Saturday, December 31, 2011

{Joyful Resolutions}

I rarely keep resolutions made on Dec. 31. It's too much pressure, I think. What can I do at the start of a new year to transform my whole life? Well, jeez. That's a lofty ambition. Do I start with what isn't working at all? Or should I start with areas I've made minor progress and add on to that? You can see my dilemma.

Last year, I tried to keep it lighter. I decided to read 111 books in 2011. Very straight forward goal, plus reading is one of my passions. I've got this. What I could not keep a handle on, unfortunately, was logging each and every book I read. I was on matrix overload. By February, I just conceded that my obsessive tracking was getting in the way of reading, so I stopped entering the books altogether. I'm pretty sure I read more than 111 books. I can't prove it though.

Maybe I would like New Year's resolutions better if they all focused on finding more joy in your life versus the traditional changing all the "bad" stuff. Joy goals would be more straight forward. Simple. Savoring every ounce of your life. If change happens amidst those joy-finding activities, well, good for you. If it doesn't, no big deal. Your main goal is just to live your life to the best of your ability.

With that in mind, here's my 2012 joy list:
1. Nature balances me. Surround myself with great views, sunshine and the smell of pine.

2. Sneak in as many snuggles with my kids as I can. Even if they resist, hold them down for snuggles and call it wrestling.

3. Spend more quality time with family and friends. Hug them more, too.

4. Read & write every spare moment. It's obviously what lights my fire.

5. Speak kinder words to husband. Critique less. He deserves joy, too.

6. Help others.

7. Try one new, crazy adventure a month. Growth is good.

8. Cook fabulously for my family, even if I've never heard of the wholesome ingredients.

9. Make do with less.

10. Count to 10. Take deep breaths. Enjoy this amazing ride.

If my list gets you thinking about your list, I hope you will put finding joy and a passion for your life front and center. You deserve that. Here's to a new year and, I hope, a more joyful us.

Much love, Heather.

Monday, December 26, 2011

{Scent Blowing Box}

This is my Christmas box. It's my hubby's unique creation made with love and lots of hours. It holds my two candles that I always burn from my favorite candle shop, 5B and Co., in Weston, Mo., with a hole in the middle for a scent-blowing fan. I, of course, can't feel the fan, but my husband assures me it's the gem of the whole project. I'm not so sure.

The top also slides off at the side, so I can place my matches and wick dipper securely inside. It's sealed pretty tight, so unless I bulk up on muscles in the new year, I doubt I'll be able to open it by myself. This is fine with me because the wires to the fan got tangled both times my husband removed the top to show me all the amazing things inside.

Do I love it? Well, I definitely love the idea of it. A person who loves me enough to try to make the perfect gift knowing his percentage of failure is really high. He does it anyway despite my lack of trust, negative comments (even in the blog-a-sphere), or irritation at his gift-giving history. I'm not sure I deserve that kind of love with my current Christmas attitude, but I feel honored that he keeps on loving me amid the beautiful peaks and hurtful valleys of our life. That's the really special part. The box is just scent-blowing fluff on the mantelpiece.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

{Crazy Roller Coaster Monkeys}

I blog when I'm happy. I also blog only once a month. Mmmm. Interesting correlation.

It's been a tough week and, I note with an exaggerated sigh, that it's only Tuesday. I've been a single mom for the past few days and being in charge of the universe, or even our small household, is not a job title I relish. It sucks actually.

Our boys have been acting like crazy monkeys, the dog has eaten more silly bands then I can count (and two bananas this morning), and we have no running water, thanks to a lovely leak in our 100-year-old pipe somewhere in the back yard. Presents are begging to be wrapped and I haven't even thought about food dishes I need to prepare. Plus, there is more work at work than I know how to get done this week. Dang it, I'm tearing up just writing this stupid list.

Here's the thing. I feel like a silly girl for all these minor frustrations I let set the direction of my day. I have a great life, full of wonderful people that I love and that love me, but here I am writing down a list of complaints in my week. The biggest one may be that I'm overwhelmed by the pace of my life. The lack of control, or perception thereof, sets me spinning. As much as I try, I haven't figured out how to change that yet.

When my kids are arguing or complaining, I always make them say one thing they are grateful for at that moment. Expressing gratitude can change everything. So here it gratitude turnaround for this exact moment. I'm thankful for this roller coaster that is my life because, even when I'm screaming and holding on for dear life, the view is pretty darn amazing. If I get to have someone next to me in the seat, or perhaps puking in front of me, well, I'll count myself even luckier because the journey is richer with others.

Thank you for listening tonight, friends. I do feel some happiness pouring in.

Lots of love and sweet hugs,

Thursday, December 15, 2011

{One Perfect Gift}

My hubby is a great guy. Unfortunately, he's a terrible gift giver. I only mention this because Christmas is coming and, against my better judgment, he's convinced me we should bring back the tradition of giving each other gifts. I'm pretty sure I'm going to regret this.

Last Saturday, I came home from running myself ragged looking for his perfect gift and he was sawing wood in our living room (yes, in our living room, but I don't have time to even touch on that emotional hot button). He has cut, sanded and bolted a medium-size box together with a lid that slides off the top. Inside is a fan, secured with wires from one of our kid's remote-controlled cars. He says it will be my one perfect gift this Christmas. All I can think about is why anyone would need a fan inside a closed box. It's ridiculous and exactly my husband.

I still remember the first Christmas gift he ever gave me. We had been dating six months and it was our first official gift exchange. I opened the box to the largest size jeans I had ever seen with BOSS written down the side of the leg and a matching bright yellow shiny top. It, too, carried the word BOSS across it. It left me speechless. I later asked if he would mind if I took it back to the store to exchange it for something more my style. He let me, reluctantly, and he still mentions to this day that I exchange all his great gifts.

Oh, I wish that were the case. I was not able to take back the large frog figurine that shot water out of it's mouth while croaking nor the 20 miniature cactuses planted in the heaviest pot ever known to man. I kept those, but each time I passed them in the house I asked myself the same silent question---does he know anything about me? How is it that we've been together 15 years and he seems utterly clueless about my tastes, interests and wants?

That's why, a few years ago, I suggested we just focus on gifts for the kids and forgo our personal exchange. In some ways, he seemed relieved. I always thought he was relieved, however, because he didn't have to brave the stores to find a last-minute gift for me. I'm starting to wonder if he felt relief because he no longer had to carry the burden of my major expectations. I didn't want an expensive gift, or a hard to find gift, or an off-the-wall gift, but I did expect something even more difficult from him. A perfect gift that said he knew the very essence of my soul. Somewhat selfish and certainly unattainable, huh?

Since I've come to that revelation this week, it's been a lot easier to look at all the parts of my unfinished Christmas box scattered across the kitchen table. Frustration at the loss of a $50 "perfect" gift has been replaced with love and understanding for the unselfish heart of the maker. It's a big ole' mess, but it's mine. He's a big ole' mess, but he's mine, too. While I'm still not sure what this fan in a box is going to turn out to be, maybe my hubby is finally right about this one. It will be my one perfect gift this Christmas.