Looking Back and Moving Forward

Looking Back and Moving Forward

I’ve been spending some time thinking about the last 12 months and what has led me to where I am in this new year. Of course, my family, friends, and the many blessings I have received have been key, but as I look back I have noticed the many “breadcrumbs” that led me on a journey and helped me achieve many goals and hold on to joy even when circumstances tried to steal it from me.

I started 2018 wanting to continue on my journey to minimize spending and accumulating possessions, but I wanted to be happier and more content. So 10% Happier and The Year of Less were a great start. I then started reading simply for enjoyment, no need to take notes or have a highlighter handy. The women whose stories are told in Breaking Night and The Hiding Place demonstrated even the biggest obstacles can be overcome when you keep your faith and let God lead the way.

During the summer, after a co-worker posted a great review, I pulled Girl, Wash Your Face off my wishlist, into my cart and waited anxiously for it to arrive. I quickly read through each chapter. Mind blown! It gave me new perspective, made me step out and “do something” even if it wasn’t perfect or pretty. I set up a new blog and submitted an article to No Sidebar. I didn’t really expect anything to happen and then while reviewing my emails one day, I was notified they accepted my article! I kid you not, my heart leap and I nearly fell out of my chair. Soon, there is was, in digital print, my name and the article I wrote on one of my favorite websites! I promise that article would still be hiding in a journal without the kick in the pants from Rachel Hollis. Thank you Rachel!! Thank you No Sidebar!!

No Sidebar has become like a home base for me and has left breadcrumbs connecting me to many great resources and other writers with common interests. I connected personally with Erica Layne and her Life on Purpose Movement and Introverted Mom’s Club on Facebook and Cheryl Smith and her many inspirational articles.

The Simple Show podcast is a favorite and I listen to it often. It was been a huge factor in my growth during 2018. This is my go to “breadcrumb factory.” Tsh Oxenrider’s interviews have led me to numerous influential people and places. Two favorites being The Lazy Genius Cooperative and Emily P. Freeman and her podcast The Next Right Thing. Thanks Tsh!

By October, I was coasting…I was connecting with people through my blog, writing and meeting many of my goals. All was good…I had a routine and everything seemed to be falling into place. Then that Bermuda Triangle of holidays happened. I was traveling, trying to tie up loose ends at work before the break, cramming candy and costumes, a turkey, presents, and a Christmas tree into a few months. I fell off every wagon I had climbed onto. I know now I gave myself too much to focus on at once. I had too many expectations and not a lot of flexibility. I was spending too much on stuff I didn’t need, eating too much, my routine was out the window, I was cramming in lots of commitments because they were “for a good cause” and stress and anxiety snuck back into my life.

All I had worked for seemed so far away and I didn’t know how I would get back. As I sit here writing, I’m still not back there. My tree is still up there are piles of laundry on the floor and dishes in the sink. The beef stroganoff I made was a complete fail and I’m still nursing my back I pulled out on Christmas Eve. But you know what? Those wagons that I was coasting on? They are still there, just waiting for me to hop back on and steer them and I can’t wait to clear a path and do it!

Although, I got off track and things are still a bit chaotic I’m feeling really good about moving forward in 2019. I don’t have a “word” or list of resolutions for this year. I’m working on more of a mission statement inspired by a quote from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less,which reads, “By investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that matter most.”

If you are still pondering words and resolutions I say toss them out. It’s been reported 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February anyway! Instead, figure out what it is you really want to do and….

  • Make a mission statement.
  • Write a few obtainable goals, take an inventory in a few months and dont be afraid to change them.
  • Look for breadcrumbs and follow them!
  • Get a pack of gold star stickers and display your achievements – even the small ones.
  • Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work out. Something bigger and better might be just around the corner.
  • If you fall off your wagon, dust yourself off, and just get back on. Don’t wait until the 1st of the month, or a Monday, just start over even if its 3:17 on Tuesday.
  • Don’t be afraid to change midway through the journey. Life is not static, it’s always changing and we are always growing and learning.
  • Don’t put yourself into a box trying to be something other than yourself.

