Here’s a fun assignment. Get some place comfortable — relax in your seat, lay on the couch, sit on the ground — and quiet your heart and your mind. Clear your head. Then close your eyes and visualize yourself in 10 years. Where are you? What surrounds you? What does it feel like, smell like, look like? Let your mind create the scene and fill it out.
As cheesy as it may sound, visualization exercises can be really powerful. In fact, the visualization exercise that Lara walked us through at the end of our first day at Making Things Happen was the most eye-opening, centering experience of the entire conference for me. As she walked us through the exercise, I was astounded how easily the images came to me and how real it all felt. I can still close my eyes and picture exactly what I saw that day.
Which is the point, I think. Because whenever I’m feeling frustrated or tired or lost I go back to that vision of my future. I picture it all over again, let the sights and smells and sounds wash over me and re-focus me. I didn’t picture myself in 10 years with fame and fortune. I pictured myself surrounded by my family, in a home filled with love and laughter and community. I pictured myself surrounded by my beloved supporters, people who believed in me from the very beginning. And I pictured myself doing what I love and being oh-so-content and fulfilled. Those are my life goals, after all. To build a loving, hospitable home. To cultivate a fun, fulfilling marriage. To raise beautiful children focused on what matters. To surround myself with true community. To make a difference in the world and inspire others to live their best life. To be healthy, content, and grateful. All that other stuff just doesn’t matter in the end.
Put aside that list of goals for a second and just picture yourself in 10 years having accomplished the things you really wanted to accomplish in life. Where are you? What are you celebrating? Who surrounds you? How do you feel? What does your life look like?
Now write down your vision and use it to remind yourself of what you’re really striving for. Go back to it when you’re feeling overwhelmed and burned out. Or when you’re confused about your next steps. Let it guide you. Let it inspire you and fire you up!
(And yes, I agree that it’s a lot easier to do a visualization exercise with someone walking you through it. If you need a guide, give me a ring.)
Photo found via Pinterest from Indigo Crossing Tumblr.
I started reading this book months ago, thanks to the dear Emilia who recommended it to me. Everything in it struck a chord but I have to be honest, it was a little overwhelming too. Maybe it hit a little too close to home. Or maybe it just made me feel bad. Or perhaps it reignited a fire in my heart that longs to live radically for Christ but doesn’t quite know how. Either way, I put it down for a few months and back on the shelf. Until last week when I starting hearing people talking about it again and realized it was probably time to finish it. So I did.
The book is about seven topics that the author, Jen Hatmaker, and her family tackle for seven months. They spent 30 days on each topic, focusing in on seven limits or habits for each. The 7 categories were:
There’s a lot that I can say about each category, and each chapter in the book, but I’ll spare you all of my comments and instead encourage you to read it yourself. The reason this book stirred me so much was its countercultural attitude. The seven in seven thing was a clever organizational tool and a great way for her to focus on one area without being overburdened by all of them at once. But the thing is, we’re called to be aware of each of these topics. At once. We’re called to be good stewards of the earth and to take care of it. We’re called to give away our possessions, help the needy, and feed the poor. We’re called to store up our treasures in heaven, not on earth. We’re called to love our neighbor. We’re called to serve God above all else. If that doesn’t make you a little dizzy, I don’t know what will.
But you know what else it makes me? Fired up. Even reading the section on observing the Sabbath had me launching into a full discussion with Cory about the rituals we observe as a family and the kinds of traditions we want to pass down to our kids. God-centered traditions, traditions based on love and mercy and justice.
I long for something different. I long to live simply, which we do, but to do so within a community of like-minded, like-passionate people. People who give away their money, who graciously welcome others into their home, who serve and stand up for the least. My heart has been set on that desire for a long, long time. But it often gets clouded by all the other things vying for its attention.
I want to invest in more healthy living, and adopt practices that help sustain and rebuild the earth. Yes, like recycling and gardening. Or participating in a farm share program (which we are currently looking into). I want to reduce our spending even more so that we can pay down our debt faster and in turn give that extra money away. I want to go to Starbucks less (did I just type that?). I want to become more aware of the needs in our community. I want to be less wasteful of food and water and resources. I want to invest in a cause. I want to be more hospitable. Friends, aren’t you tired of the same ol’ race? The race for more. To do more, earn more, be more. I want to be LESS.
