Friday, January 4, 2013

2013 Resolved

We established I was a bit overwhelmed last year right?  Yep. The holidays are over and life is graciously slowly down.  I welcome the break in chaos and look forward to a month of hunkering down and refocusing.  It’s a new year on the calendar and five days away from a new year in my life.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about life and priorities and what I believe and what I don’t believe and what I want to teach my children and how I want to teach it to them. 

I wrote that paragraph.  Then my thoughts got jumbled and instead of sorting them out I went upstairs and made 48 cookies from scratch. 

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Am I developing adult onset ADD?

There’s much going on in my head and my heart, and I’m going to attempt to write this out without worrying about sense or flow.  I’ve got to be better about that if this blog is going to have any life in 2013, and life I want it to have!  In my family we say, “give your feelings a voice.”  This is me, letting stream of consciousness take over, giving my feelings a post.

2012 was a difficult year.  There were some wonderful, happy highlights.  Him being the best of all.

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Bennett Harlan King.  He’s almost six months old. 

There were heartbreaking lows for myself, my family and my friends.  The year wrapped up with a particularly horrific public event that continues to haunt me.  When I heard the news of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t sleep much that night. I kept thinking about what happened, and about the state of the world, and trying to figure out my role in making it a better place for my babies.  Here’s what I came up with.

It’s not about guns.  It’s not about mental health.  Those things are important and need to be looked at, but my heart tells me this is about the breakdown of the family.  That’s a place I can make a difference.  That’s empowering.

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The night before my Pre-Kindergartener started school I felt inspired to tell him something.  I told him there is one thing I want him to do above all else this year in school:  Be a friend to everyone.  I told him listening to the teacher is necessary, learning is important, but I will be most proud if Mrs. Lloyd reports that he is a friend to everyone.  Anderson is a great, friendly kid.  I wasn’t worried he wouldn’t be kind, but I felt, deep in my bones, this is the lesson I need to teach my boys every day before they walk out that door and it needs to start now.  Maybe it’s because I was bullied in junior high.  Maybe it’s because I’m raising three boys and sooner or later they will all likely be on both ends of some level of bullying.  I feel a heavy responsibility to raise my boys into not just decent people, but GREAT people.  I want to teach my children to love others and to serve others.  What matters most at the end of this life?  Not school grades or worldly successes, but the way we treated God’s children.

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My little boy on his big first day of school.

So I told Anderson that.  We talked about it again the next morning as I drove him to his first day of school.  Then I didn’t mention it for awhile, until Parent-Teacher Conferences.  I asked Anderson if there was anything I should ask his teacher.  He thought for a moment and said, “Mom, ask Mrs. Lloyd if I’m a friend to everyone.”  I was so happy he’d internalized this concept.  I asked Mrs. Lloyd.  She acted a little surprised by the question, but then she told me, “Yes.  He is.”

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It won’t always be this easy.  Anderson is outgoing and loving by nature.  And he’s only four.  I can only hope and pray that if we teach and live this principle now, it will stick with our children as they grow. When I heard the news of the Connecticut shootings my first reaction was to pull Anderson out of school and home school him, which is saying a lot, because for me (and my kids) that would be a disaster.  My second, and much better, reaction was to not let fear win.  We can’t live in a bubble.  We can’t shelter our kids and protect them from everything.  I read many opinions and reactions after the shootings.  Some made me uncomfortable and upset.  Others, like this, resonated with me:

And in despair I bowed my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Verses 3 & 4 from “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day”

And this:

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I believe right will prevail, and I believe there are always more helpers than hurters.  I will teach my boys that. 

My favorite blogger wrote about the New Town tragedy here.  It inspired me. 

I returned to one of my latest reads this weekend, Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, dog-eared and highlighted in many places, one specifically related to this kind of tragedy and the vulnerability that arises from it. Brown refers to her research of families who have lost children and experienced unspeakable traumas in life and what she learned from them: “Don’t squander joy. We can’t prepare for tragedy and loss. When we turn every opportunity to feel joy into a test drive for despair, we actually diminish our resilience. Yes, softening into joy is uncomfortable. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s vulnerable. But every time we allow ourselves to lean into joy and give in to those moments, we build resilience and we cultivate hope. The joy becomes part of who we are, and when bad things happen—and they do happen—we are stronger.” (from Daring Greatly, Gotham Books, 2012)

She personalized it this way.

