Since we are a quarter of the way into 2018, (!!) I’m checking in on my resolution to live an intentional life based on the “Chesterton option,” inspired by Dale Ahlquist.
For those of you familiar with Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies, I’m an obliger.
Yaaaay, another box. I do realize that we can’t be defined by tidy personality compartments. However I have found the term “obliger” helpful in understanding my relationship with commitment.
This is me: Honey we can’t go to that party tonight because last week I mentioned to my mom that maybe we would do dinner tonight.
My honey: Well if you just said ‘maybe’ then you didn’t commit us to anything. I’m sure she’s not expecting us if you haven’t touched bases since then.
Me: Yea but I feel like she’s expecting us and would be disappointed… we just really should go. Let me text her.
Mom, via text: Hey sweetie we have a really busy night, lets try for a different day.
This is also me: Oh woops I forgot to do my burpees today, and now I’m in bed. Bummer.
I will bend over backwards to keep a commitment, however lightly made, to someone else, but I’m not that good at following through with my own fantastic ideas (like doing burpees everyday).
So when I have a really really fantastic idea, I’ve found it’s helpful to give myself a little accountability, in the form of the world wide web. Or you. 🙂
This new year, I resolved to implement certain aspects of “the Chesterton Option” into my daily life. The Chesterton Option is is a blueprint of sorts for an intentional, joyful, faith-centred and quite cultured life, courtesy of Dale Ahlquist. Which you should totally check out in it’s entirety here.
We’re three months aka one quarter into the new year, so I decided to go back and see how I’m doing with this whole deal.
The Chesterton Option Quarterly Check In #1
In a nutshell, living the Chesterton Option means being faithful to the Faith, and taking control of your own life. There are plenty of practical points to help you carry this out, (which I go into below) but these are the two main goals. These two goals are difficult to measure, but I do think it’s helpful to reflect on them a little. They are the whole point, after all.
Being Faithful to the Faith:
I am very committed to my Faith, but I sometime struggle with total trust in God. I want things to go a certain way and have a difficult time letting go of my own plans and ‘needs.’ So this is an area I can totally grow in more. I suspect that will remain true for the rest of my life. (That’s what life is all about, right?)
Taking Control of My Own Life:
This seems ironic. Didn’t I just say I was going to let go of my own plans? Wouldn’t that be another way of saying I need to let go of control? Hmmmm. This definitely merits a lot more thought, (maybe it’s own post?) but I know that my freedom is a gift from God. If I give that freedom away through complacency, loss of temper, or time-sucking addictions (e.g. to blue light and bad habits) then I am not following God’s plan for me. Right now I’m working on control of my self and the time I’m given.
Time: This past month I gave up using Instagram during the week, only allowing myself to check it on Saturday evenings. I no longer mindlessly check Instagram, so I’ll count that as a step toward control, but I do still reach for my phone and mindlessly swipe through apps. Geez. Work to do for sure.
Self/Emotions: I have been working on getting enough sleep, calmly explaining my frustrations instead of bottling them in, and respecting others when they request to ‘talk about this later.’ #1 on that list is going quite well, #s 2 and 3 are touch and go. Ha. Go figure.
The Practical Points:
The Chesterton Option gives a substantial list of practical suggestions for living a good life, and I chose several to work on this year:
Work to become my own employer: I have plans, though they are going more slowly than I would like. Stay posted!
Buy local: This was more difficult than I originally thought it would be. The town where we were living had a very limited winter farmer’s market, but we were still able to support local companies that sold their products through the grocery stores. We have talked about ways to give better local support when we are more permanently settled, e.g. stocking up at the summer markets and then freezing and canning, getting in touch with local fishermen and butchers, etc. We were lucky enough this year to partake in a very delicious, locally sourced lamb for Easter dinner. That was awesome.
Give part of my money each month to the poor or worthy causes: I came up with a giving plan that includes my favorite organizations, and I have been keeping cash in my wallet to add to the collection at my parish on Sundays. (Which does me no good when I leave my wallet in the car. :/) Baby steps.
Make my own entertainment: I wrote about our efforts in this post, and it’s been a gradual process, with good results. We have enjoyed several evenings of dinner with friends, and have recently managed to cut back on Netflix almost completely. With family in town for Easter there is never a dull moment. We’ve been hiking, playing pick-up sports, and enjoying each other’s company. TBD how things go when the festivities and visits die down.
Make my own art: I have not spent a lot of time on this aspect, although I did partake in some good pysanky making during the last weeks of Lent. I love that kind of ritualistic art, tied to a liturgical season, with deep traditions and meaning. I would love to try icon writing someday!
Read old books: Cutting back on Netflix has given me more time for reading, and I’ve found some good ones. (I share my favorite books in my monthly newsletter, if you are interested in joining that.) Most of the books haven’t been old, (not sure how old is old) but they’ve been good and very worthwhile.
Grow plants: I nearly killed my basil plant. I’m new to the whole winter thing, so let’s check back on this at the end of the next quarter. Cool?
Share a meal every day: We have always made a point of eating dinner together, and breakfast too when possible. We decided to really enjoy this time together by eating at the table, instead of on the couch in front of the tv. Even if we do want to watch a show, we save it for after dinner now. I’m liking it.
Pray for 30 minutes every morning: I almost can’t believe it, but I’ve been pulling this off almost every morning. I miss it when I don’t. It’s doable, guys! I will say that for the last several weeks I’ve been ignoring my own advice to get up and out of bed first, but due to circumstances, the best way for me to make it happen has been to get at it as soon as my eyelids crack.
Keep silence: This has been going fine, although I would really like for my brain to be quiet as well. C’mon, brain. I’m still working on turning off external noise for parts of the day, and trying to quiet my own thoughts and be present to God more consistently. Long way to go.
Honor the Sabbath: I’ve decided not to check my email or social media on Sundays, and to refrain from my “worldly pursuits” e.g. blogging, that exciting business I’m trying to start, etc. Instead I try to spend time with my family and friends, slow down, and give thanks. Overall I’ve been consistent with this, but every once and awhile I find myself scrolling through my phone on a Sunday. 🙁
It’s encouraging to look back after three months and see that good change is possible. It’s also humbling to realize how weak I am and how much better I can do. This whole quarterly check in might become a recurring event!
How has 2018 been for you so far? Where have you grown? And what work would you still like to do? Let me know in the comments so we can encourage each other!
P.S. I created a printable blueprint + worksheet to help you implement the Chesterton Option in your life, too! You can access it in my library below: