Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem


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My Word for 2015

466850191Well, 2015 is officially underway! Can you believe it! I work in event marketing, so we’re always a year ahead on the calendar. But nevertheless, when said year shows up on my doorstep, it still seems pretty surreal.

The New Year means a lot of things to a lot of people: new goals, new diet, new budget, etc. For me, one thing is always consistent. It means a new “word for the year” or theme. I love everything “new” (and a theme) so it’s always an exciting time for me to choose my new word. I usually start thinking about it sometime in November.

My word for the year is a very cherished tradition. My friend Daron had the idea to take a word and use it as a lens to view your year. Post where you can see it regularly, and it helps guide you navigate each day. This way you can look at a year proactively, instead of coming to the end of the year and only reacting to what happened. You engage your year more along the way. So a group of my friends and I have done this for years, sharing our word and accompanying Bible verse, checking in with each other throughout the year to see how it’s going, and then evaluating at the end. It has changed my years!

For 2015, I had an idea in mind, but couldn’t quite figure out how to articulate it. I came up with the word in December, but I had to let it marinate for a while to see if I’d keep it or find something more suitable. But as the end of the year came to an end, it seemed a good fit. And that word is FRAME.

Weird, huh? Yeah, I thought so too. It was out of the ordinary for me. I always try to pick a verb because I like the notion that it keeps me in motion, moving forward. But FRAME allows me both a verb and a noun—a two-for-one kind of word!

The original idea came from the concept of “margin” which I’d loved since my friend Mark retaught an Andy Stanley sermon series on the subject years ago. Create space, or boundaries, around things like time, money and relationships to allow for a buffer when the space is pushed beyond what you’re comfortable with. It’ll help you bounce back, or not make decisions you’ll regret. That’s kind of a lousy explanation, but hopefully you get the gist. So, “margin” became part of my group’s vernacular. It’s something I’ve since striven for, with sometimes good and sometimes not so good results. But I keep trying!

This past year really pushed against my boundaries, though, so I decided to make them a priority for 2015. I could take 30 minutes to explain the theme, and even make gestures to emphasize it with my hands, but until I came up with FRAME I couldn’t really condense it. And who has room for a soliloquy on their bathroom mirror?

FRAME gave me what I needed. And at the same time, in noun form, I think it helps me form a picture of what I want 2015 to be. See what I did there?

So, FRAME it is. And I think it’s a keeper. I’ve already started putting it into practice, and it’s doing it’s job. I’m really looking forward to the year ahead, and time to invest in this word along the way. Even though I don’t know what’s in store, I know it will allow me to give 2015 the perspective it needs.

And speaking of perspective, that leads me to my Scripture. I think this verse sums up how to FRAME my year.

“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” – Matthew 6:33 (NLT)


 

Typically, I just choose my word through prayer, Scripture, contemplation and conversation, but this year I came across a few resources that were fun to incorporate. I actually had no idea so many people did this same “one word” thing! So, I wanted to list them here for you in case you’re interested in starting this tradition and want a little guidance. The last few are just some great advice for ending one year well and starting the next one strong.

  • One Word That Will Change Your Life – I stumbled across this book when someone posted about their four-day reading plan with the YouVersion Bible on Facebook. Their book only takes about 45 minutes to read, and I suggest it as an accompaniment to the reading plan. The reading plan on its own is a little abrupt to get the full effect, in my opinion.
  • My One Word – This book is about four hours long, and is great if you want more direction, stories and Scripture.
  • Andy Stanley’s Breathing Room series – You can watch or listen via iTunes to this four-part series on finding margin in your life regarding time, money and relationships. He teaches this now and again under different names with a little different emphasis, but I found this one most helpful for where I am right now in life.
  • 9 Actions You Must Take to Reach Your Biggest Goals by Rick Warren – This two part article is exactly what you’d expect from Rick Warren, practical and wise. A good read.
  • Preparing for a Fantastic 2015 – I came across this blog a couple of years ago during my SIMPLIFY theme. This couple sold all their stuff to travel the world. They talked about cutting the clutter to follow their dreams, and well, that was about the only sales pitch I needed to follow them. 😉 I include this post of theirs, however, not because I think everyone should follow their dream, but I really like how they take the time to sit and evaluate their year with a specific process. And of course, as a married couple, I could see the benefit of doing this with a spouse to get on the same page. So, an extra bonus there for you duos.

Hope your 2015 is off to a great start! May you find joy, and a little margin, in it over the next 11 and a half months.

