I don’t take for granted what many people might consider Daily Standard Activities. Because these Daily Standard Activities have not been Daily Standard Activities for me for a very long time, I stand on alert waiting to see what Daily Standard Activity I’m going to experience today. In fact, it’s been so long ago that these were Daily Standard Activities for me that I have forgotten they should be Daily Standard Activities. These Daily Standard Activities are brand new to me. It’s like going on vacation and seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time or the Statue of Liberty or the Bellagio Fountain or Disney World, all for the first time. Your senses are on high alert, you take everything in with wide eyes and dropped jaw, you stand amazed like that overly eager tourist with camera flashing on auto pilot. Every day gets to be a new experience with new sights and activities. Vacation isn’t boring. Vacation is high on life and freedom to let go of the normal and experience the new. I feel like I’m on vacation every day lately. Life is exhilarating for me just because I’m experiencing much of life for the first time that many consider monotony. I don’t have any Daily Standard Activities right now because my old daily standard activities are in the garbage and I’m forming new as I go. Hence, I have joy in figuring out what actually should be Daily Standard Activities. And like the tourist, I’m dying to share!
The simple act of eating is the most basic Daily Standard Activity. For me, I used to fear not having control over what I was going to eat. I feared being forced to eat what ED told me I couldn’t. That’s why I stayed home so much. Home is where I had control over my food. Last week I went to Las Vegas for a conference. I didn’t pack back up food. I didn’t manipulate to make sure food choices fit my agenda. I didn’t freak out about food. You have absolutely NO idea the freedom I felt! I ate whatever worked for each meal. My friend wanted to go to In N Out Burger and I didn’t care. I had a burger and fries because those were the choices and I loved it. Just the fact that I could sit down with her at lunch and have a roast beef sandwich and Sun Chips – that was AWESOME! It was unbelievable! You can’t understand how incredible it felt to NOT worry about food. I just ate. I ate food. Every bite didn’t cause me to panic. I didn’t have to count calories or compare my meal to anyone else’s. I. Just. Ate. Daily Standard Activity.
We made our first camping trip of the summer last weekend. Normally, I would have packed two things for each meal – one choice for the boys and Benj and one choice for me. Every meal I used to pack like that. Talk about a lot of work. This time, we camped and I ate exactly what the boys and Benj ate (except for pancakes for breakfast – I still don’t like those). Benj didn’t end up crabby at me for eating only a bowl of watermelon for lunch. We didn’t fight over what I was eating compared to what they were eating. I didn’t set a double standard by making the boys eat all their lunch while I ate hardly anything. Micah and I fought over the box of CheezIts because I wanted some too. On the boat I forgot to take an apple for snack so I just ate trail mix because it was what we had available. The weekend was carefree and fun! I wasn’t focused on what I was or was not eating. I focused on my family and hanging out with them. Benj and I weren’t tense with each other. We were a family, and it all boiled down to freedom in my food. Daily Standard Activity.
I ran outside. All by myself. For 40 minutes. I got tired. I went back. I got up after the sun, not before. It felt good to see what my feet could do on the pavement. I pushed and I stopped. I also still exercise on the machines. I switch up speed and resistance. I sweat. I lift weights. I swing kettle bells. I walked on a Sunday morning. I enjoyed the world around me. I do yoga. I need yoga to stay loose and keep perspective on what this body can do. Love the slower pace and different focus from running or weights. I exercise because it feels good. But I have no desire to take up two hours of my day doing it. I am not compelled. I make a decision. Daily Standard Activity.
The Sunday we were at Cutty’s I set my alarm to get up. My alarm went off, I turned it off, and I rolled over and went back to sleep. I didn’t feel guilty. I felt cozy. An hour later, two sets of feet made their way through the camper and showed up by our bed. Camper beds aren’t huge. But Jamin and Eli snuggled in quite well with Benj and me. We all fell back to sleep, cozy and warm while the day slowly started outside our little camper world. I was PRESENT when my boys came to our bed. I got to snuggle with them too; it wan’t just Dad available for snuggles because Mom was out running. Daily Standard Activity.
Saturday was Micah, Jamin, and Eli’s family birthday party. In the past, I have gone absolutely out of my way to make an elaborate meal for our families. I used to make over-the-top cakes. I would spend more time in the kitchen than visiting with our families. But ED liked it that way. ED kept me in check in the kitchen. And then he’d give me permission to sneak bites of food, extra cake, more ice cream, until I was stuffed beyond reason. This party, we ordered pizza because for Pete’s Sake, why in the world would I want to spend all day in the kitchen? I made a very normal cake with Unity’s UC on one side and Dordt’s DC on the other because that’s what the boys wanted. (Why, I have no idea.). But it was their cake, not mine. I ate two pieces of pizza and one piece of cake and ice cream because that satisfied me. I left the dirty plates and glasses laying all over the counter because we were laughing too much on the patio to worry about messes. I didn’t want to miss any of the fun. I was part of it. The focus was the boys, not my silly need to impress with food. Daily Standard Activity.
Every time I experience one of these Daily Standard Activities, my heart is like one of those bubble machines, pumping joy in a cloud of bubbles into the atmosphere. Or I’m like a four year old skipping circles trying to catch as many bubbles as I can. Seriously, I get bowled over by the joy God is giving me. I didn’t know that life should have been like this all along. I didn’t know for all those years that life was more than me and ED. But I don’t dwell on the past; I live in the moment. God gives me these moments. He has given me this second chance at life. I see everything with fresh eyes and I don’t take them for granted. I relish in them and sometimes, I feel like shouting to the world. I want to shout, “Don’t miss this moment! Don’t miss the joy infused in each simple task and each simple activity. Don’t forget to thank God for these days filled with Daily Standard Activities.”
But I’ve decided these aren’t Daily Standard Activities. These are Daily Joy-Producing Activities. And every single one of them produces joy because the focus in not on myself or what ED used to control me. Every Daily Joy-Producing Activity is focused on the God who orchestrated them. And in that focus, relationships are built rather than isolation. That is what life is about: my vertical relationship with God that deepens my horizontal relationship with those all around me. I am happy. Hear my heart shout because I don’t know how to say this with any more emphasis than I am. Each day I’m going on vacation, seeing the sights for the first time and soaking them up. I’ll be super tourist with my senses on alert and the light of curiosity and excitement in my eyes. This is life to the fullest. This is life connected dot to dot by each moment. This is life defined by God’s deepest joy, and its production has no idea!