Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Seven Pillars

A few weeks ago, during confession with Father, he talked about the Seven Pillars of a Healthy Life (sleep, diet, exercise, mental stimulation, emotional ties, spiritual grounding, doing for others). I have spent a good amount of time praying and meditating on these pillars these past few weeks, and I've decided to use them as my basis for planning out my goals for 2009.

  1. SLEEP: Let's start with the easy one. I need 8 hours a night, nearly every night. I can survive on less during the short term, but string together too many sleepless nights, and I become a cranky zombie. Which means that I need to structure my life to ensure I am in bed by 10pm most nights... so I can get up in time for 6:30 mass most days.

  2. DIET: In the past month, I've noticed a relation between my sugar/refined carbs intake and several annoying little physical issues that have been cropping up. I am going to cut back on the sugars and refined carbs (not cut them out completely, but cut back significantly). I am going to do so in a very observant way... seeing what I can learn about my body and its reactions to the sweet stuff.

  3. EXERCISE: This one is tough for me. I hate exercise. It was the genesis of our conversation on the "pillars" during my confession. Father suggested that I try to find a form of exercise that I enjoy (swimming), but swimming regularly just doesn't work for my schedule. I have a perfectly good treadmill collecting way too much dust in my bedroom. In 2009, I am going to get on that thing, for 20-30 minutes, 4 times a week. Father suggested that I look at exercise as an "act of Love" for God, for my family, and for myself. It's worth an honest try.

  4. MENTAL STIMULATION: I am thinking about going back to graduate school, so this includes prep for (and probably taking) the MAT. I am also needing to make time, even just an hour or two once a week, to get into my glass studio and make some stained glass. I didn't step down there for all of 2008, until Friday, when I needed to make a small repair on a piece of glass my mom had. The craving I felt to get back to it was nearly physical. It calms me to create in glass, and this needs to be a priority in 2009. And I need to keep blogging, committing to writing regularly (at least 4-5 days a week), to keep myself grounded and the voices in my head at bay.

  5. EMOTIONAL TIES: I need to look at this one in pieces: self, marriage/family, others.
    Self: I need regular time to myself, that I can count on. DH has promised me 3 hours once a week that is mine... I need to make it a priority to schedule that each week. I also have my 3.5 hour "kid trade" every other week with my friend, which helps a lot. And I hope to (finally) implement my Thursday evenings out, either alone, catching up with friends, or a little of both.
    Marriage/Family: Our Marriage and More group gets underway this coming Friday, and will remain a priority for us. In addition, we need a date night once a month, and our every-other-month alone weekends (again, via the "kid trade" friends). We need to have regular fun together as a family, especially during sports seasons (spring/fall), when our schedules can get so crazy.
    Others: My monthly Bunco group needs to remain sacred. I need regular "girls night out" opportunities to hold onto "Jen" amidst all the other roles I play. And I need to do more to encourage DH to do the same thing.

  6. SPIRITUAL GROUNDING: This one is easy to prescribe... and really, not that hard to continue what I've already started. I need Prayer (several times a day), Mass (several times a week), Adoration (once a week), Confession (once a month), Spiritual Direction (once a month), and Retreat (at least once a year).

  7. DOING FOR OTHERS: BigBro and I just started volunteering at the Food Pantry once a month. I've taken on the role of Spiritual Director for the next CRHP team. I teach Sunday School once a month. Where else can I give and not paint myself too thinly? This is an area I need to take to Adoration.

WOW. Seems ambitious... but really, it's not that many actual changes. These past two years, I've worked hard on little segments, trying to make things better, stronger, more Christ-like. This is just the first time I've pulled it altogether in one place.


  1. I really like this idea of Seven Pillars. Jen, do you have a book recommendation? (I know I could google, but that will involve time online that maybe you can save me if you have a book Father recommended for you...if not, I work with a priest and yes, can do my own research) :) This might be an approach I should consider in my life too. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Sarah,

    I'm not sure that there was one source Father was using for these Seven Pillars. It may have been something he read, or maybe he was pulling from several sources. He is very well read and has a strong psychology/12-steps background, so a lot of his advice/direction can be a combination of those things. Sorry I can't be of more help, but if you find a book on Seven Pillars, please let me know!