What's Your One Word?

Around the end of the year you may have seen posts asking you to come up with one word that would guide you through 2018.  I was intrigued by this idea.  I am not one to make resolutions, but I liked the idea of a touchstone word that could guide me throughout the year.  After committing to a fairly short social media like thought process, I came up with the word "love".  Love seemed to be something that was lacking in the world in 2017 and I could see several ways that I could add more love to my life.

In the busyness of the holidays, traveling, and getting my girls ready to go back to college; I hadn't really given my word much thought.  An early January illness was not allowing for quality reflection time.  This virus not only took me out of my normal routine, but it also took me out of my normal bed.  In an effort to avoid contaminating and disturbing my husband, I moved to my daughter's room.  I slept in there several nights and then one morning I woke up and saw this:

In the hazy light of the morning, my bleary eyes focused and there was my one word looking down on me!  I knew the sign was hanging there, but somehow I hadn't taken notice of it until that morning.  I immediately remembered how I had chosen love to be my word for the year and that I still hadn't done anything about it.  This was the sign I needed that it was time to get started.

So, love...  How can I apply this one word to all areas of my life? 

 I commit to loving myself enough to take better care of myself.  It is easy to put off working out the way I know I should or going to regular checkups or making the right dietary choices.  But most often those actions are guided by guilt, fear, obligation, or laziness.  What if I used love as my motivation? I love myself enough to make good choices that will allow me to live a longer and healthier life able to do more things that I enjoy.  Love feels better than guilt.

 I couldn't figure out a clear way to separate these two categories, so I am going to address them together.  It is easy to fall into a negative mindset.  Bad news seems to come at us every day, and as a sensitive person I can easily become overwhelmed with negative vibes and start shifting to a darker state of mind.  Reminding myself to focus on love helps me to see through the noise and stay centered on the important things- the real things in life that matter like my family, friends, and faith.  

Another necessary part of this is a commitment to self love.  Like many people, I can be very hard on myself at times.  That little voice in the back of my head can be pretty tough and unforgiving.  It is easy to believe the negative script that often runs on a continuous loop. It is only with effort and intention and love that I can change that script and choose to offer myself the same kind of grace that I extend to others.  

My new mental checklist to tackle those tough thoughts:
  • Determine if negative thought is connected to a real (or only imagined) mistake
  • Seek to learn something from the mistake
  • Seek forgiveness of others if necessary 
  • Forgive myself
  • Choose to let it go 
  • Move on 
  • Repeat as often as necessary

Self love will probably be the most challenging one on the list, but hopefully the one that produces the greatest reward.

This was a harder one for me.  What does love have to do with finances? But, it is very similar to the Physical category.  I want to use love as my guide to make financial decisions that will benefit my family both now and later.  My intense parental love may urge me to buy everything my children want or need right now.  But my disciplined love knows that they will gain more through my more restrained hand in spending. Love means spending wisely and saving money for the future in a way that will provide financial comfort and security to all of us.  I want to use love to guide my charitable giving.  Instead of saying yes to any organization that comes along, I want to truly give to those that are nearest to my heart.  Spend, save, and give with love.  I think I can work with that. 

 The first thing I thought of when I saw this category was the oft quoted passage from 1 Corinthians. This verse is very popular for weddings (mine included) and with good reason.  It describes love in the truest sense of the word- not the romantic, flowery, butterflies in my stomach kind of love, but the real deal.  

This is the love that makes us work. The love that makes us do things that we don't always want to do. The love that makes us forgive others even when we don't want to.  The love that makes us love the different, the difficult, the disagreeable, the impossible, the unlovable.  This is the love that never stops loving even when we have occasionally stopped liking.

I would like to remember that love in all of my relationships.  It's not always easy-ok, it's very rarely easy-but that is what makes it worth it.  I hope to be better about expressing and demonstrating that love with those closest to me, and those I encounter on a day to day basis.  I want my first response to be one rooted in love. And if it can't be my first response, I want it to be my lasting response. 

 As a Christian, I am not only encouraged to love; I am commanded to love. "Love each other just as I have loved you." This is a fundamental tenant of my faith.  As I grow to understand the unfathomable depth of God's love for us, I am compelled to reflect that love outward.  As the year progresses, I want to continue to explore and understand God's love and find new ways to love each other.  

