2023 My January Rest Review

Life, so much of life choices become about how to use time and time’s dreaded constraints. While I love to write, and seem to have more desire than time, I am making the time to finish one of the two hoped-for My January Rest posts. At least I am posting this year’s MJR Review about two weeks earlier than last year. Progress, right?

Good gifts: Unplanned, my rose petals matched the host’s flowers perfectly. Beauty soothes me.

Last year I found that I hadn’t posted as much about MJR as I had hoped, so I committed to do better this year—yet I haven’t. However, I have successfully engaged and completed My January Rest. My January was spent living MJR and less time recording and reporting on it. 

Because I am such an idealist, I want my MJR to be so so so restful. Real life is not like that, but MJR helps me schedule and attain more rest, by resting from “lesser” things. As I said last year, many Januarys I intentionally rested from painting and some art business. Last year and this one, that hasn’t been the case. Since the world, and my studio, opened back up, business has been busy with interesting things to do and the desire and time to do them. Art business took up much of my time! And dishes! And I am NOT kidding! I made delicious, creative, and apparently messy meals. And because my awesome dishwashing husband was gone half of the month, I did loads and loads of dishes, including some of our girl’s who works nearly full time and carries twenty credit hours.

My entire rhythm of life changed January 2022 and the rest of year. I had struggled to articulate something I was processing. MJR helped me and a year later, my life is 100% changed. I started lifting weights. As of today, I have lifted three times per week, almost every week since last January when I realized that PT, recovery (ankle), and weight lifting (PT and for osteoporosis) took so much time.

Salads galore. Love the live root lettuce I found on clearance and used left over veggies given to me after an event.

My eating has changed too. These things take time, time that I have because of giving up things of lesser value. What started last MJR has stayed for the whole year and partly because of the extra time MJR carved out in January, I have stayed the course! My life and body are healthier!

For 2022’s MJR, I gave up painting my fingernails for the month. Guess what? I didn’t paint them once in 2022! This January I planned on it, since I’d have more time. Guess what? I didn’t! Sad to me that I got several colors two Christmases ago that I loved and I’ve never used them. This tells me I am still too busy.

Snacks—eating just because I want too: last year I did fantastic with not snacking. This year I ate healthy snacks only, but I did find myself snacking on veggies while making dinner, eating a few nuts here and there, and generally not as disciplined as last year. I still do not know why I wasn’t as committed as normal. It wasn’t cheating, but wishy-washy. One of my date nights with my love was to donate my blood and I had a snack afterwards.

After I was given two types of coffee in January, and found a misplaced bag at the studio, I still almost ran out!

I did well with consuming no added sugar and drinking only black coffee. However, I forgot once when we went to Chicago to visit a friend in hospice. I was tired and grabbed a coffee for the trip home. I got cream, but no sugar (funny, I said no sugar and explained to my guest I had given up sugar for January, yet never thought about the creamer until I was driving home). I drank it. I needed the meager amount of caffeine the decaf provided, and I enjoyed it. Funny how a warm cup of coffee can be a hug after a rough day.

Beautiful brunch and a sweet (cheat) treat!

I cheated once on no sweets. One of my groups had a beautiful retreat and brunch. We had casserole, fruit, and my friend made a GF coffee cake for me. I chose to eat the sweet treat because I’d just watched an episode of The Chosen where Jesus said he explained that he wasn’t fasting because they (the disciples) were with the bride groom. I understand that Jesus was physically with them, and we will be reunited with Christ as a bride down the road, but on this morning was I was with my groom so I joyfully feasted.


Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests fast while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. They can’t fast while the groom is with them. Mark 2:29

Left over pancake from take out (December??). I did not add syrup.

The Rest Point I did the best on was not eating out, except when we went to Chicago. I was home a lot so I made a huge dent in the pantry, freezer, and cabinets. I worked on the undesirables! My husband was deployed with LERT, to help with storm damage in Selma, AL, for two weeks. I only had to feed myself. Our daughter is self-sufficient and rarely home. Our church had a food drive and I was able to share out of our pantry things I had several of or boxed yummies that we really didn’t need to have. I’m celebrating space on my shelves! We shopped once per week, except once when I shopped for my daughter and needed to pick something up for my job. Yesterday I realized while shopping that I am still in the MJR mindset—I shopped sparsely. 

