My New Year Traditions

Every year around this time I get super excited. Sure, Christmas is over, and all that goes with it, but it also means that New Years is just right around the corner!!! I love all that Christmas celebrates, the traditions, and yes the sentimentality, but if I’m totally honest and REAL, I gotta admit that my most favorite holiday is New Years Day. Yes, really. I’m a total nerd about it. 🤓 I get all geeked out, and it’s super duper exciting to me! *If you’re trying to do a quick skim of this while in the bathroom and kids are knocking on the door, feel free to jump to the bottom where I give a brief synopsis. #reallife Otherwise, read on for all the geeky details LOL!*

Do I get all dressed up and go to swanky parties? Nope. Big no. Not my jam. Do I stay up all night and watch some glitzy ball drop? Nope. So how do I celebrate New Years? Well, I’m glad you asked! LOL! Actually, word has slowly gotten out that I get waaay to excited about New Years, so lately I’ve had more and more people asking me about it. So I thought I would just write it up for everyone! You see, for me, the real party is New Years DAY, not New Years EVE. 🥳

New Years Day is so full of possibilities, intentions, expectations, and fresh starts. A blank slate. A time to truly celebrate all that life has to offer and to craft it into anything you choose. AHHH I’m getting cheesed just thinking about it! 🥰 But you see, you can’t be full of dreams and craft clear paths to achieve them if you are still hungover or half asleep from a wild night before. No, I tend to actually go to bed early on New Years Eve, just so I can meet the New Year well rested and full of energy. I know, not super duper glitzy, or fun, but super practical. Woohoo!

The other BIG reason I get super excited about New Years is my fabulous husband gives me the day off! Yes ladies, it is possible. And it’s everything I dream it will be and more. He takes care of the girls all day while I go to the coffee shop or wherever else I want to go to get away from it all. And I have the whole time to pray, think, dream, and plan!! ❤️ NOW you see why I get excited, right? LOL! After all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is the most soul-satisfying thing to just take a day off and dream. Quiet the noise and really listen. With no one asking for a snack, a show, or help on the toilet. Now for some of you, a whole day just isn’t going to happen. It didn’t happen for me until my kids were a little older. But you can chunk these steps out into different times and get SOMETHING done in whatever time you have available to you.

As beautiful and amazing as this day off sounds, there’s a trick here too. If I just escaped the house and spent the day dreaming, I would either waste the whole day thinking about grocery lists, to-dos, or looking at my phone. And soon the clock would strike, it would be time to hurry home, and I would have nothing to help me the other 364 days of the year. So I have learned that I need to be very strategic with my time. Free time is a precious resource that I don’t like to squander lightly. But I also hate feeling forced into a rigid schedule or agenda. It stifles the creative sparkles in me. 🤷🏻‍♀️ So what’s a girl to do? Well, I have a general outline of things I want to think about, do, and figure out. It’s fluid and it can flex, but it’s a guideline to keep me on track.

  • FIRST– I reflect and review the past year. You would be surprised at how much you tend to forget. Mom-brain is a real thing, y’hall. And I don’t know if it’s just me, and the way I’m wired, but my brain is TERRIBLE at actually remembering the good things. I can think of several times I’ve messed up, or missed the mark, or could have done better, but all the victories? They’re harder to come by. So I have a system of writing them down as they happen. I also review these quarterly so that when it comes to the annual review it’s a little easier, rather than trying to think back through the whole year, but that’s a blog post for another day. But I really force myself to use this review for wins not regrets. What went RIGHT this year?

    SECOND– after walking down memory lane and being reminded of all the good things, I go into my KISS review. No, not steamy romance stuff, but the acronym K.I.S.S. Now most of you might know it as Keep It Simple Stupid, and while that’s how I typically operate, what I actually use it as an acronym for is Keep Improve Stop Start. So after looking back on my whole year, what things do I want to Keep? What was working? Next, Improve. What things didn’t work? Or sorta worked, but could probably work better? And lastly Stop/Start. What things do I need to stop doing and start doing in order to improve? It’s really that simple. I don’t get too much into the nitty gritty here, but more big picture type of things.

