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Living My Intentions

I’m surprised to discover I didn’t write anything about New Years or resolutions last year at this time, except for a little piece on the calendar day book I created (which unfortunately got very little use). It’s kind of a shame, too, because it would have been nice to compare me then with me now, and take stock of how well I lived my intention for 2014.

I had a two-fold intention: responsibility and fun. I very much wanted to show more responsible behavior in all areas of my life, especially time management. How well did I do? Well, that calendar stopped getting any use sometime in mid-April. But I did get myself to the doctor for a much overdue physical.

One of my big goals of 2014 was to use my income tax return to build a deck and pergola off the back of my house, and that little project has taxed my sanity in countless ways for seven months now and counting. I could write volumes on what I’ve learned about myself through this process. Perhaps that song from the “Frozen” movie would be a good place to start.

Speaking of things with which my children are obsessed, I somehow stumbled into my true intention for the year – focusing on my kids. And this intention, I’m pleased to say, is one I’ve lived well. For the past few years I’ve devoted most of my spare time to self-care and recovering from years of losing myself in an unpleasant marriage and the natural erosion of self that happens in parenthood, not to mention years of stuffing my feelings. 2014 saw me getting my groove back and giving myself again, first and foremost to the little ones who often got and continue to get the short end of my stick.

I became involved with my son’s Boy Scout troop, chaperoning camping trips, pushing him out of his comfort zone into a week of overnight camp, and co-chairing the popcorn sale this fall. I enrolled the girls in gymnastics in the spring and dance class this fall, even though it’s a bit of a sacrifice to make sure we all get where we need to be on any given afternoon. And in spite of their belly aching, I make sure their spiritual education isn’t neglected. I sure wish we could have old fashioned Sunday School like the Baptists though!

Mostly I see myself as a guardian of their childhood. Playtime is as much a priority as homework. They only get to be kids once. I sure hope when they are adults that they appreciate that I won’t allow them to grow up too fast. It’s the best gift my parents gave me, even though at the time I couldn’t wait to be an adult.

I’ve taken us on fun little excursions to the river, 4th of July picnic, apple picking , and this Christmas, to the lake. Tomorrow I’m driving us up to D.C. for the day to see the National Cathedral because Teague expressed an interest in catacombs.

I try to allow their opinions to make a difference in what we do as a family, within reason. I’ve disciplined more consistently this year, and I’ve remembered to “let it go” like the song suggests when the battle isn’t worth the collateral damage. I’m unbelievably proud of my kids. They are smart and sensitive and responsible and creative, and I’ve been present enough to see it all unfold every day.

I worked on a few other relationships as well. My connection with girlfriends grows ever more trusting and secure. I’ve reached out to new friends, and I’ve responded to women who have befriended me. I have conversations with other moms at the bus stop. The bus stop is a triggering place for me going back to the teasing days of middle school. To be “part of” for the first time in my life is such a gift!

In a special way, I’ve worked on my relationship with my mom. She and I have always enjoyed each other and have gotten along well for the most part, but like most mothers and daughters, we have our moments! This summer, I made a heartfelt commitment to give to her what I want most (and usually get, too) – a listening heart. And I discovered the old axiom is true – we really do get what we give!

I had two big fights: one with my ex and one with the carpenter who is building my porch. These fights had three things in common – my expectations, the resulting resentment, and making a decision to let it go. There’s that darn song again.

I can’t think of “fun” without thinking of dating. 2014 saw me venturing outside my comfort zone a bit, and what it taught me is a deep appreciation for my comfort zone! The excitement of a temporary infatuation or the novelty of a date with a long-time acquaintance is really no substitute for the trust and emotional intimacy that grows over time. This year I learned to appreciate all the good that was present in my expired marriage, and also the special men in my life today who are worthy of both my platonic and romantic attention. I have the best guy friends, and a friendly sweetheart whose affection is a gift.

My relationship with myself has grown stronger, too. Thanks to all that Boy Scout camping, I rekindled a long-buried desire to hike the Appalachian Trail. That’s a resolution for another year, but I joined a few meet-up groups dedicated to hiking and went on two backpacking trips. I dug a hole to poop in. I learned how to cook freeze-dried meals. I carried a 25-pound pack up steep climbs. I camped alone over Labor Day weekend and saw arguably the best bluegrass group in the country with two complete strangers. I survived an encounter with a bear in the dark in the middle of a wind storm. And I’m pretty sure that when I get my REI reward points this spring, I’m going to have to reexamine my financial priorities! I just hope I can share this newly nurtured passion with my kids in 2015.

I’ve grown creatively this year. I designed a new 200-plus full color book for my long-time client Kimberly Wilson that stretched me to the point of tears. The best thing about hitting a wall in the middle of a project is being told with all the faith in the world, “I know you can do this, Christy.” I did not believe her, but I did believe that God could give me the power to deliver what I’d promised, and when I asked, He made miracles happen. Shortly after the project was completed, a friend literally placed in my hands “The Artist’s Way,” and I’ve slowly digested the first few chapters. And I’ve begun writing my own book.

There are so many other little meaningful milestones I could share. Mistakes and regrets, and moments of gratitude and genuine wholesomeness. It’s a lot like the unfinished back porch. God is in every beautifully-crafted detail, but the timing and the pace and the engineering are completely out of my hands despite my attempts to control and manage.

In the end, I’m responsible for being willing to do the next right thing, to do my best even if my best sucks, to let go of outcomes and practice flexibility. I’m responsible for my own fun, and that starts with attitude, which my children will tell you is something I say I repeat like a broken record. I can control my attitude when everything else is out of my hands, and I have the power to find fun anywhere.

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