But I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes I just don’t know how. I feel so pressed for extra time as it is. And every penny that we earn is already accounted for each month. We want to give back but we aren’t sure where. I want to invest in a cause but there are so many issues that tug at my heart. I want to be held accountable but how do you go in search of community? The only answer I have is to pray. Pray that God will show us where we’re needed. That he would lead us wherever he wants us to go, and that we would have open hearts to hear his direction. Pray for the type of community we want to surround us. Pray for the daily reminders to turn back to him.
I love what Jen writes at the end of the book. She says that your story is God’s to write, not hers (or anyone else’s for that matter). But then she provides this baseline:
Love God most. Love your neighbor as yourself. This is everything.
If we say we love God, then we will care about the poor.
The earth is God’s and everything in it. We should live like we believe this.
What we treasure reveals what we love.
Money and stuff has the power to ruin us.
Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God. This is what is required.
You don’t have to run off and join a commune or go sell all of your nice things. It’s more about a perspective shift, a change of heart, a renewed focus. Which in turn affects how you act.
In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. James 2:17
Picking up this book again was a call to action. To live out my faith through word and deed, to adopt a countercultural lifestyle, to be less instead of more, and to prayerfully consider what all that means for me and Cory. If you feel the same way, let’s talk. It’s all about building community and supporting one another through the big questions, isn’t it?
I can’t believe I haven’t blogged about this yet! Last month I got to cross off a goal on my Mighty List — a big goal — when I met Anne Lamott. She was speaking in the suburbs on a Friday that I had an event so Cory bought tickets for us to see her in Milwaukee the next day. He actually was the one who researched her speaking engagements in the first place and told me that she would be in the area. What a guy, right?
Anne Lamott has inspired me in many ways, for many years. I can’t remember when I first picked up her books but I haven’t stopped reading them since. She is a brilliant writer for one, when you read her you feel like you’ve just sat down with a friend. But she’s also real and raw, deeply spiritual and profound, and hilarious. I often find myself laughing out loud when I read her. It’s a real hazard when I’m riding the bus. She makes you think about life and the important stuff in it. She makes you think about God and your relationship with God — your honest relationship with God. She herself is an unlikely believer having been raised by atheist, intellectual parents and having struggled with a drug and alcohol addiction for years. Her story of finding her faith is incredible. You just know God had his imprint on her life from day one and was just waiting for her to return home.
But I think the thing I enjoy the most about her is the fact that she has come through the worst circumstances of life with humor, joy, faith, and resilience. And you can see that so clearly through her writing. That’s the kind of writer I want to be — unafraid to tell the truth, honest about life’s struggles, but hopeful, humorous, and inspiring at the same time. I have recommended her books to so many people and there’s not one person who has come back to me and said, “Eh, it was OK.” Because that’s what writing from your heart, and being honest about who you are, does. It draws people to you.
So what was meeting her like? Well, I have to admit, I kinda broke the rules. We were only supposed to stand in line and have her sign our books. No pictures, no chatting. They didn’t want the meet and greet to last for hours since Anne had to drive back to Chicago that night. But I just had to have a picture with her. And the blurry ones Cory took while I was anxiously handing over my book were not gonna cut it. So I waited in line for a second time, holding a book I had already had her sign (turned to a different page so it wasn’t suspicious), but this time I waited for everyone else to finish up so I could be the last person to go. And when we walked up to her, and I admitted I had already been through once but I just had to tell her what an inspiration she’s been to me and so many people in my life, we had her full attention. She told me she liked my glasses (never taking those off), asked where in the Bay Area I was from, and then stood next to me as Cory snapped another photo. Still blurry but so full of the joy and nervousness I was feeling in that moment.
