Category Archives: JOY in 2012

Joy, week 2

How is it that January is already half gone?  I feel like I’ve been busy and diligent, yet the last half of the month looks too short.  I’m crossing my fingers for a couple of weeks of smooth sailing.

Joy.  Did I feel it?  Yes.  It was a good week, aside from the day I fell off the wagon and was an emotional wreck {and yes, it’s true, you can ask my mom and one of my sisters about this}.  I recovered and am back on track, grateful for all the things that are right and trying not to dwell on the one big thing that isn’t right.  My circle of influence is where it’s best to keep my focus; the other things aren’t worth wasting energy on.  Easier said than done, but I’m sure trying.

So how did I feel joy?  Well, I tried to pause when the children were noisy and notice what was going on to make them so excited.  I ended up observing some really fun things taking place among them and it brought me joy.   I played ping pong with my husband late at night.  I tried to notice funny things and let myself laugh more often.  I am still writing daily in the “Joy” books I’m keeping for each child, which has been a really healthy thing for me already.  If I’m struggling to think of something great that a particular child did that day, then I either didn’t connect well with them or I wasn’t in the proper frame of mind when I was around them and therefore I probably didn’t build them enough.  This little exercise is helping me to begin the new day more aware of which children I really need to seek out and spend a few minutes with.  It isn’t much, and I’m not perfect at it, but I believe that small yet consistent efforts will make a big difference over time.  I also made this little notebook for collecting quotes in, quotes both for my own pondering and also for us to memorize.

I’ve continued to do well, really well, with my morning routine of studying scriptures and reading good books.  I’m reading a little bit from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Families every day and have gleaned so much already.  I’m trying to put it into practice and I do feel like I’m getting a little bit better although I have much to learn and many habits to create.  Today I also started reading The Happiness Project, and it’s funny how much of what the author says in her first chapter mirrors thoughts and feelings I’ve had.

While I cannot say that every day I did a good job on my daily list of essentials, necessities and nice-to-do items, I can say that taken across the week as a whole I feel like I worked on a lot of important things, like there’s a decent balance overall.  I like that feeling.   No, my house isn’t spotless; in fact, it’s quite messy.  But I’m spending time every day working at it and it’s going to get better.

I have some things on the weekly list that I’ve been intending to do on Sunday evenings, but so far we’ve had Church-related commitments on most Sunday nights (and will through the end of the month) and it hasn’t worked out.  We also started a new Church schedule so our day is more chopped up than it was before.  I’m going to give it until February to work it out, but it’s possible I need to schedule those activities for another time if it just doesn’t work out.

Our family wrote thank-you notes for Christmas gifts received (I just realized as I’m typing this that I haven’t mailed them yet).  I had a few great conversations with friends, a couple in person, the others over the phone.   One in particular was so uplifting.  I tried a couple of new recipes, tickled a lot of little ones, did a lot of laundry.  It was a good week in many ways.

I didn’t meet my goals to be creative every single day but I did it several days, and on Saturday I woke up early and had some time while the house was still quiet to work at my projects.  Although I’m craving a marathon day or two of sewing, I’m learning to be happy with a handful of minutes and the knowledge that I’ll get another handful tomorrow.  I’m also reading a book about creativity when I’m in the carpool line at school and have learned some interesting things about myself.  For example, I’m a results girl.  I do things to get them DONE. I want to see the final product.  I don’t, by nature, find as much joy in process.  {This was a big revelation to me about myself.} Spending just a few minutes a day on creative activity is helping me to recognize that the process should be enjoyable, and this is a great way to school myself to appreciate process.

I am so grateful for the chance to learn!  I’m grateful for this opportunity to teach myself how to notice and feel joy even when we’re facing adversity.  I’m excited to see how my daily efforts, carefully prioritized, add up at the end of the year.  I am thankful to be alive, to have the husband of my dreams and a whole bunch of imperfect but very loveable children to share this journey with.  Life is good, oh so good!

