06 January 2016

My Theme For The Year

In November I realized that I had not even started thinking about 2016 and what my goals, theme or focus would be for the year. I often start thinking about this in late September or early October. As with many things in my home life this year, it had been pushed aside for other agenda items.

When I realized this, I sat back for a few minutes and thought about what I would like my theme to be. A word came very clearly into my mind and I had a strong impression that this WAS my word for 2016.

The next day was Sunday and I got up and went to church. The very first talk given by one of the leaders of my faith was called "The Christlike Virtue of Simplicity." I had never thought about simplicity as a godly virtue but I sure loved hearing that because it gave my new theme for 2016 more depth and perspective. I ate up every word of that talk and I knew that having that word come into my mind the day before was preparing me to hear that talk the next day.

Last year I had made a rather simple but highly time consuming sign to hang which would keep my word front and center in my daily efforts. My theme was SHINE. I took a 10x20 canvas and wood letters and my first step was to paint the canvas white. Several coats of white. At the same time I started painting the large wood letters. First I painted them gold, multiple coats were required to get the right patina. Then I painted gold glitter over the top. This took even more coats to get the glitter even and looking respectable.

All in the all the project took me over a week as I painted on coats and waited overnight for them to dry. Then I glued the letters to the board, which took quite a bit of measuring and expended a good bit of frustration.

As I thought about what kind of sign I could make this year, it became laughable when I thought about the energy and time I expended on that one little sign last year. That would be preposterous to say the least when I was committing to SIMPLICITY! So this became my first big task of my simplicity journey. I had to find a simple way to make this simple sign. No extravagant cost or time could be dispensed on this project.

And so I wandered around the craft store, looking at options for my simple sign. It was not easy and was rather frustrating until I decided to check out the chipboard self-adhesive letters. I found these lovely mirrored lower-case letters and they seemed perfect. I then picked out two small 4x10 white canvases - using coupons to get a significant discount on all parts -- financial simplicity (ha!).

A few days later I took 30 minutes and plucked out the letters I needed to make two signs and realizing the letters weren't going to stay on the canvas with the self-adhesive alone I added a little extra glue on the back. I eyeballed everything and very quickly was done with my lovely but simple reminders of my year of simplicity. Much better than the long, drawn frustration that was last year's sign. Lesson learned!

One sign is in my office hanging over last year's "SHINE" sign. The other is this one sitting here on my desk in my new workspace in the laundry room right off the kitchen. I can see it from the hallway between the family room and kitchen. Keeping my desk clean and tidy is an important visual reminder of my goal.

So that's my theme for 2016, simplicity. I think it is most meaning right now in reminding me not to give away too much of myself, to not care too much what others think of me, or get too caught up in being misunderstood, misjudged or misrepresented. I know who I am, I know my efforts and my best efforts for my life are to care for me and my family and do good where I can.

But I don't have to and in fact can't do everything and I shouldn't. I am focusing on extreme basics this year with a very short list of things I am willing to give my time, attention and energy to. Sure there are so many fun and often creative things to do, but focusing on them too much or spending too much time and energy on them wears us out. There are times and seasons for pursuits and they don't all need to be attempted or mastered at one time. Some things can drop off the list, some can wait for another time.

Thankfully this year the new house is giving me plenty of work to do beyond my day job. This in itself has limited what else I take on and given me plenty of tired nights and weekends. So my mastery really has had to be focused on getting enough rest and not overdoing it. I have gotten much better at that and seem to have a much better gage on saying "Whoa, lady!" -- and being totally okay with that. What I could've blown through in past years I cannot do while working 40+ hours a week, caring for a family and traveling frequently. Just. not. possible.

So this year I will enjoy the small quiet moments more and make better use of them. I will simplify my wants and needs and all the activities I so often want to jam into a 24-hour window. I want to make great use of the minutes I do have each day. That means less wasting time, less idle time, better use of small increments of time. If I have 10 minutes or 10 hours of free time I want to be doing something really meaningful to me - with lasting benefit.

Saturday night, after a very restful, peaceful, enjoyable day with my little family I was in bed staring at our beautiful tongue & groove 20-foot ceiling. I realized we had had a really fantastic day. It was calm and happy. We ate great homemade meals, we played a game all together, we each had quiet time, we exercised and got fresh air and spent time in the sun. We did some work, we watched a silly movie, we enjoyed a fire in the fireplace, we spent a few minutes talking about deeply meaningful things. I want more days like that and as they say about all good things we want in life, those things take focus and consistent effort. I know it will take both of those things to improve the simplicity of my life. And so the grand adventure of 2016 begins.

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