new year’s resolutions

Resolute

I’ve noticed the trend lately is to pick a “word” for the year to concentrate on rather than a resolution.  I prefer to pick my word in hindsight, after the year’s true colors have been revealed.  2014’s word is “strange”.

What a strange, strange year.  A terrible winter, bats, California, a sickness that completely changed our lifestyle, two strange pregnancy “scares”, one with a positive test because I took the wrong kind of test, both with a mixture of relief and regret that they didn’t come to fruition, opening up a business to sell my handmade creations.  And we bought a schoolhouse.  To live in.

It doesn’t get much more strange than that.

We are still trying to find our family rhythm here and I do find myself curious about what I will remember and the feelings I will have about our time in this house.  We are making memories for sure….(Christmas Eve was one for the record books…..story to come)

I always enter a new year with a bit of trepidation.  I guess you could say I don’t like forced change.  2014 holds a lot of mystery for us.  I literally cannot envision where our family will be next year, who we will be sharing life with, and what the girls will be like (Bea especially).  But I suppose mystery can be exciting at times and preferable to the tedium we felt last year.

Reading what I wrote last year at this time is so interesting.  All of the mysteries of a new year have been cleared up just a little over 300 days later.  2014 challenged us and surprised us and now it’s wrapped up in a neat little story for us to look back on whenever we want to.  It’s a strange story, I must warn you, but it ends well.

I honestly don’t have a clue what 2015 will look like for me or my family.  I’ve set my resolutions but they aren’t anything too stretching.  They mostly involve boring goals like  reading and dental care.  There’s nothing I’m anxiously preoccupied with like moving into a new house or bringing a new baby into our family so right now it just kind of feels like a filler year. One that will advance the story line but with no new plot developments.  But of course I always leave room for a little excitement and mystery.

I’ve had a week to put my resolutions into practice and I already feel so good. Balanced. Healthy, whole.  If I can make this feeling last all year now that would be a resolution. I’ve said it before and I’ll restate it again: my life feels so much more cohesive set to the beat of a daily rhythm.  I’ve been very tuned in to my rhythm lately, trying to figure out what charges me and what depletes me.  My days are happiest when I:

-wake up and read my Bible first thing.  No email until I’m out of bed

-exercise (and shower if possible) before the girls are up

-have a plan for each day that includes daily activities, MG schoolwork, free time, busy work, and meal plan

-read at least 15 minutes every night before bed.  No media checking after 10pm

The resolution I’ll continue from last year is to continue journaling snippets (on the fly writings, funny things they say/do)  for the girls in Evernote (free app).

I’ve also found that when you add something to your day (Sweet Mama Makes–which opens back up today), you have to make room for it in other areas.  If I’m being honest, Facebook is one of the biggest time wasters I have available to me.  I really attempted to limit it this past year by deleting the app off of my phone and only checking in now and again.  Each time I do, I hope to be greeted with  happy news like birth or pregnancy announcements, cute pictures, or funny stories from my friends. But more often than not, the negative outweighs the positive.  I am a feeler, deep and wide, through and through.  Just reading a headline about a mom (whom I don’t even know) being diagnosed with cancer affects me and sets my mind and heart spinning.  And before I know it, I’ve emotionally invested in someone I don’t even know and my heart has taken on stress that doesn’t even belong to me or my family.  This, for me at least, just isn’t healthy enough to justify.

Instagram provides a way for me to stay up to date without having to wade through the scary and depressing articles, headlines, and trailers.  So in 2015, there will be even less FB with a little bit of IG (because I still want to make room for those exciting baby announcements :))

I mentioned last week that I’ve turned a corner in my writing and I very much enjoyed this piece by Emily P. Freeman (my new blogging muse).  She put into words exactly what I’m feeling towards my writing.  To summarize, I still feel called to blog despite the fast-paced shift away from it .  And I’m happy that there is a little corner of the Internet reserved for me to do so.  Some of my friends have confided in me that they no longer have time to read my blog or keep up with my family through this outlet.  I hope you (my friend) realize that I totally get that and don’t want you to ever feel like you have to “apologize” to me for that.  The best thing about a blog is that if your circumstances and desires ever change, all of my posts will be here waiting for you to catch up on.

