Word of the Year

If you're like me, you have probably 1) chosen a word of the year in the past and 2) promptly forgotten about it by March at the latest. (Oops!) It's super easy to get caught up in the newness of January and make resolutions, set goals, and choose words that we think will define our experience for the next 12 months, only to return to business/life as usual fairly quickly. We are easily distracted creatures ("Squirrel!") and rather than beat myself up about it for (at least) the tenth year in a row, I'm just going to try again but with what I hope is a more productive mindset.

One thing about choosing a word, phrase, or motto for the year is that, just like with our other resolutions, we want to "go big." I find myself being aspirational instead of practical when I'm thinking about the future, but I'm changing that. Should I have ambitions and dreams and "shoot for the stars"? Meh, I guess so. But the fact is that I have a four-year-old, am pregnant with my second child, and in a stage of life that is about to become extremely demanding of my time and energy in a way that is going to require some very practical, useful, reasonable (aka achievable) goals from me. I need a word that is going to reflect where I am in life and help me frame in the right way, not a word that is something I hope to or could someday be. Aspirational/ideal versions of myself are off the table for now. (Clearly, at 31 weeks pregnant, I'm not the best version of me in any way. ha!)

My best self. Ha! It's incredibly freeing to start the new year without the pressure of dieting, though. Thanks, Amy Jane. =)

Kendra from The Lazy Genius (for sure one of my life gurus in so many areas) just did a podcast episode about planners that spoke to me in this area. She said we buy all the planners, organizational tools, cute bullet journal kits, etc. and expect them to fundamentally change us into people we may or may not actually be. I've struggled with this for YEARS: it seems like a grownup thing to use a planner, so I buy cute ones and hope for the best, but the truth is I'm just not that person. I'm organized, but as a stay-at-home mom with one child and relatively few appointments (I mean, I know what time Chick-fil-A breakfast ends, so what else do I need to remember??), I can keep track on my phone and avoid the guilt that another wasted planner brings. My friend Michelle just shared on Instagram that she finally acknowledged this about herself, didn't buy a paper planner this year, and felt so FREE. I get it! (Side note: I did, in fact, purchase a 2020 planner because it was on clearance and it was Rifle Paper Company, which I cannot resist. So PRETTY! But one of my favorite purchases ever from this past year is my undated planner from Rad and Happy because you can just fill it out whenever without wasting days/weeks/months and feeling like a bad person. Hooray!)

So, with all that in mind, my word of the year is VALUE. Gretchen Rubin, one of my favorite authors and podcasters, recommends choosing a word that has several forms or meanings to give it even more use/weight in your life. For me, value is about the noun (as in what I believe, hold dear, or treasure AND principles I live by), the verb (taking care of/appreciating what's mine) and the adjective (valuable- what something is worth).

This applies to pretty much all of the goals I've set for myself this year. Goals related to our health and wellness obviously reflect value for our bodies, minds, and souls. If I value my health and my family's health, I'll choose to plan ahead, choose healthy foods more often than not, and prioritize my exercise routine. Learning and sharing about books and reading is valuable to me, so I'll continue to make time to read (although, in the spirit of value, I'm aiming to read fewer but better books this year. I'll have to write a whole post about that sometime, because I have many thoughts. =) This will also affect how I look at my home and possessions. Is something valuable to me because I'm a sentimental packrat or am I just being lazy and not wanting to clear clutter? (Both?) The value of items I buy will also be considered: at the age of 30, I'm getting past the point where my feet can handle super cheaply made shoes or my face can handle the cheapest makeup. I'm not going crazy with designer brands, but upgrading some things in those areas will give me more value for my money.

Another application of the word is taking the time to understand and articulate my own values. Of course they align with Scripture, but what are they? What values does our family live by, and how will I teach them to my kids? Obviously Amy Jane's off the hook in this area for a few years, but Alice is definitely old enough for us to be teaching her clearly what we believe and what our family culture is (besides Bible stories, etc. which we already do). Korie Robertson's parenting book recommends choosing just one or two words or values that you really want to instill in your children and letting your discipline and instruction stem from those (hers are strong and kind, which I love). It's easy with a baby or toddler to kind of gloss over this big-picture stuff since the truth is you're just trying to, I don't know, get the kid to put on a pull-up or eat their orange slices without a battle (how oddly specific, Ashley!), but we're getting to the age where I want to have these things cemented in my mind so I can share them confidently with her.

There are so many things I do value- relationships, deep conversations, reading, writing, my home, etc. - and so many things that I spend time or money or attention on that either don't add value to that list or that have little to no value at all (Twitter scrolling, I'm looking at you). So going forward, I want to ask myself:

"Do I value what I'm about to spend time on, or at the very least, is it valuable to the things I do value?" (What a great and gripping sentence. ha! For example, though, I don't really "value" cooking in that I don't enjoy it much, but I value taking care of my family and feeding them. Or letting Chick-fil-A feed them.)

"What are my core values (beliefs) and how does this book/podcast/article align with them and Scripture?"

"How am I using my time wisely on valuable things?"

"Am I conscious of my values and intentionally sharing them with Alice in the context of our family culture?"

"Is it valuable (or worthy of) my time to get caught up in some internet controversy?" (99% of the time, NO it is not.)

"Do I need another shirt/pair of shoes/set of scrunchies? What is the value of this purchase?" (Don't hate on the scrunchies. Best comeback of the 90s BY FAR.)

"Am I finding my value/worth in Christ and showing His love to others?"

You get it. It's all about priorities, worth, principles, and asking simple questions that apply to so many areas of my life. As I head into a season of LOTS of transition in our family, I feel like this is a really concise way to look at the decisions we make over the next few months. Having a newborn kind of reduces your existence down to feeding and sleeping, so having a baseline of this "value" question will help alleviate some of the stress that is bound to accompany anything extra in our lives. And, since my actual #1 resolution is to nap all I can in the coming months, putting a high value on sleep is going to be the easiest "yes" of all time. =) Scratch everything I just said. Is it too late for my word to be sleep? (And those of you with babies laughed and laughed and then twitched a little. I know. I'll just nap while I can. To quote Grandpa Joe in Willy Wonka, "Let him sleep. Let him have one more dream.")

Do you have a word of the year? How are you going to keep it in mind? DO TELL.

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