    Having reviewed the victories and using my KISS strategy really gets me keyed up and excited about moving forward. The momentum from these two steps is really powerful. After you’ve seen how far you’ve already come, you get so jazzed about going just a little bit further! This is where the dreaming part starts to happen. And this is the part that a lot of people naturally do at New Years. They make “resolutions” to do better in the new year. But if I’m not at least a little organized, this is where things can kinda derail. Sure, it’s easy enough to say “WOW! I did great last year in these areas, I just gotta keep doing what I’m doing and it’ll be great 👍🏻”. Or even easier to say “Man, I didn’t get as far as I wanted to, but THIS year will be different. I’m totally going to do XYZ and really accomplish that this year…” And start chasing a thousand different rabbit trails of good intentions and end up lost and discouraged before February even starts.

    In order to avoid those pitfalls and the discouragement that follows, I don’t make resolutions. “What? But you just said you got so excited and dreamed and planned. What do you mean you don’t make resolutions?” Nope, I don’t make resolutions, because almost all resolutions fail. Instead I make GOALS. “What’s the difference?” Well resolutions tend to be pretty vague “I want to lose weight this year“. Okay, take off your shoes- boom- you just lost a little weight. Or “I want to be healthier this year“. Okay, well what does “healthier” mean to you? Is that drinking 6 sodas a week instead of 12, or running a marathon instead of a half-marathon? You need to really nail down what you want and how you’re going to get there, or you really haven’t helped yourself at all. If you haven’t identified how you’re going to measure something, how do you know if you’ve improved?

    The first few times I went through this process, I would often find myself overwhelmed. I wanted to improve everything! I would get so many big ideas or dreams that I didn’t really know where to start. Or I would make so many goals, that there was no way I was going to actually accomplish ALL of them in one year. Or I would tend to make goals for areas of my life that were already doing fairly well, but totally avoid trying to improve any of the areas where I was actually struggling in. This would feel good for a time, but by the time the next year rolled around I still felt stuck. That is, until I found the Life Assessment Score by Michael Hyatt. It’s a simple online survey that asks a series of questions based on 10 domains of life: physical, vocational, avocational, emotional, financial, spiritual, parental, marital, social, and intellectual. Then shows you the areas that are going well and those that need improvement. You can take the survey for free here: https://assessments.michaelhyatt.com/lifescore/

    So my THIRD step is to take this survey and see what it shows. Where could I put some effort and really improve my score? Our struggle areas are the most ripe for improvement. It’s where we can really get the most bang for our buck.

    FOURTH– this is the fun part- I set my GOALS! Yay! I could go on and on about goals, because I really do get very nerdy about them. But this post is already too long, so I will boil it down to this. Format your goals in a way that will actually get you somewhere. You want them to guide you towards goal-achievement, not just goal setting. Michael Hyatt recommends “SMARTER” goals.

