Let There Be Light

You guys, today is a day to celebrate!

Not only is today the first day of a new year, but it also marks a special anniversary for this blog: My 10th blog-iversary. Ten years ago today I started this blog on a whim (The whim being due mostly to the fact that I had two babies in diapers and the voices in my head needed an outlet.). A decade ago when I typed those first words on my very first laptop computer (Hey, that was a big deal in 2012!) I had no idea what I wanted to accomplish through my blog or why I was even writing in the first place. But I did it anyway, and here I still am today. Still plugging away–still not quite sure what I’m doing or why I’m doing it–yet still feeling the same pull to write that I did a quarter of my lifetime ago.

And even though I still feel the pull to write, I haven’t been doing it lately. In my early blogging days I was publishing nearly 200 posts per year. Last year I published 2.

My excuse? This year was HARD. Like, harder than I ever thought a year could be. And the year before it? Well, it was even HARDER.

Somewhere between a global pandemic, the utter brokenness of the lives and the community around me, homeschooling 3 children (Which I always said I would never do, by the way), facing disappointment after bitter disappointment, and just plain exhaustion (Actually, not just plain exhaustion–Mother of Young Children During a Pandemic Exhaustion. It’s a clinical crisis. Look it up.) I simply couldn’t find it in me to do one single other thing beyond sheer day-to-day survival.

On the cusp of this new year, however, I have decided I’m ready to do more than just survive. I’m ready to allow myself to be vulnerable (Which is quite different from the forced vulnerability that the pandemic brought upon us all). I’m ready to allow myself the space and the time to process my own thoughts, and maybe even just realize I have thoughts that are unrelated to an external need or crisis. I’m ready to bring back something that brings me joy. I’m ready to write.

In my very first ever blog post, I wrote about my new years resolution that year: finding praise in every complaint. If I were to rewrite that post today, it might go something like this:

Complaint: COVID sucks
Praise: COVID brought my family together at the exact point in time when we all would have begun our biggest year of separateness. We learned how to depend on our unchanging, always and forever God when the world around us constantly shifted like sand blown by a desert storm. We learned to profoundly appreciate Very Important Things that we had become complacent to: our health, our schools and jobs, our relationships.

Complaint: This was supposed to be my first year with all of my children away in school. Instead I’m a homeschool mom.
Praise: What a gift that I was able to step in to teach my children when the need presented itself! With a teaching degree and classroom teaching experience under my belt, I’ve literally been training and practicing for this exact moment for decades. Through the magic of spending literally every waking moment with my own children, I was able to recognize challenges that I had been blind to before–and from there, a series of diagnoses and helpers have been put into place that will literally change my kids’ lives forever. One of our kids NEEDED this change, but I don’t think I ever would have been brave enough to make it happen on my own. (I would, however, still love to know what a quiet house and a nap feel like.)

Complaint: I’m tired.
Praise: I’m tired because I care, and because I care for others. It is a privilege to be the one offering care and able to pour out my love for others. It also helps that I have the world’s comfiest bed and children who finally all sleep through the night (#ptl).

…and on and on.

As we enter 2022, however, I don’t want to simply find the praise in my complaints. I want to focus in another direction. Rather than trying to rectify that which is going wrong–or even finding the good in the bad–I want to start with the positive. I want to find the light.

When I look at a person, I want to do so with care and kindness. I can’t know what they’ve been through or what brought them to this moment, so I will treat them gently.

When I care for my family, I want to do so with a loving heart. Not because I have to, but because of the outpouring of my love I am able to.

When I think of myself, I want to do so with purpose. I don’t want to be an afterthought on my own to-do list.

When I go out into the world, I want to do so with reverence. I want to see first the beauty and creativity of creation.

So this year, let there be light. May we all feel the warmth of this moment and see the bright spots in our future. Because no matter how dark the past may have felt, there is always light to be found.

Happy 2022, friends!

My 2019 Not-a-Resolutions

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Six years ago–on New Year’s Eve 2012–I started this blog with a post on my New Year’s Resolution for that year (You should go read it right now–I just did and I think it’s even more true now than it was 6 years ago!).

At the time, I was a mom of two young children (who were then aged “maniac toddler” and “needy newborn”). The blog was born out of my necessity to share the ten million thoughts a day that I didn’t usually get to hash out with people who had yet developed verbal processing. I needed a way to share my ideas, my questions, my realizations, my struggles, and my triumphs…all while juggling dirty diapers and midnight feedings. I had no idea then how cathartic writing would actually be for me, but I loved it so I kept writing.

And now here we are–6 years later–and I’m still writing. I wanted this, my 354th post, to be a tribute to some of the lessons I’ve learned not just this past year, but in the years since I started writing here. A few tidbits to live by. Or not (That’s one tidbit to live by: Don’t do something just because other people say you should. Live your own life, man!). And since I absolutely loathe the term “New Years Resolution” I will share my Not-a-Resolutions: A few rules by which I will strive to shape my mindset moving forward.

