Thursday, January 7, 2016

The 5 Branches of My New Year's Tree - aka My Not-Really Resolutions



"Everyday life has become my prayer."
- Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance


The 5 Branches of My New Year's Tree


I suppose it could be taken as a sign of cowardice that I don't make New Year's resolutions. Yes, it's true I don't want to set myself up for failure, however being kind to ourselves is always a good practice, no? Rather than setting up resolutions, come January I like to look around for inspiration. You could simply carry on as per usual - January 1st is just another day after all. But as we crack open the packaging on our brand new calendars, it's kind of fun to take stock of our lives and think about our dreams and desires for the upcoming year. As such, I decided to create a New Year's Tree of sorts for myself, outlining the "branches" that I wish to focus on in 2016. Many of my posts over the next couple of months will explore these areas. Here they are, my branches, in no particular order. Maybe some of them are your branches too.





Health


This is kind of an obvious one. In January, the gyms are full of people with new year's resolutions around fitness and health. I try to eat healthy all year round, but I have periods when I am more health-conscious and other periods when chocolate feels like my best friend. While I don't have any plans to abandon my friend completely (that wouldn't be nice), this month I'm focusing on filling up with more fruits and veggies, as well as drinking more water. I also need to take more Vitamin D supplements and remember to add my Udo's oil blend to my smoothies - my skin gets really dry in the winter and I sorely need to nourish it from within. I have posts coming up on the blog that I'm excited about both for myself and for you - posts gathering healthy smoothies and delicious vegan bowls from top vegan bloggers. I'm also working on several new recipes that are both healthy and delicious. I'll be featuring an inspiring vegan cookbook each week of January too.

In terms of exercise, I have been sorely inactive for a very long time. I have one simple goal at the moment - to take more steps each day. I'd also like to get out to explore nature more this year - snowy trails in winter, parks in spring, warm beaches in summer...you get the picture.




Family


Parenting is friggin' hard! As the children get older, the physical demands (like changing diapers and chasing them around the park) decrease but the emotional demands seem to grow. Those preteen emotions - my goodness! I am far from being the perfect parent and my patience wavers in the face of the preteen tantrum. I'm looking to read a few books surrounding family and parenting (books to help families connect, books to help reduce your kids' stress) in the next couple of months. I'll be reviewing some of them on the blog. We also need to revisit our family meetings in this household. We found family meetings quite useful at the time when we were holding them weekly, but the frequency of our meetings dwindled and then died. Family meetings are useful for families with children from toddlers on up. I'm sure they would even work for a couple. Read about how to prepare for and conduct a meeting in this blog post.

Busy as we are with dance, basketball, soccer, orthodontic visits and the like, I also want to focus more time on just being - in other words, less doing, more being. Whatever their ages, we all know that kids just want to spend quality time together with their parents. Let's have more hugs, more kind words, more respect, less strife, less criticism, less anger all around. I also want to establish regular chores for the kids - I have failed to do this so far and I really believe that children need to be contributors to the household, both for themselves and for us parents. When the kids were little, I would end each evening by reading books with them and telling them how special they are, what unique characteristics they have and how proud I am of them. I need to do this more now - sure it becomes more awkward as they get older, but they need to hear the kind words even more now.





Order


I think we women are always thinking about creating more order in our homes. There is just so much to do! And it feels like if we could purge the excess stuff in our homes and establish a cleaning routine that works then we might eventually have more time to ourselves - maybe crack open a book or head out for coffee with friends more often. But it never quite happens, does it? Each new year I think about strategies for creating order in our home. Then I think about it in spring...and in August before back-to-school. It's constant actually. Having done a 4-month purge (turned 6-month purge turned 8-month purge) last year, our house is definitely looking better on a daily basis. With less stuff around, it's quicker to tidy up. But there is still more to be done. We moved a lot of stuff into our basement storage room to sort later. And now it's later. Ha ha. Plus, with constantly growing children, there is always clothing and toys to be sorted and donated. I need to clean out the guest room closet (my wedding dress hangs in there unwashed 16 years after the wedding!) so I have a hidden but handy place to store a box for donations. I want a dedicated donation box so that when I spot something that needs to go it doesn't sit around on a chair waiting for our next big purge. Into the box it goes right away. I am working on a post with cleaning and organizing tips from top Canadian lifestyle and decor bloggers. I hope it's going to help you and me to be more satisfied with our homes and their functioning. I also have a post coming up (as part of the #12monthsofdiy initiative that I am doing along with 11 other Canadian bloggers) about how to repurpose old toys the kids don't want to let go of.




Gratitude 


Being grateful for what I already have is the foundation of all the changes I might make this year. After all, things are pretty darn great just as they are - I am blessed with good health, a loving family, a nice home and a lot of uplifting opportunities. Looking for more of the same (or something new) calls for first recognizing the beauty in what we have already. I don't keep up my gratitude journal (which I wrote about in this post) as much as I should, but a focus on gratitude can be internal as well. Not only does this branch of my tree mean remembering all that I am blessed with, but it also calls on me to be less envious and more appreciative of the gifts that are given to others. When that feeling of jealousy hits, I try to check myself and remember how fortunate I am in so many ways.