    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Action focused (avoid “Be more XYZ” and set the action)
    • Risky (yes, Risky, not “realistic”. Push yourself!)
    • Time-keyed
    • Exciting (this is your “why”)
    • Relevant (to your stage in life and too each other. If you have a newborn, starting an hour long morning routine is probably not too relevant. If you have one goal to save money, you probably don’t also want to set a goal to travel more etc.)
  • There’s a great article that covers all of these here: https://medium.com/the-ascent/how-to-make-your-smart-goals-smarter-fef02e332f76
  • There’s also a really great “How To” book called “Your Best Year Ever” by Michael Hyatt that goes into great detail about all of this. But for me, the real break through happened when I limited my number of goals. “What?! Aren’t you supposed to dream big?” Well, yes, and no. If I spread myself too thin and try to accomplish everything, I will get overwhelmed, burnt out, and not accomplish anything. SO I really try to narrow it down to 7-10 goals for the whole year. AND I make the deadline for those goals spread out throughout the whole year. Instead of starting on Jan. 2nd and trying to do all.the.things I pick 2-3 per quarter to really focus on and leave the rest for later. For example, I really wanted to get a better house keeping routine figured out this past year. But if I had tried to do that over the summer when my kids were home full time, it would not have been pretty. So that was more of a focus during quarter 4 when both of my kids went to school for the first time. I had the time and capacity to focus on it better then. And when the stress of a messy house would start to rise up and I would start to panic and think “Man! I’ve really gotta get this figured out!” I would remind myself that I have a plan to do that this fall and the stress would ease up a little. Sure, I still had to clean my house during the rest of the year, but that panic of “I’m failing” could get quieted down a little easier when I knew I had a plan in place.
  • Now let’s be clear, there were several years where goals were just not realistic for my season of life. If you have a newborn or aren’t sleeping well, perfectly crafted goals are probably not your priority, nor should they be. But to avoid survival mode I would at least set an intention. A word or phrase for the year that would help bring me back to center and keep me true to what I really wanted to do. Some examples were “LOVE WELL” or “JOY”. I even still like to set an word or intention for the year just because it’s simple but powerful. If you’re having a hard time coming up with a word, there’s a great little quiz you can take here: https://www.myintent.org/pages/whatsyourwordquiz. (And if you are local and would like to craft a tangible reminder of that word or intention- let me know- I’d LOVE ❤️ LOVE to make it with you- I’ve got all the tools) 😉
  • FIFTH- I write it down. I write down my goals on one page so I can review them everyday (yes, even the ones that aren’t due during that quarter). It keeps them fresh in my mind. I write them down in my planner (YAY!) and get all geeked out about it. I plan out my year based on projects and goals and then get it written down. This can be in a planner, a notebook, a spreadsheet, whatever works best for you. But get it written down! And don’t just write it down and then forget about it, keep it somewhere you can see it and check back in with it frequently. (And of course, this is where I get crazy crafty and bust out all the stickers, markers, and such to make it pretty and fun too!) I have even made vision boards and phone lock screens out of images that match my goals so I can have a constant visual reminder about them. But I’m more visual, so it works for me. But you do you.
  • Whew! Can you tell I get excited about it? And that I take all day to do it LOL? You can make this fit into whatever time slot you have. Do a mini-session during naptime, take a little longer lunch break, find a time. You won’t regret it! So as a recap, here are the 5 steps for your BEST YEAR EVER!
      1. Review: What were your biggest wins this year?
      1. Reflect: What are you going to Keep, Improve, Stop/Start this year? (KISS)
      1. Survey: I do the LifeAssessment Score by Michael Hyatt (see link above), but use whatever tool you like best to get an accurate assessment of how your life is going presently.
      1. GOALS: Get your goal on girl! Follow the SMARTER framework to set yourself up for the most success. Or, pick a word or intention to focus on. Or both! 😉 But be sure to spread your goals out over the year, don’t make everything due on Dec. 31st.
      1. Write it Down!: Have your goals or word written down and put somewhere you can easily review it everyday. Planners, notebooks, spreadsheets, stickies on the bathroom mirror, bracelets, whatever works best for you. But do it. Read it. Refer to it. And DO IT!

    Comment below or send me a message and let me know what your traditions are, what your goals are, or any questions you have! I’d love to hear from you.

    🥳 Happy New Year!!! 🥳

    Real Rest

    Thank you so much for all the love, support, and kindness you all have shown me after my last post.  It truly has meant a lot to me!  As I was reflecting on what really pulled me through and has kept me on level ground I was reminded over and over of the different scripture passages that really helped me.  And I have found a lot of strength and encouragement from online Bible Studies and accountability groups.  Then the light bulb went off- I could combine the two!! So I decided to write my own 31 day Scripture Challenge with all the verses that really helped me. You can check it out here!

    The idea is pretty simple, really.  Having a daily plan of what you are going to read helps build an ongoing habit of getting into the word, which is awesome. Having other friends do the same thing with you builds in some accountability to (hopefully) spur you on when the going gets rough. THAT’S where this 31 Day Scripture Challenge comes in! Simply download this study, and read the verses selected for each day. Each day also poses some questions for quiet reflection. You can then choose to share your insights in the accountability group, or simply go through the exercises independently. Who wants in?

    Who's ready to find some real rest for their soul? Join me on this 31 Day Scripture Challenge!

    It’s REAL simple! Here’s how:

    1. Simply click on this link: Rest For Your Souls
    2. Download the PDF
    3. Print it out or save it on your device so you can read it everyday.
    4. Let me know if you want to join the accountability group. We start on Mon. May 21st, 2018!
    5. Enjoy!

     

    My Most REAL Post Yet

    I know there haven’t been many posts on here lately. But it’s for a good reason, well several good reasons really.  One of which is because life is just busy sometimes, okay MOST of the time. But the biggest reason? It’s because God has been slowly, faithfully, changing my heart. Really.  You see, I started this blog out of a place of frustration, overwhelm, and needing a place to just sort my #crazymomlife thoughts out. And it has been great for that. But along the way, God has gently brought me to a place where the frustrations are fewer and the overwhelm is quieting down. Really. But before I get to the happy ending, let me get real with you, this road has had several bumps in it.