The only thing I know to do is to fall more into love—to draw close to things that are good, the people and places and experiences that draw the best from me. To honor the children and teachers that are lost, I pay attention to the children and teachers, friends and strangers who have not been lost.

Yes, yes and yes.  I look at 2012 and my personal trials.  I look at sad things happening in this country and around the world and I say “amen!”  The only way I know to react -- the only defense I have -- is to love more, to serve more and to show more gratitude.

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I had a profound moment with my father-in-law on the day we blessed Bennett last September.  I was listing recent serious woes of loved ones and he gently pointed out that none of those trials are my trials.  They affect me.  They hurt me.  They’ve been hard for me.  They’ve changed me.  But they aren’t mine.  And, to be sure, my day of serious woe will come.  Everyone’s does.  I’ve thought about that and decided I need to focus more on the beautiful things in my life and be grateful for them, because my life is beautiful.  That’s not to say I don’t have my own trials.  I have had trials, I do have trials and I will have more trials.  But I have so many blessings and their goodness far outweighs the bad.  2012 was tough, but it was also a year of incredible growth and opportunity to witness amazing outpourings of love.  In 2013 I commit to be better about seeking the beauty and the blessings, even in the face of hard times.  The beauty and blessings are everywhere.

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Remember how I went dark???

I commit to look for the joy.  Focus on the good.  Search for silver linings and tender mercies.  Look for helpers.  Appreciate deeper.  Serve better.  Embrace fabulous.  Love more fully.  Squeeze life’s lemons.  Gulp down the lemonade.

And I will verbally identify it.  For me, that is key.  We’re starting a new practice this year at our dinner table.  Each night everyone gets a chance to share their BEST of the day.  “What’s the BEST thing that happened to you today?”  I hope this helps us identify our happiness and blessings while fostering good communication.  I’m raising three boys.  I need them to know how to communicate and emotionally connect.

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All these trials and all my analyzing has led me to resolution making.  I have so many goals this year. Probably too many. I only get serious about New Year’s resolutions once or twice a decade.  The last time I got this serious was in 2002 when I resolved to “be emotionally vulnerable with men.”  That’s the year I fell in love with Harley. 

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More than ten years later, look where that emotional vulnerability got me.

One goal I have this year is to say nice things. We often focus on keeping not nice thoughts to ourselves. That’s important, and I need to work on that too, but what about the other side? I probably only say 10% of the nice things I think about people. No more! If I think it and it’s nice, I’m going to say it. Shout compliments! Proclaim admirations!  Spread love!  I’m going to send more cards and letters the old school way. I love mail! I kicked off this goal by sending cards to three people (a relative, a family friend and a woman in the ward who I’ve decided is my local Yoda) telling them how something they said or did shaped me, inspired me and how I appreciate them. This will be hard as my time is limited and interrupted these days, but I know this practice will prove worth it.  I’m also challenging myself to hold a pen the proper way while writing these cards.  I’ve been holding my pen the wrong way for 27 years.  We’ll see how this goes.

We’re working on a family mission statement. We’re asking ourselves questions like, “What do we want our kids to remember most about our family and what we stand for when they leave our home?” 

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Our kids are young, but we’re inspired right now, so we’re thinking, pondering, discussing and resolving to be better. It will come. For now, for this year, it is this.

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I need this direction for 2013.  I need to choose love.  I need to be a friend to everyone.  I need to recognize and celebrate the joy.  Many people around me are excellent examples of who I want to be. I will look to you as I try.  I want to be better at all of it.  I want to teach my children to live it. 

Happy New Year!

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22 comments:

hayleymaree said...

Thank you for this post. I'm pretty sure I'll be reading it a few more times and be using your inspiration as a springboard for my own this year 2013. Love. Xx

Crystal said...

