Last month I got mad at myself because I hadn’t read for book club for the last three months.

For as long as I can remember I have been part of a book club. The reason? Aside from the obvious connections it gives me with wonderful women, it gives me a push to read. Because I LOVE to read. I love how it makes my mind work. I love how it transports me right smack dab into someone else’s thoughts. I love the ideas books give my brain to launch into. Yes, I love to read.

Despite how much I love it, I hadn’t been making it a priority. Life had swung out of control and I was barely keeping my head above water. But I decided last month that enough was enough. I was going to read our book club book that month (The Great Gatsby) if it killed me. And guess what? I did. I read it in a matter of hours. I didn’t necessarily love the story itself, but I loved the character development, how it made me think, how it was so different from what I remembered it being when I read it in high school, and I loved the discussion that ensued at book club. It made me feel alive.

And I was so glad that I had made reading a priority. The rest of the things in my life didn’t just go away as I read, they still swirled on, but nothing burned down, we are all still alive, and my mind is that much richer because of it. (Now I’m on to reading The Help which is another story in and of itself…love it so far but more on that later.)

That whole experience has made me ponder what I prioritize in life. Am I prioritizing the right things?

I had an interesting discussion with a friend a few weeks ago. She was asking me how in the world I keep up with this blog. I explained that it’s part of my sanity. Somehow spilling out how I feel makes me more conscientious of how I live my life. I feel like it makes me a more deliberate mother and it makes me feel great to have a record of our life under my belt. And because of that, I make it a priority.

Obviously not everyone has the same priorities. Not everyone adores reading like I do. Not everyone feels rejuvenated when they get their feelings written out. My friend I had that discussion with is a runner. Running is a passion for her. She’ll run up to ten miles some days. As for me, running is definitely not my forte. Sure, it’s something that would be nice to do more of, but it’s not a priority for me right now in my life. It is hers. And she is a better person because she is taking the time to pursue what she loves. She’s more balanced and ready to embrace life when she’s done with a run because in doing it she is becoming herself.

The problem with all this prioritizing mumbo jumbo is that sure, we all know we need to prioritize, but how do we find the right priorities in a mothering world where it seems everyone surrounding us needs part of us every minute of the day. What do we prioritize? What is it ok not to prioritize?

My friend Nicole says:

“Select what you’re going to Neglect,
So that you don’t
Neglect what you Select.”

And my Mom has this quote I love: “If something’s barely worth doing, just barely do it.”

As mothers we have to neglect some stuff. No matter how hard we try, we can’t do everything. And that’s ok!

As long as we know that we are prioritizing the right stuff, (families and faith are at the top as far as I’m concerned…we all want so much for our husbands and kids to feel that we prioritize them above anything else, right?). But sometimes we forget that we need to prioritize ourselves in order to “be there” more wholly for our families. We need to get out and run that marathon or take that class or have that moment of quiet each day to become ourselves.

And I believe we have to have help from God to do that fully, so we need to pray our guts out about what we should personally put as our priorities. Then we have to let some of the other things go, and that’s ok.

I have to keep reminding myself of that. It’s ok. It’s even ok to find ourselves at “Wit’s End” every once in a while. It’s ok to fail at the things we are trying. Because that means we are trying. And if we prioritize the things that will make us grow the most, well, I think failing along the way here and there, or even continually, makes us that much stronger.

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  1. I really appreciate this post. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. Sister Beck in General Conference said this: "A good woman knows that she does not have enough time, energy, or opportunity to take care of all of the people or do all of the worthy things her heart yearns to do. Life is not calm for most women, and each day seems to require the accomplishment of a million things, most of which are important. A good woman must constantly resist alluring and deceptive messages from many sources telling her that she is entitled to more time away from her responsibilities and that she deserves a life of greater ease and independence. But with personal revelation, she can prioritize correctly and navigate this life confidently." That is probably the thing that stuck with me most in the whole two days–the need to seek personal revelation as I try to figure out how to spend each day. Thank you for your awesome blog.

  2. Reading is my thing. I can't get enough books in my life and can't find enough time in the day to read them all! Your friend who runs finds herself through running…I have found myself through reading. I wish I could get paid to read! And if you haven't read "Little Bee"…put it on your book club list. It was fabulous!

  3. Thanks for your insights…I just finished The Help. I was intrigued at how we have the same roles today as the charaters in the book. I also just finished The Same Kind of Different as ME. Great read.

  4. Agreed…I totally select what I'm going to neglect.

    The Help is a great read…enjoy your book club! If you love to read, you may want to consider a Kindle if you don't already have one…it has helped me to read so much more than I used to!

  5. I love this post. I reminded me of what Julie B Beck talked about in her opening address at women's conference. She said there are essential things (things the bring personal revelation), there are neccessary things (cooking, cleaning, running errands, etc.) and there are nice-to-do things. She said when we really start at the top and work down, you'll be amazed at how many nice-to-do things you'll find. Of course, everyone's list will look a little different, but when we really focus on our priorities, we'll be so much happier.