Left over candles do an amazingly job of beautifying the evening meal

Like last January, I lit a candle, but only at dinnertime. I love this practice. Their soft glow makes everything look more magical. It truly makes dinner seem special, even when it is only warmed up leftovers. The candles are also warmed up leftovers! I also think this practice has trained me to stay more in the moment with less propensity to multi-task. We don’t have our phones at dinner, but I am a boundary-buster when I eat alone. I am always attempting to catch up with something or someone. 

The phone was an area that I did not do as well as I hoped. I was on it during my solo dinners often. I wasn’t off of it at 9:30 as many nights as I hoped (five per week). And I learned something: I use my phone for everything—work and play, directions to places and for cooking things, my music, my alarms, my calendar, my medical check-ins, phone calls, flashlight, heart monitor, marketing, research, weather report so I know how to dress for the day, reading, study, and who knows what else! My point is that I am on my phone a ridiculous amount and I am not sure how to use it less. My biggest change is that I created a work setting where my husband and daughter could ring through and no one else. That did help my focus, even though I picked up the phone when I needed to, I wasn’t picking it up just because the phone prompted me to pick it up.

I also unsubscribed from loads of emails and lots and lots of social media pages that I no longer wish to follow. I am attempting to go through my current month’s photos on the 15th and 30th of the current month. That way temporary photos (screenshots, notes, or already posted photos) can be deleted without accumulating into the following month.

A new favorite from February’s Reel watching binge: Spinach and Feta Brownies

I didn’t watch reels, videos, or look at junk mail or junk other things. Even so, I didn’t finish the podcast series or the book. That was disappointing, but I lived with myself and understood why they were some of the good things that didn’t happen. I was vegging the other night and watched reels for a long time. Some were funny. Some were informational (learned some cooking hacks and was mesmerized by chocolate art). And some were a waste of airtime. I stayed up too late and realized that I hadn’t done that in a month and a half. My life was not better for watching them (even though I did get one winner recipe—Spinach and Feta “Brownies”). MJR broke me of watching them. I will continue to avoid them after the last binge.

Many years have brought new freedom from lesser things, that I have permanently let go of! Others have afforded more time for greater things and they have stayed with me!

If you made it to the end, thanks. Lots of words, but more so you are reading remnants of a discipline that has changed my life. Others who have tried their own My January Rest have found a different life pace that has enriched their lives too. I remain too busy, but I understand that who and what I give my time to, are much wiser choices than a decade ago. Hopefully, each year I continue to develop my tastes to desire those things that are truly better for me. 

One of my friends read that there are things that can be relaxing, like a Netflix binge, but it doesn’t refresh you. Clear language gives clarity to concepts. Some of those lesser things like watching reels or too many movies can be relaxing, but they don’t refresh me. Like clearing out my schedule, my freezer, and my pantry, My January Rest makes space on my insides. My January Rest restores my soul.

There’s been great joy in hearing how many others have participated and the wonderful results participants have experienced! Did you have your own MJR?

Remnant of cocoa almonds – a sweet snack. Was that a cheat?
Wicked hot one pulled from my freezer
Juiced lemons, past their prime, yet perfect for adding to meals and tea
A friend brought cheese bread to try. Cook them in the waffle iron and oh my! So delicious!
Fresh berries and vanilla greek yogurt for an after dinner treat
Perfect for when you NEED a tissue for your nose or your tears. No one minds a less than perfect package.

This picture says so much. I found it in the guest’s bathroom of our local food bank, Midwest Food Bank that I volunteer at. It is perfectly useful, perfectly! Using it reminded me of one of MJR’s concepts. We often we prefer something different, when what we have is sufficient. May you enjoy all that you have, whether it comes in the exact flavor or packaging you prefer. I wish you the gift of contentment.

The end (until MJR 2024!)

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