I am so inspired by the wealth of strong, female writers and simply adore Modern Mrs. Darcy — Anne — with her pithy posts and fun lists.
So today, I thought I’d also answer the question:
What worked for me in 2015?
In no particular order, but with great thought, I’ve been personally pairing down this year — probably too much so in some areas (that’ll go on the “What didn’t go well in 2015” list, which Anne is also articulating soon!). But this has been a year of great change, great gratitude, great joy.
Gratefulness = Great-Fullness
Without further ado, here it is:
What worked for me in 2015
- Packed schedules, be gone! When we started homeschooling, one of the things I cherished was we were the only people who could put demands on our schedule. We started going to park days, playgroups, field trips, workshops, classes, baseball, piano, and the list kept growing.
- What we were missing was that essential key of minimalism: SPACE. Not just physically being uncluttered, but mentally — and schedule-ly, uncluttered. Yes. It’s a word in my vernacular.
- Sometimes having an afternoon, a weekend, a week, or maybe just 10 minutes. Something for yourself, your children, your family. Build in the downtime to be able to enjoy yourself, your family, your life. It’s happening all around you – Stop and Enjoy IT!
- Family First!
- This is something that we’ve been prioritizing as a family for years, but particularly after my diagnosis, we made choices for our family that were about our family and each individuals needs.
- One way that we began to understand one another to be better family members to each other — to really be able to communicate our feelings and love more effectively, was to determine our love languages. I had read late last year about the 5 Love Languages of Homeschooling on Jaime Martin’s blog, Simple Homeschool — and we finally worked on it this year. It was a game-changer. She has a great link to determining your love language, as well as that of your child. It was a fun one-on-one activity that I was able to do with every (human!) member of my home.
- HINT: It’s really for all Children — NOT JUST HOMESCHOOLERS! 🙂
- We plan on revisiting this as we do our annual planning for 2016!
- The 5 Love Languages, by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell was a great read for me as a newlywed. I’ve picked up a used copy to not only read again, but to share with my sweet husband!
- Living Lightly
- The Year of Less…every year my husband and I take the time between Christmas and New Years to think about what our goals, aspirations, and thoughts are in the coming year. 2015 has been The Year of Less — less stuff, less frustration, less commitment, less of the mediocre choices we made with our resources.
- I haven’t articulated The Year of Less in restarting my blog, but my husband and I looked at our lives this time last year and we knew: Life is good. We are satisfied, happy, fulfilled. We wanted to enjoy our lives and streamline to spend our resources, particularly our time which is so precious, being with the people we wanted to be with and doing the things we wanted to do. In hindsight, I’m sure we thought about this a lot in light of my exploratory surgery that we knew would be happening the first week of January 2015. We knew it was a possibility, but never considered it could be our reality, that I’d be diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. This diagnosis and subsequent treatment became our 2015. I joke that I literally have less of myself now. In reality I’ve gained so much. I am truly thankful.
- Embracing myself
- Sounds sort of…weird. Here’s the thing: I love my family. I love being a mother, a wife, a daughter, a sister, a friend. What I had to face with my cancer diagnosis this year was the fact that I had to focus on me. Not my family and friends, but literally had to step outside of myself and realize that I had to take care of myself first. Give myself grace. Give myself time. Give myself health. After my surgeries, I really needed to just be with my boys. I’m finding out my interests and pursuing my personal goals. I’m becoming a better mother. I’m becoming a better wife. I’m becoming a better me.
- Part of embracing myself is striking out on a new path. Realizing that my life is full of *the new normal*. Patience. It may be a virtue, it may not be my strong suit, but it’s what I’m working on. Prayer helps me with this one!
- Adopting a second dog
- Our sweet Darkpaw! We looked around, but were fortunate to find our love connection for our second dog through the same dog rescue organization (P.U.P.) we found our first dog, Kemo! Kemo needed a friend, my older son needed a dog of his own, and Darkpaw has really been the joy that has completed our family!
