Tag Archive | new year

Happy New Year…More and Less

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” Henry David Thoreau



It’s no secret I adore beginnings and fresh starts.  Here’s another opportunity to dream, plan, grow, create a beautiful life.  If you’re a resolution junkie (I can’t be alone!) check out this post or this one.  

This year I’m focusing on more of the good stuff and less of the yucky.  

  • More authentic connections. Less superficial or forced. 
  • More relaxation.  Less zoning out. 
  • More real food. Less processed food. 
  • More love, acceptance, and mercy.  Less jealousy, pettiness. 
  • More experiences. Less stuff. 
  • More Jesus. Less me. 
  • More joy. Less drama. 
  • More gratitude. Less complaining. 
  • More Bible time. Less iPad time. 
  • More praying. Less worrying. 
  • More forgiveness. Less resentment and grudges. 
  • More compliments. Less criticism. 

Happy New Year! My prayer for you is more of the good stuff and less of the yucky. As always, I wish you MUCH JOY! 

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Resolutions Made Easy (Seriously!) 

The new year will be like the old one if you keep on doing the same old things. 

~Jean-Paul Malfatti 

It’s no secret I adore beginnings. Well, here we are! Drumroll please… January 1st!! Our fresh start, blank page, new beginning is finally here. So, what shall we do with it? 

I cannot keep myself from making resolutions, but not everyone is with me.  (You can read about one of mine here.) According to Forbes (January 1, 2013) only about 40% of Americans make resolutions and only 8% keep them. But what if THIS YEAR things were different? I know, I know… Hear me out. 

I’ve listed 52 ideas, one for each week of the year. What if we chose just one idea a week (use mine or create your own list) and by year’s end tried on 52 new behaviors, habits, and attitudes? Weekends are for reflections. Did it work? Could I tweak it and turn it into a habit? Did I hate it and never want to speak of it again? What shall I try next? Of 52, surely at least one will blossom into something beautiful, but we won’t know unless we take this step. C’mon! Let’s give it a try! 

This is a lengthy post, so go grab a cup of coffee and read on. With God all things are possible. May we be encouraged. May we be changed. 

