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Simple.

ImageIf you’ve read some older posts, you know I’m not a big fan of resolutions. They are many times a fancy way to reinforce the “you’re not enough” syndrome that I struggle with all on my own.

But, despite what I have just said, I have made a goal for the year.  Simplify.  Sounds easy right?

The kind of simplicity I am seeking involves these elements:

  1. Physically – The first and obvious thing we think of when we hear “simplify” is stuff.  That’s included. Stuff that clutters, that hasn’t been used, that can be donated to benefit someone else and those things that do not add to a peaceful, relaxing space in our home has been put on notice. The physical simplicity I am embracing also includes the healthful changes for my body to live my life fully.  Healthful food, activity, time outdoors, time in the garden are all part of simplifying my physical world. On the flip side, if I see something that makes my heart smile, I’m going to have permission to add it to my world.  My heart deserves to do a lot more smiling.
  2. Mentally and Emotionally – Perhaps it’s a function of aging (er, wisdom), but I have officially been given permission by my soul, to eliminate the thoughts, influences and messages that are soul-crushing, dream-choking, hope-limiting in my life. If that comes along with certain people or activities in my life, I will bid you a kind adieu and lovingly appreciate you, but not invest in something that is not good for me.
  3. Financially – We are on a path to “snowball” our finances and get out of debt. Living simply in your means is the greatest kind of peace. Saving for trips or other experiences is our focus vs. the newest, latest, greatest. We are so blessed.
  4. Spiritually – Everyone has their own version of this space. I’ve had a long time of focusing on the wrong things, but that’s over. I am looking forward, giving myself authority to enjoy the life we have and making deliberate choices about who, what and how we live. It has nothing to do with acceptance, appearance or admonition. It is simply the longing of soul to live in a way that makes a difference in this world and helps, in some small way, to make it a better place.

Finally, simplicity is really about being authentic. Not something more or less than I am. Constantly growing, looking outward and living honestly. I have some work to do, but this goal makes me prickle with excitement! You see, I am absolutely convinced this is going to be the best year yet and am looking forward to living it fully.

Life

Bold Enough for All That 2012 Will Bring

Twenty- twelve. I am so excited for this new year. Not in a “can’t wait to leave the old” way, although truth be told, there are parts of last year best in the past. No, I look forward to this year with a giddy excitement for the possibilities that lie ahead, the people I may meet, places I may see and the thrill of seeing where my grown children may go.

Something about a new start energizes me to look at everything in a fresh way. I’ve selected the new supplies for my office, joined a home organizing challenge, and outlined my annual improve our family health plan. But this year promises horizons we’ve not travelled.

Our youngest is applying for college and we embark on our twenty-fifth year of marriage, more in love than ever. Life is good and we have been blessed. There are dreams swirling in our minds and prayers gurgling in our hearts. God give us safety and guide our kids. Help us be a blessing and to know your path for our lives.

Twenty-twelve, I can’t wait to see what you hold. I’m ready and I am bold enough to take everything you have to offer! Happy New Year. May it be full of peace, life, hope, strength and contentment for you my friends. Talk to you in 2012, Sally

Life, Parenting

Be careful little ears what you hear.

The events of the week have prompted me to revisit a paper and presentation I prepared during my Masters program at Gonzaga.  The topic was “bullying in schools.”  The project, prompted at the time by the horrific burns of a teen boy who was set on fire by others in FL, was a passionate pursuit as a mother, friend, human to answer the question, “How have we gotten here?” I believe the incomprehensible shootings in Tucson, AZ this week have us asking it again.

Safe Schools Coalition reports that students who are subjected to bullying are more likely to carry weapons to school, binge drink, use drugs heavily, take sexual risks and think about or plan suicide (Safe Schools Coalition, 2007). The targeted students suffer physically, emotionally and mentally and are shown to be less likely to finish school or hold jobs later in life (Safe Schools Coalition, 2007).

In order to address this serious issue, we have to honestly take a look at our own lives first…even if we ourselves are indicted in the process.  “What? Me? I’m not a bully.  I think it’s terrible!”  Good, that’s a start, but what have we allowed in our own homes, schools, businesses, churches (gasp! you can’t go there…sorry, especially here), communities?

I do not believe that bullying exists in a vacuum or that it is an isolated attitude or behavior.  Rather, bullying is rooted in prejudice and stereotyping and it begins with labeling. We must take a stand against all forms of bullying in order to stop violence in schools, in our communities. That change needs to start with parents, leaders, faculty, student leaders, our own families if we hope to see a change in this world.

Brenda Allen in her book, Difference Matters, Communicating Social Identity, states that “once a person is labeled (e.g. as ‘gifted and talented’ or as ‘developmentally challenged’), that individual’s identity becomes fixed, and the label can forever have positive or negative impacts” (Allen, 2004, p.27).

Do we really believe we have that much power?  

If we listen to ourselves and how we label things, how we communicate, what words we choose to describe things we don’t like…we just might hear a few things that are alarming!  Better yet, listen to what your little ones are saying and you’ll know exactly how you speak at home.  Nothing like a three-year old to ensure some humility!

Being the mom of teens, one of my least favorite terms that had its day was “retarded.”  That word was used to describe everything from a dance move, shirt food, television show and nearly everything else between. As a former therapist, I quietly breathed a prayer of thanks when that word lost its savor.  Now they are compelled to utter “gay” as the current adjective of choice.  Sigh…it’s a process. We continue to work on the language of all us at home!

But that leads me to my point.  We have to recognize the great power to build or destroy that comes with our communication…and we must commit to use it with care and love!

Be aware of how you speak, label, communicate.  Mind your words and I believe that is the first step to curbing bullying.  Maybe there is something to the golden rule after all.

If you’re still unsure, have a three-year old around for a bit….they’ll teach you everything you need to know about your language!

Life

Resolving to not resolve

Somehow there is a magical threshold between the 31st of Dec. and Jan. 1st that opens a portal to a new and improved life, a new me, a better body, home, job!

And every year, we make resolutions and declare our new-found passion to become something better or new.  I’m not judging, I do it every year myself.  Some have been in writing, but most I’ve never dared to give life to on a page.  This year, in spite of myself, I am hereby resolving to not make resolutions!

What? You have to make resolutions, it’s a tradition!  No thank you.
This is nearly sacrilege!  Perhaps, I’m willing to risk it.
Well then, surely you won’t accomplish much this year.  Perfect!

Wait, what?  I say perfect because I mean that is exactly what I hope.  Let me explain.  So much of the stress I have brought on myself in this life is by striving.  Striving to be something else, to say and do the right thing, to be the best, do what’s expected, etc. and somewhere in the middle of my striving I forget to just BE. I lose sight of what is important and abandon the soul of who I am. I skip the proverbial “smelling of the roses” to rush to the next, new version of me!

This year, I plan to BE.  Enjoy, live, choose, act, spend, work and love because that’s who I am and what I love to do.  I will live in a way that cultivates peace and hope and love in my own soul.  Not because I have a measure to reach or a 6-step program to be a better me.  Nope, simply because I am and I have a lot to celebrate!