Today is a fresh start, a brand new year full of potential. There’s no wonder that it’s a time when people reflect on the past and make plans for a better future.
I’m not a huge “resolution” person. Maybe it’s because they’re either two specific or vague that they become unattainable. I think it’s easy for resolutions to be a list of good intentions that, when they’re not met, become sources of disappointment or, even worse, shame. I do, however, love the idea of making goals and seeking to improve on life, especially when they are attainable.
So instead of a list of resolutions, I came up with a list of open-ended, alliterated phrases to serve as a sort of guide for 2019; applicable phrases to help me and my family physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually. Perhaps they can help you, too!
For Physical Health: Nourish Naturally, Care Continually, Amplify Activity
Nourish Naturally – I love the term “nourish” because it is so nurturing and it’s not bound to a visible outcome. I also am becoming more and more convinced that God’s plan for physical health means using his physical creation and listening to our own biological design. Nourishing naturally may look like many things: drinking more water; spending more time outdoors; feeding ourselves wholesome, homemade, organic food; saying goodbye to processed or generally unhealthy foods; reducing use of medication; seeing a holistic doctor; getting a massage; choosing more natural skin and hair products; being active in a natural environment; standing more and sitting less. The possibilities are endless!
Care Continually – Too often, I take care of my body when it’s in desperate need. I want to work this year on caring for my body in small ways every day, not waiting until I need a full revamp. This will especially mean taking time to rest, even when it seems counterproductive.
Amplify Activity – We are not made for a sedentary lifestyle. It’s amazing to me how much better I feel, physically and otherwise, when I am moving. I am not an athlete, nor a fitness guru; my activity may look like taking a walk down the road with the kids, jumping with them on our neighbor’s trampoline, or doing some yoga in the quiet of morning. This year, I hope to be active more often, especially with and for my children, who seem to have boundless energy!
For Mental Health: Maintain Mindfulness, Seek Silence, Cultivate Creativity
Maintain Mindfulness – It is so easy to go through life in autopilot, and it’s so often to miss out on all the goodness life has to offer. Being mindful requires a little more work; it means paying attention, reflecting, thinking, educating oneself. However, it can make for a richer, more fulfilling daily life. I hope to keep my thought life active by continuing to self-educate through articles, books, and podcasts. I also hope to look for opportunities to learn, grow, appreciate, encourage, and understand through my interaction with nature and others, as well as reflecting on my own thoughts, emotions, and experiences.
Seek Silence – Our culture is full of noise, both literally and metaphorically. It’s so important to take time to take a step back from the raucous nature of culture and seek silence. So take time to turn off the music, the phone, the television; leave a chaotic and stressful environment when you need to; address and dismiss negative self-talk, voices of judgement, and the dirge of shame. Silence is our elusive, yet restorative friend.
Cultivate Creativity – Having little children is a daily reminder that humans are made to be creative beings. As adults, creativity is often exchanged for productivity, which is so sad. This year, I am hoping to cultivate an appreciation for the arts in my kids by exposing them to quality music and artwork. Along with writing more, I am hoping to learn embroidery as a way to practice creativity. What hobby or activity do you enjoy? It could be painting, making music, landscaping, gardening, baking, cooking, leather crafting, writing, dancing, designing, building, rearranging, puzzle solving, imagining, storytelling, engineering…anything in which something is created.
For Emotional Health: Practice Positivity, Accept Alternatives, Feel Fully
Practice Positivity – This is, perhaps, the point I am most convicted of this year. I fear I’ve become a pessimist. It is easy for me to think of the negatives, to jump to the worst case scenario, to dwell on the few bad things that happen and miss out on appreciating all the good. This year, I am going to work hard at seeing the positives in hopes that I can improve my emotional health and set a good example for my children of what it means to have joy. In no means do I want to be inauthentic; rather I want to look realistically at my situation, and choose to be grateful for the good instead of fixate on the bad.