Great post. Love the purpose! We do a similar thing at dinner. Called Happy and Sad. Where each person shares something that made them happy and one thing that made them sad. It has been great for our fam.

Rachel said...

I love your soul.

Doug and Leslie said...

Beautiful post Wendy.

Kristen Disbro said...

Very beautiful post, Wendy. Your dedication and love to your family inspires me. I learned from a family I babysit for these three questions they ask each other at the dinner table each night:

1. What was the best part of your day?
2. What did you learn today?
3. How were you helpful to someone else?

Joo Lin said...

Yet again, Wendy, you amaze me. I love this post and the thoughts it provokes in me. You're an inspiration, and you're such a good wife & mom. Thank you for sharing!

Harley King said...

I like the reminder to not squander joy while it's all around us.

Lovely.

Kyle and Lindsay M. said...

Love everything about this post. Thank you! I will be referring back to it as well (if you don't mind :))

Lisa LaBanc said...

Oh Wendy this post is so good. I could really feel your thoughts and goodness as I read through this. I admire how you are so aware of what/how you want to teach and raise your family. Love the mission statement. Love how Anderson is a friend to everyone. Love how your resolution to better see the beauty around you and to better share love.

Mike said...

Thanks Wendy. You teach me a lot and are a great example. I think I want to be like you when I grow up.

Michael said...

PS Good choice on the home schooling. I'm with you 100%. And I'm glad we never tried to home-school you. Pretty sure that wouldn't have turned out well. :)

Suzette Selden said...

Love this post Wendy! And love you!

Jess said...

I love posts like this, because while I'm too lazy to write them, I love to read them. And they spark a bit of the conversations we would have if we lived near each other. Thank you for sharing your insights!

At our dinner table we share 3 good things, with 1 bad thing that happened to us during the day, although my kids often can't remember a bad thing. I have learned so much about my kids since we started doing it a couple of months ago.

I also have a book recommendation for you. It's called "Bringing up GEEKS" by Marybeth Hicks. She uses geek as an acronym for genuine, empowered, something kids. Basically it is about building a specific culture within your family that counteracts the popular culture. I am so grateful I read it before my oldest started kindergarten.

Have a joyful day!

Ming said...

Beautifully put. Sianara 2012....heeelllloooooo 2013! Be kind to us okay?

Love this. Love you.

Ali Snow said...

Man - I feel like I am late to check blogs these days. Beautifully written. You are so great at analyzing. I have felt for so long that SO many of the problems in the world can be traced back to broken homes and that makes me sad. You can't fix other peoples homes. Satan is working hard. But he we can have control over our home. I love that you told Anderson to be a friend to everyone. I just might tell Hannah that someday too. Happy Birthday!

J. Ed King said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J. Ed King said...

Beautiful words posted by a beautiful woman. Provokes a thought conjured from the past:

…I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life... I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life…
Henry David Thoreau

We are so blessed to be with you as family.

Ryan and Cheryl Harris said...

I love this post. It is inspiring. I love your honesty. My favorite is the part about Anderson. I love that the most important thing for him to do in your mind is be a friend to everyone. I couldn't agree more. And I think he is excellent at it. I love those pictures of him on the first day. I just love him to pieces. He makes me proud.

I think your resolutions are great. I did not know that you resolved to be more vulnerable with men back in the day. What?!?!! How have I missed this detail of your life?

I love your family motto.

The new layout of your blog is great.

I think you are awesome and love you and am glad you are my sister.

Sheila and Mario said...

You inspire me, Wendy. I love your resolutions, family motto and thoughts about life and tragedy. Instilling strong values begins at home and that is exactly what you are doing in your abode. As an early childhood teacher, I wish a few more parents would recognize that being a good friend and classmate should come before the academics. Thank you again for lifting my day.

Dolphinsbarn said...

Awesome post, Wendy. It's funny the difference you feel about life when you have little people in your home that you're trying to shape into responsible, happy, well adjusted citizens. :)

anna banana said...

Sure love you! Thank you for inspirational words and thoughts! Love, love, love you.

Sarah S said...

Love your most recent two posts! Great goals and thoughts. I've been thinking a lot lately about being more purposeful with my kids!