    There was a time, okay more like a year, after my second child was born that I struggled. Like really struggled. Like wanting to “just-leave-it-all-behind” struggled. It was a dark time and the harsh effects of Post Partum Depression were real. Really real. So real that I didn’t really realize how bad it had gotten until one day the cloud started to lift a little and only then did I realize just how much I was struggling. Even now, when I look back on that time in my life, there are just big black holes in my memory that I can’t recall all the details of. When your brain is struggling to just survive, it has a harder time holding on to precious memories of little milestones along the way. It’s scary, and a little sad.

    But what is even scarier, and whole lot sadder, is that some of you who know me personally just found out about this right now.  You see I struggled and suffered mostly in silence. And it’s not because I didn’t have resources, I DID. I have a wonderful husband, Mom, family, and friends. I was part of several wonderful support circles at church and in the community. And YET, I never reached out to any of them. I never shared my struggle, until now.

    I wanted to keep up appearances. I didn’t want to admit that I was hurting as bad as I really was. I was trying so very very hard to maintain. Because in my clouded brain I thought that maybe if everyone else thought I was doing okay, then maybe I was. If I didn’t have to admit that I was failing maybe I really wasn’t failing that bad. Besides, wasn’t this just part of the deal, anyway? Sweet Momma, it doesn’t have to be.

    Even after starting this blog, I never really shared about this, well, until today. I thought I could just share about some of the hard times, because everyone has hard times sometime. People didn’t need to know how bad it was, just focus on the little hurdles and how I got over those. And it doesn’t really matter, in the big scheme of things, that I struggled with this because I’m not struggling like that anymore. 

    But really, that’s just another way of hiding.

    And hiding NEVER helps anything or anyone.

    And I truly want to help. Really. I’m not sharing this to have other people feel sorry for me. I’m not sharing this to have other people think I’m really strong for pulling myself out of the pit. Honestly, I’m not even really sharing this for anyone else. But I feel like God has been slowly nudging me to open up, honestly, about this part of my life that I tried so hard to hide. And I have to be honest before God, because after all, He knows what I’m thinking anyways, so I’m not really hiding anything anyway. (Psalm 139:2)

    God has been saving me from myself for as long as I’ve know Him.  He’s like that, you know. He’s in the saving business! But He has been showing me that He has really called me out of this darkness and into His marvelous light for a reason. 1 Peter 2:9 says “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” And that, first and foremost, is what I want to do. Praise HIM! HE was the one that saved me. He gave me other tools and helps along the way, but it was HIM who held my life in His hands and kept my hands off it.

    IMG_0066

    Just as Psalm 116 says, when I was brought low, HE saved me. The LORD delivered me from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk in the land of the living. And it’s an every day sort of saving. I still have hurdles, I still have tears, I still stumble, BUT GOD. God helps me get back on the right path.

    But He doesn’t want to just save ME, He wants to save the whole world! I want this blog to be a vessel that HE can use to reach those of you who need His comfort.

    “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.” ~2 Corinthians 1: 3-7

    So take heart, Momma. If He can save me, and He has, He will do the same for you, if you ask Him to. There will still be trying days, there always are, but they are easier. You are NOT alone. 

    I do want to give you resources.  There is help for you out there. Just reach out, even when you don’t really want to, because trust me, the other people in your life want you to.

    • PPD Moms: full information about postpartum depression
    • Suicide.org: a nonprofit specializing in prevention, awareness, and support
    • Crisis Text Line: You can even simply text HOME to 741741 any time 24/7 to get real live help, in the moment. Because we all know it’s impossible to talk on the phone.

    But really, the BEST resource I know of and have used, is simply JESUS. He’s available 24/7, you don’t even need to text or call or make an appointment. And the best part is, you don’t have to explain your struggles to Him, He already knows, and He’s been waiting for you to reach out. HE has the power to heal and to help. It’s all by HIS power, not our own, and HE will see you through it.

    Has this helped you? Let me know in the comments below! Do you still have questions, or need more resources? Let me know in the comments below! Do you have something that you too want to share? Let me know in the comments below!

    “It Is Finished!”

    So many things in our lives are never finished.

    • Dishes get dirty, again
    • Laundry piles back up, again
    • Houses get messed up, again
    • Meals still need to be made, again
    • Alarm clocks continue to ring, again
    • Bills still need to be paid, again
    • Jobs come and go
    • Seasons change, again
    • We will sin, again.

    But our eternal redemption? THAT is FINISHED!! Let your soul rest in this eternal promise. It IS finished. Forever. Praise God!! If that doesn’t make a Good Friday, I don’t know what would.