Word for the Year 2019 – Intentionality

A few years ago, I came to the end of the year and did what so many do – I looked back at the year about to end and thought about what I wanted the next year to look like.  This wasn’t about setting New Year’s Resolutions.  I know myself well enough to know that my brain and my life don’t function well that way.  But I did desire a focus point.

You may ask, “If you don’t set resolutions for yourself, why look ahead to the next year?”

Remember that “focus point” I mentioned?  I was intrigued by the idea of a “word for the year”.  It was an annual habit for a handful of my friends and I thought I’d give it a go.

I still remember my very first “focus word” – alignment.  It was a year-long reminder to myself to only say yes to those activities which most closely aligned with my God-given passion and design.  I even got a bracelet with that word stamped on a disc as a gift to myself!  (Check out “My Intent” here.)

In the years since, it has become an annual habit to find a word or phrase or passage of scripture that is my focus for the year.  It usually connects to a habit I want to change, a new hobby I want to try, a character trait I’d like to strengthen or develop . . . you get the idea!  That phrase/word/verse sort of becomes my “North Star” for the year.  I don’t really choose them.  I pray for awareness and sensitivity to what the Holy Spirit wants me to focus on and go from there.  The system hasn’t failed me yet.

My 2019 word has finally become clear.  I have to admit – I had to look it up to make sure it was really a word!  The word is “intentionality”.

Intentionality (noun) – the fact of being deliberate or purposive; the quality of mental states (thoughts, beliefs, desires, hopes) that consists in their being directed toward some object or state of affairs.

The process of arriving at this word actually started with, of all things, technology.  A system update on my phone and iPad meant that I started getting daily reports on how much time I was spending on my devices.  These notifications don’t only give me the overall time I spent on the device.  I get a specific breakdown of the amount of time spent on individual apps.

*gulp*

clockWith that daily statistic, I had no excuse for the things I wanted to do but hadn’t done.  There was no asking “where did the time go?” when my devices were laying the answer in front of me EVERY DAY.

I wasn’t completing desired or needful tasks because I wasn’t being intentional about where or how my time was being spent.  True, some of the time on technology was productive.  But far too much time had been wasted with distractions.  Don’t get me wrong – I know that everyone needs downtime and a little bit of fun is healthy.  But I was out of balance.

My discretionary time was not being intentionally allocated.

I lack intentionality.

As I find ways to keep this word in the forefront of my thoughts, it is my prayer that my daily choices will be different; that my discretionary time will be more productive and exhibit a healthy balance between work and play.

What about you?  Are you a resolution setter?  How do you embrace the possibilities of the new year?

Lighting a Candle

“It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

(Motto of a group called “The Christophers” founded in 1945)

The quote above is attributed to many people.  Just Google it and you’ll see what I mean!  It’s been used by former first ladies, the head of Amnesty International, and others.  The oldest record of the entire quote anyone can find is in the paperwork created when “The Christophers” was founded by Father James Keller.

The fact that this statement has been quoted over and over says something.  Something powerful.  And it perfectly sums up my focus for the year 2015.  It’s easy to rage on social media about things that annoy us.  We argue with one another in the “cyberworld” really well.  But it doesn’t fix things.  And it tends to leave the individuals involved in the argument all worked up.

Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe others get involved in the argument and then walk away, never to think of the issue again.  Maybe.  But I doubt it.

So my goal for this year is simple.  Whenever I can, where ever I can I am going to “light a candle”.  It may take the form of a financial donation or a shoulder to cry on or educating myself on a particular cause and then sharing what I know with others.  The actions may vary, but the purpose will always remain the same. I’m tired of the arguing. I’m tired of watching people make ugly assumptions about total strangers they are arguing with online.  I’m tired of the stress and grumpy attitude that tends to accompany that kind of negative engagement.  So I’m choosing, in 2015, to be a “candlelighter”, for lack of a better term. It is my intent to brighten up my own little corner of the world one candle at a time.

New Year

I don’t really do resolutions. At least not in the traditional ” tell everyone what my resolutions are” kind of way. I tend to write goals down somewhere private and date the list. Then I can pull it out in December and see how I did.

Without getting into the details, I will say that two of the areas I’ve set goals in are my use of and planning for “discretionary” time (aka time I’m not at work) an the summer theater program I work with.  There are others of a more personal nature and I’m guessing some of that will show up here!

For now, I’ll simply wish you all a blessed 2013!

Growing Pains

Nothing too profound tonight.  Just more thoughts crowding my mind regarding the passage of time and the growth of my kids, both biological and honorary.

If there is one piece of information I would embed in the brain of every high school senior, college student – let’s just say every young adult – it would be this: life is one big improv exercise and we are ALL living by the creed “fake it till you make it.”

My youngest daughter is a senior this year.  She and a number of her classmates have expressed some dismay and stress over having to have life all figured out.  Yeah, I’m still waiting to get there.

I know of more than a few 20 somethings who are stressing about “what they want to be when they grow-up.”

Let me lay it out in simple terms – I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in music education and a Master’s degree in Education.  Yes, I’m using the Master’s as an adjunct professor and I use my musical training all the time accompanying the choirs in the local high school as well as teaching private voice and piano students.  I have also taught music in literally every grade K-12 – general music, choral music, even some instrumental music instruction.

But along the way I’ve also worked as a cocktail waitress in a country club and on the banquet staff at the same facility.  I was a successful salesperson with a home party business.  Did some substitute teaching, clerical temp work, retail work . . . in other words, my career path has been nothing close to a straight line.

And I wouldn’t trade any of the lessons I’ve learned or experiences I’ve had.

If you are a young person in college, looking to go to college or wondering what to do with your life, give yourself a break!  Most of us are just making it up as we go along!  The maturity comes in when we learn to dance as often as possible, smile at every opportunity, and laugh whenever we have the chance!  Don’t get so focused on the destination that you miss the fun on the journey.