July Recap + August PowerSheets

July was so fruitful!! God is really teaching me to endure (it’s my word of the year!) and I am so grateful for this lesson. I feel like I accomplished more than ever, but also it was such a relaxing month! I started taking walks every night (the only time in Austin, TX when you can leave the house and not melt) and most nights I didn’t bring my phone with me. It was perfect. I got to see the sunset almost every night, meet my neighbors, and listen to the sounds of the suburbs. It felt so good.

July Goals

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Monthly

  • Read Cultivate by Lara Casey: DONE!! And it was such a blessing. If you can afford it, definitely go and read it!
  • Read two books prep for my thesis: Done!
  • Move to a new apartment!: I’ve done everything except actually move. I signed a lease, paid the downpayment, and packed up my apartment! I’m ready!
  • Plan an August camping trip: This one I made no progress on, and that’s okay. I think it just meant that it’s not something that’s super important to me right now. That’s what I love about the PowerSheets–you can really get a visual of what does and doesn’t matter!
  • Read three books for pleasure: Done! I read 3 old Dykes to Watch Out For that I checked out from the school’s library. Alison Bechdel is a gem, and hilarious.
  • STAYCATION!: I planned it, and visited some really sweet spots in Austin. I’m glad I did that for myself

Weekly

  • Read two theses: I did this most weeks, and found it so helpful. I have a much better idea of what a thesis is supposed to look like in my discipline, and I feel a lot calmer about taking on this huge project (75-100 pages!!)
  • Read two published articles: Mostly done! Some weeks, I ended up reading more in a book, so I don’t feel guilty. Little by little, right!
  • Dance classes and visiting a museum about Texas: So about halfway through the month, I ended up taking these both off of my tending list. I felt guilty for not doing them because I felt they were something I should do, but didn’t really want to do. So I gave myself some grace, and took them off the list, and I spent the rest of the month feeling less guilty and getting stuff done that filled me with life and joy.
  • Go to church and Bible Study: I did this most weeks, and I loved it. I love my church community, but it’s a long commute to get there, so sometimes I don’t go, but every week I did go, I felt so refreshed.
  • Do an activity outside of the home: 100%! And I loved each and every outing.

Daily

  • Work for one hour editing Queer Girl City GuidesI did this most days, but some days I just didn’t have any more work to do, and that was okay!
  • 6 am – 8:30 pm: Sort of??? I stuck to it often, but I think a 7-9:30 schedule might be more doable for me.
  • Bible/prayer: Done and done! 🙌🏾
  • AM/PM routine: I did well. I have a solid routine now and I keep it on my mirror. It’s super helpful starting and ending the day off right. 
  • #contentmentchallengeI did it! I didn’t buy a single thing all month! 31 days down, 59 to go!

August Goals

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This month is all about prepping. School starts at the end of the month, and I want my mind, body, spirit, and new home ready for this new season. 18th grade, here I come! 

Monthly

  • Move in/move out: The movers arrive on Thursday morning, I’m transporting the cats that evening, cleaning out the old apartment Friday and Saturday, and then spending the rest of the month settling in.
  • Transfer utilities: It’s so easy to forget this, and then you’re in a new place with no electricity or water! Since I live alone, I want to get this done early, to make sure I’m not in the dark or taking cold showers.
  • Make doctor’s appointments: The scariest part of being an adult is remembering to make doctor’s appointments! I’m blessed to have health insurance, and I need to get this done, so whether or not I go this month, I want to make sure I make appointments to meet with an eye doctor, a dentist, and my primary care physician.
  • Read 3 books for my thesis: Still trucking. The research never ends!!
  • Finish Cultivate: I made August’s tending list and then finished Cultivate! So, on day one, I’ve already accomplished one goal!
  • Read 2 books for pleasure: This was great for me last month, and I want to keep it up!
  • Make a bill calendar: Part of what’s a struggle for me with budgeting is that I forget what I have on autopay and am often surprised (and honestly, unprepared) when bills get taken out of my account. I hope this will help that.
  • Friendship spreadsheet: I’m adapting this from the Fruitful Friendships Workbook. I want to love my friends well, so I want a place where I have all of their birthdays, favorite colors, favorite treats, love languages, etc.
  • School shopping: It’s the most wonderful time of the year!
  • Celebrate mom’s birthday from afar: I won’t be home for my mom’s birthday, so I want to make sure I celebrate her!

Weekly

  • Read 2 theses/articles: Keeping these two going to prep for the thesis.
  • Church & Bible study: building Christian community and digging into God’s word.
  • 2 blog updates: I want this blog to grow, so I’m aiming to update it twice a week.
  • Monday check-in: A new thing my job is doing. Since we’re all freelancing and a completely virtual office, this is a way for us to keep up with one another. It’s been helpful so far!
  • Sunday Sabbath: I want to prioritize rest in my life. Being in grad school can turn you into a workaholic very quickly, but Psalm 127:2 reminds us to rest: “It is pointless that you get up early and stay up late, eating the bread of hard labor because God gives sleep to those he loves.” I want to live this truth.

