On my 37th birthday, I decided that for 30 days I would be diligent about doing four practices in my daily life:
Practice 1: Going to bed each night at 10PM and getting up each morning at 5AM
Practice 2: Becoming more regular in my practice of Spiritual disciplines (i.e. prayer, journaling, reflection on the Scriptures, etc.)
Practice 3: Exerciseing 3 times a week to take help maintain good health
Practice 4: Fasting once a week to remind myself that while the physical life is part of who we are, it is not our master.
I chose to tell about this experiment through blogging for two reasons. First, if one share's goals publicly it becomes harder (not impossible, mind you) to rationalize commitment to the goals. Second, because I had a fifth unstated practice - get back to regular writing and usage of social media.
So, dear reader, more for my own accountability than for your reading pleasure, here is how the practices have been going:
Practice 1: I have really enjoyed the challenge of going to bed by 10PMish* and getting up at 5AMish*. (*Note: "ish" is a technical term that means give or take five to ten minutes. Its a real life-saver when telling one's spouse what time one plans to be home from work. "No, I'm not late, I said 5:30ish.") And for the most part I have done pretty well. There have been exceptions to this rule, (trip to emergency room for stitches with a two-year old, guests arriving from out of town, etc.) but they have been for actual life events and not because I was staying up late surfing online for the latest Justin Beiber updates. (And no, I am really not a fan of Justin Beiber.)
Practice 2: Getting up early has made becoming more consistent in practicing the spiritual disciplines much easier. I have been successful at this practice and am thankful for the time to start my day in quiet reflection, prayer and reading. When I start my day out this way, i really notice a difference in my attitude and approach towards others. I don't know who said it, but I believe there is something to the quote: "Before beginning dealing with the affairs of men, it is important to deal with the affairs of God." (my paraphrase)
Practice 3: Umm...well...Yeah I haven't been very successful with this practice. I really need to find a group of people with which to run or sign up for another race to give me a goal. Even with the warmer weather, I have not been able to motivate myself to get out and run. So this practice definitely needs some work.
Practice 4: I continue to find the practice of fasting a helpful discipline. Interestingly enough, each week instead of getting easier, it seems to get more challenging. I find myself more tempted to break the fast early. Now that Lent is over and my Lenten commitment is ended, I have considered not fasting any more. However, since it is still a helpful and challenging practice, I will continue it for the rest of this one-month experiment, and re-evaluate then.
So, that's how the practices are going. I will give a final update on the "one-month experiment" on May 7...ish.