Well, my sabbatical from working is nearing it's end, I am more than half way through, and there is the possibility of a job soon, I am one of the short listed candidates so we'll see, I could be working very shortly! I was sitting enjoying a quiet, contemplative moment and started taking stock on how much this time has meant to me, and how much my health and well-being has improved from this reprieve. So I thought, I should really document this, hopefully not because it will be the only time I'll experience it all, but to inspire me to stay feeling this great!
One of my first orders of business was to start running consistently again, I have a marathon in June I want to run but also I wanted to prove to myself work was not just an excuse :) I wanted to strengthen the self-discipline muscle so that by the time I had to start working again running would be an enjoyment and I would want to prioritize it to keep it in my busier schedule. Other than the weeks I was sick and the week between Christmas and New Year's I have run minimum 90 minutes, and aimed for 135 minutes every week. Recently I've tried to up that a little to get more stamina and endurance, as I'll be trying to run more than double the length I've been currently running in the marathon. I haven't lost weight but I definitely feel stronger, I have better stamina, I have better cardiovascular strength, I don't get winded as easily, all great improvements!
Another top priority for me was to make a new meal plan. In the fall I had been studying more about food, both from a spiritual aspect and furthering my knowledge of nutritional needs, and also wanting to try to lower our food budget, not to mention keep the meals easy morning, noon and night so I don't feel the need to rely on faster foods when I'm back to work. I have finished it and have felt very good on it. As I said, I haven't lost weight, I haven't fully implemented this plan yet and I've been a bit indulgent since my year of forfeiting food luxuries is up, plus eating out a lot when I've been socializing during this time off. But, I'm trying to reign myself back in starting this week so I don't suffer shock if I end up back to work in a few weeks.
I think I've mentioned over the years, and the last few months before my layoff, about the chronic neck and back pain I deal with, and have most of my life, but especially in my last position. I was to the point I was going to physio for the first time in my life, in addition to monthly chiropractor and massage therapy. One week after my layoff my physiotherapist already saw enough improvement he suggested I wait a month and decide to come back if needed then. I haven't returned. I still have attended my other monthly appointments, but haven't felt in dire need of them the few days leading up to them as I have for years. I still have a few moments of stiffness and achyness but my back has not been this good since my last layoff in 2006!
Another thing I chose to focus on during this time was keeping a schedule and staying well rested, not treating this time off like I would a vacation. I go to bed the same time as Sean, get up the same time as Sean, and have done a few other things to add to improvement of my sleep. I have noticed I have not needed coffee to stay awake like I was keeping the same schedule working....except school nights :) I hardly wake up or toss and turn through the night anymore. All without any medication I might add, in case that's what you thought I might have added, which the main thing I did is wear a sleep mask to keep out the light! I think also, the lack of having stress to tumble through my brain has made for less restlessness.
An unintentional change I decided to make was creating a better skin care regimen. Being a larger woman I experience stretch marks and especially in winter the dry, itchy skin I get around them can be quite bothersome. I decided I should take much better care of my skin so that I could minimize that, but also to maybe help improve appearance and texture. It's amazing what a difference you can feel about your body when you have soft, supple skin :) I researched quality soaps & lotions for a decent cost, made my own all natural & edible exfoliant, and created a routine that was not a lot of extra time in the shower. I created my own mixture of hand repair lotions too for my dry hands and poor cuticles and weak nails and my hands are doing great this winter!
Another unexpected benefit has been that I've needed my glasses less the last few months. My glasses are only necessary because I have one slightly far sighted and one slightly near sighted eye, they conflict when trying to read or look at writing on screens, they even said for watching t.v. when I got them at 15. So I wear them most of the time because these days, when are you not looking at a screen of some sort. I decided after a week of not working to try not putting them on first thing in the morning, to see how I feel. I've tried this on weekends and can often make it through one day, but usually my eyes get sore and tired for sure the second day, sometimes both days. I have ended up wearing my glasses only about 3 out of 85 days! What a blessing that has been this winter, I hate the many challenges of glasses wearing in winter!
Lastly, and most importantly, my spiritual health has been vastly improved. It may have taken me longer to really focus on making that happen during this time, but I started the new year with a new priority, to abide in God and everything else is secondary. Devotional time comes first. Health of my heart and my spirit come before the health of my body and relationships. It's been a long time since I have felt so at peace. There are still external and internal struggles I'm dealing with, but every morning I take the opportunity to lay them before God, reflect on what His Word has to say about it, and then focus on how I can submit them to Him and how He is equipping me to serve Him more fully. Just like there is a decision and a choice I make to love my husband in a way that will bring us intimacy and deeper love, there is I choice I make to love God like that. I choose to feel He is the center of my heart, my best friend, my love, no matter what other choices try to tempt me to feel differently. I have decided. And that has brought the most well-being of all.