Joyfully,
Jennifer

JOY, week 1

My first week with a new set of goals has been lived and I sit to report on it.

I feel pretty good about the week.  I had enough success to feel encouraged and missed enough to feel challenged.  It’s an ok place to be, I guess.

First, I feel good about my planning.  My daily, weekly and monthly lists are divided into three categories:  Essential, Necessary and Nice-to-Do.  Each night I’ve written down which items in each category I accomplished and which I didn’t.  This has been very helpful (except for the night when I fell asleep doing it).  I arose early this morning to do my weekly planning, a time I set aside for this.  I was happy to see that I’d done a few things and realized I need to do much more.  I’ll try harder this week, but some of the lists may need to be adjusted.

Of my daily items I’m doing really well with reading, studying the scriptures, 15 minutes of creativity, reading to the children, getting homework done, going to bed with a clean kitchen.

I didn’t drink enough water, get all the laundry folded, make much progress on cleaning schedules, work with the children on their personal goals.

We DID have the children set personal goals.  It is on the calendar to follow up with them.  I also started reading the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families.  I’m finding it very thought provoking.  I also read a novel this weekend, called Love Walked In.  It wasn’t on my list but someone had mentioned it and I saw it at the library so I checked it out on a whim.  Then I gobbled it up on Saturday while my nephews were staying with us and I had nine children running around making memories all day and my son and husband were snowboarding.  So that’s one book down on my minimum of six goal.

I worked on my blank canvas fear.  I know it probably sounds ridiculous but it’s real nonetheless.  I made another quilt square for one of my projects.  I updated my Christmas card list based on new addresses and other info we received in 2011.  I had great conversations with two friends!  I wrote every night in the “Joy” books I started for my children.

Best of all, I slowed down more.  I enjoyed the children more, enjoyed the nearness of my husband more, laughed more.  I tried to take a few extra minutes to comfort them a little bit longer when they were sad.  I really tried to let go of fear and be full of faith.  It felt good.  It’s a worthy effort.

And so another week is upon me and I’m excited to try again.

Joyfully,
Jennifer

JOY in 2012

I owe my theme for the year to a series of unexpected (and unwelcome) events that paraded through the last few weeks, some of which are still marching on.  Having promised myself a fresh start in the new year, feeling like my stomach was in a vice was the exact opposite of what I’d envisioned.  I am so sick of the stress.

I’m done.  I don’t know how these challenges will be resolved, or when, but suddenly my #1 goal for 2012 was crystal clear.

I WILL SEEK AND EXPERIENCE JOY IN 2012.  Period.  This will be a joyful year.

I’m not talking about sugar coating my life or faking that I’m happy all the time.  I’m talking about taking a step back, taking a deep breath, remembering what life’s really about.  I’m talking about laughing with the children, reading wonderful stories together, letting the funny things be funny and taking myself less seriously.  Joy in simple things.

So here is how I’m going to do it.  {And notice I’m stating very specific things this time around}

#1.  Find JOY.
In this area I will:  1.  print a copy of the above picture and hang it in our family room, 2.  turn my gratitude tree into a joy tree, 3.  choose a spot for a chalkboard with positive quotes for our family to memorize monthly,  4.  make joy/gratitude journals for/with the children,  5.  keep a notebook for each of my children with one entry each day recording one thing they did that brought me joy, 6.  read, study and implement to the best of my ability Stephen Covey’s 8 Habits with a special focus on learning to put first things first and let go of unimportant things, 7.  display in the kitchen what goal/habit I’m working on

And although this last thing is listed last, it really comes first; first in my day, first in my heart, first on my list.  I will continue to spend time reading holy scripture and sincerely praying every day.  Specifically, I am studying right now with an eye on a fairly constant theme throughout history:  the challenges people have faced and how faith in God allowed them to, first, handle it better, and second, experience deliverance.  I will also pray for an increased sensitivity and ability to notice those things that bring joy.