It's Not a Resolution
As I wrote earlier, I don't usually do resolutions.  It is too easy to turn them into a win/lose, pass/fail situation.  I am hoping for long term, continuous, forward progress. I know there will be days (or weeks) when I fail and I don't use love as my touchstone.  There will be times when I am overwhelmed, tired, or short tempered and love will not be the first emotion that comes across to others.  But, I hope that I succeed more than I fail and that I can always go back to my touchstone the next day.  I love a good visual reminder, so I can always go to my daughter's room if I need to see my word lit up, bigger than life!

But for the rest of the time, I can look down at a special bracelet I purchased and see a gentle reminder that I am going to choose love this year. Only Love Today will be my new mantra for 2018!

"Today I will choose love.  If I mistakenly choose distraction, perfection, or negativity over love, I will not wallow in regret. I will choose love next."
Rachel Macy Stafford, Only Love Today

*If you also chose love as your word this year, you may find this bracelet or related materials at: https://shop.handsfreemama.com/

The Deep, Dark Hole of Pinterest

Help! Have you ever gotten lost on Pinterest? Have you ever gone on to check one thing only to realize LONG periods of time have passed? Has your Pinterest path become so convoluted that you couldn't remember where it started? I confess that I have had this experience more than a few times.

Last week I was battling a virus and one of the side effects was that I couldn't sleep.  Coughing, congestion, and general malaise kept me awake a good part of the night.  What can you do in the middle of the night? Watching TV was too stimulating, reading a book was too taxing, so low commitment browsing on Pinterest seemed to be the  answer.  That's where I found myself layers deep in travel related pins.

 It started innocently enough (it always does...).  On a recent trip I had over packed and found myself uncomfortably weighed down by my own luggage. I needed to figure out a better way to pack and I thought I would go to Pinterest for suggestions.  This was a very practical topic to explore. Everyone can use a few good packing tips to make traveling easier. The search for packing tips led to pins about the advantage of rolling clothing (roll everything and layer it, no flat stacking!) and the miracle of using packing cubes. Do you have any idea how many things you can fit into a packing cube? It goes without saying that I ordered packing cubes- two sets, just in case!

Packing cubes led me to packing lists.  I clearly can't be left to my own devices when it comes to deciding what to pack! What do I really need to put in those cubes for a 10 day trip? It helped to see suggested packing lists from professional travelers.  They know how and where to cut corners, although I still can't see myself washing my socks and underwear in the hotel sink.  This led to my new favorite topic of travel capsule wardrobes.  This is the concept you can pack 10 carefully chosen items and turn them into 30 fashionable outfits.  Are you kidding me? I love the idea of packing a flexible travel wardrobe! Mix and match wardrobes are endlessly fascinating to me! I just need to buy all of the items on the list because apparently I don't own any versatile clothing.

After doing copious amounts of research on travel wardrobes (both warm and cold climate trips because you never know), this made me feel confident enough to think I could now pack in a smaller suitcase. I started doing research on under the seat carry on suitcases and packable/collapsible backpacks.  I have looked at the features and benefits of many varieties of each, can tell you the top rated ones, and have even watched multiple videos on the functionality of the under the seat bag. Both items are still in my cart waiting for my purchase. I'm not sure I'm ready to commit quite yet- do I need to do more research?!?

By the time I got to "how to pack for a 3 week trip in a handbag", I knew I had gone too far.  I'm not going on a three week trip anytime soon and I can guarantee you that I will never be packing in a large purse/backpack! Was it the fever leading me down such an unrealistic path? Is there part of me that wishes I could be the kind of low maintenance person who could go on an exotic 3 week trip and only carry a purse? Maybe. Or is this the dark side of Pinterest that makes us think we can do and be anything we want if only we follow the advice, instruction, and guidance offered on a never ending stream of pins??

Pinterest has been a wonderful, but dangerous addition to my online world.  I love the idea of saving tips and ideas in a digital format. Whoever thought of this idea is a genius! Pinning and creating boards is so much easier than clipping stories from magazines and keeping them in various paper folders. I have 61 boards, 2700 pins, and counting. There is a never ending supply of information on almost every topic you can think of-hair styles, gardening, clothing, recipes, exercising, quotes, home decor, advice, organization (to name a few)- that's the wonderful part.  The dangerous part is knowing what to do with all of that information, how to feel about it, and how to have the discipline to STOP searching! I hate to think of the collective time lost by people falling into the deep, dark hole of Pinterest!

I don't regret my sick time spent exploring the world of travel.  I really did learn a lot and am excited to try some of the tips I read.  It was an enjoyable and somewhat productive way to pass my non-sleeping hours.  However, I remain on alert for the amount of time it is possible for me to spend during normal "waking" hours.  My next obsession is right around the corner and I know Pinterest will be there happy to help me explore!

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