I got serious about new years resolutions in 2013. I decided that I wanted to make a REAL resolution to change something about myself and then use the entire year to implement it. I decided I would focus on an area of my life that needed improvement and make a conscious daily effort to make the change until it became a part of me.
So in 2013, I made the resolution to give from a heart of abundance.
At the time, I was feeling especially close-fisted. On one hand I’m talking about money. On the other hand, I’m talking about my time and energy. I started out 2013 with my blogger tour—took two months and traveled before Frank and I moved to California to start grad school. The future was incredibly uncertain, with a cross-country move and large expenses looming, plus Frank had just spent the last several months not working full time. Our marriage was on the rocks. I worried. A lot. It made me feel closed-off and not very generous or open.
So as we started 2013, I decided that instead of living with fear and anxiety, I wanted to make a conscious effort to give from a spirit of abundance. As I traveled on my blogger tour, the friends and acquaintances I stayed with were exceptionally generous to open their homes to me, and in turn, I tried to give back to them through service, since I didn’t have much to contribute financially.
Whenever I worry, I am reminded of Luke 12:22-34.
22 Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
God loves me more than the birds and the wild flowers. He promises to always care for me, and that gives me the confidence I need to go forward and serve others.
I try to give in many different ways, and since 2013, I’ve gotten more creative with how I can give to others. Giving financially is an obvious way to give to others, but it’s not something that I’ve found as appreciated as giving via acts of service. But then again it depends on the situation.
The grocery store is always a great place to give. I’m always on the look out for moms that need help carrying their groceries. What an easy thing to do that makes a huge difference when she’s got 2 or 3 littles to watch at once! Now that I’m not a broke college student, I enjoy spending money on my friends and occasionally just paying for meals or coffees or something. It’s fun!
Whenever I’m at someone else’s house, I try to help tidy or clean, especially if they have little kids. (Sometimes it’s appreciated. Sometimes not. But I always offer.)
I was not always this way. Like I said. I had to make a conscious effort to direct my focus outward instead of worrying only about myself and my troubles. Funnily enough, my own troubles didn’t seem to matter as much after turning my focus elsewhere. ;)
2013 was a year of generosity.
In 2014, I prayed that God would give me the strength to let go of inconsequential things.
If I’m being very honest, I flew into 2014 in the midst of a divorce, angry and confused, and in a lot of pain. I basically stopped writing this blog due to such a negative reaction to the announcement of our divorce, not to mention all the anger and confusion from my family and friends. I had so many Christian friends tell me I was not doing God’s will or that I wasn’t “trying hard enough” and they just WEREN’T THERE. So they DON’T KNOW. Frank and I had our reasons… But if I’m being very very honest, when I made the resolution, I didn’t actually pray that “God would give me the strength to let go of inconsequential things.” I believe what I actually CRIED OUT to God was “dear God, please let me give less f*cks!!!!!!! I’m so sick and tired of all this!!!!!!”
Hey. Just being honest.
And I did.
Care less I mean.
I realized that there were so many things I just DIDN’T have to care about. And it made my life so much easier not to care about them.
I decided I would care less about what someone said about me as a divorced woman.
I decided to care less about the dishes sitting in the sink overnight.
I decided to care less about being on time/being late and just enjoy the moment I was living in. (I’m sorry, but I have South America syndrome now.)
I decided to care less about my hair on any given day.
I decided to care less about what people might think of my life. (Blogging makes you a bit self-conscious, you know?)
I decided to care less about being a perfectionist for any number of things!
Plans fell through? I made new plans.
Wasn’t what I ordered? Oh well, I’ll order something different next time.
Broke a favorite glass on the floor? Find a new favorite glass.
I realized that basically everything is replaceable. Except experiences. And experiences are what we make of them. I make choices every single day. Among them are how I decide to feel about my life, people, and situations. I can choose how I feel about someone or something. I actively choose to feel in ways that bring about warm fuzzies. And hopefully transfer those warm fuzzies to the people around me, too.
In 2015, I resolved to wake up every day and live in gratitude.
I also feel that 2015 was my coming-of-age year, and I’ve done a lot for myself this year to surround myself with people, things, and experiences that bring me joy. Being thankful is a big part of finding that joy, as well.
So every day when I wake up and blink my eyes open, I see the painting I got with my mom on my birthday. I see the beautiful blue tapestry hanging in my living room. My cat in a ball at the foot of my bed. My house plants, bright and green in the morning light. I feel the air from my open windows and my fan brush my face and arms. I feel the softness of my sheets around me. I am filled with peace, joy, and thankfulness.
I am grateful.
As I cook myself breakfast and lunch for the day, I am thankful for the time I have in the mornings before work. I feed my chickens, and I’m thankful for the eggs they provide me. As I get dressed, I am thankful for the colors and options that grace my closet and the happiness something as simple as vibrant colors brings.
I put on my shoes and grab my keys and step into the sunlight and intentionally bask in sunshine for a moment before climbing into my truck and putting on some music I can sing to and start the tone of my day. I am thankful I can afford to maintain my vehicle, and I’m thankful for what seems like unlimited music on Spotify Premium.
On the weekends, when I indulge in cappuccinos, sunny park days, indie markets & craft shows, food festivals, and dancing—I am infinitely thankful for all the beauty I find around me. My heart and soul swell with the magnitude of joy I feel just to be alive. Every where I go, I meet interesting people and I’m happy just to have had them in my world for a few fleeting moments. Sometimes I get lucky and make friends to keep. I meet artists, artisans, passionate young folk full of ideas, older couples and singles with great stories and life experiences, children with fun ways to look at the world, amazing food artists and chefs, musicians—you name it.
I look at the people around me, and I appreciate them for who they are, and I hope that they feel it.
What a difference it has made to see everything as a gift.
I did not always feel this way. There have been long stretches of my life where I’ve wished to die, or worse, was never born. I’ve spent adequate time in the deep recesses of darkness to know I never want to return there again. Today, I walk in the light, and I’m thankful for all things that grace my path.
Yes all things. This year has had it’s share of challenges, as well. I’d say it took me until the latter half of the year until I felt more practiced at experiencing gratitude for even the unpleasant things in my life. Like co-worker drama. And friends that let you down. And ex-roommates not paying what they owe and having to take them to court. *cough cough* Sigh. Yes, it’s been a challenge looking at these experiences with gratitude, but I can say that I’ve succeeded! And overcome them and it’s been way better on the other side!
Just as a side note, 2o15 has been a great year. This has also been the year my dad and I rekindled our relationship after roughly 10 years apart. I’m so thankful! I still can’t believe it!
Every day, I live in gratitude for all things, big and small.
As for my 2016 resolution? I’m not sure yet. It will come to me in the next few days or weeks, I’m sure. Whatever it is, I can’t wait to see where I’m at in 2017! Sorry Peter Pan, but growing up is fun!