"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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