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My 2014 Theme

I’ll be honest. This was a hard one. 175739981Last year, my word came so easily to me. It felt right, from the start. This time, I had the word knocking around in my head before the end of the year, but I really needed to sit with it. I still feel like I need to sit with it.

I normally reveal my theme for year earlier in the month, or at least try to. But this time, I just didn’t feel prepared to write the post. I’m still don’t feel like I’m ready, but maybe that’s why I need to. I need to get it out there. I need to start using this lens to look through the next 11+ months. It’s not necessarily that I feel rushed to put the info out there, but then again, January is, of course, the best place with which to start the New Year. As Maria Von Trapp would say, “Let’s start at the very beginning; a very good place to start.”

I really liked the momentum I’ve built over the past two years with SIMPLIFY and PRIORITIZE. I wanted to continue in that vain. I wanted to continue whittling down until only the things I needed were present. (Well, maybe what I needed, and an extra pair of cute shoes.) But then I thought, after you prioritize and simplify, what comes next? Well, for me, it will be CLARIFY.

I’ve been sort of writing this blog post all day. I was trying to think of why I’m hesitant to put the old proverbial pen to paper. And I have one ugly thought: I’m scared. I don’t think I’ve ever had that feeling before when dreaming up my word for the year. Actually, I’m not sure I’m having it now. But it could be. Perhaps it’s just indigestion from this cleanse I’m on. I’m still in the exploration phase, as you can see. Maybe I’m scared of what will be revealed, or what it means for me next. I don’t know. So, here I am, word vomiting for all the world to see. You’re welcome.

But there it is: CLARIFY. My 2014 will be trying to find answers to questions I have, and very likely, answers to questions God has yet to plant in my brain. My plan is also to continue narrowing down my stuff, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I honestly have no idea where it will lead. And even more honestly, that is sort of exciting to me.

There you go, 2014. Let’s CLARIFY together and see what happens.

Psalm 37:23-24

New Living Translation (NLT)

23 The Lord directs the steps of the godly.
He delights in every detail of their lives.
24 Though they stumble, they will never fall,
for the Lord holds them by the hand.

Why this verse? I thought of others like it and the older, more famous brother, Jeremiah 14:29. But this one won out because I really liked how the two verses fit together, and I really love the second one most of all. I like that it’s honest in that I will stumble, but still comforting. And unlike cousin verses, it describes less God Omnipotent and more Immanuel, God with us. He’s in it with me.

So, bring it on 2014. We’re ready.

For those of you new to reading about my tradition, every year in January, some of my friends and I determine “words for the year” or themes. We use our theme as a lens throughout the year, much like a a guide. We feel it leads us to be more proactive, or intentional, with our lives and time. It is loosely based on the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. Whereas most people only seem to look back on the year after it has passed, we allow this to help us look forward as well. We believe it helps us not just allow life to happen to us, or pass us by as we often describe time, but to be active, thinking participants.


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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. 😉


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2013: The Halfway Point

simplify

Ok, so it’s technically it’s a little past the halfway point of 2013, but I should get credit for the update anyway.

For those of you following along at home, you’ll remember that my word for the year was SIMPLIFY. Just in case you’ve recently started reading, you can read all about it right here. The gist of having a word for the year is that you use a theme to look forward at the year, thinking about what you want it to be. This is the reverse of looking back at the year to see what happened. It’s a more proactive approach. My decision to use the word SIMPLIFY was to have a cleansing effect on me in several different ways. I want to live more simply. I have more than I need. I have more things and thoughts to occupy my time than I feel like I should, from items in my home to emails in my inbox to preoccupations and more.

A few of the items I originally listed include getting rid of things in my home, removing myself from email lists, working on my budget and paying down debt.

Some of the things I’ve done so far this year are:

  • Reinforcing the concepts through books, articles and conversations.
  • Donating and selling things in my house.
  • Getting off some email lists.
  • Paying down some debt.
  • Taking a look or two or three at my budget.
  • Not committing to events or people I didn’t feel would be best for me at this time.
  • Using eMeals.com to prepare meals.
  • Following a chronological Bible reading list.
  • Focusing on only a couple of volunteer activities.

Honestly, these are still all ongoing. I can still make improvements during 2013, and intend to. It may seem like a pretty good list, but some items are further along than others. None are probably as far along as I’d like them to be, but they are in a much better place than they were seven months ago and that’s important to remember.

I definitely need to listen to my theme song and read by theme verse more throughout the year. They’ll help keep me motivated. But I am proud to say I have done a little hell-gate prevailing, though again, there’s still much more to be done. And that’s the really fun stuff. 😉

So, there you go. I’m checking in, and keeping accountable right here. And I’ll definitely let you know how this year shaped up in a few more months. Fingers crossed, I’ll be able to report more progress. Scratch that: I WILL be able to report more progress!

