Simplify 2017

For a few years, I’ve been reading about some of my favorite artists and bloggers picking a word of the year, a central idea or goal for the upcoming 12 months.  I’d never been able to come up with any unifying word or principle in years past, but wanted to keep this idea in mind and keep trying.
The end of 2016 was filled with an incredible amount of busy-ness…work was going a million miles an hour, planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations, family reunions, and Christmas gifts and surprises for the kiddos took lots of time, and we were still getting used to all that came along with having our oldest in school for the first time. All great stuff, and yet  I felt like I was running from one activity to the next, and every minute of my day was double or triple booked.  Any alteration to the schedule meant that I couldn’t get it all done, and my stress level rose through the roof!  

I started reading a little book called Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist, and it really spoke to me.  Shauna describes how I was feeling perfectly:

“I feel like I’m driving a car 100 miles an hour with music blaring out the open windows.  I screech into the parking lot, throw the car in park, sprint into the 7-Eleven, and ….throw my head under the Slurpee machine, gulping and gulping…then race back for the car…”.  

“And what I want is one strawberry. In total silence”.

Have you been there?  What a perfect description!

How to do 2017 differently?  

My One Word kept coming to me in different ways.

From The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to learning more about Mary Oliver’s poetry (this collection and others to my love for creating tiny, simple watercolors, 


the word that rose again and again was this:

SIMPLIFY

  • Simplify my commitments:  Learn to say no for now, to make room for more yeses later.
  • Simplify my routines:  Look for opportunities to be closer to home more often, and for ways to streamline needed projects and tasks.
  • Simplify my stuff:  Give it away!  I don’t need 7 spatulas!  It is freeing to let go of the excess and have space for what I really want nearby.
  • Simplify my life—and have more time to focus on what brings me strength, peace, and joy in the new year.

Happy New Year, and may this year bring us all more of the joy we seek! ( I feel like I need to end this with a namaste!)

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A New Beginning

As we rush thru the bustle and business of our daily lives, we feel like we are always running and never able to get caught up or enjoy any of what we are doing.  And some of us are finding that it makes sense to stop, breathe, and start again.  Here’s my take on what this means for me.  Perhaps you are experiencing something similar…

Life has been incredibly busy lately…like for the last 5 years.

Since we got married and had our first little one less than a year into our marriage. And especially for the last 18 months, after the birth of our second little love.  For the first 15 or so months, I kept telling my husband, and myself, that we were in survival mode.  We could do this. It was temporary.  We wouldn’t have to live like this forever.  One day our 3 year old would go easily to bed  by himself, and the baby would not be up multiple times a night.  One day we wouldn’t have to be so aware of nap times and plan our days around them.  One day we would actually be able to spend some time together and talk to each other without small people screaming and the TV on blaring Bubble Guppies or Diego.  Interrupted by multiple requests for chocolate milk.

Then a few months ago, I realized I could not continue to do this.   We had been burning the candle at all ends and multiple points in the middle, and we were both DONE.  As a full time physician as well as wife and mom, I had absolutely no energy left to give to my family after a busy workday, and my husband was burned out from parenting the littles by himself all day.   I would come home and play with and love on the kids until they were finally asleep, and then, if I was lucky, would have an hour or so to myself to do what I wanted to do, finally.  And that was it.  Day after day, living for that one hour to myself.  No spiritual growth.  No personal growth.  No relationship growth and no new friends.  And all because I was overwhelmed with the business of modern life.

What did I do?  Lots of things. I started doing a quick 7 minute workout on my phone in the mornings. I tried to become more active in our church’s moms’ group.  Met some great ladies, and that has been a new source of friendships and playdates for our little ones.  Became more intentional about what I was going to do with my precious one hour of freedom…planning little watercolors by looking on Pinterest or in my daily meanderings for inspiration, so that when I had time, I could put pencil and brush to paper and CREATE something.  I began journaling again, promising to tell myself the TRUTH and not sugar coat what I was thinking and feeling.  And I started reading books again, leaving work at lunch to be by myself and recharge.

Two of the most meaningful books I encountered were One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp, and The Fringe Hours by Jessica Turner.  Both have changed my life in different, but complementary ways.  The first changed how I approached my daily life, reminding me that giving thanks for the small gifts God gives awakens gratefulness and joy in my soul, and brings me into closer communion with Him.  Now I carry a little notebook with a blue and orange bird on the cover, and number the gifts I encounter each day….a beautiful sunrise, my son’s laugh, mushrooms in a morning field, sitting quietly with my husband together at the end of  a long day, the joy of watching my daughter toddle with glee around a green meadow.  I look forward to finding the gifts God leaves for me each day and give Him thanks for each of these.

The Fringe Hours is a more practical, but still life-changing book for me.  Jessica Turner encouraged me to be more intentional about how I spend my time so that I could have more time to recharge and take care of my soul.  So I now get up earlier in the mornings and get to have a quiet time by myself for reading, writing, and prayer to start my day.  No one is asking anything of me, and I get to start the morning by watching the sunrise and talking to God.  Awesome. I actually take a lunch break at work now, instead of trying to work thru lunch to get more done.  I go read somewhere by myself, sometimes journal, or go run errands or shop.  More me time that was there for the taking!  So now when I come home, I am refreshed because I’ve been able to find time to pursue my passions and nurture my creative soul while at work.   I get outside more…take the kids for walks with my husband, enjoy Nature, breathe the air, chase my little ones…and I have found JOY again.  Praise God.  And I am so thankful for another chance to start again…A new beginning.