Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to “master your day”?
Hi. My name is Joleen Kremin and I am a control junkie. (Just kidding. But I can just imagine a group sitting in a circle in the basement of a YMCA somewhere encouraging each other to do “unbelievable” things like spontaneously go on a road trip or neglect the dishes two days in a row.) I am a new Pacific Northwest resident, I moved here to take a job teaching accounting at a local university. I have a PhD in accounting and I stink at being spontaneous, but I accept that about myself. For me, mastering my day is more of a game. It is a way to squeeze the most out of the day – because a fresh squeezed day is a good feeling.
My mom tells me that when I was a baby I did not handle going off-routine very well. There is something so comforting about routines. I tend to make changes to my routines, trying new methods, or adding this, shifting the time of something else etcetera until I find one that works. I change things up pretty dramatically every couple of years as my life changes and circumstances and demands on my time change. Mastering my day is an ongoing challenge.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I teach high school students an early morning scripture study class (which we call seminary) five days a week starting at 6 a.m., so my day begins at 5:15. I take care of the bare essentials and then I am out the door at 5:50 heading to the church. Class is over at 7 and I run home, change into my gym clothes grab the rest of my bags (for some reason I take an inordinate number of bags to work every day) and march downtown. My gym is right across the street from my office so I work out, shower, and go to work. I am blessed to have a job that is pretty flexible so my work day consists of tackling different research projects, or teaching, or some combination of the two. I normally head home around 6 where I heat up some dinner and plan another seminary lesson. I try to get everything in order before bed and turn out the lights by 9:30 or 10. On the weekends I sometimes stay up later to watch something on HGTV (Wild! I know).
When do you have your scripture study and how do you make sure it gets done?
I served an 18 month mission for my church in Switzerland, and while I was there I got into the habit of studying the scriptures really regularly. When I came home I knew that certain habits were likely to slip, so I made a pact with myself to pick one habit that I wanted to keep and fight for that one. Scripture study was my choice and while I have missed a day or two here and there it has been a fairly consistent habit. I know myself well enough to know that things that are not automatic will eventually fail, so the only thing that works with me and scripture study is to be ferocious about not missing.
Teaching seminary is a wonderful blessing in my life, it provides me with an opportunity to drink deeply from the scriptures on a daily basis. Currently we are studying the Old Testament which I adore. Additionally, I know there is a power that comes only from the scriptures, so before bed I try to wind down by reading a chapter either in the Bible or in the Book of Mormon (another book of scripture in my faith). I find it helps me sleep and takes no time at all.
What do you do to handle a particularly stressful day?
I was talking to my therapist last week (not ashamed to admit I see a professional – cuz gosh, life is hard sometimes) and she had me work up a list of at least 10 different ways to cope with a stressful day. Her advice was that each item was to be less than 5 mins, and not be dependent on anyone else. Additionally I needed to categorize them into 5 areas – physical, emotional, psychological, relational and spiritual. Here is my list…
Physical – Sing a song and dance, just get moving. Or drink a glass of water, they say it resets your body.
Emotional – Watch an online video of a laughing baby, or a funny Jimmy Fallon clip, something to make me laugh. Or find some online photos of some beautiful art. I find great art to be very calming.
Psychological – Go to the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror, don’t criticize just look and appreciate. Repeat a few positive affirmations that support my Heavenly Father’s divine plan for me.
Relational – This is the hard one, because I am single and often alone, additionally the actions need to be independent of other people. So I figure I can send a text of gratitude to a friend I haven’t talked to in a while. Make someone a video message just for them, we all love getting those. Or call and leave someone a voicemail, no need to call back just a “Hi, I was thinking of you” call.
Spiritual – Listen to some uplifting music, say a prayer, read the scriptures, listen to uplifting talks or watch some uplifting videos.
Stressful days come in all different shapes and sizes, so coping with them is a multi-weapon plan. I won’t lie that sometimes I medicate with chocolate or just have a good cry. Sometimes just rolling down the windows of my car and feeling the breeze helps. I don’t think I have the answers, but I feel like finding a way to feel the Holy Spirit is a game changer.
