I mentioned on Facebook yesterday that our family has a little twist on New Year’s Resolutions. I know resolutions are a fairly divisive topic- people seem to love them or hate them- so this is just another way of approaching a year with intention for what you want from your life.
I love New Year’s Resolutions. I like a fresh start and setting goals and any reason to start making lists gets me a tiny bit giddy (can you hear me sharpening the pencils yet?)
So I usually frame in my mind a few goals I have for the New Year- back on track with my exercise routine, cooking healthy meals at home (rather then eating out constantly), being 100% present when I am with my kiddos and a few other things probably most of us have on our lists.
But sometime last year I heard a really motivating talk at MOPS from a Mom who had lost everything in a house fire. What made the story so inspiring is not just the stuff they lost- but she had actually started the fire herself lighting the grill to make dinner. Her husband was asleep in the house and her children were just inches behind her as the entire house went up into flames… Devastating to say the least. So anyway the point of her talk was to discuss how her family chooses a theme word for every year. She typically thinks about it and prays about it for awhile and then something will typically come into her head. Before the fire, she had been going back and forth on her word for 2013 and if I remember she said her words were Love and Pain. For some reason she just couldn’t get those words out of her head… and she said her year actually wound up being a mixture of intense pain (um… the guilt of setting your house on fire and putting yourself and your family in mortal danger qualifies as pretty darn painful in my book) yet they also experienced incredible Love and support from friends, family and strangers during the process of rebuilding. So in her experience, the words actually found a very solid place in how her year played out.
So this speech inspired me to adopt this practice myself. Last year the word I couldn’t stop thinking about was gratitude. There are so many blessings in life and to just take a moment to be grateful for what you have. I found that my children can complain so frequently- they have actually been caught complaining whist eating ice cream in the middle of Disneyland- (what?!)- so I decided focusing on gratitude for the year would do us all some good.
I can’t say our lives were changed dramatically but I can say the kiddos heard mommy say she was grateful for xyz about a zillion times more frequently then they would have otherwise. They also heard fairly constant reminders to be grateful in everyday life, which is hopefully something that sticks with them.
This year I have been thinking and thinking and thinking about what I want our year to be and the word that keeps popping back into my head is Joy. This goes along with last year’s lesson in gratitude- just being mindful of the glass being half full and not almost empty.
I think it is a great example for my little ones too because they can really be stinkers sometimes- and so can I to be very honest. (I type this after a long hike on a gorgeous day with incredible views of the lake and canyons below and our little ones spent the last 20 minutes of the hike loudly complaining and whining over who got to sit on Daddy’s shoulders the longest.) Talk about a bummer end to a wonderful afternoon! During our hike we found a bunch of blackberry bushes and I kept remembering back to when I was a little kid and we used to pick blackberries from the fields around our house. It was hard work but I remember the pure pleasure of eating those huge juicy berries and then coming home with buckets of berries and my Mom would make the most incredible Blackberry Cobbler. Total happiness and joy despite the cuts and sunburns. You might remember back to being a kid and that first time running through the sprinklers in summer or having Daddy spin you around and around and around or taking off on your bike for the nearest store to stock up on candy… so many things brought us true Joy and I think as the world gets bigger and faster we tend to lose a bit of that just trying to keep up.
So joy is our word for the year. And this doesn’t have to be a big deal- you don’t even have to write it down. But just setting an intention or direction for the year as something you want to bring into your life or just something to be more mindful of.
Oh and if you have little ones (mine are 4 and 6)- this is a little hard for them to get their mind around. I look for simple examples to help them understand. For Joy, I had the girls stay back and just watch our dog as we hiked today. A dog + open paths + his family + riverbeds + sunshine is the truest form of joy I can think of. They watched our dog bounding up and down the hills as joyful as can be and I think they started to understand a little better what being Joyful really means.
So Joy it is! And now I encourage you to think of your own word– here are some ideas to get started Friendship, Peace, Calm, Patience, Forgiveness, Strength, Heath, Encouragement…. anything that resonates with you is perfect!
And one last note- my Yoga teacher actually mentioned this earlier this week too so I think this might be more common of a practice then I thought. I did a little quick research and there is a book called My One Word that elaborates a bit more on the concept.
Do you do this with your family? I’d love to hear what words you decide to adopt for 2014.