- If you are thinking of a dog this season, think of a rescue dog; we also generally gravitate towards black dogs — my favorite color and they’re notoriously difficult to photograph, so many prospective adoptive families overlook them. I’m not a huge proponent of giving an animal as a gift, or for a holiday, as an animal is a living being and should be considered an integral part of the family — a serious commitment — not for a few fun pictures Christmas (or any!) morning, just to be returned when the novelty has worn off.
- Getting some *skin* in the game
- Have you heard this phrase before? I’ve used it in my circles and I often get perplexed looks. It’s likely a sports analogy that we’re familiar with being raised in the Midwest. What it means is that if you have a vested interest in something, it takes putting yourself into it — whether it’s volunteering your time, money, or skills — if you believe in a cause, you may not be able to give to every good cause out there, but you can give something. If you give something, you get something much more in return.
- This year, we decided to pledge to support our church and our boys theatre (non-profit) program in bigger ways. We believe in these programs — they enrich our lives and the people in our communities. We also adopted Darkpaw and over Lent, used a savings calendar from our church to save money for — and donated to — P.U.P. rescue.
- Letting Go
- Purging — letting go of the extra *things* in our lives, items in our home, other commitments that were weighing us down and not adding, but detracting from our lives (see What Didn’t Work for 2015!) – all part of Living Lightly, Margin, or minimalism. I’m a work in progress, but we’re progressing!
- Health Issues — primarily, my cancer diagnosis and surgeries earlier this year. I have to give myself to God in prayer. I believe that my faith in Him has led to my current standing of No Evidence of Disease. I am eternally grateful for every day that I have, but I also realize I can influence, but ultimately have no control, of my future. I pray, I believe, and I have faith that God knows what is best for my life. I fear not!
- Education — I knew this day was coming quickly, but my children are far outpacing my ability to keep up with being the primary instructor for their studies. My boys began taking classes at a Homeschool Co-Operative last year, and began taking theatre classes two years ago. As their interests get more specific and developed, I can only help guide them to choose mentors who can better help them achieve their goals.
- Two Planners, No wait….Three Planners!
- I know, right? I actually had to add the “No wait….” part. The two planner system is one paper planner for my homeschooling/children, one paper planner for myself. For ME! I don’t lump my life into my children’s education. I’m unique and a separate person from being a mother, a wife, a homeschooler. I know many woman see this distinction from the beginning, or maybe after their children are no longer in their day-to-day care, but I honestly had no desire to have a life outside of my children and their needs. My diagnosis and surgery this year changed all of that. I realized I had to put myself first. My children, my husband, and I are better that I have. I am still a work in progress, but I realized this year that I’ve moved into the next phase of my life (**did you see, Letting Go?) 🙂 I am happy for the time I spent with my sweet boys; I don’t have any regrets. I am thankful for every day I have with them going forward
- Oh! The third planner? Well, that’s our on-line, family calendar. My husband and I sometimes communicate primarily via text messages, so as a result, we keep a common on-line calendar (at his request — I’d likely just use my paper ones!), for appointments, classes, work schedules, and anything else that overlaps education/parenting/carpool duties.
- Indulging the Bibliophile within
- I’ve always enjoyed reading. When we began homeschooling, I knew that reading would be the backbone of our education. If we didn’t understand something or wanted to explore a topic more, we read. We don’t just read one or two books, we check out a plethora of books from the library to ensure that we’re getting good cross-references. It never hurts to teach your children young not to take anything you say, or some random book says, as the honest trust until it can be fact checked.
- Here’s the thing, I had long ago let my love of reading go to the wayside — not reading for pure pleasure. I enjoy reading to my children, and reading for my children, but I finally made it a priority to carve out time at night to read — and it’s made all the difference! I read a lot of non-fiction and thoroughly enjoy it!
- I started this blog, but really, I’ve been writing for years. In a big way, I participated in NaNoWriMo, but in every way with writing narrations for my children, planning my days, journaling, articulating my feelings during my recovery. I found comfort, reflection, solace in my writing. Getting my thoughts out, realizing my feelings may change an hour, month, year later — or never. Just getting it out and onto paper, generally handwriting, made me feel complete. It allowed me to explore my feelings and while it felt indulgent, I realize it’s what I’ve needed to feel free; whole.
What went right for you in 2015? Please share!!
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