teacher about removing her from drama, choir, and forensics.
However, I was surprised to hear her teacher say, “Leave her in activities where she is successful because there she will get better, and that confidence will inspire everything else she does.” Sister Mary Catherine was right. I left Erin in all of her extracurricular activities. She actually improved in all her subjects, math included. Once she went away to university, she was on the dean’s list all four years. What I learned from Erin’s teacher has become a way of thinking for me about how I live and how I work with my clients. Do more of what works for you and what brings you joy. Those things will inspire you in areas that are more challenging.
Doing more of what works is what Linda (pictured below) did. During Lent, Linda joined me in talking about our Lenten goals: Mine were to pray, read my devotional, and write in my journal every day. Linda’s goal was to walk every day, but, like me, there were days she missed the mark. In my April 5th blog post, “10 Reasons for Joy During Lent”, she reported, “I keep missing my 5 a.m. walks most days. . . [But] I find opportunities in my day to pick myself up and move forward. Being less rushed and more intentional makes a big difference.” Linda has also discovered something else makes a difference: practicing an exercise that brings her joy.
Rather than push herself to walk, Linda discovered the joy of kickboxing. It is a family activity she and her children enjoy together. The newest photographer in her family took this action shot that shows Linda preparing to “rock it” with her instructor. Go, Linda! (Special thanks to Cintia Marie Furtado, age 7, for the photograph.)
The exercise plan that works for you may include your family. It might be an activity you are learning—you don’t have to be an expert. If it is an activity that brings you joy, then it will be the activity you are more likely to start, to continue, and that will bring you the most health benefits.
Think about these fun ways to get fit that may encourage you to do more:
- Join a Meetup group. You can find them in most cities; if not, you can start one on a subject that interests you. Your group can help you do more of an exercise you like: hiking, salsa dancing, sailing, or martial arts.
- Enjoy a walking tour of your city or maybe just the downtown area if you haven’t been there recently. I walked around downtown Houston for a couple of hours and didn’t even count steps because it was so much fun. That I slept really well that night was an added benefit.
- Dance, dance, dance! I love to dance and will admit to doing a few quick movements when I hear my song playing in the store. A dance class is a fun aerobic exercise.
- Make your household chores a workout with happy music and vigorous movements.
- And my personal favorite: Practicing yoga at home—I don’t use a video. I simply practice 10 or 12 sun salutations and then I’m done! I feel happy and energized. When I want to try something new, I enjoy Dianne Bondy’s work. She is a celebrated yoga teacher, social justice activist, and leading voice of the Yoga for All movement. Her game-changer video: Who Says Plus Size Women Can’t?.
- Completing 10 sun salutations
- Finding my favorite dried mango at Marshall’s store
- Reading my Bible and my devotional; then writing in my journal in the morning
- Getting a new hairstyle
- Preparing for a speaking event and feeling good about the presentation
- Traveling to Chicago, a favorite city for my presentation
- An appointment at an organic spa while there