Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Looking Back, Looking Forward


Well, we are just a few days into 2016, and if I'd made any resolutions, I think I'd have blown them already.  There are words I've said that I wish I hadn't, things I wish I'd done differently, time I wish I'd spent better.  But that's all part of learning, isn't it?  So it's a good time to look back at 2015, and I'm joining up with Chatting at the Sky to share what I learned, as well as glance at what I hope for this year.

1. I learned about Apple Cider Vinegar. I'm talking about Braggs Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with "the mother".  I  first read about its healing properties when I was super sick with the flu last January and researching ways to heal my sore throat without taking anything that might endanger my pregnancy.  I feel like I was still really sick, (I ended up having to get meds anyway because I started coughing up blood) but I'm the only one in the family who never ran a fever, and the time I had the flu before that, I had a fever for a full week.  

 Anyway! It turns out it's good for healing all sorts of things. We took care of some skin issues with it, and it worked better than the prescribed Zantac for my pregnancy heartburn.  Sure it smells (and I would venture to guess tastes) like dirty feet (having never licked dirty feet myself), but with enough honey, it's almost palatable. I've been taking 1-4 Tablespoons daily.  I became such a proponent of it, that Santa even out a bottle of ACV in my stocking.  HOWEVER!

2. I learned that ACV does not -- I repeat, NOT -- work for preventing the stomach flu. Believe me, if there were ever a case for the power of positive thinking, it would have been me with ACV.  I was the last to come down with the stomach flu last week, and I was so hoping it would work, even till the moment I grabbed a hair tie to get my hair out of my face a few seconds before I threw up.  There are people who swear it works (just do a quick internet search for ACV and the stomach flu), so I don't know.  All I can say is this. I remember learning about the Zoroastrians in my Western Religions class in college.  They stick out in my memory because, among other interesting aspects, they believe in seven levels of heaven and hell.  I don't remember so much about the heavenly side, but as for hell, they believe that the seventh level of hell is a place of eternal vomiting.  I only threw up three times, which is about par for the course for me, but poor Annalee was at least at level 5.  Like I said in my last post, I have never seen a baby throw up that much -- and I've seen a lot.  So maybe this was just an extra tenacious and wicked virus.  But I don't think it works.

3. I learned to get really picky about what I keep, especially with regards to my clothes.  I learned about getting rid of excess, and I shrank my wardrobe by a lot, which actually taught me more than I can say in a bullet-point post like this, and got rid of lots of extra things.  I don't have a tiny wardrobe, but it's much smaller than it was, and what I have, I love.  

But more than just letting go of t-shirt and skirts, etc., I let go of some other less tangible things.  There were some big changes in how our family spends time in the past year.  Two years ago, I was fighting these changes, even to the great detriment of our family.  But now that they've happened, I've seen that we can be -- and are -- okay.  I learned 

4. I learned that you can't take too many pictures.  Certain members of my family, particularly those in the teenage years (ironically), think I take too many pictures.  They roll their eyes and sigh deeply when I pull out my camera/ phone to capture a moment. Because of them, I'm being forced to try to just enjoy the moment even without a picture of it.  But I disagree.  There is so much I wish I could remember better, especially about my babies.  They change so quickly.  I'm incredibly thankful for the pictures that were taken right after I had Annalee, and I wish I had that many with each baby.  At the end of a stressful day, one of my favorite things to do is to look through old pictures or watch old video clips I've taken.  One of my favorites is from when Annalee was just born and nursing for the first time.  It's not a clip I'd share, but trust me that nothing get the warm fuzzies going like looking at that.

So you know what?  The picture-taking is not going away in 2016, like it or not, fam-bam.  (This post says how I feel much more eloquently.)

5. I learned that having a toy library is a game-changer.  We'd been talking about doing this for most of last year and finally did it in December.  There are different versions of it -- some people put away certain toys for months at a time and rotate them.  We cut back so that most of our toys and games (except the play kitchen and a big dollhouse the kids made with Matt) could fit in the closet under our stairs.  Matt put a lock on it, and the kids can check out a few toys at a time.  But they have to put them all away before they can take any more out.  It has made SUCH a difference in the level of chaos in our house!  I highly recommend it!

6. I learned about regrets.  Again, it's more than I can say in this post, but I have a longer post I'm working on.  But to keep it short, I've learned that even when I'm living life super "intentionally" (to be all buzz-wordy), I can still have regrets.  That was kind of a sucker-punch when I realized it.  But... I'm learning.  (By the way, I really loved this post about regrets.  And mine, which is different, is coming up soon.)

7. I learned about being okay with saying no to give my best yes. Last January, I talked about wanting to figure out what was "enough", and trying to stop people-pleasing so much.  Part of that came from a couple years ago, when a friend asked me to do something I really just could not say yes too.  I still thought about it, trying to figure out a way to make it possible, but I knew I couldn't, and I told her no.  Unfortunately, that decision apparently cost me our friendship; at least, I still reach out to her, but get nothing back.  It's something still saddens me, even though I stand by my choice and would say the same thing today.  It sure doesn't make it easy to say no.  

But this past summer, right after I had Annalee, a woman in my neighborhood hosted a Bible study for Lysa Terkeurst's book The Best Yes.  There were only eight of us in it, and I would dare say it was just about as close to perfect as possible.  This book gave me permission to say no to things that really aren't the best fit for me so that I can say yes to what is.  If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend that you do, even if not as part of a bible study.  Although, having done it as a group study, I feel like there are seven women in the world I can fearlessly say no to, knowing that they get it and no hard feelings will exist.  Do you know how freeing that is?  I'm so thankful for this book and those women. 

And that's what I'm hoping for this year.  Taking these lessons about letting go and cutting back and saying no to create room for the best things -- and hopefully taking them further.  I can't create a teen center, but... I can host a game night once a month.  If I feel like I don't know my neighbors, I can make sure there's room in my schedule to get out and talk to them.  I might not have just ten things in my closet, but I have only what I love, and I can tell you what I love about them.  I can't do three hours at the gym each day to have the most perfectly chiseled body, but I can give half an hour of giving it my all each day and feel a lot stronger and happier because of it.

The very best times in my 2015 were when I had Annalee, and the beautiful moments being a family of seven.  But the other ones that shine bright in my memory are the moments I shared with other people, like my Bible study group, or, in the last hours of the year, having a jam session at the piano with Jayna and Skyler and their good friends on the keyboard, guitar, and ukulele.  It's the people in my life that make it what it is -- amazing.  And I want to have plenty of room for them.

So?  Here's to lots of learning in 2016!