08 January 2014

10 Things The New Year Has Reminded Me To Do

Oh the new year. It is so lovely and fresh. I get so inspired and I really do feel a sense of refreshment and vigor to do better and be better. I am also inspired to let go of things that have accumulated to my life like barnacles on the bottom of a sea vessel. There are also things to chip away and remove.

Here are 10 things I've been inspired to do in this new year:

1) Surrender. I've been revisiting The Surrendered Wife and The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands the past few days. So inspiring not just in relationship to husbands but to all of life -- don't try so darn hard to control EVERYTHING, but allow life & your people to cherish and love you back. Let the people who are supposed to control some areas of life around you do their jobs. Trying to control everything doesn't make anyone feel more secure, in fact it does just the opposite, it creates more anxiety and a greater sense of lack of control. Plus it makes you highly unlikable to everyone around you...and to yourself. It's always good to catch those little ways I try to control things, whether iy be in the way I try to accomplish things or things I say, and stop myself.

2) Look for happiness in every day. I have learned over the past couple of challenging years that there really is sweetness and joy found in every single day. Even on your very worst days there is a hug or a kind word or a smile that welcomes all the world's love into your heart and soul. But there is a secret about this, you MUST be looking for it and take stock of it in every day to find it. I am so happy to know this little secret and to remember to be conscious about it every day.

3) Hug, kiss and compliment more, criticize less. So often I want to remind people in a less than lovely voice that I do not appreciate how the counter top gets covered in sticky lemon juice every time they make tea, or how much I don't appreciate it when they dump their coat and shoes in the middle of the living room floor. Sometimes I hear my voice after such comments and it makes me feel awful. I can't imagine how much worse it is to have to hear that for other people. So I'm working hard to remember that people need more love and less correction. Affection goes a long way to build relationships, create people who want to be helpful and considerate, and to keep peace in the home. Last Friday I had a very successful day at this when I consciously bit my tongue several times and was able to ask for help with the sticky counter without sounding awful.

4) Accept help even when it doesn't go like I would like it to. I was raised in a family that clearly very highly esteems efficiency. Get the work done and fast. Get to your destination in the most efficient, time-saving, short-cut taking route possible. Make the most of every square millimeter of space in the dishwasher. Put dishes right into the dishwasher. This makes me a little picky about how things get done. Generally I don't make a fuss or let it get to me, but at home, it's very hard for me to let someone help clean the kitchen when at the end of their efforts the kitchen is only half clean. So instead of being annoyed that there is still half a kitchen for me to clean even though someone else thinks the kitchen is clean, I decided to just remember that I only had to do half of it instead of all of it. I keep reminding myself that some help is far better than no help at all. And sometimes I am able to just look the other way when I know I could double the amount of dishes that are in the dishwasher when it gets turned on. Last week I just hand washed them while the dishwasher was going so that when it was done, all the dishes were clean and could be put away.

5) Encourage more help by making a big fuss of thanks for every little bit of help. While I was hand washing the dishes last week that didn't fit into the dishwasher, I reminded myself and told every family member I was really glad for all the help they gave that day. Granted the house was still a mess, but everyone chipped it and that is what needs to be applauded and encouraged. Someday maybe we'll all get on the same page about what clean means.

6) Speak words of gratitude and positive vibrations. I have been very sensitive lately to conversations that are filled with negativity. Whether that be complaints about personal problems, people caught up in a sense of economic or political doom and gloom, or constant whining about one's health. I've probably been guilty of all of these quite recently myself, but I have noticed that when I am around people who are totally devoid of hope for the future or the ability to see anything good about life, it feels very dark and very unhealthy. I have been trying to speak health, goodness, happiness and hope for good things to come. In every generation of time there have been those who spend all their time trying to run down anything good, lovely or sweet and use all their energy to try to bring others down. I want to do just the opposite. I want to encourage not only by my words but by my personal example and the way I live my life.

7) To exude sunshine. This goes hand in hand with the last one, but I want to give out sunshine. I want people to be attracted to a light of goodness that comes from me. That can be shared through something as simple as a smile, a twinkly wink of the eye, a pat on the back, a joke, a compliment, a hug, a note of encouragement. Many times recently I have been in a grocery store or doctor's office and the person helping me has complimented me on my cheery personality and smile. I wasn't making any special effort on any of these occasions but it got me wondering how little these people ever see anyone smile?! There are many ways to share light,  and light when shared multiplies and can cover the whole face of the earth. It's important to consider whether we are light or we are a dark, damp cloud that douses bright flames.

8) Create opportunities to be around happy, inspiring people. We have had the opportunity to do a lot of things with friends the past two weeks and it's just reminded me how important it is to spend time with friends who encourage and cheer you on. Whether it's grabbing a quick burrito and ice cream, or a long afternoon wandering a park with kids, or doing an airport drop off, being around good friends is so good for the soul. It also helps you see who you are as they reflect that back to you. Comments and kindnesses from friends are one of the best ways I see how I am doing as a woman, wife and mother and how we are doing as a family. I am often surprised at how well friends see and define who we are in ways that I haven't even realized yet. What a blessing!

9) To anticipate good things to come. I have mentioned more than enough times that we have had a lot of hardships the past few years. I know that we are not the only ones who have seen big challenges come their way, whether it be death, illness, financial stresses, job loss, emotional instability, and other upheavals. A friend recently gave me a copy of an inspiring article about keeping hope and knowing that there are still good things to come. While sitting in the waiting room of a doctor's office, I sat and teared up as I read it's hopeful message and thought, I really need to believe this. This can be for us too!  I have been carrying that article around in my purse. Just seeing it is a powerful reminder to believe there are good things to come instead of worrying about what the next disheartening tragedy will be or when it will raise its ugly head. There is more good than bad in life, but it's easy to forget the good stuff and get dragged down by the challenging stuff. It helps to believe in the good stuff and celebrate every bit of it!

10) To take stock of how I've grown and know that I am more able than I have ever been in my life. As I was thinking about what my life's mission is meant to be this past week, I came more clearly to the realization that everything I have ever experienced has prepared me for the life I am living right now. That thought strengthened my confidence and it was like a booster shot in the arm. Suddenly I felt more empowered, more up to the task - I recognized that I was prepared and able and I could continue to step up to the tasks that stand before me. That was a great moment. I can do this. You can do this. We can do this.

What thoughts have inspired you as you've entered this new year? What will you do differently? What will you do more of?

PS: In conjunction with this post and to celebrate my theme for the year "It's My Time" I have decided to start a new weekly column all about ways we can make 2014 our time by nurturing and taking care of ourselves. That means no more boring, beat up wardrobe, no more neglected highlights, haircuts or manicures, no more lack of sleep, quiet time and skipped cups of tea. Each week I'll highlight one way we can nurture ourselves this year. I hope it will keep me on task with my goal and maybe it will bless you too! I have a long list of ideas already. Can't wait to kick it off next week.

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