Each one of us has a special gift. Please don’t think what you do is insignificant. There is someone out there waiting to read your story, wear your jewelry, hear your song, display your art, eat your cupcakes, or maybe something as simple as sit on your lap and listen to you read a story.

We all have a light, let 2019 be the year to let yours shine.

Be well,

Lori

Published at No Sidebar on 1/1/0/19.

Balance

As the one year anniversary of Hurricane Harvey approaches, I think back and can still vividly recall the days of rain that led to our evacuation and eventually a change in perspective.

As I watched the river behind us and the lake across the street slowly turn to one and rise, my heart raced and anxiety overwhelmed my body and mind. I watched as our belongings floated out of our yard and into the lake. As the sun set, I could no longer see what loomed in the darkness, but could hear the sloshing water under our house. I knew an evacuation was inevitable, as we no longer felt safe in our own home. It was a sleepless night. As the sun rose, our mailbox and fences were no longer visible and the water was making its way up the steps. My husband had me throw what I could into a plastic bag while he swam across the street to capture a small sit on top kayak so we could make our way down the street and up the hill to safety.

As I held on to my 5 year old son and my 1 bag of belongings (which I had to downsize several times because it was too heavy), we balanced, literally shifting our weight from side to side to keep from tipping over. My husband pulled us over a mile through knee deep water, to waist deep water and at one point, chest high water with currents. We did not know what condition our home would be in when we returned but it didn’t seem to matter. At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about what I left behind, only that right then, I had EVERYTHING I needed. I knew as long as we had each other we would be ok and a sense of peace came over me.

My senses were overwhelmed upon our return. Monstrous piles of furniture and other belongings littered yards. A layer of silt and mud covered everything and an indescribable smell lingered in the air for weeks as did the nightmares of rising water. The once peaceful sound of rain, ignited anxiety and I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that we had been violated by an unwelcome intruder.

After nearly a year of putting our home back together, things are mostly back to normal but the whole experience made me think about how precious my family is to me and also made me question what I really need to be content and happy. I think it comes down to what we did in that kayak to keep from falling into the water….BALANCE.

Things seems to work better when they are balanced…..your budget, your meals, your tires. When elements in my life have been effectively (not necessarily evenly) proportioned everything seems more stable and more joyful. I want to achieve more balance in my life so that I might be able to be more stable and more joyful when the unexpected happens.

This means balancing:

work and play

Laundry and dishes have to get done and meals have to be prepared but I can balance that with watching a movie or playing with my son outside. Happiness researcher Robert Biswas-Diener, is quoted in Time magazine as staying, “Don’t fit joyful activities into your days – fit your days around them.”

noise and quiet.

Being the mom of a 6 year old boy means lots of noise. Sometimes we turn up the music and play guitars and sometimes we read books on the couch.

bringing stuff in and letting stuff go.

When I bring in a new treasure for my home I make sure to let go of the items that no longer bring me joy or no longer serve a purpose.

busyness with rest.

It feels good to cross of items on my “to do” list but if I take a little nap or just a break to let my brain and body rest, I will feel completely recharged.

purpose and presence.

For several months, I have been writing in a gratitude journal and reading a short devotional each morning as I drink my coffee. However, lately what felt good and relaxing, was feeling like a chore. I felt like I needed to get it done before I could do anything else so I recently began waking up earlier just to sit on my porch and watch the sunrise and listen to the birds. There I sit quietly and think about the things I am grateful for and breathe and simply be.

Changing my perspective about what is important and putting into action a plan to achieve balance in my life is making a difference. It’s not always easy but I am finding that I am more joyful and I am certainly more thankful for what I have because you never know when it can all be washed away.

This post was published at NoSidebar you can see it here.