On Holidays and Must-Dos

…And, I’m back.

Between the holiday prep, the holidays, and the recovery from the holidays, my energy and creative thought have been tapped out these past few weeks. As a result, I took a break from many commitments, including work and Red Shutters, filling my time (and heart) with family and friends. One of the highlights was hosting the holidays for the first time, pulling together a sit down dinner for 22 people on Christmas Day (yup, that’s not a typo: 22). We also had family from overseas and across the United States visiting. It was wonderful–a really special chance for loved ones to connect and celebrate.  But, before I had a chance to say Elf on the Shelf, the holidays were over, the tree was compost, and the ball dropped in Times Square.
Then, next thing you know, we’re all supposed to set resolutions for the new year, thereby committing ourselves to change into new people. I don’t do resolutions; I do goals. There’s something about the achievement element of a goal that fits better with my psyche. Perhaps it’s just semantics, but it works for me. (My husband, too, though I am not sure I give him much choice to opt out of my desire for goals.) At the start of each year, I pull out THE NOTEBOOK. My trusty, spiral-bound, blue-cardboard-covered notebook where I document our annual goals. This is nothing fancy, but it is very important. My husband and I sit down together, preferably during “date night,” away from kids and home responsibilities, to review last year’s goals, discuss why a goal may not have been met, and determine our priorities for the new year. The goals range from the most critical (“Raise healthy, happy kids who do not whine” – more on the italicized text in another post) to the specific (“Exercise two to three times a week”) to the fun (“Go on vacation”). We cap them to a reasonable number, though I got all clever this year and made us have 13 goals (“13 for ’13!”). We also use this “summit” to assess our family financial situation and make adjustments, as needed. I view this process as our “state of the union.” It’s a way for us to–together–make sure we’re on the same page and that we understand and support each other’s personal priorities. And, the notebook doesn’t just get filed away and forgotten about; I review it periodically throughout the year.
This year, I deviated a little from my dear notebook and created additional personal must-dos. (They may be what you’d call resolutions, but I’m sticking with must-dos for now.) Here they are:
1. Balance – When I first had kids, a friend told me that balance was impossible; the best way to respond to the dual (and possibly competing) commitments of work and family was to (quickly) learn how to juggle. I’ve subscribed to that philosophy for five years now, and it’s not the complete solution for me. I have to add balance into the mix. Finding more balance in my life, so small things don’t become big things….so I can find time for time with my husband, for friends, and for creative projects…so I can make sure I’m a more patient and available parent…so I’m healthy and happier.
2. Purge – We moved into our house nearly 18 months ago, and our basement still is not completely unpacked. We have a zone down there filled with items to sell, donate, or Freecycle. They’re not doing much good in my basement! Now’s the time to get rid of that stuff and to unpack the other boxes. Additionally, our kids have too many toys, especially after our generous family arrived for Christmas; it’s time to get rid of the toys they have outgrown and pass them along to friends or donate them to a charity.
I feel lighter and better just sharing this with you! Funny, isn’t it, that, sometimes, just saying (or writing) a belief or a hope makes it more real.
So, here’s to getting rid of the stuff that doesn’t matter (both in our minds and in our basements) and allowing space for more of what we love. Happy 2013.

Photo credit: flyzipper via photopin cc