New Year's Resolutions? This is a better fit for us instead.

The New Year is upon us. While many of my friends make New Year’s resolutions, and some are successful at keeping their resolutions, we have found an even better fit for our family. You might find it fits yours, too. About five years ago, our family went in a new direction with our New Year’s goals, and it has been life changing. Truly. 
Decide what is important to you, and stay the course.
In keeping with the tradition of New Year's Resolutions, for the past four years, our family has chosen one word on which to focus during the entire year. Our word sort of guides us and is used when making decisions, both big and small. For example, when questioning a decision, a trip, purchase, or a life change, we ask ourselves if it is in line with our chosen word. The first year we did this, our word was "balance." We all stayed focused on our word until the very end of the year and even still use it as a guiding factor. At the end of the year, I felt as if our lives and lifestyle were much more in balance, and it continues to be so. It is a big consideration when meal planning, budgeting our family expenses, time management, and in our consumer habits. We learned that year when to save and when to splurge, practiced moderation, learned to budget and stuck with it, weighed our priorities, and learned lessons in wants versus needs. 
Our family learned to better balance work and play. We got very creative with our activities and balanced the occasional expensive trips and activities with free activities at the public library, state parks, and farmer's markets. We had so much fun!
The word, "Truth," as in telling the truth, expecting the truth, finding truth and meaning, and staying true to God, self, and family, was chosen our second year, and has now permanently become a part of our family's focus.
The third year, we chose "Wellness." Ironically, our family was most unwell during this time. We traveled back and forth to the hospital visiting Mark’s father, first here in South Boston, then in Lynchburg for seven weeks. He passed away that February. Mark was heartbroken, as was his family. He hasn’t fully recovered, and I doubt he ever will. I thought Wellness was going to be a physical journey of eating well and exercising, losing weight and getting into shape, trying new recipes, that sort of thing. It ended up being very different for us. It became clear to us that being well was about treating the whole self and the whole family structure. It became so apparent to us the interconnectedness of the whole self, mind, body, and soul. Wellness involves relationships, energy, action, our choices, our feelings, how we treat ourselves, and how we react to others. We found that ironically, wellness began with a great deal of vulnerability. Although it appeared that we were far from wellness at the start of our year, having that word gave us so much to meditate on and to focus on and from which to learn. 
What is truly important to you?
Our word for 2014 has been "Intention." Our motto for the year was to "Spend Intentionally, Give Intentionally, Love Intentionally, and Live Intentionally." Along the lines of Wellness, the word Intention became important to me in a way I hadn't expected. When I started the year, I wanted to be very intentional about accomplishing some projects I had wanted to do for a while but hadn't made time for. I wanted to renovate our basement and turn it into a great family living space for our family to enjoy. I had always wanted to write a blog, but didn't know where to start. I wanted to devote more of myself to the community and volunteer more. I wanted to reconnect with some friends and forge closer friendships. It was all to be very intentional. Then something happened that was completely out of my control. After I was struck with what appears to be Meniere’s Disease and had my first episode which lasted for 8 days in February of this year, I became very frustrated and discouraged. It took a very purposeful act to refocus on my goals. Throughout the year, I realized that living intentionally is not about having control over all aspects of my life, but in being very deliberate about how I live my life despite some things being out of my control. I learned how to better respond to events beyond my control and how to best proceed. I learned how to stay focused on my plans and goals. I learned to focus on the things I could control and practiced letting go of things outside of my control. I learned that living intentionally is about thinking ahead, planning, having a Plan B, learning what is truly important and living accordingly with purpose.
In the past, friends have loved this idea, and some have shared with me the word they chose for themselves. Chosen words have been Compassion, Love, Happiness, Growth, Follow Through, Peace, Acceptance, Gratitude, Minimalism, Family, Simplify, Perseverance, Progression, Consecrate, Braveheart (for with God nothing shall be impossible to you and because perfected love casts out fear), and Be Wise (Wisdom). 
What brings you joy?
Our family has a new word for 2015, and I’ll write all about it in the next day or two. If you had to choose a word for yourself or your family, what would it be? I would love to hear what the rest of you might focus on in the upcoming year. Wishing you joy, peace, and the very best that the new year could possibly bring to you and all those your love. Blessings to you January 1st and all the year long! 
xoxo, Erin


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