Saturday, January 15, 2011

the new 365

This has been written here and there over the past few weeks and I'm finally publishing it now. It may also be added to as the still newish year continues to get underway. Just so you know... ;)

I mentioned earlier that my "resolutions" this year boil down to stepping back from the things that don't work for our family and moving toward the things that do; being intentional about how we're choosing to spend our time and energy.

I really love New Year's time... making goals, making plans, and most of all, making lists. :) I like to get organized and to simplify.
It feels good to have a plan and good intentions and to acknowledge them, lay them out and make them real. I love that it can be a time for a fresh start. Assessment, refining, renewal.
This year for me especially as it all fits the season of life we're in.

I love these thoughts I read earlier this year:

Perhaps January 1st comes on the scene too quickly after the rush of the holiday season, but I’ve found many of us halfheartedly repeat “popular” goals for the new year, without much time or reflection given to the process.
Winter is a season of introspection, lower energy, and reflection. I start the reflection process in January. I use January and February to dig inward, learn from the past year’s lessons, gaze ahead and consider where my energy should be directed.
When I honor myself with time and attention, I am startled at the goals I come up with.
Once I've set my goals and aspirations, I spend time to make a plan for achieving them so I can give myself the support and preparation I need to be successful. This action plan generally begins to really ramp up and pick up energy just as spring comes on the scene. The freshness and new energy of the world around me fuel my commitment.

from Lisa on Simplemom

All this to say, instead of typical "resolutions", I've learned the last couple of years more to make annual goals.
The thing that I like about using the word goal is that it is implies that there is an actual, reachable plan with logical and do-able steps. As Dave Ramsey says, “A goal without a plan is just a dream.”

And of course you can't really make a plan without first analyzing what it is exactly that you're working with.

So I've been working on answering 25 questions that hopefully help me analyze and prepare for accomplishing the goals I pin down for the new year. I'm intending for these deliberations to be an annual thing just as the reflection questions I like to go through at the end of each year. Feel free to use them for your own new year perspective if you're so inclined. (Questions loosely taken from several New Year's goal setting articles on

And don't, by the way, feel obligated to read through this all (it may get lengthy); it's mostly for my own journalling and reflection, with somewhat of some sort of feeling of accountability by making it "public".

On with it:

1. What healthy character traits would you like to see developed in your life this year? What are some specific steps you can take to develop these?
~I want to be more outgoing, take more risks, not be afraid to let people know who I am as I meet new people in this new community. I need to take the first step more often.
~I want to be feeling "simpler" without the crazy million things on my plate and in my head that I've seem to had going on for the last year and a half. We're here now, we're done with the big life changes for the moment, I want to be more flexible and relaxed. Which I think means simplifying things and being more organized.

2. What are some of your learning goals for this year?
~First and foremost, we plan on completing Tennessee State Foster Care training and becoming licensed for care and adoption.
~I want to spend some serious time learning my camera and stretch my abilities (and my opportunities) in taking pictures of my kids.
~I also want to get back into piano music.
~I want to read more.
Speaking of....

3. What books would you like to read this year?
I have a couple dozen sitting by my bed waiting for me. Honestly. Some that I really want to get through are:
Crazy Love, Outlive your Life, Bringing Up Boys, Bringing Up Girls, Your Girl: Raising a Godly Daughter in an Ungodly World, Good and Angry, Parenting is Heart Work, Cure for the Common Life, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Two From Galilee, The Help and a few other random fiction titles that have been getting dusty sitting next to my bed for too long.
What, that's not setting unrealistic expectations is it???

4. Do you enjoy your job or jobs? If so, what are your favorite things about your work? If not, what are some ways you can change this?
I absolutely love my job. I love that it's (for the moment) evolving and as much as I miss the work that is taking care of babies and littler ones (and hope that's still in store for us), I'm glad that instead of mourning my kids getting older and more independent, my passions at home are turning into really wanting our home to be a sanctuary -a refuge- for our family and all who spend time here. I want my kids to feel treasured and safe. I want my husband to feel adored and supported. I want things to look nice and to smell good and to feel special, not because I'm trying to uphold to some standard, but because it makes us feel comfortable, content and "home". I want my walls to be a shelter from the chaotic world, inspiring and rejuvenating. I like the challenge of creating traditions and memories for all of us, I like working hard to have organization and routine... and sure it's not always that way, but if it were then I'd be out of a job now wouldn't I?

