The Swirl of New Year’s Resolutions

For the first time in years, I started a new journal at the beginning of January. It just kind of worked out that way but it felt a little odd literally opening a new page at the beginning of a new year.

I absolutely love January and all the hope it brings. I know I’m the same human I was on December 31 but there’s something incredibly communal about society recognizing the value of assessing hopes and dreams and new possibilities.

In the midst of reset and choosing guiding words, I’ve seen more pushback this year than in the past. There are posts and articles about just living life – that we are enough without our resolutions.

On the one hand, I completely agree. Too much emphasis on a goal or hope can be debilitating. For this reason, I use an academic calendar to plan my writing and year, so that I can have a fresh start in August when there’s less pressure. I keep my journals going until the last page or so, rather than starting fresh each year. I reevaluate my goals as we approach summer and again as we end because those offer natural points in our family’s rhythm. I like being reminded that goals can happen at any time, regardless of time or season.

Our girls went back to school on Tuesday and we’re settling back into the rhythm we had established over the fall. In the space of my two free hours, I got the chores that had been hanging over my head during the break finished. It’s amazing how productive I can be when I only have myself to buckle in and out of the car!

While we were ready for a routine, I do love extended breaks. Turning off my alarm, having coffee in my pajamas, and creating space for spontaneity are all refreshing practices. Although I do look at people who take a day of quiet to reflect on the past year and feel a twinge of envy – most of my reflection is in my head while listening to a harmonica concert or a puppet show that would rival a Dada production.

Ultimately, I’m thankful that I have a full week between turning a page on a new year, filled with possibilities and hopes and visions and actually having time to reflect and let them sink in. Because that’s how life is – it’s so rare that we get to end one thing neatly and begin a new thing fully attentive. There’s a bleeding of the edges and a natural swirl around any transition. Not being able to cleanly begin the new year is a reminder for me of how these hopes and goals will most likely play out – in a messy, swirly sort of way.

But I do pick One Word to define my year. I also pick a handful of loose goals that I have – writing daily, learning French, practicing calligraphy, working out consistently. I don’t put a timeline or number after these goals – maybe hopes or ideas would be a better term for them. But I love starting each year with these at the back of my mind.

Even though those last few days of the break weren’t as magical as I envisioned (are they ever?) and even though our transition back to school hasn’t been as sweet as I had hoped (is it ever?) I’m hoping to take that lesson with me through the year. That, as I set goals and reevaluate throughout the year, I remember to give each transition and hope time and space. There’s going to be that awkward, messy, often frustrating transition but things often shake out and I’m so thankful for those steps, goals, and dreams that were simmering through the chaos.

As we set goals and visions for the new year, I hope you find space in the natural chaos of life to lean into the transition as well.

Holding Time Openly

I’m over at SheLoves Magazine today reflecting on this summer of transition for our family. Kindergarten is done; preschool starts next year; we are easing into a new stage. But, as always, my carefully laid plans and expectations aren’t necessarily what life offers. Here’s an excerpt – I hope you’ll head over to SheLoves to read the rest and join the conversation!

annie-rim-when-seasons-don_t-fir-into-neat-boxes-2I recently visited an abbey about two hours north of us, near the Wyoming border, for a personal retreat. My plan was to spend a couple days in reflection and silence. I brought way too many books, my journal, my computer (just in case), and my hiking shoes. I wanted to rest, read, and reflect.

The abbey is Benedictine so the nuns observe the Offices in between running a farm whose pasture-raised, hormone-free beef has a years-long waiting list. I mapped out how many services I could attend while still maximizing my time alone.

My drive up took longer than anticipated—I had forgotten to factor in holiday traffic. I arrived in time to unpack, go for a short walk, and take a quick nap before Vespers. Singing the Psalms and the Magnificat stirred my heart and my carefully planned time of rest started to shift. I started to release my grip on my schedule and recognized that the very nature of an abbey retreat included adjusting my daily rhythms and pace.

A few hours later, I attended Compline and, having run into a friend at dinner (what are the chances?), went for another walk with her before bedtime. I awoke earlier than I would have at home and savored the luxury of staying in bed, listening to birds chirping and cows lowing in the pastures. I got dressed and noticed I was ready in time for Lauds, the second Office of the morning.

Taking my cue from Vespers, I put aside my quota for attending services and decided that I needed to listen to the rhythms of the abbey. Head over to SheLoves to read the rest and join the conversation!

How do you shift expectations and lean into seasons that don’t necessarily fit into your original plans?

Growing Independence

Our house is back to normal after the Christmas decorations and mess. I love the festive decorations – how the whole house transforms as we anticipate Christmas. And, while I know we should be celebrating Epiphany and the excitement of the kings, I am ready for quiet and rest as we ease into January. (Though, we do leave our outside lights up until after Epiphany. I guess we have to ease into rest…)

unnamedThis new year starts a bit of a new phase for us. Bea is in swim lessons two mornings a week and dance class once a week. And while that isn’t busy at all compared with some families, for us, this is a lot of structure. I view it as easing into the preschool routine. (Speaking of, we visit our top choice next week – where does the time go?!)

I was talking with a friend about this transition to more. She has a daughter who is a year older than Bea, so I get to use her experiences as a glimpse into our future. We were talking about how, as school takes over and the family schedule shifts from playdates to a more structured routine, it seems natural for the family to turn inward. Perhaps it’s a survival thing – the need to remember our core.

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Not to be left behind, Elle is rolling all over the place!

It can feel easy to want to keep up with everyone else: To put Bea in as many activities as possible to help her be well rounded. Or to swing to the other extreme and put her in nothing, as we cherish this finite period of life with few expectations. Once school starts, that’s it. You’re in it for the next 20 years.

While I certainly don’t want to rush anything, I’m excited about this next phase. Even in our two little classes, it’s neat to see Bea taking what we’ve instilled at home and transferring it to a setting on her own. She is able to make choices without me and it’s so cool watching her make good ones.

It makes me proud to watch her become more and more her own person and, as bittersweet as the start of preschool seems, I’m looking forward to this next phase and a time of giving her more independence.

What changes are happening in your life now? If you’re a parent, how do you feel about the release of responsibility to your kids? Is there a phase you loved best?