Most years I drag my feet into the new year, hesitant to leave behind the memories made in the past.  This year feels different.  I am excited to welcome 2015.  Even with all of its unknowns, surely it can’t be more strange than 2014.

And with the turning of the clock comes a promise that the upcoming year will be different.  That the year will hold new chances and hopeful promises.  That all of your shortcomings of 2014 will be redeemed in 2015.  That there will be good surprises and better fortune.  That it will feel different.

That is what I want for 2015…for it to feel….Peaceful, and sweet, and me.  I want to feel like I am becoming more into my best self, maker, author,  and all.

Auld Lang syne my dears,

-smk

2013

In church on Sunday, our pastor spoke about New Year’s resolutions (of which I’ve already stated: I’m a big fan) vs. Ebenezer stones.  Resolutions can serve a purpose, he reasoned, but it is more important to reflect often on the blessings in your life; realizing how your story is a reflection to the world about the realness of God.  He indirectly encouraged me to keep writing as he said that our human minds often get the story wrong: we twist the facts, we consider ourselves the main character, and we are forgetful.  We should intentionally place markers in our lives to help us remember how God worked for the ultimate purpose of sharing them with others. This is how future generations will come to know Him.  My version of this is to write.

This time of year always pulls at the sentimentalist in me and that means reflection tends to come naturally.   My heartstrings are strung very tightly and they are moved with just a slight hint of Auld Lang Syne .  I tend to guard my heart a little at Christmas because as soon as it is over, I know what is around the corner….the end.  The end of another year with my little girls, the end of another year of health and happiness, the end of the known. The beginning of a dark and cold winter, the beginning of the new, the beginning of the unknown.

To stave off these feelings, I put together the video below using only pictures captured by my phone.  I think it speaks volumes that my phone contributed far more to our collection this year than our dslr.  Something about being portable and usable with only one hand…

So here is our 2013 in 100 seconds:

[vimeo http://vimeo.com/82848721%5D

https://vimeo.com/82848721

Watching this video, I am struck by several feelings. At the beginning of the year, I remember  being….cold.  It seemed like it was May before we finally got our outside weather.  My life revolved around getting a toddler to use the potty and I stayed in the potty zone for far too long.  I remember getting cabin fever and feeling like I would be cold, tired, and pregnant forever.

I remember being pregnant and life before Bea.  I knew life would be better with her in it, but in order for that to happen, things had to change first.  Some of my fondest memories from this year include my weekly doctor dates with MG.  She was always so excited to go and follow our little routine (pretend baby, sucker, real baby’s heartbeat, sticker).  The time we had as just the two of us, though sweet, is already growing dimmer.  Bea has completely changed things, though for the better.  The joy she has brought to each of us has been very real. And as cliche as it sounds, it is a joy to wake up and serve her every day.

I especially remember giving birth and how merciful God was to me in that.  Baby Bea made up many of the one hundred seconds of this video and rightly so; she was the biggest and best thing that happened to us this year.

When I look at our summer pictures, my heart is completely welled up with feeling.  I had captioned one of the pictures of N reading to the girls, “I will never forget the summer of 2013” and I hope it is true.  We enjoyed life together this summer.  We took a few trips and MG really bonded with our extended family.  I had a newborn but I hardly knew it because I was so well taken care of by so many.  Our life was calm and predictable then too…right before it exploded into many unrecognizable pieces.  If I could return to this summer and relive most of it, I would in heartbeat.