And while I don’t want to idolize her, there’s something about meeting the people who have had a profound impact on your life. And being able to tell them thank you. She is the person I go to when I need some inspiration. She’s the one I read over and over again when I don’t feel like picking up a brand new book. She’s taught me to be less of a perfectionist, to allow grace to completely fill my life, and to speak truth into the world. Here is one my favorite passages she’s ever written, from her first book Operating Instructions:
How did some fabulously cerebral and black-humored cynic like myself come to fall for all that Christian lunacy, to see the cross not as an end but a beginning, to believe as much as I believe in gravity or in the size of space that Jesus paid a debt he didn’t owe because we had a debt we couldn’t pay? It, my faith, is a great mystery. It has all the people close to me shaking their heads. It has me shaking my head. But I have a photograph on my wall of this ancient crucifix at a church over in Corte Madera, a tall splintering wooden Christ with his arms blown off in some war, under which someone long ago wrote, “Jesus has no arms but ours to do his work and to show his love, ” and every time I read that, I always end up thinking that these are the only operating instructions I will ever need.
While I really love all of her books (I’m on the 7th of her seven non-fiction books right now), my favorites are Traveling Mercies, Operating Instructions, and Help, Thanks, Wow. And Bird by Bird if you love writing.
PS. I updated my Mighty List this week too. I’m now at 90 goals (and hope to reach 100 soon). Take a look and tell me what you think of the new stuff.
One of the things I’ve really gained from the Making Things Happen community is the idea of tending. That is, tending to your goals throughout your day, week, month, and year. But most especially your day. I think it was actually Gina Zeidler who talked about setting daily goals for herself — things she wanted to accomplish each day — and it was such an Aha moment for me. I had been doing all this work to create my ideal day and setting goals for myself like no social media in the morning and reading my Bible. I knew what sorts of things I wanted to fill each day but it wasn’t until she mentioned the idea of daily tending that it came together for me.
To me, daily tending means setting myself up for success each and every day. It means making sure I accomplish the same set of goals day in and day out, filling my heart, my mind, and my soul with what matters and what’s ultimately going to bring me success and fulfillment.
My daily goals look something like this:
- Read my Bible.
- Read a book.
- Encourage someone.
- Put some inspiration into the world.
- Show Cory that I love him, in his love language.
- Get some exercise.
- Write in my gratuity journal.
That may seem like a lot and I certainly haven’t mastered all of them every single day but I know that when I do, I feel much better about myself, my relationships, my health, and my business. And some days I get to cross off Get Some Exercise when I’ve managed to walk for 10 minutes. Key word: Some.
Your daily goals should be about the things that matter most to you — things you want to make sure you’re paying attention to each day. The basics. My marriage, my faith, my health. Being thankful for what I’ve been given. And inspiring and encouraging others. That’s it. If I manage to achieve those things in life, and devote my time and energy to them, then I’ll count it all a success.
I really encourage you to make a daily tending list as well and put it in a place you’ll see every day. Even better, set reminders on your phone or computer so you don’t forget. Get an accountability partner who will send you a text to encourage you (seriously, accountability works WONDERS, friends). Heck, I’d be happy to send you a text myself (just shoot me an email!). Remember, it’s the small, daily practices that set you up for success. If you’re not filling yourself up with things that inspire and encourage and re-energize you — every day — then how can you ever hope to achieve those bigger, lifelong dreams of yours? Today matters, friends. So let’s get to it.
Photo found via Pinterest courtesy of NeueGraphic.
Since it’s the beginning of May I thought it’d be the perfect time for another desktop inspiration. Most of us stare at our computer screens for the better part of the day so why not make it a place to remind and encourage ourselves, right? This simple truth has been on my heart the past couple of days. In fact, I woke up thinking it this morning.
YOU ARE ENOUGH.
When was the last time you told yourself that? Better yet, when was the last time you believed it? You don’t actually need more money or more talent or more credentials. You don’t need a certain status. Single friends, you don’t even need a partner. Because YOU are enough.
Finances have been weighing heavily on me this week and I’ve been unnecessarily worried about paying off our debt and saving for the future.
Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Matthew 6:27
If I’m honest with myself, it really stems from comparison and wanting to achieve those milestones I think a person in their 30s should achieve (like owning a home and having a savings and not having to stick to such a strict budget). I know the same goes to for so many of you in different areas of your lives. We think we need to be somewhere by now or we should have achieved this already but here’s the truth: Wherever you are at this place in time is right where you need to be. That’s it. So stop wishing for something different and focus on what’s in front of you, on what really matters in life. And stop worrying already! (I should be staring into a mirror as I type this.) Because, friends, YOU ARE ENOUGH.
Click this link to open the desktop background in another window then save it to your computer. Read these words and soak them in today.
Operation Name Change is what I’ve been calling it and, friends, it’s just about complete. Just a few months before our second anniversary, and I’m officially — legally — Mrs. Kristine Aletha Galli Hankins. For those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook then you know I promised to tell the story behind my decision to change my name on the blog. I was never against it, per se. I just didn’t really get it.
I was 29 when we married and therefore quite attached to my name having owned it for almost three decades. I was independent, knew how to support myself, and pretty confident in who I was at that point. And honestly, the process seemed a bit outdated. Why do I have to take his name? Why can’t he take mine? Plus, I love being a Galli. It reminds me of my grandpa, the leader of our pack, who played such an important role in my life and who passed away a year ago. Why would I get rid of that piece of my identity?
The only explanation I ever heard that made some sense to me was from one of our pastor’s wives a few years ago. She had a difficult time taking her husband’s name too until she learned that God gave the name of Israel to his people as a banner of protection over them. I’ve researched this a bit myself and haven’t gotten the supporting evidence I would like but I do know that God changed people’s names after they had a transformative experience with him. Their new name signified a change in their lives. They were no longer the same and therefore could no longer be called by the same name.
Still, I told Cory that I would change my name once we had kids since I thought it was important for children to feel as though their family shared the same identity. And really, even though he never pressured me to take his name, I knew it meant something to him and would make him feel good if I did it. By the way, I’m really stubborn so even that wasn’t entirely enough. Sorry, hun.
And then I traveled to North Carolina and spent two days at the Making Things Happen conference. And God reached into my heart, pushed past all the excuses and resistance, and pulled out the truth. It was as if he said to me, I hear your reasons, Kristine. They’re intelligent and logical. They make sense. But they’re not TRUE. You’re holding back in your marriage because you’re afraid of giving it your all. You’re one foot in, one foot out. And it’s time to jump.
Friends, if you know what it feels like to lose someone, or what it’s like to lose your sense of security, then you know how utterly terrifying it is to open your heart again. I thought repeating those vows on my wedding day meant I was cured from all my fears of being attached to someone. It didn’t. It meant I had done A LOT of work to get to that point but it certainly didn’t mean I was done risking my heart and facing those deep, dark fears of mine. As I sat in that chair on the first day, barely able to write because my hands were shaking so bad, this is what I wrote:
I am afraid of being married for 50 plus years. Going through severe lows and wanting out. Feeling stuck and lost. And completely attached to someone.
And then I felt a tug to get even deeper and wrote:
I am afraid of being known. Truly, deeply. To my core. Because who then would really love me?
I don’t like admitting that, especially here in such a public arena. But how many of us feel that way? I’ve counseled enough people to know that at some level we all struggle with feeling loveable and worthy. And if that doesn’t affect our relationships — our marriages — in profound ways then I don’t know what does. For some that means being so afraid of losing their spouse that they hold back and push their needs under the rug. For others that means they attach themselves so tightly they lose sight of who they are. And for people like me that means we always hold back, scared of getting too close.
But guess what? I have a marriage I am proud of and a wonderful, supportive, loving husband. I have been incredibly blessed by our relationship. It has been, and continues to be, a healing experience for me. And life is too short to hold back. Feel the fear and do it anyway. I wrote that down as well.
And so when I came home I knew that I needed to a) have an open, honest conversation with Cory and b) change my name. While those excuses made sense, and while the paperwork certainly was a hassle, adding Hankins to my last name was a way for me to acknowledge my change in identity. I am not the same since I married my husband. And in so many ways repeating those vows — to love and cherish another for the rest of my life, to attach my life to someone else’s, and to work, each day, to be sacrificial and loving and forgiving — was transformative. I needed to acknowledge that in my life. And I needed to take that next step of allowing that transformation to fully take effect. I may not have been married for that long but if there is one thing I know it’s that you cannot survive in a marriage without giving it your ALL. You cannot be one foot in, one foot out. You have to jump.