What are your daily essentials? (The few things you feel you need each day in order to function)
My daily essentials include connection with the Lord through study or music or prayer. I can’t pick just one because there are so many avenues to feel the spirit and every day and every feeling is different. The scriptures are my primary source but there are days when I crave music or something else.
Outside of that, I really appreciate a good shower. A good conversation with my mom, my sister or a friend is essential. Also I need some quiet time, connection with other people is necessary but finding time to quietly accomplish little tasks (like answer emails, or listen to a favorite podcast) makes me feel accomplished and peaceful.
What is the most important part of your day as an individual?
I am a morning person. The things I accomplish, or don’t accomplish in the morning set the tone for everything else that happens. This also means that I get tired pretty early at night (at least for a single person)… if you want to see me do crazy things, keep me up late.
How do you make sure God is at the focus?
I am easily distracted. Years of trial and error have taught me that the quickest way to lose my focus on God is through my media choices. It’s like the old adage – garbage in, garbage out. I was reminded of this recently when I went on a binge and watched several seasons of a new show during the holiday season. It was fun at first, and then I needed to finish, and then I felt consumed and I found that I was not paying attention to the Lord the way I had become accustomed. My prayers were casual, and my study was lazy. I tried to blow it off, telling myself that I wasn’t doing anything bad. Then it came time to go back to school and plan seminary lessons again and I have had to fight to get the spirit back. Becoming sensitive to inspiration means inspiration becomes more sensitive to our choices. A law I somehow need to learn again and again. I know that when I get off track, the quickest way back is to re-evaluate my media choices, better music, less mindless watching, and more quiet pondering.
How do you balance all of your roles?
I understand that to a lot of people the life of a single person is all freedom all the time. And I admit that I enjoy a great deal of freedom. For example the freedom to sleep (uninterrupted) in the middle of the bed with my arms and legs out like a star fish. I recognize that this is a perk of being single with no children. However, I have not yet starting receiving paychecks that allow me to hire a personal assistant/butler so if something in my life needs doing, it’s on me to get it done. I play all the roles, 100% of the time, including but not limited to: breadwinner, chef, maid/laundry assistant, grocery shopper/errand runner, car and lawn maintenance chief, budget balancer, and early morning seminary teacher. None of those jobs include spending time searching for a husband which includes attending awkward dances, perusing online dating sites, and generally making time for as many social activities as I can stomach. I know some of you are thinking that I am a crazy nut job and that my life sounds dreamy. But the truth is, life is hard and busy and sometimes stressful and chaotic and sometimes lonely, for all of us in one way or another.
I try to compartmentalize my day focusing on the major roles a majority of the time. I view my major roles as 1) my career (because if I don’t work who would pay for my shampoo?), 2) my church responsibilities (it is basically a second full-time job which I love and adore), and 3) my day-to-day life (the time left over in the day is frequently just enough to sleep, eat, shower, maintain a sufficiently stocked fridge or clean clothes and drive from point A to point B). In the leftover hours I am acutely aware of the importance of the social aspect of my life … so I do my best to be friendly to new people, and I never say no to a first date unless I am worried for my safety. Roles are relational, you are something to someone else, and being single is a strange time because it means I need to create space and time for a role that does not yet exist. That is a balancing act. The pressure and urgency for a family of my own is constant and at times very heavy. I know there are many of you who know the feeling of waiting on blessings from the Lord that you cannot control. I know the heartache of time lost and dreams and expectations not achieved. I know how it feels to answer questions from well-meaning friends, family and strangers about your situation and how painful that can be. Life is heavy and I know that God appreciates any effort I make to accomplish his will, no matter how small. So in the end, the only role that really means anything is my role as His daughter, and it is by far the most rewarding.
Joleen is the world’s best aunt, a loyal friend, a dear sister, a beloved daughter and manages to make everyone around her smile and feel love and accepted the minute she meets them. She is dedicated to making her life one of joy, connection and learning no matter where she finds herself. We are so grateful she would share with us! You can connect with Joleen on Twitter @msjkrem