I always look forward to the fresh feeling of a new year but this year I felt especially eager to put the past year behind us. Although it was a really good year for our family overall, parts of the fall semester were pretty stressful with Chris's new (more demanding) leadership role at work. And throughout the year, the state of our country and of the world weighed on me more than ever before.
And so, usually I like to let Christmas linger but this year I was craving that slightly sparse feeling in the house when the tree, garland, and lights are put away. I am ready for a new year.
Last year CHOOSE was my guiding word and intention. For this year I went back and forth (and back again) on whether I wanted to pick a word at all this year. But in the end, I did pick a word. Or one came to me.
Every year in December I start thinking about the new year ahead. It's a reflex now. I reflect on the past year and close the books. As I was thinking about 2018 and what's in store for our little family, what I want my work to look like, and the relationships I want to invest in the word CONNECT came to me. And I'm going to go with that.
I want to CONNECT to people who are important to me by...
+ gaining more parenting tools and perspective. Now that the boys are getting older and their behavior and acting out is changing I've felt that our patience is tested in different ways and sometimes Chris and I don't know how to handle a situation. It's been awhile since I've read any parenting/behavior books and it feels like a good time for a refresh. On my to-read list is No-Drama Discipline, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, and How to Talk So Little Kids Will Listen. I also get newsletters from Aha Parenting and have found them encouraging. I'd love your book and resource recommendations!
+ having regular phone dates with my family and friends. I love using Voxer to keep up with several friends but there are a few people in my life that I still just want to talk to on the phone in real time. This includes my mom and my three oldest girl friends. I've kept regular bi-weekly phone dates with one friend for over a year and that works really well for us. With two other friends it seems to work well for us all to get on a three-way call after we put our kids to bed. And now that my mom is retired (yay Mom!) it'll be a lot easier to find a regular time to talk on the phone each week.
+ having low-key Thursday night dates with Chris. I loved this post about the secret to a happy marriage so much I immediately texted it to Chris and several girl friends. Finding consistent quality time with a spouse can be really hard when you have young kids. We used to do more at-home game nights but lately we've both been wiped after the kids go to bed. So, inspired by this post (Cup of Jo is just genius) here's what we've come up with: We'll make a big batch of cookie dough and freeze it. Then, every Thursday after the boys go to bed we'll bake a few cookies, sit on the couch, and talk. And that's it! If we feel like playing a game (Qwixx and Farkel are favorites) we can do that but we're keeping expectations low. Sometimes even a game feels like a lot of effort after a long day!
I want to CONNECT to the best version of myself by...
+ focusing on the good, the hope, and the helpers. Heading into 2018, I want to let go of feeling weighed down by the world. There are very concerning things happening but I can contribute the most good when I am my happy, optimistic self. To maintain that best self I need to moderate my news intake and focus on the good and the ways I can help.
+ not starting or ending the day with my phone. This is a goal for both Chris and me so we are reinstituting our "no phones in bed rule."
I want to CONNECT to work I am passionate about by...
+ participating in at least one writing development activity this year.
And finally, I want to CONNECT to where we live by...
+ crossing things off my list of "small annoying things that bother me around the house." These are simple things like changing light bulbs from harsh "daylight" to "soft white" and filling in and painting small holes in the walls left from art or furniture.
+ investing in our neighborhood community. We hosted a really fun neighbor New Year's Eve party and I was reminded how incredibly lucky we are to live close to so many nice people. I'd love to have more casual neighbor get togethers and to keep in better touch with a few older neighbors.
+ having our front and backyard updated. This is a big project that we've talked about for years and this year we want to finally do it! This will include removing our front yard grass, planting trees and new plants, and extending our patio space in the back.
+ rounding out the furniture and decor in our front room. Over the holiday we moved the loveseat from one wall to another, so easy!, and suddenly I thought, "This is how it was meant to be!" With an ottoman, an accent chair, and a few decor touches I think this will become a move inviting and used space.
And that's what I've got so far! Do you have a guiding word or intention for the year, or any specific goals? I'd love to hear what you have planned.
Happy new year, friends!