Monday, December 30, 2013

52 Lists - Week 1 (again): Words That Touch My Soul

Last year I had planned to start doing weekly lists that I'd found on THIS website. I really loved the concept and her ideas for lists were great. Well, like many of my projects, I never stuck with it, but I still really love the idea. So we're giving it another go for this year. I make no promises though! Ha!

A lot changes over a single year and I'm curious to know if this list will change. I haven't looked at last years list, but I will link to it at the end and it will be interesting to see if and how it changes.

Here we go, a list of words that touch my soul:





















My old list is HERE and it's interesting to see which words have changed and which have remained constant over the past year.

What words touch your soul?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Something Old, Something New...And Something Habit-Forming!

I wanted to spend a little time reflecting on the last year, but not too much. A lot changed and I said goodbye to a period in our lives that I'm very happy to be putting behind us. This year has been about moving forward, growth and change for me and I don't want to spend much time looking back.

But there have been some great times that deserve to be remembered and cherished. Damien turned 6 and started Grade 1, Julia turned 5 and started Kindergarten. They're both doing amazing and we've been so blessed by their new school. Their old school wasn't bad, but I feel as though their new school is just a cut above, you know? I've certainly been impressed.

We spent time together as a family, taking trips to the petting zoo, parades and parks, not to mention BBQ's at Grandma's with friends and family. We have much to be grateful for.

But the single thing that stands out most this year is my mother-in-law opening her house to our family and letting us move in when we couldn't stay in our rental. While it was difficult for all involved, it's been a blessing. The kids have more space and freedom and we are able to start fresh. We'll be moving into our own place this spring and Nathan will be starting a new career. This is why we look forward and not back. The old place was depressing and small. We had some dark times there. I experienced bouts of depression and sadness, our marriage suffered. Was it all doom and gloom? Of course not. But as the children grew older and our tiny 1 bedroom house grew more and more cramped and small, we knew something had to change. I don't think it's a coincidence that when we left it behind, our marriage suddenly became the best it's been in years. I don't think it's a coincidence that I've never been happier, even though we're probably in the "worst" place we've been (in terms of finances. You know, with the whole "homeless", living with mom thing). I honestly feel so blessed to have this opportunity to start fresh. I feel like this is a time of rest and recovery, a time to rebuild our spirits and our relationships before we start out on the next phase of our lives. Does that sound weird? Maybe it is, but I don't mind. It's just how it is.

I spend a lot of time looking forward, dreaming and hoping. But things don't just happen. Well, sometimes they do, but not often. People get lucky because they are prepared for opportunity when it comes calling. You have to put work and effort in if you want things to go your way. So, I'm going to be developing a new habit every month. Basically, habits take about four weeks to develop. If you do one thing consistently for a month, you're well on your way to making that thing a life-long habit. So for each month of the year, choose one thing, just one, that you want to focus on. It's so much easier to change one thing at a time and build on them little by little than to try and change your entire life at once. One step at a time and by the end of the year, you'll have 12 brand new habits. That's twelve areas of your life transformed. If you think about your New Year's Resolutions, you probably don't even have a list of 12 things you want to change, but even if you do, doesn't it seem daunting? Most people give up on those lists by mid January. I know I do!

So I'm going to take it one step at a time, one month at a time, one habit at a time. I actually have a list of habits I want to work on and it was really hard to pick out the most important one, but I did. I've had a gym membership for a year, but I quit going a long time ago, even though we were locked in a contract. Talk about a waste of money! Just thinking about it gives me a headache. Not only that, but I had made some really good progress and then I quit. Now, I had a good reason at the time. My sciatica kicked into high gear and I was bed-ridden for over a week in agony. It took weeks to fully recover. There was definitely no way I was going to work out. Good excuse, right? Well, that was six months ago. Maybe even more! Ugh! That excuse dried up long ago. All I have left is laziness.

So this month my habit is this: Go to the gym 5 days a week. I've carved out some time in between Nate's classes and his job where the kids are in school and he's not using the car. I have no excuse! It's time to just get up and MOVE!

What about you? Will you start a new habit in January? Leave and comment and let me know!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Bittersweet December

I didn't really get many pictures from Thanksgiving (for some reason my camera doesn't take very good indoor candid shots) but we had a wonderful day. We ended up having our feast on Friday instead of Thursday so we spent Thursday relaxing and prepping some of the dishes we were going to have on Friday.

On Friday we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. The meal was great and it was so nice to spend time with family and friends. We played games till nearly midnight. I know it shouldn't take a special holiday to remind me of how blessed I am, but Thanksgiving just really emphasizes to me how much we truly have. I'm so grateful for my family, especially my husband and children, and our awesome friends.

One of my favorite days of the year isn't Thanksgiving though. It's right after. Not Black Friday (you'll never find me in a store on Black Friday, ha!) Just the fact that Thanksgiving is over makes me feel like it's finally ok to break out the Christmas music and decor. I force myself to wait, but now...freedom!

I love Christmas. It really is the most wonderful time of the year, at least for me. I've always loved it, but each year there's a little sadness mixed in with the joy. A little loneliness to remind me to cherish the days and the moments I have with those I love most. Fifteen years ago on December 4, my dad left us to be with God. My life completely changed. We had been writing a script for the children's Christmas play at my church together and then he was just gone. Christmas was spent without him for the very first time. A new year began for us, but not for him. My heart broke in a way that I don't think will ever really heal. Does it help to remind myself that he's with Jesus? Sometimes. It might be selfish, but I'd rather he was with me. I'd rather he was spending Christmas with his grandchildren.

So in between the gratitude of Thanksgiving and the joy of Christmas, I indulge in a little self-pity and sadness. Just for a moment, I yearn for something long gone, never to return. Because when I do, it makes the joy and gratitude just a little more poignant. I cling a little tighter to my husband and my children. I love a little bit harder. And I thank God for every moment I get with them, because the next could be the last.

My dad, Bill Stock, with my two brothers, Dave and Mark, about 1996 I think.