This blog post has been brewing for several days as I ponder my first blog post of the new year. What is there to say for 2011? Well, in lieu of a recipe, best-of-2010 or favorite cookbooks list, I thought I’d share what the last few days of an old year look like for me and how I get my new year off to a bang-up start. This is longer than blog posts are “supposed” to be, but so be it.
1. Write down Notes from Christmas/Holiday 2010
Every year I make notes about the holiday season while it’s fresh in my mind. I write out the following items on a piece of paper with “Christmas Notes 2010” at the top of the paper. Then, I store the list on the top of a decorations box before I store it away for next year. My Christmas notes include:
- Menus for meals prepared during the holidays
- Parties we attended and what I wore. (Holiday outfits can often be recycled.)
- Varieties of cookies, candy, and snacks baked and who I delivered cookie-gifts to (it’s usually neighbors).
- Our actual Christmas day activites and if we traveled out of town that day what time we left and where we went.
- What church services we attended and what time we left the house to meet our obligations and still be able to sit together as a family.
- How many business and personal Christmas cards we sent and if we didn’t send cards I note that too.
- List of gifts bought for the YoungAprons and our extended family.
- When we visited Santa and did other activities for Christmas – Duke Energy Train Display, Live Nativity and flower show at the Krohn Conservatory, ice skating on Fountain Square, etc.
Then I answer these questions: What worked this Christmas? What didn’t work this year? What should I do differently next year? How much vacation time did I or the best male cook I know take?
This might seem like a bunch of information that I’d remember, but trust me: when I read last year’s notes I smile, remember, and chuckle to myself while saying, “Boy, I’m glad I made these notes”.
2. Make No More Than 10 Concrete Goals for the New Year
Call them resolutions, or call them goals, but just like 45% of other Americans I enjoy setting a few goals for the new year. Similar to my Christmas list (above) I write the goals down and then put the list away somewhere where I can read it at the end of the year. I keep mine in my journal. (If it helps, store the list in an envelope in the box with the Christmas/Holiday notes.) I usually set no more than 10 goals and when I read them at the end of the year I’ve usually accomplished at least a few of the goals.
Note: Over the years I’ve noticed that the bigger and more “fluffy” the goal, the less likely I am to accomplish it. This year I realized that the reason for not accomplishing fluffy goals is because my big fluffy goals are usually related to things in my life that need constant attention, and good habits, such as what I eat, how much I move, household organization/clutter, and my prayer life. This year I didn’t set goals in these fluffy areas. Eating well, moving my body, keeping a household organized and without clutter, and the pursuit and practice of daily quiet time, are journeys, not destinations. They are never perfect and never fully achieved. At least as long as there are humans living in my house there will always be clothes to sort, meals to prepare, laundry to do, so I’ve decided that in these areas I’ll keep making strides to do better, but for this year these areas are not the focus of my goals. REVELATION~
This year, the goals I set are very specific and doable, and while some of the goals might theoretically be a subset of the large, fluffy things I described above, they are very specific. Something else I’m doing differently is to plan to focus on one goal each month. First up, better management of receipts, new business venture, submit another book proposal, and at home to create a Mom-cave complete with new comfy chair, a nice light, and reading materials. (The year of the man cave is over.) These are the kind of goals I can wrap my mind around and sink my teeth into all while continuing to build better habits surrounding food, exercise, clutter, and prayer.
3. Create a List of Joys and Sorrow for the Year Past
Unrelated to goals, I write a list that is a short review or snapshot of the past year. First, I list my joys for the previous year, and in the most recent case of 2010 my joys were many. For that I’m extremely grateful. Our family is sound and on strong-footing (at least as of this writing) and we have much to be thankful for. 2011 looks to be a great year full of fun and adventure. As for the sorrows I had many too. We lost my dear Aunt Mary in 2010 as well as a favorite mother-in-law of my sister Anne, Mary Henry. I listed my resistance to certain ways I’m being called to share my talents, and specific instances in my extended family life that were sad and confrontational. The Haitian Earthquake was also a sorrow, because two of our friends and their adoptive children were affected. This exercise is the fulfillment of the dark vs. light part of my life. Without one, I wouldn’t know the other. I’m learning to embrace both.
4. Make a List of all the Food to Cook in 2011
This one is for all the cooks out there, but every year a fun thing I like to do is make a list of all the food I haven’t cooked lately, or at all for the YoungAprons. This year the list includes cream puffs, seafood bouillabaisse, homemade braided bread, and sorbet. I’m a skilled cook and can make any of these. AllAprons enjoy foods cooked at home, so rather than get stuck in an homogenous food rut I make a point to cook new things. We’ve always thought about Soup and Sandwich Sunday. Maybe this will be the year.
And I’ll close with a greeting from a Christmas postcard I received this year. Happy 2011 to everyone. Thanks for stopping by.
“‘tis the season to STOP and hug the people you love
like the people you don’t like
and smile at the people you
don’t even know.”