One of my blogging goals is to share my story — how my business and career path came to be, why marriage is so important to me, and some of the core events that have shaped my life. Which is an overwhelming task. Especially for a girl who’s life has thrown her a number of curve balls. But I thought I would start off with one key event that really set me on the path I’m on now: my time in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. When I picture sitting in front of a crowd, about to tell the story of how my life came to be, and how I ended up in this place, I always start with my experience in New Orleans and Mississippi in the spring and summer of 2007.
I was in my first year of my Clinical Doctorate program at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, CA — the first of six years I thought I would spend there. I moved from Santa Barbara the summer before to start classes a bit early and ended up taking a social justice course that just lit my heart on fire. I joined the Beatitudes Society on campus and became the chair for the psychology graduate school. In early spring, I received an email from the group offering scholarships for their annual service learning trip which would be spent in the Gulf Coast helping to rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina. Very unlike my usual planning self, I signed up immediately, without much thought otherwise. Just hit reply right then and there. I was notified within days that I was one of the recipients.
When it came time to go, I was nervous and excited and had absolutely no idea what to expect. We arrived first in New Orleans and sweet Jesus was it HOT. Welcome to the South, California girl. I remember sitting next to our air conditioner in the hotel room after walking around the city that first day. I had never sweat so much in my life. But for any of you who have been to New Orleans, you know how it captures a part of your heart. It was coming up on the second anniversary of Katrina and the city was just getting back on its feet. There was still visible destruction all around but the people, those who stayed, were unfazed. They loved their city and went right on living. I loved everything about it: the food, the music, the culture, the perseverance. I could have stayed forever.
But our time in New Orleans was short, just a couple of impactful days spent learning about the damage and recovery efforts. The real work came next when we loaded our vans and drove to Long Beach, Mississippi, one of the hardest hit areas, and joined with other rebuilding groups at our site. We were assigned to a home miles inland –as people were hit not just by hurricane winds on the coast but tornadoes as well. The home was completely gutted and we were responsible for laying the flooring and hanging the lights. In just a couple of days I learned how to lay a wood floor — how to measure the pieces just right, snap them into place, and maneuver around difficult corners and edges.
It’s hard to put into words what that experience felt like. How completely and utterly satisfying it felt to work with my hands and to accomplish something so tangibly rewarding. Y’all, I was a psychology major. Most of my time was spent reading and researching. Building with my hands awoke something inside of me, and my week there instilled in me a passion I hadn’t felt for a very, very long time. If ever. I was making a difference in someone’s life by helping to rebuild their home. At that point, my faith was very much lived out in my head as well having gone to Christian schools and then being in seminary. It was like a whole new world opened to me when I saw what it meant to LIVE out my faith, through action. We are God’s hands and feet in this world. That week, I finally learned what that meant.
So, naturally, I went back a couple months later and spent yet another week rebuilding homes. This time I got to teach others how to lay a wood floor. And for awhile I thought I would quit school, move to Mississippi, and become a team leader on the construction sites. Trade my books for a tool belt. Until I realized that God had called me to the field of psychology for a reason, and that I felt the same sense of satisfaction learning how to be a good therapist. But I also knew what I felt before I went on the trip and how I felt when I came home. Something had to change. When you get a taste for real passion, it’s like a drug you can’t get enough of. I couldn’t settle for anything less.
Which is why, that summer, I decided not to enroll in a second year at Fuller. And why I made the excruciating decision to end a year and a half long relationship with my almost fiance. Talk about life changing, right? I turned 25 that summer too and that’s pretty much where the next chapter of my life began. I moved back in with my parents while I applied to Masters programs across the country and felt for a time that I had gone completely insane. Just a year after my second trip to the Gulf, I was driving my Corolla across seven states to move to Chicago.
