I wanted to do a “year in review” sort of post…if memory serves me right, I may have even started drafting a post late last year, gotten busy, then forgotten about it! 🙂 The following are 10 questions I’ve lifted directly from one of my favorite blogs (www.caitflanders.com), that help to give that annual snapshot. I’d love to do one again at the end of 2018.
1. What makes this year unforgettable?
There were 3 things this year that were unforgettable.
i) The biggest was my decision to quit my full-time “dream job” that was morally fulfilling, challenging, well-paying, and secure…without another job or plan in hand.
And then, wouldn’t you know it, 2 weeks later the “dream job” for right now came along. One that gives me the flexibility to put time towards my priorities and seize unexpected opportunities and that is fulfilling. I will always remember this as the year I took a huge risk, put substantial faith & trust in God, and was blessed with the hugest win in return.
ii) My eldest daughter, J started kindergarten.
iii) H’s Opa (grandfather) passed away during the Christmas holidays which is a change that we are still grieving and processing.
2. What did you enjoy doing this year?
A lot! I enjoyed spending a girl’s day with J on her 4th birthday (getting nails done, going for Vietnamese noodles, skating outdoors and having hot chocolate!), being a Vacation Bible School teacher during the summer, attending our church’s Coffee Break on Thursday mornings – giving me both a chance to socialize with my friends and challenge myself to think more and deepen my relationship with God. I enjoyed taking J out of school early to watch her dad play in a charity hockey game with NHL alumni. I enjoyed a cozy home day with the girls yesterday doing crafts and having fun. All things that I recognize were either made possible or easier by my current work arrangements.
3. What/who is the one thing/person you’re grateful for?
This may sounds cliché…but I am grateful for my new dependence on God. I’m a planner, a little bit of a control freak, shall we say. This was the year I really put my trust into God, said I didn’t know how things were going to turn out, and heard from Him that things would be better than I imagined. I didn’t know how He was going to pull it off, but He did. I am grateful for how He shows me his presence in my life, time and time again.
4. What’s your biggest win this year?
Eating healthier. I definitely don’t eat perfectly…but this year I reduced the amount of meat we ate, the dairy we consumed, and the times we ate out. I tried new things like zucchini (we had been missing out!), cauliflower rice, and greek yogurt. It’s interesting how one change impacts another, because the decision to reduce meat/dairy was made primarily to reduce our grocery bill as a result of our reduced household income. I had more time to try different recipes and things like cauliflower rice because I had more time to research, plan and cook. And we ate out less also due to our reduced household income. It’s the biggest win because it’s reset my mindframe on what a meal needs to be, given me more energy, and will hopefully influence healthier eating habits for my children (and their children).
Also, picking up reading again (thanks to joining a book club in March). It’s been a much more productive and life-giving way to spend my time.
5. What did you read/watch/listen to that made the most impact this year?
I listened to a lot of good Ted Talks on intentional living while folding laundry…but by far, the book that made the most impact on my life was the book “The More of Less” by Joshua Becker. I had been on a minimalist journey (still journeying) for the past 3-ish years…reading this book helped give me the perspective and courage to be more intentional and make big changes in my life – including my career, being intentional about the food I prepare and eat, and significantly reducing the amount of time I watch tv and/or listen to the radio. In truth, I think I actually read the book at the end of 2016, but I sure took it to heart and made a lot of great changes in 2017!
6. What did you worry about most and how did it turn out?
I worried most about giving up the job I had at the beginning of the year. I worried about the impact it would have on our finances and lifestyle. It turned out better than expected. I love my current job and how it allows me to live the life I want to lead and become the person I want to be.
7. What was your biggest regret and why?
My biggest regret is not insisting that we visit our Opa asap after we received the call that he was ill. My initial instinct was to go immediately and I also said we have no do-overs or second-chances if something were to happen. The daily updates we received were getting progressively better, and we planned to visit him 3 days after he passed, but I still wish I had heeded my initial warning and not taken time for granted.
8. What’s one thing that you changed about yourself?
I am much more aware. I’m more aware of how watching tv may feel like what I want to do but actually take time away from things that better my life. I’m more aware of how keeping the radio on in the background can seem like helpful white noise but can also distract you from the thoughts going on in your head and from the gift of silence. I’m more aware of how annoying ads can be and how frustrating it is to realize that the job of marketing is to make you feel like you’re not enough and will feel better once you have their product. I’m also aware that topics the radio hosts I listened to were pretty superficial and while “light-hearted”, subliminally pushed the wrongs things. e.g. how much did certain actors make in the year, did you know there’s a new thing called thigh highlighting (plastic surgery), wine fixes everything, etc.
9. What surprised you the most this year?
The amount of footwear I purchased – before we go all “hey, that’s not minimalist!”, I took a lot of footwear I owned from 5-7 years ago (i.e. before kids…with high heels), and was really mindful of replacing it and investing in higher quality, lower-heeled shoes/boots that fit my current home life and work life. When it takes 5 minutes of hallways and stairs just to get to the staff room, and 10 minutes to walk from your office to your parking spot comfort is key.
Some of my previous choices were good for that time in my life. Some of them were good deals that I didn’t really need and didn’t really wear. Some of them were good deals that I needed but hadn’t tested out at home enough before wearing outside and realizing they were not that comfortable. Some good reflections and learnings were taken away.
10. If you could go back to last January 1, what suggestions would you give your past self?
Keep breathing – everything you’re thinking and doing is for a reason. Stop trying to do so much. As much as you can, prioritize sleep as one of the best ways for you to spend your time.