Daily

  • Brush teeth twice a day: Listen, I’m gonna get real: I forget to brush my teeth at night almost twice a week, and since I’m going to the dentist this month, I wanna get back on track!
  • 5k steps daily: Just enough walking to make sure I’m getting out of the house each day and not spending my whole work day in front of a computer or book.
  • Bible/prayer: Starting the day with the Lord is a priority I’m gonna keep.
  • Gratitude journaling: Something I loved in Cultivate was the conversation about “getting after grateful”, so I’m gonna get back into gratitude journaling. I’ll start and end each day with 5 things that I’m grateful for, and keep them in a big jar, so I can pull one out any time I feeling low.

What are your priorities for next month? I wish you success!!

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#MondayMotivation

Hey friends! What a month I’ve had! Our political climate has kept me in a constant state of anxiety, and I’ve also been prepping for a big move (Which happens on Wednesday! Finally!). I’m back to more regular blogging though, so here’s some motivation for your Monday!

+ The Reverend Nate Craddock answers the question, “Why Church?” in this great blog post. Definitely check it out if you’ve been feeling disenchanted by the church scene.

+ If you’re looking for a quick Bible study that will fill you with hope, check out Sharon Miller’s study of Philippians, “Defiant Joy”! Joy in the face of cynicism is just what we need right now, amen?

+ Estelle performs a song from the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe and it’s exactly what we need to bring us a little hope and happiness in this weird, weird time.

+ August means back to school which means transition! If you’re in a time where things are changing all around you, check out this blog post from Cultivate What Matters.

+ Repeat after me: Our brains love routine. Routine is good. Now go read Emily Ley’s blog post about it.


Have a great week friends! You can do it!

Here’s a playlist to start your week strong!

#MondayMotivation Link Roundup!

Happy Monday friends!

Mondays are not my strong suit. I’ve always felt like I have to get moving right away, but in that push to be successful, I often get so stressed out that I don’t do anything. I’ve started to make Mondays a slow-work day for me during the summer, and it’s been working really well so far. I set out to get 3 work/school related things done, but other than that, my only goal for the day is tidying my house. I almost always can do that, and it starts my week off feeling successful, instead of like I’m already running a race I’ll never win.

To motivate you on your monday, here are some of my favorite things I’ve read recently. I hope they inspire you!

Morality and Message: The Church of England, Young People, and LGBT Issues by Jem Bloomfield

For Christians like me, who are deeply attached to the Scriptures and the traditions of the Church, and who find their spiritual life in the liturgy and sacraments, this is a troubling distortion.  Our commitment to inclusivity is not a compromise we have made between our faith and the situation we find ourselves in, it is a central part of what that faith can reveal to modern society.

Ten Rules of Writing by Amitava Kuvar

Do not write long sentences.
A sentence should not have more than 10 or 12 words.

Each sentence should make a clear statement.
It should add to the statement that went before. A good paragraph is a series of clear, linked statements.

Do not use big words.
If your computer tells you that your average word is more than five letters long, there is something wrong. The use of small words compels you to think about what you are writing. Even difficult ideas can be broken down into small words.

Never use words whose meanings you are not sure of.
If you break this rule you should look for other work.

The beginner should avoid using adjectives, except those of colour, size and number.
Use as few adverbs as possible.

Avoid the abstract.
Always go for the concrete.

Every day, for six months at least, practice writing in this way.
Small words; clear, concrete sentences. It may be awkward, but it’s training you in the use of language. It may even be getting rid of the bad language habits you picked up at the university. You may go beyond these rules after you have thoroughly understood and mastered them.

Gardening in White Pants  by Lara Casey

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)

Not reaching your wellness goals? Take a look at your nighttime routine by Jae Burman

We all think our day starts when we wake up. But what if the day really starts the evening before?

Why does it matter? When you create an ideal nighttime routine, it is far more likely that your first step in the morning will lead to a successful day.

Persevering in Prayer by Kristin Stockfisch

College turned me into a prayer-person. Desperation does this. A pattern of physical brokenness seeped into my soul and exposed all the fractured, taped-up hurts of a life leaned on the shoulders of my own self-sufficiency. My prayer life morphed from a before-meals, before-bed check-in to a daily open-heart surgery. God received my honest thoughts and raw feelings for the first time and He and I were never the same. Prayer made sense of this relationship with God everyone seemed to talk about. He became a person. Father. Son. Spirit. A person unlike anyone I had ever known.

Okay friends! Make the most of the week ahead, but most importantly, take time to chill out and breathe for a bit. We don’t have to be on all day, we were born to rest, at least a little bit, so I encourage you to simplify your schedule a little bit this week and take some time to sit quietly and breathe. The world won’t fall apart in those few seconds, I promise.

Happy Monday!

P.S. Here’s a live video of kittens you can watch if you’re feeling a little stressed out. ❤️

Why “The Simple Pursuits”?

