Again, thank you so very much for your love and support these past few days. Thank you so very, very much for giving me the space to share my story. I am incredibly grateful for your words of encouragement and am humbled by the openness of others to share their own stories with me.
Moving on and into 2017, I’ve taken some time to really think through the ways in which I’d like to grow this next year. I actually spent way too much time writing a 2016 reflection post last week and then I scrapped it. Sometimes you just have to close the door on a year and move on! I learned a lot last year, but it was also a year with plenty of lows. I was ready to move on and I’m grateful for the fresh start a new year brings!
Building off of my post about building a life plan for 2017, family and community are at the core of my goals for 2017 and I’ve tried to create realistic steps for supporting my family and changing aspects of my lifestyle. It’s too easy to create extreme goals for the new year, but I’ve never been able to achieve my radical goals. I looked at my life through simplistic eyes this year and tried to think about what was achievable for me and my family. This coming year, there are six areas I will be concentrating on.
1. Investing in family
2. Building a community
3. Prioritizing personal wellness
4. Focusing on finances
5. Growing in my professional career
6. Balancing this beautiful, crazy life
So let’s dive into these areas and I’ll explain why I’m focusing on them and how I’d love to grow and change over the next 365 days.
Investing in Family
The goal of investing in family is split into two parts, my own family and our extended family.
I’ll just throw it out there and say that I am not very close with some of our extended family. Over the past seven and a half years I’ve created unhealthy ways of protecting myself against people who have hurt me. One way I do this is by cutting people out of my life, but the problem with that is it’s so against my nature. I grew up loving with my full heart and unfortunately, I’ve stopped myself from being that way. In the past, I’d meet a person, trust them instantly, and give them my full heart. My dad always used to tell me that there are two different types of people: you either give someone your trust fully the moment you meet them or you can allow someone to gain your trust over time. Over the past seven and a half years I’ve become the latter, and I don’t like it.
I’ve learned that I need to ease into relationships and friendships, but not being myself, especially with family, is not the way I want to live. I’ve had to learn to create healthier boundaries and I’ve also had to learn that although I may give myself to them, they may not want anything to do with me. I was really hurt by family 5 or so years ago, but I recognize how that they didn’t know what I had been through two years prior, they really didn’t know me at all, and I expected them to love me the way I loved them. You live and learn, but this year I want to heal broken relationships and to move forward.
My goal is to reach out more often, even if just to say hello, to share more of my own family’s life with theirs, and to get out of my comfort zone. It is going to take time to rebuild the trust, on both sides I’m sure, but family is important!
For my own family, Neal and Magnolia deserve more of me! Without diving too much into last year, I was distracted! When I was home, I was so focused on work and other matters that I didn’t give enough of myself to the two people who mean the most to me. Moving into 2017, when I am home and with my family, I want to be fully present and to make my own family my top priority.
My goal is to unplug, to prioritize family dinners, and to plan more meaningful activities with Neal and Magnolia. Leaving my work laptop at work, putting my phone away when I get home, and making the most of those few sweet hours we have between the time we get home at 6PM and the time Magnolia goes to bed at 8PM are a big part of this goal!
My last goal for Investing in Family is to really date my husband again. Magnolia is almost 2.5 and we still don’t have a babysitter. I’ve got to take the time to find a babysitter we trust, to acclimate Magnolia to being with a babysitter, and to go on more dates with Neal. I really wish we had family in the area, but that’s not going to change, so I need to find a way for Neal and me to have nights to ourselves every once in a while.
Building a Community
Although we bought our house last December and don’t plan on moving any time soon, we really haven’t become a part of our local community. We adore our neighbors and are so thankful for them and I’d really like to get more involved in the area around us. Some of these goals are simple, but they’re important.
The biggest goal for us is finding a church we can worship God in, a church that can become family. We attended a beautiful Methodist church yesterday (I am personally fond of the Methodist church) and I look forward to attending again next week. We have a list of 5 churches we’d like to visit, but I really liked this church.
Another simple goal is to find doctors, dentists, groomers, barbers, you name it, up where we live. As crazy as it sounds, we still drive over to Virginia for a lot of our appointments. I absolutely love the services we use in Virginia, but it’s time to make Maryland home and to find other great offices here in our area. This will save us time and money too, which is another one of our goals.