  1. Set your timer for 10 minutes. Now, go! Spend that time doing something you loathe or have been putting off-dusting, ironing, decluttering, going through mail, deleting emails….When the timer sounds you’re done! I usually find I want to set it at least once more, but even if I don’t I’ve still accomplished something in a short amount of time. I love this tip and use it regularly. 
  2. Make commercials work for you. This is similar to the timer trick and I’ll even do it when I’m using the DVR. When the ads begin, I go.  I load the dishwasher, fold laundry, or pay a bill. It’s a painless way to stay caught up. 
  3. This week, replace one soft drink a day with water. If you already do this, find one other unhealthy treat to replace. It’s only once/day for a week. We can do this. 
  4. Delegate. Could Hubby start picking up the dry cleaning? Maybe the kiddos can take out the trash and check the mail? Try it out and see what works for your family. 
  5. Do one load of laundry and one errand or household chore every evening. You’ll thank me Saturday. 
  6. This week, do NOT buy xyz from the grocery store. Is it a bag of chips or doughnuts that defeats you week after week? Whatever it is, just don’t buy it this week. My sister always says it’s far easier to say no once in the store than to bring it home and do battle daily. 
  7. I tend to map out my week. (Read about that here.) Ideally, I plan errands, chores, clothing, and meals every weekend. It really helps. Try it! 
  8. Evaluate your marriage (or any relationship). Is it helping you grow? Do you serve one another? Do you express appreciation and affection? Are you having fun? Are you a good partner (or friend or parent)?
  9. I’d encourage you to commit several act of kindness this  week. They don’t have to be huge deals. Plan to call a loved one while driving home. Write a card or two to friends who are  struggling. Buy coffee for your favorite coworker. Bonus points if you buy one for your least favorite. You get the idea. (More ideas can be found here.)
  10. Practice gratitude. You know I go on and on about this, but it’s because it’s changed my life. Find a way to practice the act of giving thanks, the act of noticing the blessings in your life. You can do this for 7 days. Who knows?! Maybe this will become a habit. 
  11. Dream. We tend to get too busy with the mundane and forget to dream. Carve out time this week to let your mind wander, hope, and imagine. Get up 10 minutes earlier, use your lunch break, take a long bubble bath … This week spend some time with your head in the clouds. 
  12. Start your day with God. We know we should. We intend to. This week we are going to make it happen. Plan ahead and get up earlier if necessary. If mornings are impossible, make it a bedtime ritual for one week. 
  13. Go one week without buying fast food. 
  14. Cut one “little” expense this week. Do you grab a coffee every morning or a soft drink every afternoon? I have a daily $2.00 dairy-free candy bar habit I need to cut. Put the money aside and evaluate at week’s end. 
  15. Go to bed 15 minutes earlier every night this week. 
  16. Exercise daily this week.  It can be as simple as walking (parking far away helps the steps add up!). Take a class. Hop on the treadmill after work. Grab the family for an after dinner stroll or bike ride. Lift weights while dinner is cooking. Gardening and housework also burn calories. 
  17. Plan for emergencies. You’d be wise to keep your gas tank full, tires properly aired up, and trunk stocked with blankets, a flashlight, and such.  Keep your phone charged. Have extra gallons of water and food items on hand. And always have a little cash on hand. Don’t go crazy, but be smart. 
  18. Before you buy ANYthing, ask yourself if you need it or love it. If the answer is no, walk away. Trust me on this. If it doesn’t delight you today it certainly won’t tomorrow. 
  19. There’s something you’ve been putting off, dreading. Do it this week. 
  20. Start putting away a little money this week. Set goals. Emergency fund? Vacation? Christmas? 
  21. Forgive. Oh boy, this is a tough one. I encourage you to actively think (possibly journal about) the people you need to forgive this week. Pray. Ask God to help you forgive and let the bitterness go. Ask Him to bless them. Oh, I know! Trust me-this brings freedom. The act of forgiveness if for YOU and your well-being. 
  22. Get the best employee award this week. Don’t leave work until your desk is clear and your tasks for the next day are laid out. Read an article, blog post, or book that will help you on the job. 
  23. Clean out your pantry this week. Check expiration dates. 
  24. Turn all of your hangers backward this week. I’m sure you’ve read about this. It’s so easy and it really shows you what you wear. As you wear an item, you hang the hanger normally. At the end of a season or of a year you’ll know what to donate.
  25. No grocery shopping this week! Search your cupboards, fridge, and freezer to create meals and snacks out of what you already have in the house. (You may need fresh produce, though.)  
  26. Gather old magazines and drop them off at the hospital, nursing home, or salon. Do you have any old puzzles, games, or movies? Your local Ronald McDonald house, elementary school, or shelter for abused women (and their children) could use them. You’ll feel better by getting rid of this stuff and you’ll bless others. Win-win. 
  27. This week is easy. Smile! When you’re driving, walking into a store, answering the phone, speaking to someone-smile! 
  28. Do one new thing this week. There was a time I would’ve scoffed at this idea, but I’ve learned doing new things invigorates me and my relationships. Your new thing can be big or small. Try changing date night from dinner and a movie to a picnic and walk or museum and cocktails. Drive home from work by a different route. Window shop in a new store. Try a new recipe. Sign up for a photography class. 
  29. Call your family and friends this week. Limit text messages. 
  30. Evaluate your clothing (and shoes and jewelry).  Everything that makes you feel great stays. Everything that’s for a different weight or that makes  you feel “less than” goes. If something in your closet isn’t you, get rid of it! When I was younger I joked that “I would totally wear that on my yacht”.  I live in the Texas panhandle and couldn’t be more landlocked. The yacht clothing (unrealistic clothing unsuited to my lifestyle) needs to go. 
  31. Talk to strangersthis week.  Ask the cashier how her day is going. Chat up the guy carrying your groceries to the car. Tell the receptionist how much you like her jewelry. 
  32. Express appreciation this week. You are surrounded by people who deserve your thanks. Mail carriers, custodians, secretaries, teachers, health care workers, waitresses-they’re all deserving of a sincere thank you. Don’t forget to thank your kids, coworkers, bosses, and spouse. 
  33. Give. Prayerfully consider your giving, whether time, money, or goods.  Seek out ways this week to give. 
  34. Say the words this week. I love you. You did a great job. You are so thoughtful (or handsome or kind or funny or …). My life is better with you in it. You are the best! 
  35. Go! Go to the showers, weddings, parties, and funerals. Live your life. Don’t get bogged down with the dailiness of this life. 
  36. Do something sweet for someone this week and do it anonymously. Don’t let anyone else know either. Scattering kindness is FUN! Here are a few ideas. 
  37. Clean out one drawer every day this week. Bonus points if you clean more then 7 this week.
  38. Go one week without complaining. This one’s a game changer!
  39. Consider your friends. We tend to become like those we surround ourselves with. Start evaluating. Who do you want to be? What do you want your life to be? Are your friends helping you or holding you back? Are there people you need to spend less time with? Is there someone you can ask to lunch? 
  40. Buy cards and gifts in bulk this week. I’m a teacher, so I do this in the summer. I buy birthday and anniversary cards for the entire year every July. I buy thank you and sympathy cards to keep handy. I have a gift closet, so I always have things on hand.  I even buy a few Christmas gifts in the summer. 
  41. Lavish praise this week. See how many sincere compliments you can give this week. Let the store or restaurant manager know of an employee’s excellence. My school district has an A+ Award given to everyone nominated. I make it a point to nominate people every year. We all need to feel valued, don’t we?
  42. Close. Your. Mouth. This week try waiting before replying. Swallow the criticism or snarky retort. Listen more than you speak. 
  43. Turn off the TV for one week.  (Unthinkable? Then cut the viewing time in half.) if you’re not a TV or Netflix junkie, try going without (or limiting) social media this week. 
  44. Quit rehearsing hurts. Bad stuff happens to everyone. Let this be the week you stop talking about your childhood wounds, your ex, your yucky commute, and your aches and pains. 
  45. This is the week your phone is put away for every meal, every meeting, and every conversation. Your family will love this
  46. Think about your thinking this week. Do you have negative, unrealistic, or self-defeating patterns? Retrain yourself. Replace thoughts that aren’t serving you well.  As a man thinketh…
  47. Time is ticking away. You’ve heard of food diaries and how they help identify  patterns…Keep a time journal this week and notice how much time you spend working, sleeping,  playing on your phone, etc. Do you need to make any changes?
  48. Love the unlovely. I feel certain you have at least one person in your life that is a challenge. Spend this week praying for them and loving on them. 
  49. Reconsider your music and viewing choices this week. 
  50. Tidy up as you go. Load the dishwasher as you eat and cook. Clear the bathroom counter as you finish getting ready. Fold and hang the laundry immediately. Open, read, and deal with your mail -snail and email- daily. (I’m terrible about this one!) I’ll be surprised if your weekend isn’t nicer. 
  51. Fun!!! Do something fun this week. Big, small, free, or expensive-treat yourself this week.
  52. Set up 3 boxes in your laundry room or garage this week. Box 1 is things you’re donating. Box 2 is stuff to sell. And Box 3 is stuff you need to repair or think about.  Spend your week filling the boxes.  