Accept Alternatives One thing that really messes me up is when things don’t go according to my expectations. I am a hardcore planner, and more often than not, my plans don’t come to fruition. Sometimes, this can tank my mood, which affects my entire family. This year, I want to work to accept the alternative things that happen with grace, seeing that I cannot always control what happens, but I can control my reaction.
Feel Fully – Another thing my kids keep reminding me is that we are emotive beings. When they are happy, they are happy. When they are sad, they are sad. They just feel things to the fullest extent. For whatever reason, we’ve been trained to disassociate from our feelings, especially the negative ones. It’s important that we learn to practice self-control, of course, and we can’t allow our emotions to rule us completely, but it’s ok to feel what we feel. As I seek to raise my kids knowing that their emotions are part of what makes them human, and to assure them that they are valuable and lovable even when they are experiencing negative emotions, I need to model it. That means that they ought to see me appropriately expressing the emotions that I am feeling, both good and bad.
For Relational Health: Serve Selflessly, Listen Lovingly, Invest Intentionally
Serve Selflessly – I know that as a follower of Jesus, I am called to serve. However, I do not always do it selflessly. Sometimes I serve grudgingly. This year, I want to really try to model Christ’s selfless love and servitude, particularly to my husband and kids, but also to those I encounter daily. That may mean putting on a smile when I do those dreaded household chores, or going out of my way to do something for a neighbor, even if it costs me something in the moment.
Listen Lovingly – One of the greatest gifts we can give anyone is a listening ear. I know this is true, because when I feel I’m being listened to, I feel cared for. Unfortunately, especially with my kids, it’s easy for me to give into distraction and listen half-heartedly. I really need to make a point this year to put down my phone while interacting with my kids, and others in general, and give them my undivided attention. I want to listen to others like I would want them to listen to me.
Invest Intentionally – We can’t invest in everyone. It’s impossible. We have to sometimes be choosy about who we are spending time with and what we are giving to the relationship. This year, I want to be especially intentional with who I am investing in. I want to be a lot more intentional about going out on dates with Kevin and engaging with him more deeply (life with littles makes marriage crazy). I also want to pare down our social calendar. While I love being with people, I am at a stage of life in which I need to be in life-giving relationships with a high return on investment. That may mean saying no to events or relationships that may be fun, but won’t serve me or my family in the long run.
For Spiritual Health: Acknowledge with Appreciation, Care for Creation, Go with God
Acknowledge with Appreciation – I’ll confess, there are times when I can go throughout a day without acknowledging God. I am not a good “daily devotion” person; I find I am too distracted to focus. Instead, I am setting a goal of simply acknowledging the presence and works of God throughout my day, all with an attitude of appreciation; to be in awe of His creation, to talk with Him aloud, to thank Him for little things, to authentically express struggles or joys to Him, knowing that He hears and cares for me. God is a God of relationship, and I want to allow that relationship to be visible to my children and not bound up in expected behaviors or Sunday morning rituals.
Care for Creation – Since the beginning of time, humankind has been commissioned with caring for the earth. I think we often neglect this important spiritual act. In order to care for creation, we need to be out in it. Then, as our understanding and appreciation for it grows, our desire to care for it will likely follow. Caring for creation may look like gardening, tending animals, or choosing a more sustainable lifestyle. It also includes, of course, caring for others.
Go with God – So often I want to forge my own way. I have an idea of where I want to be, and I believe I know the best way to get there. Instead, I really need to work on releasing some control and looking to go where God take me. I don’t want to go ahead of God, I don’t want to be dragged along by God; I want to go with Him. That means moving when He moves, resting when He rests. Ultimately, though, it means enjoying the journey with God as my companion. I need to remind myself daily that even when I may feel it, I am never alone.
Happy New Year
Whatever your goals may be this year, I hope you are able to implement them with grace. May joy and peace and love be yours as you journey forward. Here’s to 2019!