Did you choose a word for this year? Did you make any resolutions? I don't know about you but for me, right about now it's a distant memory and everything is the same as it was before. I'm very pleased to say that this year is at least a little bit different.
You may remember that this year, my word is "Present." After a lot of pondering and reflecting, I decided that I wanted to slow down, to enjoy things a bit more and to stop rushing so much. I feel very much as if life is something that happens to me, not something that I get to be intentional about. It makes me sad because I forget what life is about and I know that I am missing so many special moments that should be treasured. I've been feeling this way for several years and if I am entirely honest, I know that I would need to cut more from my life than I am willing to in order to truly slow down. This new way of trying to be is my compromise - trying to find some little ways to be more aware of what's going on and to find joy.
When I chose this word, I didn't really know what it was going to mean to me. Before I do a status update of sorts, I should probably say that this is definitely a work in progress. Temperamentally, I have always had an addiction to busy and my brain has always wanted to be engaged. Boredom is my enemy. On the other hand, since the kids came along, I've felt more and more that I was on a speedway and I was just, barely managing to keep up.
So far this year, I have found three practices so far that seem to be helping. Sabbath keeping has been the first. It's not new to me but it's something I had forgotten. Many years ago, Dh and I used to make Sunday technology free - no t.v., no computer and we tried to keep anything electronic turned off. It used to be wonderful, we spent Sunday afternoon quietly reading or playing games or going out. It was nice. It was easy in those days. I don't remember when we stopped but somehow, Sunday had turned into church followed by errands and if we were lucky, we would be home by four and I'd spend the rest of the evening making lunches, cooking for the week, trying to get homework done and generally feeling resentful. By the time I got the kids into bed, I was overwhelmed by the sense that I wasn't ready to go back to work. Since January, with one or two exceptions, Sundays have been different. I take Saturday evening and do any cooking and make lunches for Monday and Tuesday. Housework and other jobs are done then, too. Sunday, I get up early and run the dogs and then, after church, things are slow. I refuse to run errands and we either play games as a family, read, nap (my personal favourite) or tidy (but the kind of puttering tidying that feels like getting to know home again). I can't tell you what a difference this is making in terms of how I start my week. I am finding now that I get REALLY resentful if I can't take Sunday at its new pace. I am possessive of the quiet and I go back to work on Monday feeling as though life is more in control.
My second new practice that is really helping me is keeping a bullet journal. I won't bore you with details but if you are interested, if you do a search on Pinterest of bullet journal keeping, there will be all kinds of articles. I am not hugely involved in it but I feel so much more in control when I keep track of the jobs needing to be done and when, before I go to bed, I check what has and hasn't been done and get organized for the morning. It's probably more of an illusion of control than anything else but given my job and the stage of life with my family, knowing that things are getting done as they need to be makes so much difference. In the more recent past, I had developed a problem with doing things at the last minute or, worse, double booking us and then, there was the panicked scramble of trying to clean up the mess. At this point, I am avoiding that and it's wonderful!
Finally, there is my scripture search. I haven't really found any verses that speak to me exactly about being present but I decided, back in January, to take some time each Sunday and to search a verse about peace that speaks to me. I write the verse on several cards and place them in different places and through the course of the week, I review the cards and ponder what that verse might be saying to me. It's helpful because it often helps me to see something that I hadn't noticed or pondered before (e.g., so many of the verses have to do with keeping quiet or considerate in one's speech and I have found myself in many situations in which I'm realizing that it is participating in certain conversations that robs me of my peace). I don't know that I have a year of peace verses that speak to me but for now, I have a long way to go.
I don't know whether other people find the "one word" practice to be a useful or an effective one but each of the women in my study group has chosen one this year and it's interesting to see how each of us keeps coming back to the struggle or challenge with our word. It's leading to some very positive growth.