So, what do you think?  Remember each idea is intended to be practiced for one week. Don’t get overwhelmed by trying too many at once. That’s usually my downfall. I’d love to hear your ideas, resolutions, and results. As always, I wish you MUCH joy! 

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Make 2015 Your Best Year Yet (part 3)

I’ve finished unpacking and decorating my new classroom. I LOVE it! Yes, I gave up two days of vacation to do it. Yes, I got up earlier than I like. Yes, it was hard work. And yes, it was worth it. I’m soooo grateful for two things I’m learning (shared in earlier posts): (1) Don’t complain, especially when you cannot change things. (2) Accept sincere offers of help. My husband and dearest friend spent 9 hours with me, doing grunt work. I literally couldn’t have done it without them. And they helped me on New Year’s Eve! We celebrated with a lovely dinner out and not one of us made it to midnight.

Back to our list! There are hundreds of things I could add, but I’m concluding with just three things to consider.

8. Do good. Make it a point to do ONE good thing for one person every day. I love this! I try to do more than one, and the ones I choose are often quite simple.

A friend was going through a very tough time a few months back. I loathe talking on the phone, but I made it a point to call her several times a week for a couple of months. Letting her vent and process was my gift to her.

My husband has several things that make him feel loved (making the bed every morning, running errands with him, etc). You’d better believe I try to do these things regularly. What an easy way to bless him.

