2014 started very slowly for us. Everyone tired from staying up late the night before. Christmas came down and the house returned to normal. I like the slowdown January brings. On New Year's Eve I took some time to write down my thoughts of the past year and hopes for the next. Those thoughts, unedited...
Today is the last day of 2013. I remember my Grandma telling me once that as you get older time seems to go faster and faster. As I inch toward my 36th year, I couldn't agree more. This year has flown by. It was a good year. I think I learned a lot and I don't know what else you could ask for from a year. The girls each grew one year older…inching towards independence, showing signs of the young ladies they will become. Matt and I continued to get stronger in our relationship. I do feel lucky about this fact. I know there are a lot of couples who grow apart as the years go on…begin to take each other for granted and start to forget why they are together in the first place. Fortunately we seem to get closer. Continually learning how to better communicate and always reminding each other we are on the same team and to treat each other as friends. Important stuff. The only crappy part of this year is my sister hasn't improved. With her gone right now ready for some more opinions I'm hoping 2014 will be the year this nightmare ends for her. With her kids here right now our New Year's Eve is low key. Making pizza with the kids, toasting sparkling cider at 7 and watching a movie with popcorn. The kids all really want to stay up until Midnight…I don't have the heart to tell them I don't think anyone in the house, myself included, will make it much past 10. (Although I plan on trying!) I like a low-key New Year's Eve. I always had high expectations for the night when I was younger. We would get dressed up and head downtown ready to kiss one year good bye and welcome the next. I remember some fun times, but for the most part it was a bit of a let down. Too much hype surrounded it. I found comfort in having to stay home once we had Ava. The past eight New Year's have consisted of either staying home watching movies with babies or hanging out with Amy and Chad and their kids. The champagne still flowed, food all around and usually some sort of games. Nothing crazy, good old fun. This year our friends had other plans so we are here watching Herbie Fully Loaded and I couldn't be happier. A bottle of champs is chilling in the fridge for after the kids fall asleep and we'll see if Matt and I can stay up late enough to toast a new year.
I like the feeling of a New Year. I know nothing magical changes from December 31 to January 1, but it feels very much like a fresh new start. The holidays are over and it's a clean slate. January holds nothing more than new beginnings. No holiday to celebrate, no change in season…just the middle of winter. But to me it's a time to reflect. A time with nothing else besides thinking of how you want this new year to shape up. A time to slow things down. This morning, first thing I found the four kids sitting around the Christmas tree, each with a piece of paper and pen in hand. No other lights on and all still in pj's. I asked what they were doing and the reply was "We're writing down our New Years resolutions". Or revolutions as Greg kept calling them.
They came up with really cool goals for the year. A couple favorites…Layla wants to have way more fun. Um, shouldn't that be on everybody's list? Something we often forget to do. Life gets so serious but in the end I think we should all have way more fun. Otherwise, what's the point? Greg had to be nicer to his sister. In fact, each kid had be nicer to others on their list. Again…this one should be on the top of everyone's list. Imagine our world if everyone simply tried being kinder. No grand gesture, no trying to change the world. Just be nice to others. Things could really start to happen then. Kim had one of the most grown-up responses…to not step away from my problems, but to talk about them. Where did that one come from?? Little Kim has always been wise beyond her years and this resolution reflected this. Communication, another great concept. And then Ava. She had the most resolutions written down, complete with drawings. Oh, my sweet Ava. Her list included giving to the poor and being kind to nature. Oh, yea and to remember to feed the dog before breakfast every day. This girl is something else. I learn from her everyday and hope to have half the goodness in my heart she does. These kids are all amazing. As we toasted to a new year with our sparkling cider each one wanted to give their own toast and each included Kori coming home and not being sick anymore. It's what we all are wishing for this year.
Beyond that I have done some thinking these last couple of days of resolutions of my own. I don't want to completely change who I am so if I have to really force a resolution then it is not meant to be. I want to embrace some of the things that sometimes get a negative connotation and turn them into a positive attribute. Find a balance. Last year I resolved to try and be a less controlling, Type A person. However, I am well aware I well never be someone who is totally "chill". Instead of beating myself up about this, I try to find a balance between letting the little things go and getting things done. Knowing if one thing on my to-do list doesn't get done, the world will not fall apart. Knowing sometimes it's okay to let the housework go if the other option is hanging with the family. Knowing missing a run one day is worth it if it means I get to hold my baby nephew longer or help my sister get a few errands done. The time spent with those I love trumps the rest and to embrace those moments because they are the ones that count. But, also know if I have a morning to myself while the kids are at school and I choose to turn the music up loud and clean the house like a crazy woman, that's okay too. With this new year I hope to continue to find this balance between getting everything done and letting go.
This leads right into my second resolution…to be present. When I'm thinking of my mental to do list or worrying about what is not getting done I get anxious. And, it doesn't help with anything. With the return of yoga to my life I am reminded of the importance of staying in the moment. Worrying about the past or future never solves either…enjoying and living in the moment will bring true contentment. I found a saying this year I reflect on from time to time. "There are three solutions to every problem. Accept it, change it, leave it. If you can't accept it, change it. If you can't change it, leave it." Love this. It reminds me to push those thoughts of things I can't change away. Take a breath and simply take in what is before me. This continues to be a work in progress.
One big one this year, different from any years past…to have more patience and talk kinder to the girls. I tell them on almost a daily basis when they are fighting to talk nicely to each other…not yell or snap at one another. Because kids learn by example, I know I need to change in this way. I often find myself talking to them out of frustration. I have gotten better about not yelling, but they can sense when I'm annoyed and I think that is just as bad as yelling. If I want them to communicate in a better way then I need to lead the way. This is probably the one I want to work on the most. This also goes for how I talk to Matt. I think we argue pretty well, but I do believe I could improve on communicating better and having more patience. It's easy to take the ones closest to us for granted and forget to treat them with respect. I want to change this…if they are the ones I love the most in the world, they deserve my very best.
Something else I think I have improved on this year and hope to keep up in 2014 is staying true to myself and not worrying about what others may think of it. The people whose reactions I truly care about and respect are a small circle…the rest make no difference in the grand scheme of things. This is important for me to remember. Sometimes I hesitate with the words I write or the things I say…molding my opinion to match those of whom I'm with. As I've gotten older and found out more of who I am, I want to let that shine. More than anything I want my girls to grow up to be their own beautiful, individual selves. To be kind, compassionate and strong. These are things I also want for myself and strive for.
I like the idea of being a work in progress. Of things not always being perfect. If things were always perfect we would have nothing to learn and what a boring place it would. I look back at 2013 with gratitude for all the experiences I had. For the health and happiness of my family. I look forward to 2014 with anticipation of a fantastic year. To learn more about myself, continue to grow, find balance and contentment. To be the best mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter I can be. To be the type of woman I want my girls to grow into.
Happy New Year.
And, we did in fact make it to midnight. It took a bottle of bubbly and a couple rounds of cards but we officially welcomed 2014 at midnight.