Category Archives: Resolutions

Resolutions 2015

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It’s a snow day, or rather an ice day, and now that I’ve had a conference call and wrapped up a couple projects… and fallen twice while salting the driveway as long as we’re counting… time to do a little blogging.

Sidebar: The crockpot lasagna I mentioned yesterday was a success, I used this recipe from William Sonoma but beefed up the tomato sauce (I used the plain canned stuff) with onions, carrots, garlic and Italian seasonings. It was delicious and now we have leftovers for at least three more meals – leftover lasagna is my favorite. Simon was a wee bit skeptical but he enjoyed it as well!

Back to the image above…
I try to start each year thinking of what is ahead for the next twelve months. Sometimes that means I set specific goals/resolutions and sometimes I don’t (mostly, I have not but a little focus never killed anyone so I’m trying to be better).

This year I opted to go with ideas or themes, if you will, and I wanted to take a little time for my own benefit to talk about what those mean for me. I’d love to hear if you have words you focus on for a year, resolutions you set or if you just plain hate the whole idea.

live well | practice thankfulness | just do it
be intentional | enjoy the mundane

Live well
What does it mean to live well? That’s different for everyone, right? For me it’s doing the things I enjoy like making memories and traditions with my family, spending time with those dearest to me, going to concerts and filling my house with people and laughter. It also means being more conscious of food choices, being more active (something I’ve definitely let slip in the last 12-18 months) and procrastinating less. And from a faith perspective, spending more time with the Word, listening to what God is telling me and doing more for others when I feel called to action.

Practice thankfulness
Our November small group studies looked at what it means and is to be thankful; highlighting that it goes beyond the “attitude of gratitude.” Thankfulness can be so much more when it is a practice. Brene Brown speaks to this when discussing her research on people who are joyful and she found that the people who were most joyful were the ones who practiced gratitude. Sitting around the dinner table and sharing what you are thankful for that day, writing lists in a gratitude journal or sending thank you notes to people – not just for tangible things they have given you but for the positive influence/impact they have had in your life. So I’m going to work on actually practicing being thankful. [If you’d like your own gratitude journal, designed by me, please let me know… I have a few available for $12 and I’d be happy to mail you one… they are 15 pages (front and back so 30 pages total), spiral bound with quotes on thankfulness throughout. Some pages shown below.]
Gratitude_journal_cover Gratitude_journal_contents_Page_16
Gratitude_journal_contents_Page_21 Gratitude_journal_contents_Page_13

Just do it
More than just a branding statement from Nike. Pretty much stop procrastinating about things. If I want to do something that’s good for me and works for our life, then I should just do it. Stop hemming and hawing, wondering if it’s a good idea. Just do it. Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can do today. My procrastination is one of my biggest pet peeves about myself. I don’t always procrastinate, but when it’s about little things, things that don’t “matter” then I put them off. I’m also a big starter of projects/hobbies that I don’t end up finishing. My actually completing my granny square afghan was a big deal for me and I finished it because I made myself and I knew others knew I was working on it so I think accountability might be key to this one… I need to know others have an eye on me or know I am working on something. If you keep me accountable, let me know what I can do in exchange for you. Even in adulthood, it takes a village.

Be intentional
This is sort of goes with, or is an element of, both living well and practicing thankfulness, having more intention with the things I do. Not just doing something for the sake of doing something – we have plenty of that in our lives. But making memories, putting happiness in someone else’s life, spreading love and joy, choosing the positive over the negative – those things all take intention and they all make life that little bit better. And I’m all for all of that.

Enjoy the mundane
I have Kara Tippets echoing in my head very often and her blog Mundane Faithfulness amazes me with both its honesty and its devotion to God in the midst of very difficult circumstances. It’s easy to praise God during the high points of life and to turn to God in the difficult times but what do we do in the in-between, the every day moments? In the midst of life’s mundane, are we still stopping to enjoy those moments around the dinner table (even when the kids are complaining about the food in front of them) or riding in the car fielding endless questions? I try to and I’m going to keep trying. There is still a ton that is not enjoyable, don’t get me wrong – I don’t have on Pollyanna glasses and think life is amazing all of the time – no one likes getting oil changes or brushing their teeth or stepping on Legos. But darn it, I’m going to enjoy this in-between time of life to shore up a little for the next big high or low, to enjoy Simon working first shift, our family being healthy and no big changes on the horizon.

