I just thought I'd report a little on my 2010"Word of the Year" before introducing 2011's. I have really loved "Harmony" being the focus for this year, and I'm sad to let it go. I actually debated carrying it out into this year, but decided it was time for a change. But man oh man, focusing my energy on harmony has really showered my life with incredible blessings and lessons.
Biggest blessing of focusing on harmony? Hands down, it was being introduced to Mind Organization for Moms. (If you are wondering what the heck I'm talking about, click here.) Using this system has truly unleashed a much calmer, less worried, less guilty, more productive and fun person. I am such a believer in getting rid of the old to make room for the new, and this system for collecting my thoughts has really left room in my mind for so much inspiration and conviction in my decisions. It's also helped me to hang in there when things get tough - because I know immediately what is necessity and what isn't. And when times are not busy, it's helped me get things done and also keep life at a generally slower pace, which I love.
I think some people think I am crazy for loving this system so much, and it has definitely spilled out in other part of my life (my home is more organized, our budget, our schedules, etc.) and it's helped me to be able to rely on myself more, and say "no" to things that I really can't commit to. It's given me a place to put those "someday" things so I can revisit them during a season in my life that is better.
I went to a Motherhood retreat last June, three weeks before Jonah was due. I felt compelled to go because despite the excitement of having another baby, and being eager for that moment to come, I was also terrified. I heard so many horror stories about the "third child" being the worst, taking away any freedom you have left, and just generally being the hardest baby of all. I knew having a baby was right, and we were all so excited about it, but I struggled with my fears and apprehensions a little.
When April got up and taught M.O.M. at the retreat, I knew that for me, despite my resistance to be an "organized person" (I've held such a stigma to this myself, that I was afraid of becoming what I had been judging others to be - lesson learned. And it's interesting to see that there really is a stigma attached to it, and watch people resist and judge you and your good intentions sometimes) - I knew that for this time in my life, this was the most important and beneficial thing I had learned that weekend. I immediately began setting it up the morning after I got home. I was so glad, because it made us so much more prepared for Jonah's arrival, and I was able to enjoy so much more than I had ever hoped. I knew what I could handle and what I couldn't. I knew what kind of help I needed, so when people stepped in to help, I knew what would help me and my family the most. It's continued to do that for me and my family, in addition to helping me keep in line with my goals and commitments, and help me toss the guilt when I have to say no.
I never thought I'd say this, but man oh man being organized propels you so far forward in life! I do more, waste less time, and although I'm more productive, I actually think I am a more relaxed person when I'm organized and know what is an emergency and what isn't.
Something else interesting to note: as much as the first part of the year was about taking on good things, adding more into our lives, and getting organized, the second part of the year was about slowing things down and taking things back to the basics.
I really like simple. I think some people mistake simple for empty....but simple to me is far from empty. It's about finding that balance - the harmony - in different aspects of our lives. Once you have a good balance between the different facets of life, it lets in so much more room for moments. Moments of inspiration, moments of fun and laughter, moments of so many other things. Things are definitely slower-paced, but that just means that what is left is truly important and meaningful for our family.
One area I really had to learn to do more in this year was self-care. I think as a mom, it's easy to put off taking care of your own needs. Someone's always hungry, tired, wanting to play, needing a diaper change. The phone or doorbell always rings right when things seem to calm down. It's really hard to make time for yourself when your job as a mom is a 24/7, unpredictable, always-on-call job. You can shoot for schedules and routine to help as a guideline, but you still have numerous glitches every day (at least I do) and you have to be able to adapt on a whim. That when self-care goes out the window for me.
Some days I literally don't get one second to eat or use the ladies' room before one o'clock, and even then sometimes I'll have three little sidekicks wondering what I'm doing or wanting a bite of my food. Man, it's really tough to find those rare moments alone! But I have managed, on many (but certainly not all) days to get all three sleeping at the same time for a half-hour or so, and we've also moved bedtime up a tad so Wes and I can get some time alone at night. It's not always easy, especially on the days Wes is literally at work all day and all night, to get everyone in bed sleeping, but it always, always pays off.
I definitely still have to work really, really hard, and a lot of days it just doesn't pan out the way I want (like when I miss working out in the morning, it can literally take me hours to do a 30-45 minute workout with all the interruptions and demands, or when I sit down to make a few phone calls - of course that's when everyone needs to tell you something), but on the days it does, I feel so much better!
Adding things in and letting things go is such an ongoing process. Balance, in my opinion, is something we are always striving for, but never really attain completely. Certain times in our lives (such as having a baby, sickness, moving, etc) call for things being a little more out-of-balance than normal, and that's okay. In fact, I really try to enjoy and soak in the good moments during those times, because in hindsight they always seem so fleeting. Everything really is just a phase. But the other things to remember during those times, is to recognize when it's time to find balance again and then do it right away - before bad habits start to form. I'm glad I was able to take a year to really focus and learn about harmony. It's been a really good learning experience, and it actually led me right into my word of the year for this year (but that's another post for another day).
Harmony: consistent, orderly, or pleasing arrangement of parts.