Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Reflections on the Past Year

There’s so much to do, and so little time that it’s often hard to stop and reflect. In preparation for the start of my 34th year, I wanted to think back on some of what I’ve learned with balancing now two littles with my hubby, working, managing the house, and trying to keep my adult relationships (family, friends, preschool teachers and parents, church acquaintances, etc.) all intact. I’ve always wanted to have a list that matches the number of years for that birthday, and had the realization this year that it was only going to get harder as I keep adding a year. So, then, this is the year! Here we go! So, 34 years, 34 personal truths. 

Below is my list of reflections and truths from the past year, loosely grouped into categories for easy readings. What would you add? What should I aim to learn in this new year?

  1. My little girl, simply by the act of being born, taught me that literally being ripped apart can be healing.
  2. Stubbornness can be channeled for good. I learned this with my Lenten fast from sweets and with enduring then conquering breastfeeding.
  3. Children develop and grow so quickly. Do your best to savor each phase. I keep reminding myself that I’ll miss the joys and wonder of my young kiddos.
Food & Cooking
  1. With all the recipes I’m so eager to try, it’s a good thing we have to eat. Every. Single. Day.
  2. BUT, tried-and-true quick meals are so incredibly necessary. Husby and I are usually brainstorming dinner ideas and thinking, “What? We have to feed the family? AGAIN?!” We are grateful that we get to do so, but also stressed to consistently feed healthy(ish) meals within our time constraints.
  3. Especially for things done on repeat (such as, but not limited to, cooking meals), it’s helpful to experiment and have fun, but also to have easy options readily available.
  4. Freezer meals – entrees, sides, and breakfasts previously prepared or cooked for easy thaw and cooking – can be lifesavers. They still require planning (to at least thaw them), but make meals so much less stressful.
  1. Reading helps me to be more centered and empathetic. Based on my reading this past year, I’m making a goal to keep the following books in my regular rotation: Bible; nonfiction, especially Christian, history and biographical selections; cookbooks; and, of course, fiction for fun.
  2. Everyone needs a hobby. That means something that’s just for you, not the kids. Mine are trying new recipes, recipe collecting and reading. Ideally I get in a little something crafty too, but that tends to be a long shot.
  3. Libraries are invaluable. I love our local library! We get DVDs so Husby and I can catch up on what we miss at the box office while we’re so busy caring for our kiddos. I check out digital reads to curb my Kindle daily deal purchases. And, Lil’ O and I have weekly mommy-son dates to hang out and refresh his reading selections a bit.
  1. Household tools that do the work for you – I’m thinking a slow cooker, the dish washer, and/or bread machine – are nothing short of amazing!!
  2. It’s ok to ask for and/or hire help (e.g. house cleaner and “honey do” list).
  1. It’s a wonderful, joyous thing to have a new life forming inside you, but it’s also amazing and deliciously indulgent to have my body back. I don’t mean my figure. No, it’s a delicious indulgence to have full faculty of this body. Just for me. Every square inch is solely mine.
  2. 40 days is a good detox, but not nearly enough to cleanse me of wanting and craving sweets. :/
  3. A little bit of a decadent dessert is consistently more satisfying than even the best low-calorie or diet dessert. My only caveat to this is the desserts that are decadent, but portion controlled for you already. Skinny Cow, I love you!
  4. Regular yoga and exercise work better for addressing aches and pains than chiropractic work and massages.
Work Life
  1. Working from home requires self-discipline and structure; it suits my introvert self just fine.
  2. Preparing for the work week on Sunday night really sets the stage for a productive Monday and beyond.
  3. Work diligently, setting expectations, but focusing on quality and results. You’ll get noticed.
  4. Having the courage to try a new work environment – for me it was transitioning from agency life to working from home – has paid dividends. By working from home I’m much less stressed and feel more inspired.
  5. All that said, subscribing to the local city magazine is no replacement for office water cooler chatter about the new must-try places around town. :(
  1. Cherish the friends you have. Making new friends only seems to get harder with age.
  2. Romantic getaways require appropriate packing. If I’m cold or uncomfortable, there’s no romance, no fun.
  3. Dedicated (no kids!) date nights are even more needed once you have kids.
  4. Some of Husby and my best discussions, though, are when we do Bible study together. Dates are awesome, but we can get deeper when doing a study together.
  5. The best social networking is still done face to face, ideally over a meal.
  1. Consistently getting just six or so hours of sleep each night is bad for my emotional and mental health. Duh, but I’m still learning this, sadly.
  2. Usually, saying less is more beneficial than sharing in full. There’s an obvious exception, though, for a spouse and inner circle.
  3. Realize and embrace your sleep/alert cycle to identify when you’re both alert and able to be introspective. Use this time for Bible study, growth and reflection. When I’ve actually done this, I function so much better overall!
  4. Helping others in need, even and especially if nothing is in it for you, pays dividends.
  5. Upbeat music is more energizing than unlimited coffee or caffeine.
  6. Volunteering is good for expanding how we care and erasing prejudices.
  7. Creativity trumps expensive. You see this all the time with DIY projects, but I’m also taking advantage of this with my birthday dinner this year: family grilled cheese bar party versus eating out. Yum!
  8. Take some time to unplug, even if it's  just from social media. It’s amazing how much time social media surfing eats up.

Phew! Made it all the way to 34. Now, what would you add to this list?

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