I know, without a doubt, that if it weren’t for those weeks spent in New Orleans and Mississippi, my life wouldn’t be where it is today. And honestly, when I think about how it all began, with the press of a button as I replied to an email, it blows my mind. My heart changed that summer. I began to recognize the value in taking risks and started to embrace life’s unpredictability instead of fear it. I gave up so much when I came home — and it was all good. But I gave it up because I wanted, and I hoped, for something GREAT.
More on that to come in Part Two.
Friends, it has been such an exhausting month for me–the kind where one thing happens after another, every finished project is followed by a new one, and every unfinished project seems never-ending. I’ve been awful about blogging, I really need a bang trim, our apartment is about 85% put together, and my car desperately needs to be cleaned. But instead of focusing on all of that today, I’m going to put one foot in front of the other and concentrate, first and foremost, on what matters (like reading my Bible in the morning–check!, spending time with Cory, and tackling one task at a time). It really is about PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION. And if you’re anything like me, you need that reminder as much as I do today.
The past few weeks have been so hectic and overwhelming so when I sat down to read Lara’s post yesterday about the progress she’s made on her 2013 goals, something struck a chord with me and I realized that I needed to do the same. Life so often gets away from us — days and even weeks go by without taking stock of what we’re accomplishing, or not accomplishing, what’s distracting us, what’s inspiring us, and what we’re filling ourselves up with. I made some big decisions while at Making Things Happen this year and they’re not things I want to forget or push aside.
I initially wrote out a list of goals at the beginning of the year and then refined them before I left for Chapel Hill. And I haven’t looked at them since. It can be really scary to take stock of your progress — especially if you’re a perfectionist like me. Sometimes I worry that if I see myself getting off track or not accomplishing my goals soon enough, I’ll just give up on them altogether (seriously how ridiculous is that?!). But I remind myself often, again and again: Progress not perfection.
Goal No. 1: Focus more on my marriage. Make time for adventures, plan date nights, leave encouraging notes for Cory. Be more romantic. Pray together more often. Open my heart to him and share myself with him, my thoughts and the things on my heart. Create more time for intimacy.
This is certainly number one on my list for a reason. It’s both where I want to focus my time and energy and where I so easily stray. It’s easy to get comfortable with your spouse or to get caught up in the day to day stresses of life. With the move last week, we haven’t had any time together except for running errands or eating out because we haven’t had food in the house. But we plan to get back to scheduling a date night once a week and we’ve been on the hunt for a notebook where we can write letters back and forth to each other. We had one when we first started dating. It was actually a book Cory made for us to write notes to each other and document our favorite moments. It was such a treasure but sadly it went missing and we haven’t seen it since just after we got engaged. For a long time I was so sad and frustrated about losing that I didn’t want to replace it but as my friend, Mary, told me there will be plenty of amazing moments to capture moving forward. So go buy a new one.
I’m also, finally, changing my name. After almost two years of being married, I’ve decided that I need to honor my commitment to Cory and our marriage and become Mrs. Kristine Aletha Galli Hankins. I had so much fear surrounding this, fear I wasn’t even totally aware of. The fear I talked about in my MTH recap, about being abandoned and alone, that was the fear that was holding me back from putting both feet into my marriage and being 100% open and vulnerable with my husband. I feel so grateful that changing my name is a tangible way for me to face that fear and knock it dead. I filled out my Social Security application yesterday and I chose a date to make all necessary trips to submit my paperwork. That date, by the way, is April 24th. Name Change Day.
Goal No. 2: Build my business in an intentional way. Spread the word on marriage preparation, define and refine who my ideal client is, provide both wedding planning and marriage preparation in one, and say no to projects that take away from all of this.
Yes, yes, yes — to all of this! A big part of this goal is updating my website which, as I’ve gone through the process, has made me realize a rebrand and relaunch is in order. I want my website, and entire brand for that matter, to inspire others to live with their hearts wide open. I want it to be a place of calm, a place that celebrates things that matter, and a place that tells my story. It’s a LONG process but I’m hoping to have the site finished in June with some big announcements about my business and big changes for the 2014 wedding season.
