Busy though this may all sound (and trust me, it is busy), I've also worked in a few measures to be sure that I take care of myself and honor God while I provide for my family and serve my community.
That's where my New Year's Resolutions come into play.
A couple years ago, I was pretty serious about taking time in my week to rest. To be clear -- I'm not Jewish and it was never really a legalistic thing, but I just knew that with such a busy schedule, it would help to take a day of my week to rest. Somewhere along the line, I dropped this practice; and I believe that I've suffered a bit because of that. So this year, I'm taking Fridays off.
Basically, I won't do any work-related activities on Fridays. No blogs or songwriting, no recording or booking shows, no Word Up emails. But I also won't just veg out at home all day. I can take the pup to Fort Tryon or treat myself to a few hours at the climbing gym. I can even complete household chores, run errands, or do the laundry. And sure, I'll probably squeeze in a few episodes of The Daily Show or whatever other TV program I'm into at any given time.
2. Date Nights
My weekly day of rest will wrap with a romantic night on the town with my lovely wife. Sometimes we'll try new spots (last week we gave Manolo a taste, on 177th and Broadway), other times we might just kick it at the bar on the corner. Sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. Either way, we'll be spending some quality time together after our hectic work weeks.
3. Early to bed, early to rise...
So my resolutions so far... well, let's be honest, they're child's play. Taking a weekly day off? Hell yea, that's easy! Romantic nights with my wife? No-brainer!
But here's the kicker.
If I really want to succeed with the schedule I've laid out, I'll have to become an early bird. The problem is, as long as I can remember, I've always been a night owl.
Basically, I'll have to turn back my circadian clock about four hours! And no, that's not an exaggeration. I'm trying to be in bed by 10pm and up again by 5:30 or 6am. Every day.
I like to call it reclaiming the morning, which I actually tried several years ago. And failed miserably (while I couldn't establish a habit, I did manage to wake up early a few times and eventually wrote and recorded a song about one such experience).
But now, I'm married (!!!). And my amazing wife is usually up that early herself (she worked for several years as a baker, a job that required her to start as early as 4:30 am). I hate putting the onus on her to get me out of bed each morning, but I do believe that I can get the hang of it with her help.
I've been blessed with this incredible metabolism that bars me from ever gaining any weight. No matter how much I eat or how little I exercise, I'm pretty sure that I'll always be awkwardly skinny. Nevertheless, I've noted over the past few years that my overall health is declining. I'm not as limber as I used to be, short runs leave me terribly winded, and I'm concerned about my heart health (I really do eat a lot without much exercise... while I may not be gaining weight, I suspect that it may catch up to me in other ways).
Besides all that, I'd love to challenge myself to a 5K run, "mudder" run, or ... I dunno... compete in Ninja Warrior. American Gladiators? Is that still a thing?
So I think that going to the gym on a regular basis will be a good start; I have it penciled in, first thing in the morning, two days out of my week.
5. Morning Prayer
The last of my resolutions is to spend time in daily morning prayer. This has also been a big struggle for me in the past, but I do want to be intentional about lifting my supplication, thanks, and praise each morning through meditation, journaling, and just straight-up abiding in God's presence.
Over the past couple weeks, I've begun implementing my new schedule and resolutions and it's not been easy! Distractions are plentiful and I'm easily knocked off track. I'm often frustrated at the end of a work day, upset that there are not more hours to work on all the various projects and commitments I have going on a daily basis. It has even been the cause of some friction in my relationships.
Perhaps I'll soon get into the swing of things. Or perhaps I'll decide after a few weeks that I have to knock off some of these projects and commitments altogether. But as of now, it's too soon to tell. I'm going to give this new paradigm -- this new schedule and set of resolutions -- my best shot and see where I end up. Here's hoping that I can be a better husband, teacher, writer, artist, and activist because of it.
And here's wishing you all the best in your own paradigm shifts this year!