Because of the new wing and so many teachers moving, our custodians have had double the work load during our holiday. A coworker brought doughnuts one cold morning. I bought lunch another day. Little things mean a lot.

Many times, the simple act of listening, of being in the moment is the greatest gift of all.

9. Enjoy. Breathe. Look up. Look around. And remember, this is YOUR life, so take a moment to enjoy it.

10. Declutter. This is an issue near and dear to my heart-at school and at home. I’m a work in progress. My guiding thoughts: if I don’t use it and/or love it, it goes. Period. If you’re anything like me, it’s often painful. Some things I can easily give away. Others go into a holding closet until I can make a decision. I’m also learning to make sure I truly love (or need) something before buying. No more things in my closet just because they were 70% off!

Make 2015 Your BEST Year Yet (part 1)

Do you love beginnings? I do!! I relish the start of each school year, dreaming of my new students and the magic we will create. Not surprisingly, I do the same with each new calendar year. I adore Christmas, but I also adore clearing all the Christmas decor, stashing it away until next year. I love the cold, crisp mornings readymade for quiet introspection. I enjoy making resolutions. Yes, I’m one of those people!!

Here are some ideas for us this year:

1. Make a resolution. Or don’t. Or make several.

No one knows you and your life better than you, so do not allow this post, an article, or segment on GMA dictate what your life should look like.

Some are choosing one word for the upcoming year. Hope, Health, Courage….Love the idea, but it doesn’t work for me at this time.

It might be that you choose one passage of scripture to memorize and live out for the year. I rather love that idea. I’m sure of one resolution: practicing gratitude instead of complaining. I mentioned this in a previous post. This is something that has been on my radar for years! Oh my, it’s difficult, but it’s important for my health-my mental, spiritual, and physical health. As I’m learning to truly embrace this, I must surround myself with like-minded people and people who will hold me accountable if I spiral off into a full blown rant. And I’m clinging to two passages:

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (KJV), “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

Phillipians 2:14-16 (NIV), “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life–in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing.”

2. Say no. I KNOW your life is filled with endless obligations. I challenge you to find at least one thing you can say NO to in order to make your life a little nicer. For now, I’m saying no to chopping veggies. I know it sounds silly, but buying bagged salads and bagged veggies is a time saver and little blessing for me at this time. For now, the extra cost is worth it. For now, I’m saying no to joining a book club. I long to do it, but I know my limitations. Realistically, I can’t squeeze it in. I will do it later. I know those are two silly examples, but they are very real decisions I made, based on my life at the moment. A bigger NO is my refusal to stress out and make an idiot of myself over things I cannot control. I have a dear, dear friend who has suffered from myriad health problems and hospitalizations. One of her issues is diabetes. I’ve noticed she indulges in quite a few poor dietary choices. Hmmm. Well, I’ve taken her to task, offered advice, shamed her. I know… Nice friend, huh? Truthfully, it all came from my love, concern, and fear. Thankfully, she knows my heart and loves me. And thankfully, I’ve realized her battles are not mine. I cannot control her diet or her choices. I’ve tried-and failed miserably. I almost ruined our friendship. Deep sigh. So, I stopped. I still cringe at times, but I don’t say a word. I am saying no to destroying our relationship and I’m praying for the Lord to have mercy and help her change. What can YOU say no to at this particular moment in time?

3. Say yes. Say yes to something you’ve wanted, whether it’s trying that scary looking sushi, accepting that date, taking a night class, or taking a solo road trip. My YES is to accepting sincere offers of help. It took me YEARS to finally accept help from others. I thought I had to be perfect, to have everything under control. Oh my, WHAT was I thinking?!?! It was my mom’s heart attack in the last month of a school year several years ago that finally broke me. I really feared we’d lose her. I was packing up my room for the summer, making substitute plans, posting grades, getting end of the year gifts ready, reading up on cardiac diets, spending days at the hospital….I needed help. Ordinarily, I would’ve turned it all down but a very sweet, persistent friend wore my down. And I bless her to this day for teaching me that we need each other and it’s okay, in fact it’s HIS plan.

You know what you secretly long-and fear-to say a resounding YES to. Take a deep breath and say yes.

More next time! Be blessed!