Goal No. 3: Write from my heart.
I’ve tried to be more intentional about what I blog. For me that means not getting caught up in schedules or the shoulds of writing. Instead I try to write when something is on my heart, or when I want to share something that will potentially inspire others. It’s gotten messy, for sure, but that’s the point. Whether I’m writing about my goals, or becoming vegan, or sharing about a couple I’ve been able to build a relationship with, I’m sharing more of ME. I also want to start writing a little bit each day. Writing is a huge passion of mine and, like Anne Lamott says, sometimes you just have to sit down in front of the computer until something ends up on the screen. Each and every day.
Goal No. 4: Pay off our credit card debt.
As of now, we are on track to pay off all, if not most, of our credit card debt by the end of the year. We are sticking to a strict budget, earning extra money, and limiting our extraneous expenses. This month has been really hard on us but part of this goal includes not getting frustrated by our finances. We have to concentrate on the goal and keep moving forward.
Goal No. 5: Make my faith number one. Read my Bible daily. Become a more prayerful woman. Share my faith with others. Trust in God’s provision and plan for my life.
I don’t know why this goal is number five but it has been number one in my life since the beginning of the year. I love reading my Bible every morning when I wake up. It is the only way to start the day, immersing myself in truth. And I love when God puts his Word on my heart throughout the day and a certain verse pops into my head. He has been showing me that He is on my side, that He is able to do more than I imagine, and that He rejoices over me. How can I be anxious when I fill my life with such things? There’s a reason I’m making my faith number one in my life. It’s because it informs and affects every other aspect.
Goal No. 6: Start preparing for a baby.
For me this has meant eating vegan, giving up sugar, and being careful about what I put onto and into my body. But it’s also meant laying out a financial plan, praying A LOT, and concentrating on our marriage above all else. Thinking about starting a family is hands down the most overwhelming thing I’ve ever had to consider. And right now I’m struggling with wanting to be 100% prepared and knowing that at some point we’re just going to have to go for it (because we will never be 100% prepared). So, stay tuned, Mom.
Goal No. 7: Adopt an almost entirely vegan diet.
I have not been a very good vegan lately. Let’s just say, with the move, there has been a lot of pizza. And my sweet mother in law brought us goodies when she came to visit last weekend which included a bag of candy and cookies. I just didn’t have the willpower, y’all. And I’ve been munching on them since — the first sweets I’ve had since January. Someone come take them away from me so I can get back on track!
Goal No. 8: Put more effort into my relationships. Email more, call more. Stay in better touch with my parents and my sister. Schedule more time with Chicago friends. Make sure the people in my life know that I care about them and value their relationships.
I hate struggling with keeping in touch. Hate it. I care so much about the people in my life but I know that my actions can often make them think otherwise. Anyone who lives far from loved ones can tell you that it’s hard. I have been better about keeping in touch with some friends and not as great with others. My college girlfriends and I have been emailing weekly as a group since we graduated (NINE years ago) and I definitely owe them an update. But I have talked to my sister on the phone twice this week.
Goal No. 9: Be a leader. Embrace my talents, skills, and passions. Approach the MFT community about my business. Teach a marriage preparation course/seminar. Be bold about what I want to accomplish.
Feel the fear and do it anyway, my friends. That has been my motto. And I have to say, it’s working. Last week I met with my old adviser at Northwestern, something I put off for a long while because I was too afraid, and it turned out amazing. I spoke at Career Night and told a whole group of students that I’m not going to become a licensed therapist, that I’ve decided to go my own route, and that that’s OK. And today I responded to my first inquiry telling them that as of 2014, I will only be taking clients who are interested in both wedding planning and marriage preparation. YES!
Goal No. 10: Do more GOOD. Invest in a cause. Volunteer. Give things away. Be a better gift giver.
I’m really good with giving things away. Mainly because I can’t stand clutter and I want it out of my house yesterday. But when it comes to giving my time, that’s where I struggle. But I forget that this goal can be accomplished each day, in small ways, and I need to be better about that. Gifts don’t have to be extravagant to make an impact. Sometimes a simple handwritten card will do. Or even a photo. And yes, on a larger scale, I do want to be involved and invested in a cause that’s close to my heart. That has yet to be determined.