If you’re doing something similar, please let me know how your 2013 is going. I’d love to hear!


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My Theme for 2013

2013It’s interesting. I’ve been mulling over my 2013 theme for over a month now, but from the moment I started thinking about it, one word instantly came to mind. I wanted to continue thinking about it more to make sure I was certain I wanted to use it, but still, the same word came to mind. It’s kind of been stuck there. So, I guess maybe my word found me and I just had to settle into it.

SIMPLIFY.

That’s what I’ll be working on and toward for 2013. I like using verbs because I feel the implied action gives me momentum. It keeps me moving forward.

Last year, it was PRIORITIZE. This year, I wanted to continue the same thread while also getting a bit of a fresh start. I definitely needed a break from the craziness that was 2012. I feel SIMPLIFY does that. It just so happens that it also goes nicely with our 2013 theme for The Orange Conference, Focus. 😉

This tradition of a theme/word for the year is loosely based on the Jewish Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. My friend, Daron, came up with the idea, and he as well as several of our friends have continued it. The basic idea is that instead of merely looking back at the year to see what happened at the end, you start the year by looking ahead to see what you think the year might be about. Then you use the theme as a lens in which to view things throughout the year. At it’s basis, it’s a way to be proactive/responsive to the year, and not let the year just happen to you. It’s an intentional way to live rather than reactive—which is how I prefer to live.

I’ve decided I that I also want to live more simply, which was an underlying inspiration for my theme. Some days, this seems incredible difficult. “Stuff” just seems to find it’s way home with me. A new kitchen appliance. A piece of furniture. Picture frames. Gadgets. Books. Clothes. The list goes on and on. I somehow keep adding to my Amazon Wish List. But in the end, I usually end up with some form of buyer’s remorse. Not only are 99% of these things not needed, but many days I just get sick of having too much. I hate looking around at all my junk. I realize more and more the excess and accumulation of the society to which I belong. Realistically, if you came by, you probably wouldn’t say that if you saw my apartment. I don’t have piles of things around. I don’t like clutter. I periodically give items to Goodwill and clean out my closet. But much of what I have, I just don’t need. And as my heart becomes more attuned to global issues, I think I begin to understand that I can do so much more if I have less. Those are things would never cause me remorse.

I feel like SIMPLIFY will be a sort of cleansing for me—on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. I’ve already started incorporating it into many areas of my life, down to small things like unsubscribing from some email lists. There are numerous ways to SIMPLIFY and I hope to tackle many of them over the next 12 months.

Here are just a few of the ones that have already crossed my mind, with more to come, I’m sure:

  • Getting rid of more stuff. A couple of items include my coffee table and dining room table, because really, I don’t use either for anything other than setting decorations on.
  • As noted, unsubscribing from email lists.
  • Paying down more debt. I started off pretty good last year, but medical expenses and a couple other extraneous items did more damage.
  • Going through my budget, yet again, to see what I can cut back on.

I’ve even done a couple of things that may seem counter-intuitive to SIMPLIFY. I printed a reading list to read through the Bible chronologically, since I’ve never read it that way, and started using the service eMeals.com. These two things were done more as a way to automate habits that I was already in or wanted to be better at, without really taxing me mentally. I’m not one that loves and craves routines, but I think incorporating these two processes into my life will be really good. They will allow me to refine past routines, which I think fits nicely with SIMPLIFY.

My song and verse for 2013 came to me during the church service last week. I love it when that happens because it feels natural and promised. The song I’m using is “Be My Everything” because of it’s repetitive nature and message. It is what SIMPLIFY sounds like to me based on those two words. My verse, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily go with the theme. Frankly, I just really liked it and kept repeating it in my mind:

Matthew 16:18, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” ESV

Quite honestly, I think I just sat at home sick so much in 2012 that the action in this verse makes me want to get up and get out there. I’m ready for a little hell-gate prevailing.

So, that’s it. There you have it. That’s what I’m looking forward to in 2013. Realistically, I know curve balls will come and life will happen, and I’ll just be along for the ride most of the time.

But I’m hoping I can keep SIMPLIFY in mind along the way.

I’m hoping this theme will give me the ability to channel my thoughts and actions.

And I’m hoping I can come to you in 11 months or so saying that I have have less, and have lived and given more.

 

Okay, and if I get to do a little hell-gate prevailing in the meantime, so be it. 😉