A New Mantra

I have written and rewritten this post about 6 times. I've moved things around. I've written it out in outline form and lists on paper and in snippets in my head. I've though of the various ways I want to say what I want to say but none of them seemed to be the one.

But thanks to my good friend Barb, I'm writing this jumbled mess of a plan anyway. #7tostart (Barb- I'm starting a hashtag revolution. :))

On January 1st, in the spirit of the first day of the year, I made a list of 13 things I want to focus on. (complete sidenote: I learned in church that New Year's Day is exactly seven days after Christmas because in Jewish custom- that is when the baby is brought to the temple to be named. So, New Years Day- Happy Naming Day Baby Jesus!)

This list is random and sort of repetitive but it's what came to my mind:

1. Invest in time & experience
2. Less is more
5. Hone my skill- writing often
6. Exercise body & soul
7. Eat for health
8. Savor
9. Read more
10. Get simple
11. Patience is a virtue
12. Stick to the plan

It's obvious I have some pretty basic themes on my heart and mind these days.

Looking over last year's goals, the theme seemed to be a lot about control.
I wanted to control my time and my finances and my hobbies. I was going to get it all worked out and be this efficient machine.

In the She Reads Truth plan, one recent reading was about Eve. How she gave up her beautiful perfect life in the lush garden of Eden because she began to think she could be the god of her own life. That when the serpent came along enticing her, she could control her own destiny. I think we all remember how that worked out, no?

I think often I try so hard to control every aspect of my life that I end up missing out on those serendipitous opportunities that come along. I find myself feeling overwhelmed, short on time and chronically late (major issue I'm working on). I also find that when I'm trying to control everything my priorities get a little messed up and I end up not taking care of me and the people important to me the way that I should.

The other day, Margaret tweeted something about just going home and going to bed and was that okay? My response to her, (albeit unsolicited- that's the wonder of Twitter!), was 'Go right ahead!'. That sometimes we need to just call it a day and snuggle up and get some REST for goodness sakes. I even hashtagged it:


I cannot stop thinking about that hashtag I made up. And how I don't follow it at all.

I'm that person who gets sick and insists on still working out and meeting a ton of unrealistic goals even if I can barely function.
I'm that person that stays up till 2 AM working on blog posts or knitting projects because I have to get them done just to get up again at 5 AM to workout or something else that I obviously don't have the energy for.
I'm that person that has to be told often by my ever-caring fiance, 'Nic...maybe you should just go to bed...?'

I'm a list maker.
And a goal setter.
And a....ahem...chronic over-doer.

I'm proud of my drive.
Proud of that part of me that can and wants to do #allthethings.
But I'm also embarrassed by it.
Annoyed by the parts of me that feel like a little bit of a failure if I don't meet my own goals. That somehow my self-worth is wrapped around whether I can read 50 books in a year or run a sub-9 minute mile or knit everyone I know a scarf. Even typing this out makes me realize how much I have expected of myself and how often those expectations overshadow anything else positive in my life.

Like my worship pastor said in his sermon a couple weeks ago:

'Life is an exercise in who I want to be, not who I am.'

I want to be the kind of person who trusts in Jesus for the big things and doesn't sweat the small things.
I want to be the kind of person who always has time for my spouse, family and friends.
I want to be the kind of person who doesn't feel overwhelmed by worldly things.
I want to be the kind of person who is Even in personal and social life.
I want to be the kind of person who gives back regularly of her time and resources.
I want to be the kind of person who rests in the fact that someone has always got my back.

So this year, in no particular order, this is what I'm doing:

- Spending time in the word and praying more.
I have stuck to reading my Bible everyday through daily devotions (thanks SheReadsTruth!) and this year I want to spend more time exploring and digging into what Jesus is speaking to me through his words. I want to rest in the hope He has for me and through whatever highs and lows- always look to Him for comfort and praise.

- Stop over committing
I often create these silly goals with my hobbies and personal life that don't really mean anything- read a zillion books, clean the house every Saturday, knit the world a beanie, etc- and then if I don't meet those goals- I get stressed out and do crazy things (like stay up till 2 AM knitting the world a beanie- see above).
Don't get me wrong- I think having goals and striving to meet them is great. I think it's important to constantly evaluate how you spend your time and whether you are making the most of it and to spend time doing things you really like.
But when your hobbies become another thing in your schedule, another stressor- they cease to be fun and life-improving.
So I'm not making any hard and fast goals for my hobbies this year. I want to do some knitting projects, read more and run as consistently as my schedule allows.
What I don't want to do is cram every second of my day with an activity.
If a friend calls and wants to meet for coffee or go on a walk to chat, I want to say - 'Sure- I'm free!'

