A Year of Habits, final edition

Well, the year is over.  I had big plans.  I planned on being a MUCH better person by now.  I planned on having a house that ran more smoothly, a project list with much more crossed off, a life that felt manageable.

But I’m still me.  I’ve changed a few things, but generally I haven’t experienced the transformation I planned on.  I wish that someone else could write this post for me because it’s so difficult to take that significant step back and see the year in the larger perspective.  I still tend to live in the gap, seeing only the chasm between my expectations and my performance.

So how did I do?  Honestly, as the year progressed I understood that I’d doomed the project fundamentally by not being more specific in the goals I set.  There were too many and they were too vague.  Did I improve in some areas?  Yes.  But it’s hard to say where since I didn’t get specific enough or give specific measuring methods for my performance.

I planned to improve my physical health.  After 14 1/2 years of pregnancy and nursing without a day’s break my body felt depleted.  While I improved in this area I still have a long way to go.  I hoped this would be a quick battle for me but it seems it will be a longer war instead and I will keep working at it.

We planned to improve our financial health this year.  We worked at it but didn’t do as well as we hoped.

I wanted to serve others more.  I do feel that I have improved in this area.  I’ve learned some great personal lessons.

I wanted to grow spiritually/emotionally.  I am so pleased with my personal scripture study.  I feel great about it and certainly see a direct tie DAILY between that study time and how my day turns out.  In that area, I intended to make a lot of entries in our Miracle Box, but somehow as the year went on I just forgot to do it.  In fact, as the year progressed I really slacked off in journal writing in general.  I’m so bummed about that!  I will do better next year.

Reading.  I wanted to read more  and while I didn’t read as much as I  hoped I feel good about what I read.  I read some great books that were a blessing to my life.  I have my 2012 reading list ready to go!

Planning.  I feel like I failed in this area. I do, however have a specific goal for 2012 that I think will make a big difference.

Be a finisher.  I am pleased with my progress in this area.  I finished some projects and became more disciplined at doing so.

Creativity.  I did a lot of creative things this year so I guess I’d have to say that in many ways I fulfilled this goal, but at the same time I learned something about myself that is significant.  I struggle with the blank canvas.  I worry about it, worry about ruining it, worry about lots of things.  So I guess I both succeeded and failed in this category but I do know what to work on next.

Housekeeping.  I pictured a house running more smoothly by now but I must acknowledge that it’s better than it was.  This was the area in which I set the most specific goals for myself.  Of them all, the laundry schedule has worked best.  Many of the others worked really well until the school year started and my five year old went to kindergarten.  A lot of schedule-dependent items have suffered since the kindergarten schedule began and I’m still trying to tweak things and somehow get it all done.

A soft reply.  This applied specifically to my desire to be consistently patient and gentle in my responses to my children.  I haven’t perfected this habit but I have grown.  While I’m ending the year feeling like I fell far short in most areas, I do feel like I’m ending as a better mother.  I feel like the children have learned some good things.  We really increased our dedication to music practice and I am pleased with their progress in this area.  I feel like the children are working harder, working more.  They’re generally very helpful to one another.  And we made good decisions this year in simplifying what we could, prioritizing, and trying not to overwhelm our family so much with constant driving and commitments.  Still, we’re incredibly busy, busier than I wish we were, but I feel like we’re learning.

I also had some specific goals I worked toward this year.  Here’s a quick list of the things I accomplished from that list:

1.  Plant gardens.  I loved our gardening adventures this year and look forward to more of them.

2.  Grow lavender again.  I planted three different kinds of lavender and in total we have a dozen plants.  It brought me much joy to grow and harvest my own lavender again this year.

3.  Vanilla beans.  Before this year I had never bought a vanilla bean.  I thoroughly enjoyed learning how to cook and bake with them this year.  We made some yummy recipes!

4.  I lost a portion of the weight I wanted to lose.  Not enough, but a start.

5.  Homemade bread.  I’ve been baking bread for many years but I wanted to find a recipe I liked without any oil, eggs, milk or fat of any kind added.  I did.  I’ve been making it ever since and we LOVE it.  Just flour, salt, yeast and water.  Perfect.

6.  I got better at having parties for my older kids, many of them impromptu.  I need to get much better but I did work at it.

7.  Quilting. I wanted to make one quilt per month, or 12 quilts in 2011.  I made nine.  It’s a good start.

Some other things to remember about this year (NOT in chronological order):

Natural disasters and catastrophes everywhere, it seemed.  Financial disarray all over the world.  It was a very sobering year, a year of great pain for many.  For me I’d say it’s been a year of stress.  Stress and worry.

My grandpa passed away.  Our last trip to visit him over Memorial Day was priceless.  Traveling two weeks later to his funeral with all my brothers and sisters, cousins, etc. was a very special experience.

In January my husband and I took a quick trip together and loved it.

In July my husband and I took another trip to Denver for my 20 year high school reunion.  It was a great weekend in every way.  I loved re-connecting with old friends, my best friend from high school in particular.  (Plus, two trips in one year with just the two of us?  THAT’S never happened before!)

We took our family to the beach again this year.  My favorite week of the year, every year.

An unforgettable 4th of July celebration in Escondido with my husband’s family.  Even more exciting than the fireworks was the police chase that ended in my sister-in-law’s backyard, with the criminal pinned on the dirt beneath my brother-in-law with my husband holding a metal bat near the guy’s head — all going down in the searchlight of the police helicopter overhead while they waited for the officers on foot to get there.  CRAZY!

One of my dearest friends moved to the Seattle area in 2010.  I feel deeply grateful that we’ve continued to talk and have remained good friends.

A trip to Idaho for my Aunt’s funeral.  {SO many people died this year, it seemed!}  My parents were there, and all my brothers and sisters made the trip without children or spouses.  It was the first time the ten of us have spent time together in many years.

My brother’s wedding in September and the fun of having our entire family gathered for it.  I treasure those gatherings more as the years go by.

I have felt richly blessed by the friendship of my two sisters this year, along with the friendship of my sisters-in-law.  I admire, love and respect them all so much.  And my dear mother continues to amaze me. I am so blessed to have remarkable parents.

So many little moments with my husband and with the children, many of them captured here, many of them unshared, too many of them already forgotten because I didn’t write them down.  Still, they are the stuff of life and for the privilege of daily life alone I am grateful.

And so the year is gone.  Another has arrived.

Stay tuned for my 2012 plans.


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