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The Year of 40

The Year of 40: The secret to a little sanity

**Author's note: This blog series is a year-long installment which will chronicle the year that I turn 40 with some comical moments, retrospective insights and empowering calls to action.

by Christie Browning

It's been a busy twelve months. I know I share that sentiment frequently, but seriously... it's been a crazy year.

A year ago I started working full time again - after having a few years off from the full-time grind. I never imagined how much of a change that would make on my day...not just the working hours of my day, but all the surrounding hours as well! Now I can barely find time to return a text message, get on the phone and chat it up with my momma or find some quiet time to read a good book and regroup. And the few hours in my day that aren't prepopulated with a million to-dos and have-tos, I don't want to do any of that stuff I can't seem to find time to do... I just want to shut the world out, turn off my mind and my cell phone and mindlessly watch reruns of Gilmore Girls. Does this resonate with anyone else?

Even the weekends are packed with a laundry list of things to get done -- like, the LAUNDRY! There's no time during the week, so Saturday becomes house cleaning and laundry day. My stepson is at the house on the weekends and so there's usually some time carved out for us as a family, which is my favorite part of the weekend. Between paying bills and grocery shopping, the Saturday hours are quickly filled. Sundays are already planned with church and then we usually get my stepson back to his mom in the early evening. Before I know it, the weekend is gone and all I've managed to get done is a load of whites! Seriously, someone please tell me you feel the same strain on your time!

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I've been overwhelmed. I've been in a real need of a "pause" button....maybe more like a "power-off" button! And to top it all off, I can tell a difference now that I am a bit older...the ol' mind and body just don't have the same stamina as my 20-year-old self. Now before you all start sending me samples of the latest energy supplement or dietary fix that will make me feel 10 years younger, let me just say this is a case for the heart and spirit....not the body. 

Although things have been hectic, I have survived and on some days, I might even flourish, thrive and really shine. So what's the secret to keeping my sanity in this crazy life? Well, it's journaling. 

I've been journaling since I was 13. I was given a journal for my birthday and that began a lifelong way for me to write out my prayers, my fears, my joys and so many things in between. If you've followed me at all, you know that I preach the power of journaling, but lately I've taken it a step further with a more focused approach. This focused four-question formula was necessary for a few reasons:

1) I wasn't making time to journal every day. I was letting the busyness of life over take my journal and quiet time.

2) When I did find time to write, I was writing the same old stuff.... whining and complaining about the same old thing.

3) I was stuck on all that was bringing me down and missing the joy, the learning and the progression that life's journey provides.

So.... here's the four question formula that's made all the difference in my journaling time.

1) What was the best part of my day? How did God show up in my day?

2) What made me sad, mad or frustrated today?

3) What lesson do I think God is trying to show me?

4) What is one question or request I am looking for God to answer?

That's it. It's that simple. But don't dismiss the power of these simple questions. What I have found as I answer these four questions each day, is that so much of my heart is opened up. I have had to stop and really think about what is truly great in my sometimes mundane days. I've had to make my heart and head recognize where God is in my days. When I would blow past the lessons in life over being caught up in all that isn't right or isn't going my way, now I can see a pattern of the virtues God is trying to teach me and make me more aware of. My last question isn't about whining to a Heavenly Father like a toddler who isn't happy. It's a question met with expectation.... with excitement and anticipation of the blessings, answers and direction I know my Heavenly Father wants to give me. 

This has been a game changer for me... and I've only been at it for a few weeks. I can't imagine in 30 days what revelations or heart-changers that might come out. Do you want to join me in this exercise? It's easy... just grab a pen, a notebook and start answering the questions. I'd love to hear your thoughts!! Leave a comment and share away!

Christie BrowningComment