Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes and General Mental Mayhem


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My Word for 2016

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RENEW. Sorry, I just couldn’t hold it in! I’ve been bursting to tell you that my word for the year is RENEW!

It came to me almost instantly about a month ago. In the car that morning, I thought it was time to start thinking forward to 2016, and it just popped in my head. And I knew immediately that it was right. (Strangely enough, it was also written on the mug of a co-worker I sat behind in staff meeting just an hour later!)

In coming to the end of last year, I was exhausted . . . mentally. After dealing with chronic illness for three and a half years, I know what physical exhaustion is. But mental exhaustion was settling in fast, and I was kind of panicking. Thinking of this word, though, gave me hope. Shortly after, I met with my mentor, Holly. A mentor is someone everyone needs in their life, and Holly has blessed me immensely. She comforted me, encouraged me, supported me, and then empowered me with some Bible passages she’d just read earlier that same day. It was no chance that we met that morning.

Isaiah 43: 16-21 MSG

Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
    —the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
    rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
    the people I made especially for myself,
    a people custom-made to praise me.

This is one of the scriptures she read to me that morning, and now it is also my verse for the year. I think it paints a beautiful picture, and one that will bring me comfort this year.

And I’m a little surprised, considering where I was just a few weeks ago, but I’m actually excited this year is starting. There’s just something special and enticing about “new.” And now I feel better prepared as well.

Coming very soon, I’ll tell you all about the personal retreat I took this weekend to RENEW and recharge. It was the first of its kind for me, and I would not have been ready for 2016 without it. It definitely helped get me on the right track. Maybe it can help you too.

For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy my (RE)NEW YEAR.

Do you have a word for the year? If so, I’d love to hear it.

And you can read about last year’s word here.

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So, what is all this word for the year business? So glad you asked! I love telling people about it. Basically, a few friends and I started this tradition a number of years ago. It’s a way to look at the year intentionally and proactively in the beginning, rather than only coming to the end of a year and reflecting. We think the latter is more of a reactive stance, and should be more helpful. So, we wanted to set a tone for our year that would help us get where we wanted to go.

This tradition was reinforced again for me a few days ago when I started my Five Minute Journal. It was recommended on a podcast I listened to and sounded really interesting, so I ordered it and started on January 1.

But here’s a snippet from their introduction:

There’s a small part of your brain called the reticular activation system (RAS) that turns on and off your perception of ideas and thoughts, and determines the lenses through which you look at the world. When you take an action like buying a new car, you’ve taken a major step in redefining your possessions and your RAS changes to accommodate your new acquisition. And everywhere you go, your RAS will gently remind you of this change by pointing out others who have the same car as you.

When you write ‘What would make today great?’ (one of the daily questions asked), you’re taking a step to influence your RAS to point out and engage in activities that would make your day better. You’re building new pathways in your brain that allow you to ‘see’ what you can do to improve your well being every day. You’re creating a new program in your mind that naturally leans to improve your happiness. Doing this consistently gives you consistently better days. It’s that simple.

Voila! And you thought I just made this stuff up. 😉

And I discovered as I prepared for 2015 that there are a lot more people who utilize a word for the year. If you’re interested, here are two other great resources to help get you started:

One Word That Will Change Your Life

My One Word

Wishing you a wonderful 2016!

 

(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)


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2015 In Photos

Here’s a VERY quick look back at my 2015! There were so many things I didn’t get photos of, or have room for. So regardless of your inclusion here or not, thank you for making last year memorable!

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Frame: 2015 in Review

Gosh, here we are. The end of the year. Are they speeding up or is it just me? It was a little over a year ago when I picked my word for 2015: FRAME. And wow, what a year it’s been!

There were two uses for this word when I chose it, both as a noun and a verb. I wanted to use FRAME as a way to get a better picture of what I want my life to look like, and also to help me put margin around things that I wanted to focus on. So how did it hold up?

As with all things in life, most of it is lived in normalcy of the day-to-day, and then there are these other distinct moments that helped to shape it as a whole. I can definitely say that FRAME helped me put it into perspective. And having my verse on the bathroom mirror, Matthew 6:33, where I see it each day, was a good reminder to set my priorities rather than having someone else set them for me.