Goal No. 11: Be more creative. Post unique images. Learn more about graphic design. Take more photographs.
I do feel as though I’m more conscious of what I post on Facebook and Instagram but I definitely need to be better about incorporating unique images into my blog posts. Again, this takes time that I still need to allot in my schedule.
Goal No. 12: Inspire others. Be inspired.
After focusing on my faith and strengthening my marriage, this is next in line. This encapsulates everything that I want to do with my life. I want to INSPIRE. And I’m probably not the best at judging my progress on this but I hope you know, and recognize, that this is my heart and what I seek to do with every aspect of my life. I also know that I can hardly expect to inspire others if I’m not being inspired myself. Which is why I’m reading the Bible and putting my marriage first. I’m also picking up books like Love Does by Bob Goff and pretty much anything Anne Lamott writes. And I’m surrounding myself with passionate, encouraging, and fired up people who make me want to chase my dreams because they’re chasing theirs.
Goal No. 13: Plan more celebrations and celebrate special moments.
I have some big celebrations coming up this year including my sister’s 21st birthday, Cory’s parent’s 30th wedding anniversary, and our second anniversary. I want to make big deals out of these milestones and celebrate them to the full.
Goal No. 14: Clear the clutter. Unsubscribe from pointless emails. Remove social media from the front page of my phone. Stop using my phone in the morning after I wake up and at night before I go to bed (or on date nights, in the car, on the couch, etc.).
I think this may be where I’ve made the most progress. It was so clear to me at MTH that I needed to give up my addiction to my phone and social media specifically. No more looking at it first thing in the morning. Now, I read my Bible. No more reaching for it at night before I turn off the lights. I’ve started plugging it in across the room and having a book by my bed instead. No more pointless emails. I’ve hit unsubscribe on so many I’ve lost count. I’ve also cleaned up my Instagram and Facebook feeds so that I’m reading about people who inspire and fire me up. The pull is still there and there have been days when I haven’t succeeded at all but I know what’s important in my life and trust me — it’s not my iPhone.
Yesterday I finished reading Love Does by Bob Goff, a terrific book about a man who is making a difference in this world by acting out love instead of just talking about it. This was one of my favorite passages:
Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It’s about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be all about — full of abandon, whimsy, and in love. I want to be engaged to life and with life.
And well, I suppose that’s what these goals are about for me too. A way for me to fully engage with life, to bring light into dark places, and to share hope and love with the people around me. I’d love to hear what some your goals are as well.
Find more of Lara’s inspirational downloads on her website.
Man, moving really takes it out of you. I haven’t had a routine in over a week now and my whole schedule has been completely thrown off. This move has shown me all over again how difficult a change in my day-to-day can be. I thrive on knowing what to expect and on planning out my week, and when that doesn’t happen, my head gets a little foggy and I have to work really hard to stay on track. Plus, I tend to get a little emotional.
Not a good combination.
But I think it helps that I know what to expect in situations like these. I know that it’s going to be hard for awhile. I know that I need to create some semblance of normal, no matter how small it might be, in the midst of chaos. And I’m learning that it’s good to touch base with Cory through it all. Make sure we’re on the same page, work through any issues that have come up, and try our best to reconnect. Knowing yourself and how you tend to respond in certain situations is key. And being able to communicate that to your significant other is just as important.
So, we’re working on getting back to normal over here. A couple trips to Home Depot and Ikea and maybe one more Target run and we’ll be set. We’re loving our new spot though and can’t wait for the weather to warm up. Once the trees get their color back and the flowers start blooming, our neighborhood is going to come alive. I’m pretty sure a part of me will come back alive too — this cold weather has really taken a toll on me this year. That’s what it’s all about though, I suppose. The winter makes you all that more grateful for the spring.
I have so much more to share with you all too and I promise to do that this week. And once we finish unpacking our boxes and put some stuff on our walls, I’ll make sure to show you the new apartment as well. It’s small but cozy. And that’s OK with me.