Saturday, January 12, 2008

New Years' Resolutions

I always try to have time to take stock of my life two or three times a year. The two minimums are new years and just before September (which I still consider to be the "unofficial" start of the year), and if I can, right around Pentecost (Lent usually brings some new insight with it).

This year, as I was taking stock of my life, I had a flash of insight. This is how my brain works -- it just accumulates bits and pieces of information until it has enough to culminate and recombine into some sort of intuitive brilliance. It happened while I was having a miserable day and had tossed the boys into the sled and was dragging them downtown. I was trying to pick up a few odds and ends to finish off my Christmas present crafts. I was really grumpy because I hadn't done everything I needed to do for Christmas, and my children were driving me mad (thus the sled ride) and all seemed to be in complete disrepair. I realized that what I needed in my life was more joy.

Even the things I was supposed to enjoy -- my children, my little sewing projects, my youth group job -- had become chores. I had set such high expectations for myself and chosen such complicated ways of doing things that I couldn't keep up with my own ambition. I was exhausted because I was staying up late making complex presents for people. I was worn out from trying to entertain my three and a half year old, when I could be teaching him how to play with his brother or with his toys. I was getting frustrated with my housekeeping, but I was expending so much energy worrying and being frustrated that I wasn't actually doing anything about it. So instead of filling my life with joy and peace, I was filling my own life with frustration and anxiety.

So, my new years' resolution is to live my life more joyfully. To make less complex gifts (I always want to make sure that my gifts are interpreted as handmade = thoughtful instead of handmade = cheap, but I don't need to go to quite the lengths that I do), to keep my house clean and organized enough that we can find things when we need them (this means putting things away right away, instead of procrastinating), to get enough sleep so I'm not crabby with the kids, and to take a few moments each night to pray, stretch and write in my journal so that I feel like my spirit is organized and ready to go the next morning. I know these things don't SOUND like most people's definition of joy, but I think they are the pre-conditions that will lead to joy. If I am not carrying around the mental and emotional weight that comes from all this confusion and clutter, I will have room left inside me to be joyful.

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