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.


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!

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