One Step Report #52 & Final Summary

This is it.  The last one.  The year has flown by but it seems like a long time ago when I wrote the post that started my One Step adventure.
The final few days of 2010 were good ones.  I’ll share just a few specific highlights so I can quickly move on to the final summary and thoughts for the year.

1.  I got to run in my favorite store, Crate&Barrel for just a few minutes.

2.  On Monday night, before we left Denver, I spent a few minutes outside, alone, watching the night sky.  I have missed the winter constellations due to cloudy nights in Utah.  It was fun to see some of my favorite stars and to gaze at the heavens for a bit.

3.  We had a safe drive home from Colorado and woke up to snow the next morning.  We were so grateful to have missed all the storms.

4.  The Christmas decorations are put away and the house is back to its usual calm color palette.  I love a silver, blue and white house in January.

5.  My baby is still struggling to bounce back from her illness.  We’re working through it and look forward to the return of real naps and her usual cheerful self.

6.  We wished the year goodbye in style, as a family, with hearts full of happiness.

And so, with all 365 days accounted for, the grand total of steps recorded throughout 2010 is 3,843.

That’s a lot of little things!  On average, more than ten a day.

How do I feel about it?  I’ve been asking myself this question for days.  One the one hand I’ve been tempted to label it as a bunch of random lists of little things I did when I probably should have been working harder to do the things I intended to do at the beginning of the year.  I’ve been tempted to feel like it doesn’t really add up to much.  After all, my house is as messy as it was a year ago.  I can’t claim any massive improvements in that area or a lot of other areas.

But even if it is just a bunch of random lists, it’s a fascinating record of a year of my life.  A very busy year.  A year of successes and failures, accomplishments and heartaches.   It’s a unique look at my daily life, a look like no other I’ve ever recorded.  And if I didn’t do many of the specific things I intended to do when I started, at least I have a record of what I did instead.  Most of the time, the “instead” came in the form of holding, comforting, listening, etc.  I guess I could say that what I did “instead” was simply be a mother.

And isn’t that ok?

The more positive take on the year would be to call it a success.  For one thing, I finished.  I did it every single day .  And I reported back every single week .  If nothing else good came from my efforts, to have been absolutely consistent is huge.  I kept the commitment I made to myself.  I kept it when I was on vacation, when I had guests in town, when I was exhausted.  And that feels good.  I’m good at keeping commitments I make to others, but I tend to let promises to myself take a back seat to other duties.

Additionally, there are so many little things listed in my book that would otherwise be forgotten.  I’ve given myself a gift of memory by writing things down.

When I began this journey what I really wanted was to find my stride.  I wanted to feel like I had grown into my responsibilities.  I cannot say that I’ve reached that point. I haven’t found my stride.  I have a lot of learning still to do.

But I’m closer.

I haven’t given up.  (Ha! As if I really had a choice!)  I’ve kept going.

In looking over my many lists I see that I’m slowly getting better at responding appropriately when things go wrong.  I’m getting better at finding the humor in hard days.  I’m getting better at building myself up.  I’m learning to forgive myself for the things I’m not good at and for things that are hard for me.  I’m learning to seek and accept excellence instead of perfection.  I’m learning to accept effort and progress instead of indicting myself for lack of accomplishment.  I am remembering how much I love to write, and am slowly finding my voice.  I am learning.  This is success.

In some ways there is concrete evidence of this year’s efforts.

One Step at a time, we put in a yard.  (huge) we took our family to California once and Colorado twice to visit grandparents.
I finished 7 quilts and two additional quilt tops.
we watched our baby learn to walk.
we watched our son’s finger heal.
we learned how to run our own version of a Bed & Breakfast.
we survived two soccer seasons.
we celebrated 10 birthdays, one baptism  and numerous holidays.
I tried new recipes.
I developed the habit of watching the sunrise and sunset.

Truthfully,  it isn’t the list of things I did that means most to me today.  It’s the feelings I’ve felt, the thoughts I’ve had, the lessons I’ve learned that I treasure.    These are, to me, the significant moments of the year.  They’re the moments that make me feel like I’m growing up.  Many of them I haven’t shared here, but some I have.  Listed below are my favorites.

Real Life Mathematics
Cherry Trees and Hope Mothering in the Trenches They’re Just Moments Glimpse of the Future Growth Chart Stuck How to Measure?

And just for the record, the mystery of the day has remained the mystery of the year.

Ultimately my conclusion is that I have simultaneously fallen short of and surpassed my expectations for 2010.  In doing so, a wonderful thing has happened to me.  With my Heavenly Father’s help I have become my own best friend.   I have learned to trust Him more.  I am more confident in His love and concern for me.  Not the wife, not the mother, but me, the person I am deep inside.  And so the final verdict is this:  One Step 2010 was a success.  It worked.

I feel so blessed.
I also feel grateful to those of you who have read along, who have encouraged me, who have helped me.  Knowing that someone would know if I quit kept me going when it seemed pointless.  Thank you.  And many thanks to my husband who supported me in this experiment, even when he was tired on a Sunday night.

Happy New Year, everyone.  May God bless us all with success and determination as we face life in 2011.
I’ll see you next week for my first update on a year of helpful habits .

Sincerely, Jennifer

One Step Report #51

Wow.  Here we are with only five days left in the year.  It’s humbling and exciting at the same time.  I feel so grateful for the journey that this One Step goal has taken me on throughout 2010.  Never before have I kept my New Year’s goals at the forefront like I was able to do this year, and blogging about it weekly was the number one factor in accomplishing that.