So those are the things I’m focusing on this year. What about you? Do you want to share?

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2013 Resolutions

2013_resolutionsPrior to blogging, I was never really one for making annual resolutions (aside from the time I resolved to only flip Simon the bird one time a day – I made that resolution, BTW, and I know I’m just the best wife ever). But I have attempted to set them for the past two years, knowing that by publicly posting them, I’m more likely to keep them, or at least try. I don’t think resolutions are necessary for a happy life, or that you have to set them at the first of the year, but it’s been working for me – I’d encourage you to do whatever works for you.

I think realistic goals are a good thing and I believe that if you don’t meet your goals, you don’t beat yourself up about them. There is no score chart, no scale by which we are measured for these things so it is pointless to feel guilty, but it is not pointless to try. It’s in the trying that we improve, that we learn more about who we are and often, it’s how we make new friends, friends who join us for part of the journey and cheer us on when it gets tough. Last year, for me, was a tough one but my friends made the difference and helped me stay upright and moving forward (even if in inches). I’m happy to bid it adieu, but 2012 really was a gift, in that it taught me that I can’t do it all (whether I think I can or others think I am) and asking for help and doing life with other people is the way to be happy. And I’m so glad to have lessons to be learned, to continue to work on being a better person.

Life is meant to be dynamic, not stagnant.

That said, here are my resolutions for 2013 and here’s hoping they are kept but I reserve the right to not complete them and to not feel bad about that. Sometimes (often), despite our best intentions, life has a way of leading us in a completely different direction than where we think we are headed.

  1. Read more books (a minimum of one a month)
  2. Pray EVERY night with the boys [so far, every night Liam has asked to pray for Joseph, you know, Jesus’ adoptive father]
  3. Eat more meals with all four of us around our kitchen table [this happens rarely as there are only two days a week when we are all home at the same time and not sleeping]
  4. Be a better friend to my family
  5. Prepare house for selling/renting (and preferably, do one of those things)
  6. Work on non-blog writing
  7. Host a dinner party
  8. Lose 50 pounds
  9. Move 500 miles (walking, bike, elliptical) [If you want to join this effort, sign up for this group on Facebook.]
  10. Go on a family vacation
  11. Spend more days at the beach
  12. Procrastinate and worry less; laugh more
  13. List my gratitude on a weekly basis

2012: Year In Review

One of my favorite bloggers (Linda from All & Sundry), from the very beginning of when I started reading blogs has a long-standing tradition of answering the following questions as a way of reviewing the previous year (though this year she took a break) and this year I thought I’d do the same (answer the questions, that is, not take a break). I love the questions and the answers they provoke.

1. What did you do in 2012 that you’d never done before?
– Traveled with two children halfway around the world
– Single-parented my kids for three weeks while Simon was in Australia
– Got an hour-long massage (it was notable because it was on my list of things to do before I turn 35)
– Raw food detox for 5 days

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

Please refer to the list, I will soon do a full recap of resolutions – just as soon as I figure out new ones for 2013. I kept most of the ones that really mattered. Though I can’t say I made a conscious effort to do one random act of kindness a week, but I think in general I’m a thoughtful person so we’re going to call that a win. But I definitely didn’t sell $500 worth of stuff on Craigslist and while realistically, I use a calm voice more often than a yell-y one with my kids, I still yelled way more than I would have liked. But the rest were golden, even cutting the hubs some slack – right, honey? [Edited to say, I looked at my 2011 resolutions when answering this – total fail. Whoops. But I did great at keeping 2011’s resolutions, not so much with keeping 2012’s. Ha.]

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My niece had her second baby, Ethan, and he’s just the best to cuddle at family gatherings (plus, he’s my godson!). And the babies keep coming with my friends… many close friends had new babies added to their family this year and that is great since it helps me get my newborn baby fill without actually having to deal with middle-of-the-night feedings.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My sweet mother-in-law, Dorothy, passed away after a long battle with illness. That was more than enough for this year.