What the summer brought in feelings, the fall brought the opposite.  I remember feeling lonely, often, caring for the girls from sun up to sun down.  I remember lots of hard talks about our future, about our present too.  I remember searching my soul for grit and knowing I had it in me to continue, sure that good things were to come out of it.  I remember feeling frustrated often with MG…perhaps it was the absence of Daddy that brought about her deep mood swings and little to no naps; boundary testing, and withheld affection.  I used up a lot of my reserves on her and then felt like I had very little to give the rest of my family.

But then we moved.  The pendulum swung…a lot.  The things that were hard got better, the things that were easy got harder…for a while at least.  We are still trying to find our family rhythm here and I do find myself curious about what I will remember and the feelings I will have about our time in this house.  We are making memories for sure….(Christmas Eve was one for the record books…..story to come)

I always enter a new year with a bit of trepidation.  I guess you could say I don’t like forced change.  2014 holds a lot of mystery for us.  I literally cannot envision where our family will be next year, who we will be sharing life with, and what the girls will be like (Bea especially).  But I suppose mystery can be exciting at times and preferable to the tedium we felt last year.

The most important feeling from this year is that we walk away changed.  Literal change where our life looks 100% different, but also emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually too.  2013 brought many things our way, my most favorite being this:

DSC_0115

Thanks as always for sharing with me and following me through out the year.  Tonight we will raise our glasses to (mostly) kept resolutions, a path guided by Faith, and landing where we are meant to be.

 

May 2014 bring good fortune  to you too.  Cheers,

 

Resolute (part 2)

Okay so it has been a long, dare I say, suspenseful wait since this post.

But it just didn’t feel right to talk about my New Year’s Resolution until I had actually spent some time putting it into practice.  Plus, with the nature of it, I didn’t want people to spend all year second guessing my motives.
My NYE Resolution for 2012 was to be a better friend.
I didn’t really know what it would look like and didn’t really have any specific goals.  I just felt very convicted that it was something that I needed to refine in my life.  Being a INFJ (for all you Meyers-Briggs people) means that I prefer friendships to come to me.  I would much rather be the pursued than the pursuer.  But I realized in the course of this that I had been leeching off of a lot of great friendships but wasn’t really giving up my fair share.
I asked God to open up opportunities for me and just lead me in the right direction.
I also found this verse, which I felt fit the theme quite nicely.
And mark that you do this with humility and discipline–not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” Eph 4:2-3
Here are some practical ways I set out to ensure my resolution:
-Started a new play group this summer with some friends from church
-threw several “Pinterest parties”  (guests bring a craft and supplies to work on while I supplied food, drinks, and basics like scissors and a hot glue gun.  We all walked away with an accomplished project or two!)
-hosted one or two date nights for friends (N and I picked a specific night and kept all of the children–of relatively the same age–while the parents got a free night out)
-Studied my friends that seem to come easy to friendship and tried to imitate their ways
-Developed a “Bring a friend” clause.  Just like Jay Kessler (former president of Taylor University) talks about how to accomplish missions when you have a family: he says whatever you do, “bring a kid” along with you.  I decided that whenever I was venturing out to a new restaurant, the museum with MG, or even to run off-the wall errands, I would call a friend to join me.
While some of you come very easy to these standards (lucky!) and others of you totally feel me, these things that I set out to do are all outside of my normal comfort zone.  I have to admit, I would much prefer someone else to be in charge of playdates, others to initiate invitations, and I greatly enjoy my independence when I shop.  But there was never a time that I regretted my decision to do otherwise (at least after the event was over) and I actually received much more blessing in return (imagine that!)
Some unexpected but fun things that came out of it:
-New friendships and blossoming old ones
-A realization of how blessed I am
-Feeling like I finally have a “community” around me.  Friends to call when something goes wrong, or I need an emergency babysitter, or I even need to borrow a quarter cup of oil (yes we do actually have neighbors that will give you this stuff!  I might never have discovered it if I hadn’t asked :))
-MG is being socialized with some of the best and brightest friendships I could ask for.  I am relishing that I get to choose all of her relationships right now and they all stem from families that I know and trust.  Even though she doesn’t yet have a sibling, she is learning how to interact with others on a weekly, supervised basis.  The best!
-A very rich and full year