Because my weekly report has been so beneficial to me personally, I’ve decided to incorporate it into my goals for the coming year.  I see no reason to do away with a good habit.  SO, I’ll introduce my 2011 plan on New Year’s Day, and be back next Sunday for my final One Step Report, which will run through the 31st.  I’m excited to spend some time this week reading through my lists from 2010 to see what sticks out in my mind as I prepare a final summary for next week.  The following Sunday will be my first report for the 2011 theme.

With that out of the way, here’s my report for the week.  Total steps:  97 Highlights:

1.  We loved celebrating our daughter’s third birthday on Monday.  She is my angel.

2.  I left my house messier than I’ve ever done before, but we made it out the door to spend Christmas in Denver.

3.  On our way out of town we stopped at the Doctor’s office to confirm that my teenager had, indeed, broken his wrist.  Lovely.

4.  We made it to Denver safely.  I was more stressed about the roads than I can say, but we experienced a parting of the sea in our own small way, with a starry sky overhead and passable roads.  I felt humbled and grateful for the Lord’s awareness of us.  And for the record, I’d forgotten how much I love the winter constellations because the clouds have obscured them for so long in Utah!

5.  We’ve spent a busy four days with this group of kids, nineteen in all.

6.  As often happens when large families gather, I’ve witnessed some moments of tension, but also some moments of reconciliation that really tugged at my heart.

7.  Our one year old woke up vomiting at 1:00 a.m. on Christmas morning.  She threw up all night long.  We survived.

8.  I managed Christmas dinner for 34 people.  I was so grateful for my husband, who held the sick baby all day long so I could do it, and for helping hands in the form of my sisters and sisters in law.

9.  I have thoroughly enjoyed some wonderful conversations with extended family members.  I’ve loved talking to my mom, to my brother and his wife, and particularly with my sister-in-law Kate.  It’s such a blessing to be related to amazing people.  Being around everyone has shown me so many talents and strengths they all have.  I want to be a better person.

10.  My mom had knee replacement surgery the week before we all came to town.  My heart aches for her pain and discomfort as she tries to recover.  It’s been a privilege to spend a little bit of time talking with her.  I love her so much and am so thankful that she let us come for this holiday in spite of the stress it created for she and my Dad.

And so Christmas has now come and gone, leaving clutter everywhere in its wake.  I feel blessed to have celebrated this holiday with my family, something we haven’t done in eight years.

I hope this week, your last week of 2010, is a meaningful one!


One Step Report #50

The lights are dim and hymns of praise float through the house.  Pillows and Christmas quilts lay strewn on the floor, evidence of tonight’s story time.  With the pressure of school schedules lifted for a while, my husband and I took turns reading to the children.  One by one, heads nodded until three of them were slumped on our laps and shoulders, fast asleep.  Oh, there is much for me to do, but I take a deep breath and blink away the tears stinging my eyes.

This is Christmas.

I hardly know what to say about this week.  It was both wonderful and stressful, rejuvenating and exhausting.  I’ve felt so many different feelings, done so many different things.  I guess the best way to sum it up is simply to say, “It’s December.”

Total steps recorded:  98.

1.  I was able to visit a dear friend and see her precious new baby this week.  She let me hold her little Claire and we had the best talk.   It was just what my heart needed.  Thanks Robyn!

2.  We took our family to see an impressive display of gingerbread houses.  I love looking at them.  The creative use of different candy and other edible supplies is inspiring.  I would really love to make one of my own some year.

3.  I didn’t have time for this, but I had to do it.  I’m running low on chicken in my freezer so I’ve been watching for a good sale.  (You can find more about how I shop for food here .)  It went on sale a few weeks ago at one grocery store, and for some reason I just spaced it and didn’t buy any.  I’ve been praying for another opportunity to buy chicken at that price and it came.  I can’t think of a week when I had less desire to spend time or money on a bunch of chicken, but I prayed for it so what was I to do?  When I prayed for the sale I sort of committed myself to take advantage of it.  I spent an evening chopping up 50 pounds of chicken for the freezer.

4.  I had a breakfast at my home on Wednesday morning to celebrate the birthday of a friend.  A series of small things put me in a position where I could provide either a meal to eat or a clean house, but not both.  I chose the food, and invited my guests into a family room that made me cringe.  It wasn’t easy, but I took a deep breath and decided to ignore the mess instead of dwelling on it.  We had the most wonderful visit and I learned some good lessons.

5.  We attended a piano recital for our four children who take lessons.  I felt pleased with their progress and happy that we’re pressing forward with better practicing habits.

6.  I attended a cookie exchange with many friends from my old neighborhood.  It was nice to see them.

7.  Early Saturday morning I drove to the Salt Lake Temple to attend the marriage sealing for these two impressive young people.  It was an honor to be there.

8. Circumstances were such that I had some quiet time alone while at the temple.  I got to wander a bit, thinking, observing, noticing things.  In the marriage waiting room I also had time to read the scriptures since I knew no one, and I learned some things from the Spirit.  It was good to be still.

9.  On Saturday night I had the assignment to put together the food table for the wedding reception.  I hauled all of my awesome silver platters and cake stands, along with my twelve year old daughter who saved the day, and went to work.  I feel like I did a good job of executing the presentation of the food.  It was beautiful and I heard a lot of good things as I restocked the table throughout the evening.  My daughter and I had a great time.  I was so proud of her work ethic and enjoyed spending the night with her.  We went home exhausted but happy for the chance to serve.

10.  Tonight we took our children to Tithing Settlement with the Bishop.  It was a great opportunity for our family, a way to reinforce true principles for our children, and a way to provide a bit of cheap entertainment for our bishop.  Our youngest two were real charmers while we were there.  (At least they weren’t screaming!)

As I end the week my heart is full.  Life is good.  We are richly blessed.


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