I DON'T want to be a slave to my calendar and my to-do list.
I DON'T want to skip time I could spend with family and friends because I'm too busy working on some random project that can be done anytime.
I DON'T want to turn down opportunities to serve because I'm too busy with unnecessary networking events or chores that can aren't really important.
I DO want more time and space for unplanned adventures.

Because I know me...I need structure with this. So I invented a little guideline: The Rule of 2.
I'm not committing to more than 2 things a month. So maybe this month I read A book and knit A cowl. Notice the emphasis here! That's it. If I have time for more- awesome. If not, no big deal. But I will try to work towards 2 things just to keep me grounded and sort of doing #someofthethings. :)

- Get Simple
I'm putting myself on a fashion fast. Well, actually, a spending fast. No clothes, no shoes, no jewelry, no books and no music. I have a lot of things. Nice things. And plenty of things to keep me busy. I also have the bills to prove I have all these things. A big part of my life plan is to live debt free. The only way I can do that is to stop spending.
I realize I am getting married this year and will obviously be purchasing some things- like a wedding dress!!- but as for the random 'Gap is having 30% off!' splurge- NO.
I'm sticking to a budget for my entertainment and groceries and working towards chipping away at the old debt.
I've read some posts (here and  here) about people who have attempted a fashion fast of sorts and I think it's totally doable. I like the idea of worrying less about that stuff and being more selective in what I'm purchasing to avoid the trap of the 'cheap fashion.'
Just to give you an idea...

This is my closet AFTER I cleaned out a rubber tote and another bag full of clothes. I think I have plenty.

- Eating (mostly) vegan
Health is pretty important to me. When my health suffers, everything and everyone around me suffers. It's just how I'm wired. I'm always pretty good about working out and eating healthy but when I get busy the first thing that goes out the window is eating healthy and exercise. I'll get on a sugar binge, skip workouts and not get enough sleep. The cycle looks like this- stress->crap eating->skip exercise->no energy->feel yucky->laziness->bad mood. Then everything pretty much goes to hell in a hand basket...
So I want to quit being lazy and fuel myself right...but with balance.
When I was a kid, I loved Popeye cartoons. Remember how the minute he eats spinach his muscles bulk up and he practically has super powers? That's me on a mostly vegan diet and regular exercise. My skin literally glows, I have tons of energy and I blow my exercise and running goals out of the water. That is the best way for me to eat. However, I'm not turning down a wine and cheese plate night with girlfriends every once awhile. I'll eat ice cream occasionally. And I pretty much can't say no to a delicious local pastry. :)
*I realize last year I had a pretty similar goal of 'Eating Green'. I did pretty good but I think when it comes to health, it HAS to be a priority so pretty much every year you will see me re-upping on my health contract with me.

-Give priorities priority
There are a few things that are pretty important to me: relationships, community and self-improvement being a few of them.
These things always have taken precedence in my life but I think sometimes I allow other stuff to eat away at my schedule and my big things lose their status.
This year priorities are getting priority:
- More time with family and friends- even if it's just a quick coffee, phone call or dropping a note. I want the people in my life that I care about to know I care about them on the regular.
- Regular volunteering- I do habitat and volunteer with church here and there but I really want to invest in a regular volunteer gig in my community. This has been a long time goal (30 list and Life list).
- Scheduled writing sessions and practice- if you have a goal to be something, you gotta practice. Often. I plan on at least one session a week to work on posts and one session a week of free write or writing exercises.

Rest in the big picture
I have some pretty big plans for my life.
This year alone I'm moving (again), turning 30 (!), getting married (!!!). Often, I can get caught up in the 'what if?' and the 'we have to figure this out RIGHT now!' and forget to remember the end goal. And no ounce of fretting is going to change the outcome of what happens, you know?
Instead, I'm going to focus on what can I do today to get to those end goals? Often, it means just going to work and coming home. HA. But seriously, that's it.
I'm not sure this is making sense to anyone but me...but basically it involves a lot of praying and trusting in plans for the future- both plans that I have and those the Lord has for me.
If I take these small steps day by day eventually I'll get to where I want to be. If I rest  in His plan for me and rest in the plans I've laid out, if I can focus on trusting in that- everything will work out the exact way it is supposed to.
This verse comes to mind for me:

Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
John 15:4 (NLT)

I don't want to look back on this year as a stressful time.
I want to look back and remember how much I enjoyed the last few months of my 20's, being engaged, getting married to my best friend, being newlyweds living together and spending our first Christmas as husband and wife.
I want to savor all of these moments and the only way I can do that is to take a step back and abide in the experience.

Rest IS best.

What are your goals/resolutions for the new year?
Did you have any trouble coming up with a coherent plan like I did? :)