Creativity/The Arts


I would like to read some books around writing and creativity in the upcoming months. I have several on my office shelves - I just don't seem to get around to opening them up!  I also want to build on my photography skills, particularly in the areas of lighting and props. If you have any great sources for tips, I'd love to hear them! I'll be working on my illustrated discover journal more too - it's basically a book full of collages I create from cuttings out of magazines.

I always feel better when I make time to explore the arts - galleries, museums, movies and theatre. This year is going to be a good one - we already have plans to see Cirque du Soleil's TORUK this weekend. And we are seeing the Shaw Festival's Alice in Wonderland in the spring. (I'll have a ticket giveaway for that too!) We have a couple of months left on our family membership to the Royal Ontario Museum, so we should be heading there for a visit soon as well.


Have you made any resolutions this year? Or do you have branches in your own New Year's Tree? What are they? My wish for you this year is that you get to be more of who you are - that you live an authentic life that nurtures your spirit.



Thank you to my husband for drawing my New Year's Tree! Photos by Ryan McGuire, Gratisography


32 comments:

  1. I don't make resolutions either, but your plans sound great.
    Liz @ Shortbread & Ginger

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    1. Here's to no resolutions Liz! ;) Thanks so much! Jo

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  2. I have stopped making resolutions as well and just try to think about doing positive things for myself - eating well, getting more sleep, etc. That way I am not falling into the negative way of thinking when not successful all the time. It is a way of being kinder to myself.

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    1. I think that's a wonderful approach - positives for yourself! Yes, let's be kind to ourselves. :) Jo

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  3. I simply want to get outdoors more frequently especially during the winter months.
    jan

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    1. That's a good plan! I definitely need to keep working on that one. I tend to hide in the cold. ;)

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  4. I love the idea of branches of Resolutions. There's always improvement waiting in different areas of life! I like that you plan to blog about and keep up with each of them. Adding in vitamins, good fats, time in nature, crafts/arts are little things that really do make a difference!

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    1. Thank you for your very thoughtful comment. Blogging about my goals should help me stay on track. :)

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  5. My goal is to stay healthy. kraftmaking at gmail dot com

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    1. That's great. We should all have that goal, right? :)

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  6. That is so Zen. My goal is to make more home cooked meal in the slow cooker

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  7. My brother made me promise that I would learn to parallel park my car, which is not only a 5-speed manual transmission (which is not a problem) but not does have power steering (BIG problem). I have tried to do it when I need to but it takes forever and I am usually far from the curb *sigh*. So I decided to make that a resolution.
    MPaula

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    1. That's awesome! Love that goal. I should work on that myself instead of avoiding parallel parking spaces. ;)

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  8. My news years resolution is to make healthy food choices.

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  9. I love this idea of branches of resolutions! Mine is to exercise more, run a half-marathon, eat more vegetarian meals, and eat less takeout.

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    1. I hear ya on the less takeout Victoria! I also need to exercise more, although I'm not sure the half-marathon is in my near-future. ;)

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  10. This is a great way to look at resolutions! My resolutions are to run a marathon in under 4 hours and to lose 5-10 pounds.

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  11. I would really like to go to bed earlier because I know I need to. But it requires discipline! No more late-night Instagramming!

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  12. These are five great areas to seek to improve this year. Great idea!

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  13. Bailey Dexter Mine is simple, I want to be a better person than I was the last year!

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  14. If I make more than one resolution, none will ever get accomplished. I'm carrying last year's into this year, to lose a few pounds - suprise!!!!

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  15. I'm trying to eat healthier and work on my fitness

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  16. My goals for the year are to exercise regularly and make more time for reading.

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  17. my goals are to quit smoking and organize my house !!!

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  18. I dont make resolutions - but would like to attend yoga class more regularly

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  19. I don't make resolutions because I don't stick to them unfortunately, but would like to learn to exercise daily maybe with a friend.

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  20. I don't really male resolutions. However I want to continue pushing myself with my fitness and looking at what we can incorporate into our eating to become even healthier than we are. I am vowing to keep my phone out of site when I am busy with the kids and to start scheduling some one on one time with each of them to do something with them be it going to the library or a coffee date, or art class or art project.

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    1. I totally need to restrict my phone/computer time too. I was that person who was against cell phones for the longest time, but now I'll check my email constantly. And I also want to spend more one-on-one time with each child. They behave differently alone and I think they really appreciate the undivided attention. :)

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  21. My resolution for this year is to take driving lessons so I can get my license.

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  22. I think it's great to have resolutions, especially ones that makes you a better person. My resolution this year is to spend more time with my mom.

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