One of the things I love to do is travel. And I was absolutely able to do more of that this year. I went to Nashville (twice), Chicago, INDIA, Minneapolis, Seattle, Irvine, Indianapolis, New York City and Washington DC! And I’ll finish up this year in Texas. Even though some of those were work trips, I managed to squeeze in some fun and friends. But being able to travel more this year was one of the absolute highlights.

As you can imagine, India was another one, which combined my love of travel with my love of social justice. I went with two friends to visit this beautiful and heartbreaking country where one of my friends has a program that helps girls complete their college education. It was the experience of a lifetime. I am forever grateful to those who donated to this trip so that I could go.

I was also able to do some more freelance writing and consulting, which makes me very happy. Some of the writing was based on my experiences of working as an event marketing director, and a lot of the consulting was in the arena of marketing and communications, but to further assist in social justice causes.

I love to learn, so additionally, I’ve had the privilege to participate in three book launches. One of those was unofficial, because it was a friend’s book, and two were as part of an official launch team. And along the lines of learning, I was able to attend a number of conferences again this year. I love attending conferences! I already have a few booked for next year that I’m looking forward to as well.

And I was very excited to cut down on my debt this year, despite some of the things above. My plan is to be debt-free next year, and I am counting down to that time! It will be a game changer for me.

I also made more progress with my health, which I am so grateful for. It’s been three and a half years of chronic issues. I never could have imagined it would be this kind of journey, but it has become part of a new way of living—at least for now. It’s a very slow process, but I have great help from my naturopaths and the support of my general practitioner, and I look forward chipping away at it again moving forward. I can’t wait to be healthy again!

Of course, not everything went as hoped or planned. I accept that will always be the way it is, but yes, it still stinks. There are many things to work on, and learn, and plan, and do. So, as a head’s up, I can tell you that next year’s words won’t be “nirvana” or “perfection.” But hey, where’s the fun in that?

So, these are the highlights. FRAME made for a good year. I’m sure I missed a number of things as I look back over 350+ days. There were other great causes, celebrations, conversations and connections, as well as seemingly ordinary hours that stacked up to create the last 12 months. There are things I’d trade, do-over and totally do-again. But, in the end, I tried not to waste any of this precious time. And that is the best I can ask of myself.

“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”Margaret J. Wheatley


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Clarify: 2014 in Review

180471960My word for 2014 was CLARIFY. Once I decided on this word, I put it on a Post-it and stuck it to my bathroom mirror so that I would see it every day. Some days it drove me. Some days it haunted me. And some days I just wanted to rip it off my mirror.

As I’ve been mentally preparing for this blog post over the past few weeks, I’ve been unsure what to write. I kept putting off even thinking through it for fear I would have no answers, nothing to say. Did I actually CLARIFY anything? Finally, upon reflection, I think I did.

I use verbs for my words of the year so I can think of them as motion, action. But so much of this year felt like I was stuck or going backward. Momentum felt out of my reach or something for another day. I’ve had chronic health issues for two and a half years. I can’t begin to describe what it’s taken from me: money, time, relationships, spirituality, memories, life. More than I ever could have predicted. As my health has progressed, or I guess lack thereof, I’ve just felt less like me.

But then there were those precious moments where there was a spark. A contrast to the rest of the time around it.

I watched movies like Begin Again and Wish I Was Here and they inspired me.

I had a four-hour conversation with Jason about justice.

I laughed till I cried with Heather, Matt, Rudy, Lisa, Chris, April and James over a game of Taboo.

I rejoiced as my friends Amy and Collin said, “I do.”

I reflected on life with Kristi and Patti.

I held the newest son of Daron and Margaret.

I planned events to help educate people on modern slavery.

I watched the Olympics.

I attended conferences.

I had honest conversations with Stephanie and Emily.

I had a long-overdue dinner with Michelle, Ben, Karen and Patrick.

I welcomed Katie back to the U.S.

I visited California…twice this year. (Currently my favorite state.)

I sung at the top of my lungs to the Wicked soundtrack. (Because who doesn’t?)

And so many more…

Those moments were different. They were bright spots in the day or week. They made me come alive, and feel like me again. It was if I was made for those moments. And those times helped me CLARIFY.

