Annie Dillard & #VOWintend

I was listening to a podcast last week when the host quoted Annie Dillard.

It’s a quote I’ve heard several times, but during a week in which I was focused on INTEND-ing, it stopped me on some District street in the middle of my run.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

It’s a message that’s been coming to me more frequently from the universe these days: the intentionality (or lack thereof) with which I am living my life.

I say life, because it’s so true, what Dillard says.

It’s easy to be intentional with this theoretical lifespan of years. To think about the changes you want to make and the projects you’d like to tackle and believe there is and will be time to do them. That eventually things will settle down, and you will just do them.

When you start to think of your life as a single day—not in a last-day-of-my-life sort of way but in a day-in-day-out sort of way—it’s harder to hold that mindset with integrity. When you admit that how you spend your day-after-day is your life, it’s more difficult to make excuses. You simply are living the life you want or you’re not.

There are seasons in my life, just as I am sure there are in yours, when I am better at this than others. But as it almost always (and always will) happens, when life is throwing the most at me, I tend to be far under my best. And that’s because I simply let it happen. I stop being intentional. I start convincing myself that all I can do is go with the flow. That all I can do is stay in survival mode. But the truth is, I make that choice.

For example, working out used to be a part of my daily life. Every afternoon, I did it. It was not a choice I made; it was a non-negotiable part of my day that was vital to not only my physical health but my mental and emotional well-being. Then I started graduate school, and I didn’t have evenings in any more. So I relegated runs to the weekends. And then I really didn’t have weekends, so I just stopped. Incorporating it back into my life post-graduate school has continued to be a struggle. Theoretically, I have more time, but I have just as reasons why it isn’t a non-negotiable.

Now, for me, and I have known this for years, this choice is bad one for my mental health. Working out should be non-negotiable for me. While the changes in my waistline are noticeable to me, they are not significant shifts. What is significant is the lack of ownership I feel over my body. The absence of gratitude for it. The voices their absence empowers. And the not-who-I-want-to-be version of myself I become.

So last week, with #VOWintend, I made a different choice. I chose to workout. It didn’t happen every morning as planned, and it wasn’t always as long as I wanted. But I chose to make it part of my day at some point. And this week, I chose to make it part of my morning. And when it almost didn’t happen this morning for no other reason than I didn’t feel like it, I remembered those words from Annie Dillard.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

And the life I want to spend is one where I wake up and…


Steph’s INTEND mantra: How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

Steph’s Song of the Week: Now or Never by Halsey

& Don’t miss Lin’s post on #VOWintend (currently being drafted).

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