In conclusion, I am so thankful that God urged me to do this.  I have learned so much about myself and others.  I have gained so much more than I gave.  And I do feel like I have quite a long way to go, but I feel like I am on the right track to progress.  One of the main lessons I learned is that there are so many women (SAHMs, especially) who are looking for the exact same thing I am.  All I had to do was put myself out there and they opened themselves up to me.  I do feel that my resolution slacked, specifically from September to November, as I was struggling each day just to get out of my pajamas.  But looking back, it was during this time that I was able to reap some of the benefit of the friendships I had discovered throughout the year, as I felt friends, both new and old, give to me much more than I had spent the first 8 months giving.

All of the lessons and blessing from this year’s resolution were so worth it.

So what is my resolution for 2013?  Still working on it.  But I do hope that my 2012 resolution is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

 

Resolute (part 1)

I’ve heard all the bad press.  I’ve seen all of the weightloss and anti-smoking commercials that begin December 1.  I’ve observed all of the newcomers to the gym between the weeks of January 1-14.  But I don’t really care what the media says about New Year’s Resolutions.  Because I myself tend to be an avid maker and keeper of such resolutions.  

It’s important to know that I don’t fault others for their lack of participation. But they just work for me.  I put a lot of thought into making them. And I kinda look forward to our (N & I both make them) annual family tradition of carefully thinking through them, choosing one or two, and then sharing them with each other in order to be accountable.

Last year, I resolved myself to be more honest.  I know, I know, that one seems less resolution and more intention.  But specifically, I meant more honest in the social media world.   Prior to 2011, I was working everyday and spent about 30 minutes/day on Facebook.  This would leave me little time to leave comments for others or to even stay abreast of everything.  That, and the fact that I sort of enjoyed my Internet anonymity.  I liked that I could enjoy pictures from afar from people who I would barely converse with in “real life”. 

When I left my job to stay at home, I started to spend more time online.  I started to really contemplate my actions and that’s when I was confronted with my deceit.  Was it really fair of me to talk to my husband and/or friends about a cute photo album I’d seen on Facebook but never tell the maker of the album I’d admired it?  Of course this isn’t realistic all the time, but I just felt like there was a glaring hole in my life and I decided to make a change.  First, I cut my friend list down to people who I would actually talk to in real life.  A lot has changed since 2005 when I first activated my Facebook account, including my friends. Second, I starting commenting on pictures that I really had comments on and “liking” things that I really liked.  For an insecure introvert like myself, it was really hard at first to put myself out there.  I mean, will people think I’m obsessed and creepy?  Will they wonder what business I have commenting on their picture?? Will they think I’m on Facebook  like a l l the t i m e??  

But once it started, it began paying back with great rewards.  I felt completely esteemed when others returned the favor.  I mean if I like receiving random comments on my Internet stuff, why wouldn’t others too?? In some ways, being more honest on Facebook actually helped me to deepen my real-life friendships.  I know, crazy, right?

The honesty clause also related to other social media outlets.  When I had an unusually positive or negative experience with a purchase/at a restaurant/on vacation, I left reviews and told people what I honestly thought.  I couldn’t justify complaining in real life if I hadn’t made my thoughts known first to the person/organization/company.  Also, people love encouragement.  It may take me 2 minutes to fill out a form about a positive experience, but that compliment may impact that person’s life indefinitely.  Being genuine felt refreshing and just plain like it was the right thing to do.

There have been many rewards for my new honesty clause.  Some big and some small. It has carried over from my online life into my real life.  And looking back at all of the positive outcomes, I am so glad that I followed through with it.

So, what, you may ask, was my New Year’s Resolution for 2012?  Does it live up to the hype of 2011??

Well, I’m not quite ready to reveal it publicly yet, but I will give you a little clue to peak your interest:

Here’s to keeping  past resolutions strong while engaging in new ones,