Habit + Enjoying eating = one who is committed to, as we say in China, morning exercise.

Years ago I read in a Bill Hybel’s book that he doesn’t decide in the moment if he’s going to exercise since he’ll be more likely to opt out. He decides ahead of time. I have lived by that principle and the trenches of routine are so deep that when I don’t exercise I am off kilter.

Beijingers have been anticipating and commenting on the advent of spring and the flowering trees she brings. I enjoy wandering a local park with my camera because by looking through a camera lens I slow down enough to pay attention. This part of the season isn’t long and it’s easy to miss. Last week was the week to go.

Seeing beautiful flowers and being out in nature (as much as you can get out in nature in a large Chinese city), you’d think I’d have been more eager. Instead it felt like I was missing out by not exercising “aerobically” as I stopped to smell and photograph the flowers. But, using Hybel’s principle of not deciding in the moment, the decision was made. I was going.

It turns out one’s soul can benefit from a change in exercise as much as the body does. Which is a no-duh kind of statement! By clinging to my routine I almost missed ….

The Pagoda Park in my neighborhood

The quiet of an early morning in the park about ten minutes from my home.

Oh the colors of spring and the palette of the season.

This is my soul ‘comfort food’. I have taken this picture over and over throughout the years. I return to it again this year and it feeds me.

A man doing Taijichuan (Tai Chi) — a moment of calm amongst other park activities.

Another man practicing his writing, using water that evaporates as he finishes one line and moves on to the next.

Even after all these years, this bridge is a “pinch me do I really live in China” kind of picture.

People playing hacky sack — I picture my parent’s small group gathering in the early morning hours to kick around a pink feathered shuttle cock and laugh out loud!

One more dose of soul comfort food that does my soul good.

“Beauty ushers us into places of the soul that breathe life, inspiration, and awe. Seeing beauty, we hear the voice of the God who inspired us. Beauty turns our eyes toward Jesus.” Stephen W. Smith

I was ushered in. My soul worked out, my heart pumping and singing in ways it doesn’t on a treadmill.

What changes in soul care have shaken up your routines recently? Share with us in the comments.