5. What is one area of progress you’d like to see this year for maintaining or improving your family's health?
I'd like to continue to weed out highly processed foods and eat more real foods. I'd like to make more things that are probably pretty simple that we take for granted are a necessity from the store shelves; making homemade, healthier breads and things like tortillas, sauces, soups, etc.

6. What are some tangible, daily choices you can add to your life that will improve your health?
Walking, drinking more water, choosing a specific exercise routine;
these have all worked well in the past, they just haven't been made a priority.

7. In what way would you like to be physically healthier by December of this year?
I'd like to lose about 30(+) pounds. Really, this time.

8. What is your plan this month for starting this progress towards a healthier you?
Start a meal plan and walk at least 3x a week.

9. What do you want to see happen to strengthen your marriage this year?
I need to be more of a servant. My husband does so much for me with never a complaint. I need to get past my laziness and be more uplifting and serving to him, even when it's a hassle for me.
Also regular, intentional, get out of the house together "dates".

10. What are your plans for having regular date nights? How will you handle childcare?
We'd like to take advantage as much as possible... kinda tricky in a new city not knowing anyone. We do, however, have a couple of options and should be able to pull off a once a month thing. Already have a date for January lined up with a babysitting swap, so we're on the right path with that one!

11. What plans will you make to pray and/or have “family meetings” together? What books would you like to read together this year?
Same as last year (which never happened)... things should be much more stable and routine around here and we should be able to put together a plan to get through this book together, weekly.

12. What will deliberate, regular family time look like this year?
We had let our weekly family movie night and our more recent family game night slack a lot with the holidays so I definitely want to pick that back up. I would like at least a weekly time of devotion/above book study together as well. Also monthly parent/child dates are high on my priority list.

13. Do you have specific planned vacation time in mind for this year? What needs to happen to make this vacation a reality?
Um, besides winning the lottery?
We don't really have plans. We have in mind that we really want to get to the East Coast, but nothing in place to make that happen. We need to take a good hard look at our funds for this year and see if we can get a plan in the works... decide what our priorities are.

14. How is your current physical living space working for your family? Do you need to make changes to this? If so, what are they?
It's still an adjustment as we're still in a lot of ways settling into our new house. Top of the list for this year are organizing the playroom (which will involve some sort of mini-remodel with the built ins) and to finish the kids' bathroom. There are also a couple of furniture/storage pieces I'd like us to try and build. Otherwise, I think we're good to go with nothing major, set to enjoy the new year in our new home.

15. How will your children be educated this year?
Finishing out this school year should go smoothly. Sawyer will start kindergarten in the fall at the public school with Savannah, full day, five days a week, so that will be a big change. I'm already praying he'll be in a great classroom with a great, christian teacher. He's excited. I hope it goes well.

16. What are some resources you’d like to explore to help your children develop intellectually, academically, physically and spiritually?
We're anxiously waiting for the kids soccer to start in the spring. Sawyer may be interested in baseball too this year.
We're still on the hunt for a home church with a great kids program, but I'm also looking into them possibly joining Awanas during the week.
Savannah wants to get back to piano lessons and Sawyer would really like us to set him up with guitar.

17. What are some of your long-term financial goals? In what ways can you make progress on them this year?

Paying down the debt that was racked up in this year of double living expenses and selling and buying a house. Hopefully this year will stay clear of any big unforseen expenses and we can pay that down quickly.

18. What is your plan this month for starting progress towards better financial health?
Not eat out as much. That's a start, right?

19. Are you giving regularly? If not, in what way can you give financially this year?
We are not, currently. And we didn't even do much giving last year. Praying we'll settle into a church soon, where we can be giving financially regularly as well as in ministry. In the meantime, though we don't have much to give right now, it's been on my heart lately so we do plan on seeking out something intentional for our family aside from "church giving". Not sure what that looks like for us yet.

