I don't know whether you have heard or not about the movement to shift away from resolutions for a new year to moving to a word. I heard about it several years ago and I loved the idea! I gleefully chose a word (my first word was "rest" I believe) and I had all these great plans to do all kinds of things to use that word to create a more intentional life. I think that by the end of January, I had totally forgotten my word (the same as I am with resolutions).
I've gradually gotten better with my word and this past year, I've had the first year during which I kept hold of my word all year and I can truly say that my word HAS made a change. It helped that when I shared the "one word" idea with my Wednesday night study group, everyone loved the idea and everyone chose their own words. We did a check in once a month or so to discuss our words and we all brought our words forward in our lives in a different way.
My word for 2016 was "Present". Since I had Pk and Lb, I have felt like I was being dragged along by life. Between my very busy job (as a kindergarten teacher), heavy church involvement and the kids many, many, many activities (skating, horseback riding, Awana, piano lessons, etc.) I so rarely get a chance to feel like I am here - I'm thinking about what is coming next and how I will make it happen or I am brooding over something that upset me or that was stressful earlier in my day. I felt exhausted and I felt discouraged and I had the strong sense that I was missing out on life's great gifts. Most of all, it made me feel sad.
While I can't say that I have entirely conquered the feeling of being overwhelmed and rushed, I have incorporated some practices this year that have helped. I'm feeling a bit lazy so I think I will summarize them in a list but I can truly say that these things have really helped AND will stay with me as I move into my new word in 2017.
1. Sabbath - I realised early on that it was really important for me to be able to build in a gift of slower at some point in the week. I have been wanted to embrace Sabbath more fully for a variety of reasons and this seemed to overlap beautifully. I couldn't eliminate everything on Sundays (and I am aware that in Biblical times, Sabbath was Saturday but for me, it's about having the time, not the "when" of the time). I worked hard to eliminate the busy jobs on a Sunday that would eat up my time and I tried very hard to avoid plans or obligations if at all possible. I did all my weekly baking on Saturdays, often putting meals in the freezer for Monday sot hat I didn't have to do prep on Sunday. We made sure that any homework for the kids was done on Saturday. I did my tidying on Saturdays and made sure that there were no pressing errands on Sunday. I won't lie, at times, I had a struggle with people around me who didn't want to hear "no" and even Dh didn't always understand when I refused to go to run an errand with him on a Sunday afternoon unless it was essential. On the other hand, I found myself having a day to breathe - a day to colour in my colouring book, to read, to have a nap, to work on my bullet journal, to play games with the kids. It was so refreshing to have one morning a week that didn't mean immediately that I had to jump out of bed and run somewhere or establish myself in the kitchen for hours. It was glorious! While I have to admit that it feel off in December with all of the holiday commitments, I plan to go back to Sabbath on Sundays in 2017 and to fight for it.
2. Morning prayer - Another thing that I knew that I needed to do was to pray more often. I have wonderful intentions and I go in cycles of being pretty good about getting things done. Then, something happens to throw off my routine and I cease being good entirely. I discovered that Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals was available as an app and I made it a ritual that every morning, I spent a few minutes in prayer. I am not always perfect at it and I have to deal with the frustration of the fact that if I don't get my few minutes in on my own BEFORE the rest of the family gets up (it doesn't matter whether they are 6 or 45, seeing that Mom is praying doesn't seem to be enough of a clue that whatever is being brought to me can wait a few minutes), I will be interrupted. It's amazing, though, how having that little bit of time, especially to pray for other people, helps me to remember what matters and where I need to make sure that my time and my energy goes. I am guilty of getting bogged down in the jobs and missing out the people and I am trying harder to fight that.
3. Bullet Journal - Sometime earlier this year, I think it may have been in the spring, I caught onto bullet journaling. I am a person who adores notebooks and really enjoys lists and organizers and my Bo-jo has helped a lot. It was interesting, I don't remember when I started, but first, I added my word to each week's heading and then, several months ago, I started looking at the Bible for verses that had some kind of connection to being present (e.g., listening, being still, resting, quiet, etc) and I added a verse or two to each week. Throughout the week, I reflected on that verse, what it might be to me and to my quest to slow down and on Sunday, I would record in my journal Bible, what significance this had for me over the week. I definitely plan to keep that up with my new word (yesterday, I sat down and chose my first four weeks of verses for my new word and I know it's the right word because I am really excited!)
There's my word in a nutshell. I don't know whether I can say that it changed my life but it certainly had more stick to it than any resolutions that I have ever made and it's been a useful tool for self-discovery for me. I can't wait to share my new word with you tomorrow and to read what other words my friends might have chosen.
Wishing you lots of moments that fill the last bit of 2016 with joy to overflowing! Be "present" in the moments that we still have :-)