5. What countries did you visit?
Australia.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
More patience (which is NOT me asking God for my chances to practice patience, I have plenty on a daily basis with my boys, thankyouverymuch). More laughter with family and friends. A husband who works first shift, specifically an Australian husband named Simon who works first shift (not just any husband will do) – February will mark three years that we’ve been doing this split-parenting thing and I am just so weary of it. And a new (to us) house. The start of the story I have had in my head for over a decade down on paper (or computer, as the case may be).

7. What dates from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
– July 4th (our July 3rd): the day Simon’s mom died
– July 24th: the day Simon came home from Australia

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Not to belabor the point, but I think making the best of having Simon in Australia for three weeks was a huge achievement. I have no regrets about his going, despite the cost and stress of dealing with everything else, and I am happy to say that the time went quickly and the boys had fun thanks to a jam-packed schedule of spending time with friends and family. It’s hard though because those same three weeks would not at all be considered an achievement by my husband, necessary but not an achievement.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I feel like all failures are parenting related, where I feel I didn’t live up to the kind of parent I should be for my boys. But I also think that is the bulk of parenting because it is such a huge thing in life, we are constantly somewhere on the continuum of trying to improve and do things differently (if not better).

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I finally sought out help for the neck pain I’ve been experiencing for ages as it was at the point where it was impacting my daily life. After a month of PT and the acquisition of my own personal traction machine, I’m happy to say that I no longer have daily pain and headaches, though I still can’t sleep on my back without waking up with a headache. Hello, my name is Michelle and I hurt myself sleeping.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
A plane ticket for Simon to go to Australia. Any tickets for live music.

12. Where did most of your money go?
Outside of mortgage, car payments, food and childcare? Plane tickets and caffeinated beverages.

13. What did you get really excited about?
Seeing fun. in concert. Simon coming home from Oz. Girl’s Weekend Away with my college friends. New babies arriving in the world. Liam starting first grade. Jack being potty trained.

14. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Home by Phillip Phillips (did you see my best of 2012 post?)

15. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? happier
– thinner or fatter? fatter – but that will change soon [more on that coming up]
– richer or poorer? same

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Working out. Reading books. Writing. Praying. Concert-going.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Driving around town (picking up kids, dropping off kids, getting errands done).

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Same as every year of my life (but one) – at my parents’ house for Christmas Eve and at my brother’s house for Christmas Day and out for breakfast with the whole fam the day after Christmas. When these traditions change, I think I’m going to have a hard time reconciling it.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
Favorites: The Vampire Diaries, Parenthood, Modern Family, Castle, Fringe, The Voice, Homeland.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
– Crazy Love – Francis Chan (still reading it for small group)
– Imperfect: An Improbable Life – Jim Abbott
– You Take It From Here – Pamela Ribon

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
– The Civil Wars were my favorite band and the rest are listed here.

22. What were your favorite films of the year?
Is it totally cheating to list almost all the movies I saw in the theater? When you’re paying a sitter, you gotta make your movie choices count…
– Argo [my favorite of the year]
– Rise of the Guardians
– The Avengers
– The Dark Knight Rises
– The Hunger Games
– This Is 40
– Crazy, Stupid, Love [technically this did not come out in 2012, but I watched it on the plane to/from Oz]

Least favorites: Melancholia, which I technically watched on the plane on the way to Australia but it SUCKED. Do not ever watch it.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Church in the morning and then spent the rest of the day hanging out with the boys until we went out for dinner to one of my favorite restaurants (Rose’s) with some of my favorite people. I turned 34. Simon’s mom died two days later so it was a calm, happy moment in the midst of a very sad time for our family.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Buying a new house. [Oh, and spontaneously achieved independent wealth.]

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Comfort and function over everything else. And cardigans and scarves were my ever-present staples.

26. What kept you sane?
Friends.

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012.
Things are seldom as perfect as they appear to be from the outside looking in. Comparison will steal your joy each and every time. God is faithful to those who ask for help and put their faith in Him and He can (and does) work miracles big and small.