20. In what specific way would you like to grow in relating to your friends this year?
Um, make new friends is a good place to start on this one. We've been here for four months and I still am feeling pretty darn alone here. As mentioned earlier, I want to put more effort into starting and building new friendships.
Also kind of random, I'd really like some sort of girl trip somewhere, somehow... just a weekend with girlfriends. Who and where I don't really know... even just a conglomeration of whoever's up for a trip... just a fun time of connecting and refreshment and just being away from the routine. I'd love to just be with good friends for a bit. I rarely see friends without whole family gatherings or at least kids around. It's never just about us. And for now, being long distance from most friends, a weekend thing seems like a good solution.

21. What are some ways you can be of service to your immediate community?
Hopefully through foster care to start with.
Also, I want to be open to more just "pay it forward" opportunities. I was in line this week at the grocery store behind a lady and her three young kids and she didn't have much... a meager grocery cart and lots of coupons and a total of just over $15. And she was digging in her purse and couldn't find her check card, mumbling to herself saying, 'if I left it in my other purse I'm going to kick myself'. She wanted me to go ahead and get checked out while she searched some more because she couldn't comprehend leaving her groceries, bundling up her three kids to go home and back again for her stupid card.
While my groceries were being rung up and she was still rummaging through her purse, tiredly shushing her three impatient kids, I kept thinking of the $20 bill sitting in my wallet.
My order was done and bagged and I was honestly just opening my mouth to offer her the $20 when she handed the cashier $12 and change she had scrounged up from the bottom of her purse. So I left without offering. But the whole way home I was disappointed in myself. How amazingly would that have changed my day if I were in the same position and someone right away just handed me a twenty dollar bill to help out the pinch I was in. I stood there and hemmed and hawed about $20 the whole time when really, it would have so been worth it to see the relief in her eyes. I imagine it would have been a gift for me, really.
Anyway. I'd like to seize those opportunities when they arise instead of debating with myself and just go ahead and be generous. No, I'm not really comfortable with giving away money... I don't really comfortably have money to give away right now... but really? I do have it. And that's more than some people. So I should be able to take the chance and give it if it can better someone else's situation... whether it's handing lunch money to a homeless guy or just relieving a frazzled mom. Who knows what might make a difference in someone's day.

22. Who are some specific people in your life that can use some encouragement? What will you do to encourage them this year?
I have a thing for encouraging Moms. I think a lot of us are under-appreciated and often times minimize our own efforts and challenges in this biggest job of our lives. We don't feel we're good enough much of the time. I know it's a small thing, but for me at least, being complemented or encouraged in this aspect, being reminded that I am a blessing to my children, makes a HUGE difference sometimes.

23. Who are some people in your life that you admire? What are some practical ways you can positively use their influence in your life?
I admire people who are truly happy and content. I admire that they don't complain, they don't whine, they really don't have a negative thing to say about anything. They look for the blessings, they expect the best, they rejoice in the small things. And they seem so happy.
Sarah, Kasey, Christina, Annie and Patti are some women who come to mind as admiring in this way.

24. Are there any damaging relationships in your life? What will you do this year to make these relationships better?
Not really... not anything that stands out to me anyway. I guess moving away from everyone you know and love (and don't love) helps weed out the negative relationships easily! ;)

25. Pick a word or a theme for this coming year to motivate you toward the changes you want:
At first I was really thinking of this being a year of Being Intentional. But the more I thought about it, the more the word Refined stuck out to me.
I really see this year refining me. Or rather, me allowing myself to be refined. Sloughing off the things that weigh me down, the things that aren't important, the things that are just taking up space; in my home, in my life and in my heart. Refining my life to reflect what IS important... who is important. Sifting out the unnecessary and the "impurities" and standing strong in what's pure and "polishing" my life. I want to refine my relationship with God, refine my marriage, refine the way I parent, the way our home runs. Paring down and making things simpler, being intentional about how we're choosing to spend our time as a family, and letting myself be refined.


Mom said...

That is a lot of info. Now I am going to try and answer those questions . Should be interesting.And quite eye opening. XOXOXOXO

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