Prioritizing Personal Wellness
This goal, unlike other years, extends far beyond weight loss for me. 2016 took a lot out of me and this year I want to make my own wellness a priority and to focus on things that really make me happy! I want to see my friends more, I want to open up our home and plan get-togethers, I want to travel beyond the DC area, I want to cook fresher food, I want to organize and decorate our home, I want to be more active, and I want to live a life recharged.
Prioritizing personal wellness, for me, boils down to time management. My daily routine and schedule is what it is at this point in my life. Right now, my 3 hours in the car each work day is not going to change, but I can make the most of that time in the car. Right now, my 2 hours with Neal and Magnolia each night isn’t going to change, but I can enjoy every ounce with those two and not allow other things to trump that time. Right now, my plate is full, but I know I can use time management as a way to organize my priorities and to make more time for the things that matter.
My goal is to make myself a priority again. My goal is to invest in personal wellness by reinvesting in myself and to focus on the things that really matter to me.
Focusing on Finances
This is a big goal for us, probably our biggest goal of the year. What it boils down to is this, we need to spend less, save more, and bring in more money if we are able to.
Neal and I live a very comfortable life. I wouldn’t say we are crazy spenders by any means, but we also don’t hesitate if we need to buy something. I can run over to Target, buy a few more things than what was on my shopping list, and not worry too much about it. Well, we want to change that. Although we’re doing well financially, we know we could be smarter with our money and we want to do that. Could we afford another car payment? Could we afford needing to replace our roof and HVAC? Could we afford a Mediterranean cruise? Neal and I are starting to look more at the bigger picture and in order to get that bigger picture, we (mainly I) need to stop spending money on the small things.
This goal deserves its own blog post, but I am focusing on using our pantry/the foods we have in the house more instead of overspending at the grocery store, shopping from lists and sticking to it, and learning to say no more often. Our personal goal is to save at least $1200 a month (ideally $1500) as we move into the new year.
Lastly, we’d like to find ways of bringing in extra cash. I am so extremely thankful for this blog and the extra money it affords our family (I have each of you to thank for that!). We’re talking a couple hundred dollars here and there, but it has allowed us to buy a few pieces of furniture, to put new tires on our cars, and most importantly, to pay for the down payment on our house! That took quite a few years of blogging to save for, but I can’t express how grateful I am to make a little bit of money through my writing. I’d like to continue blogging, but Neal and I are also looking at other ways we can bring in extra money for our savings. We’ve talked about Neal tutoring, us selling more of our excess things through garage sales and websites (eBay, Facebook groups, etc.), and Neal writing another book. Ultimately, this money will help us to reach our savings goals.
Growing in My Professional Career
I am extremely thankful for my career in college athletics and student-athlete development. I am so grateful that my years as an athlete led me to a fulfilling career. As I’ve shared, this past semester was incredibly challenging and it has made me think a lot about my career and what I am doing day to day. As I move into 2017, I want to work more efficiently. I want to maximize my time in the office, to take a lunch break every single day (I still struggle to do this), and to leave work at work.
This year I want to read more, to discover ways to grow in my career, and to think outside of the box. I want to invest more in the team I am blessed to be a part of and to help them flourish in this field. I want to invest more in others and in return, to invest more in myself.
Balancing This Beautiful, Crazy Life
Last but not least, I want to do a better job of balancing this beautiful, crazy life. I want to share more here on my blog about the realities of being a mom and managing what is on my plate. For example, right now, I have 5 baskets of clean laundry in my bedroom, I’ve been living out of said laundry baskets for 3 weeks, my car is covered in goldfish and raisins, I have no real structure or system to our house chores, my kitchen table is covered in Christmas stuff so we’ve been eating on the couch, I still haven’t sent out our Christmas cards, I haven’t tackled one thing off of my “Christmas break to do list” because I’ve essentially been relaxing for the past 10 days, and you know what… I’m okay with it. Sure, I have a lot I need to get done, but what I really needed these past 10 days was an opportunity to rest, relax, and to write. Now, I need to figure out a way to get everything else done, but it’ll get done. I just need that fire under my butt.
On top of sharing my own realities, this year I would like to share more of your stories here on my blog. To help others to see what other women around the world do each day and to learn from others. I definitely haven’t figured out how to balance it all, and I probably won’t, but I’m sure y’all have some wonderful tricks and tips up your sleeves.
Balance is a funny word, because balance is different for every single person. Ultimately, I want to live a joyful, happy, and healthy life. Balance for me is figuring out a way to do it all while being joyful, happy, and healthy.