I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions. I am all for trying to improve oneself. But setting goals for an ENTIRE year seems a little overwhelming. Instead of setting myself up to fail, I tend to reflect on the past year’s experiences – lessons learned, joys, frustrations, big moments, etc. – and then focus on writing down goals for the next weeks/months. Short-term goals, long-term goals, whatever I need to move into new habits. I revisit them every so often and “tweak” as necessary. I may discover that I have reached a goal earlier than expected so I take that one off the list and add a new one!
With December just days from being over, I am still in “Reflection” mode. I will move forward into the goal setting stage soon but for now, taking hold of lessons learned is the focus.
I was one of several people who took the “100 Happy Days” challenge. This was an online campaign that encouraged people to use their social networking platforms and a “custom designed” hashtag to share the moments in their day that made them happy. So I went to the site, registered my hashtag and spent 100 days looking for reasons to be happy. Some days were busy and I missed posting so I caught up the next day. On some days it was EASY to find things to post about. Almost too easy – I had to narrow it down to just one or two things. Some days were accompanied by a photo, others weren’t. But on some days I had to looked hard – REALLY hard – to find one thing to be happy about. But over those 100 days something interesting happened – I was happier! Not goofy, laugh out loud, super perky kind of happy. Maybe the better way to describe it was “joy-filled” or content. On those days when almost everything went wrong except for that ONE happy moment, the old me would have grumped about all the bad. But somewhere in those 100 days – which ended in late November – and in the days since, I look at the rough days, find the “happy” and think to myself, “It was a tough one today, but there was this! This one shining moment in all the ick. Today was happy.” I cannot speak for others who took the challenge, but it definitely had an interesting impact on how I look at my circumstances.
Phases of Life
In the summer of 2014, my baby turned 18. Every child in my family is now an adult. The eldest is renting a place with a friend and working a full-time job (she’s such a grown up!), my second born is in her Senior Year of college and applying for graduate school next fall, my youngest daughter (child number 3) is in her Sophomore year of college and just recently got engaged (wedding in December 2015), and my baby is an adult and a Senior in high school. For 23 years I have been a mother with dependent children living in my home. That reality is shifting and hubby and I will soon enter that phase of life known as the “empty nest.” It’s a bittersweet time. The purpose of raising children is to see them spread their wings and fly. It is what they are supposed to do. And I am BEYOND proud of them for chasing their dreams. But I do miss having them around. I look at pictures from when they were little and get a little teary-eyed. I know they need to move into their independence. I WANT them to move on. But I will miss them when they are gone! It’s not bad. Just different.
Choosing Who to Hear
I know I am not unique in this – I am so much quicker to hear and believe the negative things that people say about me than I am to hear and believe the positive things people say. But the recent counsel of a friend drew my attention to that in a unique way this year – if one person criticizes something about me and five people pay me a compliment about the exact same thing, why on earth would I give more weight to the minority opinion?! I didn’t have a good answer for her. Thanks to that conversation – and a couple of others – I have been carefully choosing how I spend my time as far as the people I seek counsel from, those I interact with online, and those I spend time with. Let me be clear – one negative comment does not get a person cut completely out of my life! I do NOT want to surround myself with those who will not correct me when I need it. But a pattern of negativity just might be a deal breaker. It should not be a surprise that being selective about those who have access to my life has made a significant difference in my attitude, my focus, my emotional energy . . . I just feel better about life in general. Thanks to some upcoming projects, I have been able to practice being selective and am committed to working with people who will hold me accountable, encourage me, challenge me, and hold me to a standard of excellence.
2014 wasn’t perfect. The beginning of the year found me in a work situation that drained me emotionally, mentally and physically. That situation has changed and I am absolutely IN LOVE with my work situation. I have had the opportunity to work with local college, high school and middle school students in the performing arts and that is my FAVORITE thing to do! Don’t get me wrong – there have been challenging people I’ve had to work with along the way. But the joys far outweighed the frustrations and I wouldn’t trade any of the experiences for anything.
I’m excited to see what 2015 holds! The baby graduates high school, my second born will start grad school, and we will add a son-in-law to the family just before the end of the year. I have some short-term plans and long-term plans that I’m working on the details for. There is also a project for Easter that involves working with another church here in town (which also means working with the Pastor’s wife, a darling woman named Toni who is becoming a treasured friend!). I feel more emotionally and mentally sharp and focused than I have in years. Maybe in forever. This year I’ve had the chance to grow, succeed, fail, learn, try new things, take on new responsibilities, let “old things” go . . . I like where I am right now and look forward to what lies ahead!