  6. I had a few hours with my best friend today and we were discussing how we don't make time for ourselves (except for today!). She gave me a french manicure & I made her lunch~nothing fancy just egg salad & strawberries. We decided that it is ok (& beneficial) to make "me" time whether it is running, reading or talking with a friend. I guess that is why I am a list maker (which you probably know if you have been to my blog)! Making lists helps me to prioritize & then be more successful with my time.

  7. My favorite moment of this post:
    being a "deliberate mother". Love that! We have to be so careful that we aren't just coasting through, but that we are doing what we're doing ON PURPOSE. Setting our priorities helps us with that, for sure.
    Thanks for the reminder!

  8. Great thoughts. With a 2-wk old baby, it's so hard to slow down and start over at Square 1. Especially when I so don't want to neglect the older children. I think I most needed to hear the personal revelation part. Because at this point just about ANYone is "doing" more than I am! 😉
    p.s. loved The Help!

  9. sister beck gave a talk at our regional conference last month that this posting reminded me of (i heard she gave parts of it at women's conference too). anyway, she said there are three categories that we can place our activities into. 'essential' (those basic spiritual things we do which bring revelation and a close relationship with God), 'necessary' (the sometimes-mundane motherhood tasks or other necessary actions in our lives which are just that-NECESSARY for one reason or another), and 'nice to do' things. she said this included things like shopping, recreational reading, t.v./movie watching, lunching with friends, scrapbooking & crafting, etc. she basically said that if our FOCUS is mostly fixed(there's yours & my word again) on the 'nice to do' category then our priorities are out of order. she said that when our priorities are out of order, WE LITERALLY LOSE POWER as mothers. thanks for making me remember this message today. i think if we put everything we do in a pot and boiled it down, only leaving the most important things, we would realize just how distracted we can be by things that aren't important. sometimes in hindsight, i think 'why did i worry about that?' or 'why did i spend so much time doing _________?' when this life is over, or we lose someone we love, i think we will find ourselves asking these questions.

  10. I needed this post today. I feel like I'm failing right now and it's not something I'm used to doing. I'm having a hard time accepting it. Thanks for making me realize it's ok because I'm trying.

  11. Nice post i like it, keep blogging and If you want too, kindly and please visit my blog thank you in advance.

    I would like also to share this to your reader,… The Succes and Opportunity Family:

    The father of succes is WORK,
    The mother of succes is AMBITION,
    The oldest son of succes is COMMON SENSE
    The oldest daughter of succes is CHARACTER,
    Some sisters of success are CHEERFULNESS, LOYALTY, CARE, ECONOMY, and SINCERITY,
    The baby is OPPORTUNITY.

  12. Shawni I just LOVE your blog. Thanks so much for your email & motivation. I'm even inspired to get going again on my personal blog! Keep fighting the good fight!

  13. Thanks for this post. I came across your blog a few weeks ago through Clover Lane and have been reading ever since. My priorities have been something I've been pondering a lot lately. With 3 kids 5 and younger right now I'm still working on the right balance, as I think so many moms are. Trying to find some me time with a husband very busy with work hasn't been easy. Thanks for the reminder how some things can be neglected and that we need not to forget to do something for ourselves! Also, I feel like you're a great example, a bit of a role model for me for some things that were missing from how I was raised. And now, I think I'll go read!

  14. I love that you are mad at yourself. I'm mad too — you can't forget to nourish yourself through reading. As Emily Dickenson said, "Anger as soon as fed is dead – 'Tis starving that makes it fat”. It's not a good idea to starve your soul. Great blog — Let your kids catch you reading.

  15. Great post! I love that you prioritized reading again! Iyt's so important to have that little time to yourself, whatever it is.

  16. I just lent my book, THe HElp, to my niece, it is in my top 10 of fave books EVER> I told her I had to have it back and I have not kept hardly any books I have read, mostly because I usually get them from the library!

  17. My mom's co-worker told her about your blog – apparently all her children read it and love it. So my mom told me about it. I'm glad she did! I really enjoyed your thoughts today. Thank you so much for sharing such wonderful advice and insights!

  18. I love this post – it was much needed today. I have so much on my plate…those quotes are going to come in sooo handy!! Thank you♥
    The Help – the best book I have read in YEARS!! You will love it, I promise. We just read Still Alice, it's a good one, add it to your book club list.

  19. Would it be weird to say that I love you? Probably. So I won't. But know that I stalk your blog daily and often come away with the exact insight I need into my life. You may not realize how close to the spirit you are, but if every woman who had been touched by your words could let you know, did, you would certainly be amazed.

    Thanks for keeping it real. For sharing the good and the bad. And a way to keep going. Along with gentle reminders about how to be our best selves.

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