Monday, January 12, 2009

Good Starts

"This is the day which the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it" (Psalm 118:24).

I am a night owl by nature, so usually morning's light has me wanting to bury my head under the covers pleading for a few more hours of sleep. But with children's schedules to manage and responsibilities to take care of, I can't always hit the snooze button.

Too often I begin the day in a mad rush, feeling behind and stressed, but what a difference it makes in my attitude when I start my day off right. This new year finds me yearning for balance of body, spirit and heart. And I realize that a good morning sets the tone for my whole day.

So I started thinking about some of my favorite ways to begin the day. As I began compiling my list, I thought about how I would photograph my perfect morning. Some of my breakfast favorites piled onto a breakfast tray would look so lovely, I thought. But then I laughed, thinking, why would I make myself breakfast in bed?

But then I stopped myself and wondered, why wouldn't I make myself breakfast in bed?

Like so many moms, I pour myself out daily for my family. Serving loved ones comes easily, and I enjoy investing time to create special memories for my husband and children. But too often it just doesn't seem worth the extra effort to put the same attention into my own experience.

But this year I'm determined to treat myself better: taking care of my body with nutritious food and exercise; growing in my relationship with God; and making my own life more beautiful. And in seeking balance in the areas of physical, spiritual and emotional health, I'm hoping to find myself a better wife, mother and friend in the process. And a happier me, even in the morning!

Here are some of the good starts that make a difference in my day:

  • Breakfast in Bed. Doesn't the thought sound so indulgent? This idea actually came to me in thinking about photographing some healthy breakfast favorites to share with you on the blog. But then I realized how pampered I would feel enjoying a leisurely breakfast in bed. So I hope to treat myself from time to time, perhaps as a reward for accomplishing household chores. In a way, you inspired me on this one. So I hope you will reward yourself with a pretty breakfast tray of your own!
  • Oh, My Darling. Joe's sister introduced us to clementines two years ago, and this refreshing winter fruit has been a family favorite ever since. Seedless and easy to peel, clementines are a sweet treat any time of day. We can find them in our area in December and January, so I buy them by the sackful and cluster them in bowls for healthy snacking. I recently read in Health magazine that the scent of citrus can brighten our moods, so maybe clementines will help us avoid the wintertime blues (without the guilt that might set in later if we reached for our normal sweet treats).
  • Going Green. I love the comforting warmth of a cup of tea, but also enjoy the health benefits of choosing green tea. Sources say it can strengthen the immune system, improve mental function and boost metabolism. Green tea takes less time to brew than other varieties -- only 1-3 minutes. If you are partial to a particular brand of green tea, I would love to know your favorite selection.
  • Wholesome Goodness. Although I haven't gotten my husband and children on board with this healthy breakfast option, a bowl of oatmeal is a great way to start my day. I enjoy the Weight Control selections of Quaker Instant Oatmeal. My favorite flavor is the banana bread; it's delicious served with a handful of frozen blueberries sprinkled on top! And maybe the girls are coming around. Although they have yet to ask for their own bowl, they do enjoy snuggling up to sample bites from mine.
  • Time with a Friend. I know that my day starts out better when I begin it with the Lord. Greeting the morning with prayer and Bible reading makes a difference in my attitude that helps me throughout the day, yet it is so easy to fall out of this daily habit. I am challenging myself to be more consistent about this in the new year!
  • A Little Easy Reading. What a treat it is to curl up with a magazine for a few minutes in the morning. The beauty that fills the pages of my favorite magazines can give me inspiration for adding loveliness to my day. I love to reach for TeaTime, Southern Lady, Christian Woman, Martha Stewart Living and Southern Living when I can spare a moment. And please tell me I'm not the only mommy who keeps childrens trunk show catalogs on her bedside table!
  • Blooming Joy. Some friends of mine were recently talking about how much we enjoy having fresh flowers. It is so nice to wake up to the sight of fresh blooms arranged in a pretty container. If nothing is blooming in the yard, an inexpensive bouquet picked up along with the groceries can make any day feel special. I picked up the above bouquet of pink carnations nearly a week ago, and they still look pretty clustered in a favorite teapot. Mary Ashley and Emma were asleep when I brought these flowers home, so I decided to surprise them with little bouquets of their own on their bedside tables. They were so excited to discover them in the morning, they ran around the house giggling and twirling. (I'm hoping their daddy took notice of how much we girls like flowers!)
  • Get the Day Moving. We all know the benefits of exercise: endorphins, energy, stamina, weight loss, stress management, toning, strengthening, and on an on. I wouldn't exactly say I like exercise, but I feel so proud of myself when I do workout. And it seems that accomplishing that first goal gets me moving toward other goals through the rest of my day. I recently discovered that I can pop a familiar exercise DVD into my laptop and exercise while I watch a TV program, and the chatter on TV helps me get through more intense segments of the workout. Do you have any tips for staying on track?
  • Add Bubbles. A morning shower is invigorating, but if I have extra time a bubble bath is such a relaxing way to ease into the day. And it's a great reward for checking exercise off the morning's to-do list!
  • Starting Early. I know that one of the secrets to a good morning is saying goodnight. Getting more rest is a definite priority for me this year, so I hope to get myself into an earlier bedtime routine. This one will require some serious adjustment, but I know it will bring tremendous benefits.

These are just a few of the ways I want to start my days off right this year. And I hope that being good to myself will make every morning a good morning. Even on a Monday like today.

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