OK, so that’s the big one.  Now on to the various areas I had already set goals in.  I have all these things recorded in a notebook, and most areas actually have long lists.  To make these goals more measurable and achievable I’ve limited the list in some essential areas and in others I’ve chosen  my top 3.  If I achieve them, I have promised myself to call it a success.  If I complete them early I’ll just add three more to the list and see how far I get.

Ready?  Here goes!

PERSONAL WELL-BEING

1.  Improve my health.  I have weight to lose, but I want to conquer migraines first.  I’m going to do just one thing at a time and when that habit is mastered I’ll add another.  Habit #1 is DRINK MORE WATER!  This should be so easy but I get going and forget to pause and drink water.  So once I’m consistently drinking 15 glasses of water each day I’ll move to goal #2.

2.  Read at least six good books this year.  (Note:  I have another area in which I have another book list too)  On the list right now:  Middlemarch (I’m about 150 pages in), These is my Words (started but need to finish), The Greater Journey, Washington, Great Expectations, Laddie, A Fortunate Life.  And yes, that’s seven.  I could list another 20 in about 30 seconds but I’ll stop there.  I may choose different books as the year goes on but right now that’s what I want to read.

HOUSEKEEPING

1.  Do a better job of consistently maintaining the basics.  Experiment with a schedule for balancing it all.  By mid-February have a schedule worth running with.

2.  Fold and put away the laundry without letting it pile up!

3.  Accomplish these three things in the basement:  go through all papers, go through children’s clothing, re-organize and re-asses food storage

4.  Organize my recipes

Around the house projects I intend to accomplish (one of the top three lists):

Finish headboard and curtain for girls room
Paint headboard and side table for guest room
Fix yellow bathroom (I hate this bathroom.  It needs a mini-makeover, mostly involving paint, I think)

MOTHERHOOD/PLANNING

1.  Put first things first!  Implement the 8 Habits, learn to focus on what is essential, then necessary, then nice-to-do and let go of the unimportant.   Find the pause button and learn how to create (then protect) margin in my life and in our home.

2.  Cut all spending to essentials only so we can reach some fairly ambitious financial goals, at least for a family our size.

3.  Seek excellence.  Learn how to inspire the desire for excellence in my children.  Interview friends whose excellence inspires me for insights and read books that will help me learn about this habit.

4.  Become consistent in quality planning.  Engage in planning sessions on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.  Create checklists for each to help me stay on track and honestly assess my progress.

5.  Read good books that will help me to see my life clearly and make good decisions (in addition to the scriptures).  This list is currently 8 books long: Seven Habits of Highly Effective Families, Margin, Walden, Through His Eyes, Bonds that Make us Free, The Happiness Project, The Reluctant Entertainer (re-read parts of this), The Book of Mormon: A Pattern for Parenting.

6.  Completely disconnect myself from all projects/distractions/preoccupations when I pick up the children from school.  Give my full attention to connecting with each child and being proactive in helping them accomplish the things they need to accomplish in their lives.

7.  Teach the children how to set goals and work at them.  Help them each set three goals for 2012.  Have monthly reviews of those goals so they can evaluate and set mini-goals.

8.  Slow down in the evenings and rediscover the joy of reading aloud as a family.  I’ve been so tired at night that I too often just hustle the kids off to bed.  Given our schedules, I’m shooting for at least 3 times a week or more.  Don’t get me wrong, we ARE reading, just not at bedtime so much and in general not as much as I did when the family was younger.  I want to reverse that for the middle and younger children even if the older ones are gone.

CREATIVITY

This sounds like such a frivolous thing yet I’ve learned I really need it.  I was sent to earth with creative talents and when I ignore them I end up feeling irritable and frustrated.  It calms me down and helps me face motherhood with fresh energy.

Two main goals:  1.  Spend 15 minutes each day doing something creative.  2.  Conquer my fear of the blank canvas.

