In 16 short days a new year will begin, are you ready?
As I try to prepare the last odds and ends before Christmas, I find myself thinking about the past 12 months and what I have learned.
2015 was my year to work on creating Joy in my life, my home, and my family. It amazes me to think that a whole year has come and gone since I sat with my niece on my in-law’s living room floor, being quietly taught about what my soul needed.
Much has happened since setting my intention to work on Joy… some good and some bad.
2015 was a big year for my family.
It brought the safe return of my youngest brother from his 2 year LDS mission to Thailand and the wedding of my 4th brother, giving me a beautiful new sister. It’s strange to think there is only one more sibling I haven’t met yet. No pressure, Jess! She’ll show up when she shows up, I promise! I was made an auntie 2 more times during the spring which brought so much joy to my heart! Oh man, do I love babies! I now have 12 nieces and nephews and I love them all so much.
They are a definite blessing in my life!
2015 taught me about caring for myself, physically and emotionally.
I worked on learning to love my flaws, making time to exercise, allowing myself time to create, working on communication and trust with my kids, and drinking more water among so many other things. Trucking drug on for months and months and we rarely saw my sweetheart. It put me in a sad place until I broke down and was willing to hand my fears to my Father. When I finally asked Him for help in finding my brave, my attitude shifted and our experience sweetened.
The kids and I spent the summer living in the moment and building memories.
It was one of the best summers we’ve ever had together, garden eating critters and all. Our adventures weren’t anything incredibly extravagant, and yet they truly were full of joy. I realized something vital, I needed to spend more time being present and less time on other things. I deleted Facebook and turned off all notifications on my phone, which ended up being a wonderful gift to myself.
I was reminded of that quote that had touched my heart the year before that said, “Wherever you are, be all there.”
I found myself feeling incredibly lonely and lost. It’s hard to describe, but I felt I had gone from being truly needed… something to somebody… then suddenly nothing to anybody.
Nobody talks about that transition, that change from young mother to in-between mother.
The more I saw my friends’ posts on social media of how excited they were to have their kids all gone, the weirder and more out of place I felt. Maybe nobody talks about it because the majority of mothers are kicking back flips to get their kids out of the nest? I still don’t know, but I do know that my season change was harder on me than all my pregnancies, all-nighter feedings, sick babies, or diaper changes ever were. Then, to lose my ward girls at the same time, wow. It was just too much on my heart.
I went from whirlwind busy to incredibly bored… something I haven’t been in a tremendously long time.
Finding joy during this time was a daily battle.
I did a whole lot of canning to keep my hands and mind busy.
We had the first Indian Summer I’ve ever experienced since I started gardening in the high mountains and, like something from a dream, the frosts left my garden alone well into October. It was like the Lord thought to Himself, “My daughter loves ripe tomatoes. She needs a lift, let her have some.” And, so He did. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for those beautiful tomatoes and for the hours spent on my knees with my hands in the dirt. It was cathartic.
As I worked harder to find my new normal and create joy in the process, I decided to become a builder.
I also started a monthly focus for our family that has become an unexpected blessing in our home, not only for my kids but also for me. I picked up a book and began reading again which reminded me of my love for books and the written word. I spent more time writing in my journal and learning about family history. I started prepping for our gospel study class so I might understand more of the principles being taught. I reached out to my dear friends and let myself be swallowed up in their hugs. I have been blessed with the best of friends. Women who lift, teach, and help me face my fears.
I can’t tell you enough how much I love each one of them.
I prayed and gave huge effort to learning who my children really are and what makes them tick so that each of our relationships can become stronger. You guys, I have awesome kids! I don’t know about you, but sometimes it’s easy for me to focus on the silly, frustrating, maddening, dumb things my kids do and not see the beautiful, incredible, kind, tender, joyful things, too.
I don’t want to be that kind of mom anymore.
In the midst of a whole lot of personal growth, I found out that I had lost the help and support that my BRCA study had given me over the past 9 years. I still don’t know what the answers are there, but hopefully in the coming year I can meet with an oncologist and develop a plan for the future. Life has so many plot twists, doesn’t it?
As the year started to wind down, I contemplated what was important to me, started working more for my family’s business, I was put into Scouts, and I gave a lot more energy towards creating and this little blog. Creating makes me happy, it brings joy. I have come to more fully understand that this past year. Though I haven’t been able to park in my garage for months, I have found peace with a paintbrush in my hand and a camera around my neck.
Scraping ice isn’t so bad when your heart is warm.
So, what have I really learned about Joy this year?
- My joy is contingent on my faith and trust in my Heavenly Father. The more I hit my knees and turn my face to the Son, the more joy I see in my life and the more peace I feel in my soul.
- Joy is being with the ones I love and having deep, strong relationships.
- Joy is living in the moment, not looking over my shoulder for everything else.
- There is more ability to feel joy when I love and take care of myself. Self-care is so much more important than I ever realized. I have to take moments to connect with myself and allow some time to breathe… and create.
- Service really is my love language and in turn, meaningful service brings me joy. I loved being a young mother and being Young Womens President because I was immersed in real, backbreaking, heart enlarging service. Serving helps me feel needed, loved, useful, and whole, which makes me happy.
But, most importantly, I have been reminded that the hard makes the good that much more sweet.
How do you have joy if you don’t know a little misery?
Seems pretty fitting that this movie came out this year, doesn’t it?
I am thankful for the lessons I learned by focusing on Joy this past year.
Life is good.
Hmmm, now what’s my word for 2016?
What did 2015 teach you?