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2012 Resolutions

Happy February 1 everyone – time to make some resolutions! [What? It’s perfectly normal to make resolutions the first day of the second month of the year… everyone should have a resolution-free January.]

Last year was the first year I really thought about my resolutions and actually tried to stick to them for the whole year* and I feel like I did a pretty good job of being realistic with my resolutions and following through on them (see my report card). I’ve been thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in this coming year and there are quite a few things that are on my 35 before 35 list that I’d like to check off so I don’t know that I’ll include those as resolutions since they are already covered there, but there are a few general thoughts/themes/topics I’d like to write down as resolutions and hope that you’ll join me in praying over them and holding me accountable. And as you’ll soon discover, I’m not averse to reusing resolutions.

2012 Resolutions
1. Be the kind of mom who says “yes” more than “no” when it comes to things I’d prefer not to do [not things the kids should not be doing – I’m all about setting boundaries and expectations]
2. Make it to church over 50% of the Sundays in a year.
3. Read one book per month (–/12)
4. Continue my exercise and healthy eating habits; adding at least one new-to-me exercise to my “circuit” [I’m thinking punching bag in the basement]
5. Make a concerted effort to teach my kids the value of money (this might be lost on Jack at the moment); rewarding them for tasks accomplished and helping them start tithing.
6. Go out of my way to do random acts of kindness whenever possible.
7. Go away for a weekend with my husband.
8. Do not take anything more into my life without first getting “rid” of something (physical things, my time, etc…)
9. Make macaroons, crumpets and/or english muffins from scratch.

Source: google.com via Michelle on Pinterest

What do you resolve to do this year?

*I should probably note, that I just remembered I did make one other resolution that I stuck to for a whole year. During our second or third year of marriage, I resolved to not flip Simon the bird more than one time a day – I thought this was rather generous of me. I’m happy to say I stuck to that resolution and happier to say that I don’t really have to give him the middle finger any longer – I’ve moved on to simply the stink eye and sometimes pinching the skin on the back of his upper arm. I’m nice like that.

2011 Resolutions: Report Card

I honestly meant to write this post before we left and schedule it to run at the beginning of the month but I also meant to do the same for my 2012 resolutions. Instead I spent most of January resolution-free, other than resolving to eat what I wanted in Australia and not feel guilty (I’m happy to report that there was zero weight gain on our trip, well, there was some but it’s all gone now so that’s a double bonus for me).

2011 Resolutions

  • Practice one random act of kindness per week. (??/52)
  • Send one “snail mail” letter a month. (20/12)
  • Sell $500 worth of stuff on Craigslist. (125/500)
  • Make it to church twice a month (at least). (12/12)
  • Clean/organize closets. (4/4)
  • Read one book a month. (16/12)
  • Drink more water, eat less bad food, exercise.
  • Get family photos taken.
  • Cut my husband some slack.
  • Use a calm, measured voice [with my kids] more often than a loud, short one.

I think I did pretty good when I look back at my list. There are a few things I can’t cross off but I know I worked on them and in other areas I surpassed my expectations for myself. Here are my thoughts on the above:

  • While I don’t know that I could say I did 52 random acts of kindness, I did try to be more intentional about doing nice, thoughtful things for people (strangers, family and friends); tried to be more generous with my time and resources.
  • Selling stuff on Craig’s list was really to help me purge things from the house, which I did by taking two carloads to Goodwill so while I didn’t sell the money value I wanted, I still got stuff out of the house.
  • Loved our old church but really love our new church because it’s small enough and our kids love it so much that we can’t get away with sleeping in as often as we did in the past and not going to church on Sunday morning. So, so glad to be back in a more regular routine and to give that example to our children.
  • I could not have known when I wrote that resolution that I would really get serious with getting healthier and that I would end up losing 50 pounds this year, but I did and wow does it feel great. There is still more to go, so I am by no means done but it’s amazing what a difference that change has made in my life – I am at a base level, so much happier (though I never would have said I wasn’t happy before).
  • Love, love, love our family photos
  • Still need to work on being a better person to those closest to me, but I think that might be something we all could say because those are also the people we know we can push against when we are frustrated and who get to see us at our worst (and best) because they are with us the most.