Here’s why:

This song has been on my morning worship playlist for a few weeks now and it’s been just what I’ve needed to remind me about simplicity in life.

Nothing and no one comes close to You. Nothing could ever come close.

I hope it inspires you too!

#PowerSheets for July 2017

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It’s July! 🌻☀️🌊

I feel like May and June are the two months it takes for me to chill out after a long, hard semester. In July, I’m finally ready to do something! Most of my big summer plans take place in July. However, something I’m also trying to work into this month is chilling out.

I’m such a planner y’all. I’m a very typical first born child (and my astrology friends tell me I’m also a typical Virgo rising, as well). I’m what the kids call Type A. I need everything to be planned out and perfect, even my fun. And sometimes, that’s great. Setting a modified scheduled for myself in the summer is helpful for my depression. It makes sure I get out of bed in the mornings and walk at least 5,000 steps (thanks FitBit!). But sometimes, I overschedule what’s supposed to be a season of rest for me.

So this summer, I downloaded Jess Connolly’s Summer to Thrive: A Guide to Chilling Out and Enjoying SummerIt’s hilarious and great and reminded me that over planning doesn’t lead to a better summer, if anything, it leads to a lot of FOMO, and me feeling like I never did enough.

On that vein, this month’s goals reflect my overall summer goal of being chill and having fun. If I don’t leave my house some days, it’s fine! If I decide to cancel that museum visit for a day spent by the pool, did I really lose out on anything? The museum will always be there, but these lazy hazy days of sunshine and 105 degree weather won’t always be here. Is it more important that I fill my summer up with stuff, or that I have a really great tan from my Chacos? Simplicity, remember? That’s the goal.

Here are July’s goals. I’ll check in at the end of the month and update you on how they went, and I’ll share August’s goals with you. Feel free to talk about your own goals for July, in the comments whether or not you’re using the PowerSheets system. How are you starting off this second half of the year? Hopefully with purpose and intention, but also a lot of chill! 😎

Monthly

  • Read Cultivate by Lara Casey
  • Read two books prep for my thesis
  • Move to a new apartment!
  • Plan an August camping trip
  • Read three books for pleasure
  • STAYCATION!!

Weekly

  • Read two theses
  • Read two published articles
  • Dance class
  • Visit a museum about Texas
  • Go to church and Bible Study
  • Do an activity outside of the home

Daily

Throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (CEB)

Welcome!

Welcome to The Simple Pursuits.

Hi! I’m Alaina. I’m 26, I’m in grad school working on a PhD (I know, it’s a lot), I’m queer and non-binary, and I’m a Christian. That last one is probably the identity that has started to mean the most to me lately, and I’ve been trying to figure out how I can make that clear to the world. And so, this blog is born.

I feel like I’ve spent most of my “new adult” years trying to get get get everything I can, just in order to feel content. I got new cabinets from Ikea when I got my first apartment, but then decided I needed to also get baskets for those cabinets if I wanted them to actually be helpful. I’ve gone through 4 or 5 planners in the span of a couple of years. I am addicted to shopping for clothes and planners and stationery online. Because society has taught me that if I just get enough stuff, all this…yuckiness in my heart will go away. If I have more stuff, I won’t feel so empty or alone or confused. But I still felt the same way

In one of my online searches for something to automatically save me, I bought something that actually did me some good and helped me to slow down. Lara Casey is a writer and mom that I really respect, and last year, searching for something that would help me make 2017 better than 2016, I found her PowerSheets. PowerSheets are an intentional goal-setting system that for me, is centered on figuring out what figuring out what things you want to do in life that will make you content when you’re 80. And as I dug into the PowerSheets, I realized that what would make me happy wasn’t having a bunch of stuff. It was cultivating a strong community of friends, family, and chosen family; it was giving my time and myself; it was about deepening my faith and building lasting memories.

Through lots of work, lots help from Lara’s online presence, and lots of intentional quiet time, I learned something important. I already have everything I need. It’s Christ. He’s not only filled me, but he’s also filled my life with friends who love me and support me, with a family that only wants the best for me, with sweet sweet cats who remind me everyday of the wonders of unconditional love. Colossians 2:10 (CEB) says, “And you have been filled by him [Christ], who is the head of every ruler and authority.”

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From cultivatewhatmatters.com

And I want to walk this journey with y’all. I want to help other twenty-somethings–who maybe feel hurt by the church and religion–to realize that we can stop searching outward for affirmation and for contentment. Come along for the ride while I figure out how to balance this simpler (and hopefully holier) life I’m trying to cultivate while also dealing with life! Finances, school, friends, relationships (ahhh!!!!), fashion, politics, triumphs, and trials. Sometimes I’ll share resources, sometimes I might reflect on a Bible study I’m doing, sometimes I might just reach out for help. It will all be here.

We can’t figure out life on our own, but with Christ on our side, and with this new community I’m hoping to build encouraging one another, we can learn and grow together. Won’t you join me?