Don’t wait for later
There is no time like the present, and whenever possible I will not wait for later. Is there a simple task that will literally take me a minute to do? Then just do it. Now. Wheter it’s replacing the toilet paper roll or actually taking the time to wipe the breakfast crumbs off the table before lunch, I will not put it off. I see finishing these little tasks now as a gift for later-me who won’t have to do them then.

“Don’t wait for later” does not just apply to tasks. If one of my kids is upset, I need to take that minute to physically stop what I’m doing and give them a proper hug and word of reassurance. (Ironically just after I wrote that last sentence I could hear of my kids crying upstairs–I abandoned my writing and went up to comfort them despite my natural inclination to just ignore the “disruption”. Don’t you just love it when you get opportunities to practice what you preach?!).

Be picky about your plate
We’ve all heard the phrases “I’m juggling a lot of plates” and “my plate is full”. These phrases describe the things we fill our life with–the tasks, the activities, the commitments to friends and family and community and self. I am one of those people who often juggles a lot of plates (too many plates) and who fills my plate as if every day is a Thanksgiving feast.

Moving forward, I will be more picky about what goes on my plate. Think of it as a New Years diet plan for my soul.

You see, a plate (my time and energy) is finite–there simply is not room for everything. And I don’t like my food (the “stuff” of life) touching so there needs to be some empty space, too. I will take the time to look at my plate on a regular basis to see if any changes need to happen as I go through the buffet line of life. There are always more choices available than I will have room for. I am also fully aware that adding something else to my plate will usually mean I have to first take something else off of it to make room. And since I don’t want a plate full of Cheeto’s when I could have French cheese instead, sometimes I will say no to something good so I can have what is best.

Make small changes
I have discovered this year that a few simple changes have made huge differences in my life, and I want to keep that momentum going.

I will buy the expensive dish soap that smells like a spring meadow because it actually makes me happy when I’m washing the dishes (Which happens to be approximately 28 times a day when you have 3 kids who view eating as an all-day marathon, not a 3-times-a-day sprint.). I will go to bed on time because I value not being a zombie-lunatic. I will read books (the kind with more words than pictures)–even if it means I won’t have time to check Facebook before bed because I’m otherwise occupied. I will not cancel on myself: I will still get outside for a run when I say I will, even if it’s cold and/or rainy (My post-run shower will just feel that much better!).

Change does not have to be monumental–it can be a simple shift that helps you see and interact with the world in a whole new way.

Be kind
Above all else, this is the mantra I want guiding my life this year. There is so much hurt and misunderstanding and injustice in the world, and we could all do with a bit more kindness. Whether it’s a simple smile or finding a way to make a huge impact, there is always room for more kindness.

Being kind may mean forfeiting a fight or asking for forgiveness. It may mean giving them the benefit of the doubt or trying to see things from a different perspective. It may mean sacrificing your time, your talent, and your treasures to help others. It may mean keeping your mouth shut, or it may mean speaking up.

There is already so much good to be found, and all we need to do is build upon that. Every little bit of good we do will multiply–and soon enough, each of our little bits of kindness will change the world.

So as we ring in this new year, may you find the good and be the good. May you find joy in the place where you are now, and find hope in the adventure that awaits before you. Welcome, 2019–I’m ready for you!

10,000 Readers Strong

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This week I reached a blogging milestone of sorts–somebody out there in the wide world of internets has just become my 10,000th visitor. This is kind of mind-boggling to me–and totally humbling–that 10,000 people would actually choose to read something I’ve written. My little blog-baby has come such a long way!

I started this blog less than 6 months ago because my friend asked for my opinion on some baby things. Little did she know that I would go on to tell her my opinion on every baby thing I’ve ever come across…and start a blog because I realized I just have too many opinions on too many things and the world just has to know them.

So, who do those 10,000 readers represent? As it turns out, lots and lots of different people. I’ve had readers from over 90 countries (Can you even name 90 countries?). These readers really like to eat. Specifically, the love to eat rolls. My top posts of all time have been about Resurrection Rolls and Cinnamon rolls. They also enjoy laughing with (at?) me–my most popular non-food post was about the awkward things I do now that I’m a mom. Ireland is also on their minds–my top search engine terms that refer people to my site have mostly been about Ireland. I guess it’s a good thing people enjoy reading about Ireland, because I’m about to start writing a whole lot more about the Emerald Isle when we move there next month.

To those of you who have endured my wacky sentiments and ramblings, and actually keep coming back to read more, thank you. I love writing and I love being a mom, and this is the perfect outlet for me. 10,000 readers already, and cheers to many more to come!