Things I want to learn:  how to etch glass, how to sew clothing, how to do free motion quilting, how to do letterpress, how to make collage/mixed media art, how to make awesome flowers using fabric and paper.  (to name a few…)

Things I want to do (a top three list):

sew skirts for all five girls
sew an A-line, short sleeved dress for my youngest two daughters
quilt at least one quilt using free motion quilting

QUILTING

Yes, this is a sub-category of creativity, but I have so many things I want to do in this area that it needs a list of its own.  I know it’s not the least bit essential, but it does make me happy!

First, I am not allowed to buy any new quilting fabric this year (see Motherhood/Planning, item 2).  I have quite enough to keep myself busy for a long time.  If I meet a couple of ambitious goals I may allow myself a small splurge on a collection I’ve had my eye on.  But the goals are pretty ambitious (and personal).  I am allowed to purchase thread, batting and solid (usually white) fabric for sashing, etc.  That’s it.

Last year I made nine quilts.  My goal was twelve.  So, I’m sticking with twelve again this year.  That’s one per month, but I already know that there are at least four months in the year when I really have no time for sewing.  Still, I like the goal and I have that many quilts on my list of quilts to make, so why not try?

I already listed my free motion quilting goals.  I also want to learn to sew with curves (my sister and I are taking an online course on this very subject next month… yay!)  And in my wildest dreams I’ll make a quilt for each of my children this year, a special quilt that’s just their size for them to drag around the house, watch movies under, and generally love.

My top three list for quilting:

Finish the quilt along blocks I started
Make a houndstooth quilt
Start the Farmer’s Wife quilt along with my sister

I also have a sewing list:

Finish a certain gray pillow
Make the Lincoln pillow that’s been dancing in my head for two years now
Lavender sachets

GARDENING

1.  Grow at least 80% of our vegetable garden from seed
2.  Add a large area at the back of the yard to our garden
3.  Grow a salsa garden
4.  Grow Bells of Ireland
5.  Bring in sand to supplement soil for a lavender garden (dreamy sigh)
6.  Grow my own Cinderella pumpkins

RECORD KEEPING

I feel strongly that I need to improve in this area.  I’ve become terrible at printing photos since switching to a digital camera.  I need to sort and print important photos for the younger children whose life history exists largely on an external hard drive.

1.  Print at least two photos per month of each child in 2012.
2.  Do the same for 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008.  Seriously, I can do this!  It’s just less than 100 photos in all.  Affordable and simple if I take it a little at a time.
3.  Get children’s journals organized and up to date
4.  Get back to weekly family journal writing.
5.  Use little journaling cards to write down the funny things the children say, like tonight on our way home from visiting our newborn cousin at the hospital and our five year old said to his thirteen year old sister “You’re just a never-ending girl!”
6.  Sort through school papers that I’ve let pile up.  Figure out a way to bind them.

FRIENDSHIPS

For my own well-being, I need to strengthen, renew and improve my relationships with my friends.  I’ve really isolated myself in the past few years.  I didn’t mean to do it, but I did, and at a time when I probably needed friendships more than ever before.  I’m going to fix this.

1.  I lost my birthday calendar a couple of years ago and in 2011 my memory mostly failed me.  I’m going to send an email for my friends asking them all to confirm their birthdate so I can see if what I remember is correct.

2.  Remember each birthday with a small gift (probably handmade) or card in the mail.

3.  Write more notes.  Notes of thanks, notes of praise.  At least one a week.

4.  Call a friend once a week to say hello.

5.  Get together with a friend or attend a function with friends at least once a month.

Phew!  That was a lot of STUFF.  At least I’m committed now that it’s in print.  I feel good about these goals and I’ve already made daily, weekly and monthly checklists to help me stay on target.  I already think they may need tweaking but I’m working on them.  I’ve also made a list for each calendar month of seasonal things I want to do.  If I accomplish all these things I will feel joy.  But I intend to find joy daily in little things as well.

So here goes…. Welcome 2012!

1 15 16 17