When I was in California the second time, I had dinner with Patti and Kristi, two women I met just months before at The Justice Conference in February. Between the three of us, we span three generations and backgrounds. And we have some great conversations as a result, CLARIFYING conversations. One of the things we talked about was each of our ages and what it meant to get older at that age. For me, turning 38 this year, I said I think I just continually grow into myself more. I feel like I’m always becoming more of myself, the me I’m supposed to be. And I guess that’s part of the wisdom “they” say comes with age. I’m so grateful for it. In some ways, I’m a very different person than I used to be. And in some ways, I’m the same. But I know I’m continually refining me, and it’s a lifelong process. There are days when it’s just plain not fun, and there are days when it’s an adventure I can’t begin to describe.

I crave more of these moments; moments that give me joy and purpose. So, for the rest of 2014 and in the future, I will strive to collect more CLARIFYING moments.

It seems simple enough. We all desire these moments, even if we don’t fully appreciate them when we’re living them. But I want to appreciate them more. I know they are limited, and I want to cherish them. It’s important to remember, though, that we must have the contrast to give them weight. So much happens in between errands and doctors’ appointments and work and responsibility. It’s up to me to take advantage of them and get more of them on my schedule, or at least be open to their possibility.

So, I’m not sure I gained a lot of concrete answers this year, but I believe I did CLARIFY a few things, and that’s a lovely gift to end 2014 with.

“We move forward. That’‍s the only direction God gave us.” – Gabe, Wish I Was Here


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A Look Back at My 2013

92419672Wow, ok. It’s already the end of 2013. How can days move so slowly, but years move so quickly? Today I had one of those moments where I tried to remember back to my teens, looking ahead to what I thought life would be like in the year 2013. I don’t remember exactly what I pictured for myself at this time, but I can tell you it’s not what I’m living. It’s funny how that happens. It’s not good. It’s not bad. It’s just different. In many ways, I’m a different person than I was in my teens, so how could I have predicted correctly?

The even funnier thing is that I’m not 100% the person I was 11 months and 18 days ago when I began this year. I, like you, am an ever-evolving being. And I kinda dig that. It’s fits well with the side of me that likes to learn.

Travel back with me, if you will, to January 11th when I launched my theme for the year—SIMPLIFY. Oh, what a day—full of excitement and hope and possibility! It was a good day.

So, now, on December 18th, what do I make of the past 11 plus months? Progress.

I will brag on myself that this was probably the best job I’ve done at keeping my theme in front of me. I had books and discussions and reminders galore. This theme was not going to pass me by! Or maybe after five or six years, I’m just starting to get the hang of things. 😉

I definitely made some improvements.

  • I got rid of quite a bit of stuff. Unfortunately, new items also made it home as well. But the new did not outweigh the old. For clothes, it has really helped me want to get rid of things when I see the faces they will go to and know how much it will help them.
  • I got off some email lists. I went mostly vegan a couple of months ago, though, so I signed up for a bunch of new ones. I need to get off a few of those because, let’s face it, Pinterest is mostly a wish list and not a to-do list for me. But I have not missed any of the lists I removed myself from.
  • I paid down some debt, and will meet my personal goal by the end of the year. It ain’t over, but it’s less, and that matters.
  • I focused on two primary volunteer activities with Not For Sale Georgia and Out of Darkness.
  • I started volunteering in my church’s children’s ministry so I could meet some more people since I’ve been sick so much and unable to join a missional community.
  • I wanted to continue my writing, and this blog has mostly served that purpose. I’ve come close to meeting my goal of writing something every week.

Curve balls:

  • I STILL deal with mono everyday. It’s been over a year and a half now. The truth is, it’s quite a bear to rebuild your immune system. I’ve seen a lot of improvement, but it’s not over yet. That is definitely a goal for 2014. It has really hindered a lot of things, but again, there has been some change for the better.
  • Despite paying down debt, I have to get a new (to me) car next year. Unforeseen and unfortunate. But I’m trying to be smart about it.
  • I started out strong with my eMeals and Bible reading plan, but got behind on both and switched to other things. I am renewing my commitments here for 2014.

So, that’s it. That is my 2013 in a nutshell. Did I SIMPLIFY? Yes, I believe I did. I made progress. I lived this year with intention. I gave more of myself in many ways. And, yes, I did a little hell-gate prevailing along the way, I’m proud to say.

But I still have almost two weeks left, and I intend to finish well. Or maybe well-er. 😉