Personal

2018: Looking Forward

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For 2018, I once again used Tsh Oxenreider’s questions. I’ve never approached a new year like this before, and I really like her approach because resolutions seem to be more self-focused: “Lose weight,” “Get a promotion,” “Eat healthier,” etc. but these questions are about yourself but also your relationships and your family and how you can do things to improve all the important areas of your life without feeling overwhelming. I plan on coming back to this every few months to check and in a course correct when needed!

What skill do you most want to learn this year?
Social media. I want to learn especially more about how to reach more people on Instagram and make my feed look pretty, but not overdone. Also: how to give worry over to God. I’m a worrier, even about things I absolutely cannot change or influence, and sometimes I annoy or stress out myself with all that worrying, and there’s no point to it!

What is one skill you already have that you’d like to improve this year?
Writing. I feel like I’m a fairly good writer, but I want to improve to professionalism of my blog and IG posts, and get better at expressing hard things and being vulnerable (which, as I type it, sort of makes me shudder, I won’t lie).

Name three books you most definitely want to read in 2018.
Daring Greatly (on my nightstand!), A Gentleman in Moscow (on hold!), A Man Called Ove (on audiobook right now!!)

In what specific area do you most want to encourage your spouse? What are some ways you can do this?
I want to encourage Bert in his non-work endeavors, whether it is starting colts, making leather stuff, ranch rodeoing, etc. I can encourage him by helping him find the time, and making sure to leave money in the budget for supplies and such, and generally supporting him, and not begrudging him the time, either. Also, I know he likes when we go with him, so I need to make that a priority.

Think of one of your major life goals. What will you do this year to make you one step closer to reaching that goal?
Get serious. It’s time to treat my life goals as things that hold weight and are worth my time—my real time, not just my marginal time.

Name your kids’ biggest strengths. What are some ways you can specifically nourish those strengths? Wacey is such a funny, kind, social kid. I can nourish that by making sure he gets time to play and socialize especially with other kids, and by prioritizing family adventures. Buster’s biggest strength is that he’s the world’s happiest, mellowest baby, and I can encourage that by letting him get loved on by as many people as will love on him, and take his cues for when he’s had enough and needs to recharge.

Name your kids’ most prominent weakness. What are some ways you can encourage their ability to overcome it?
Wacey’s biggest weakness is not having a lot of try and giving up easily. I can help him by encouraging him to keep at it instead of jumping in, and helping him see that he can do it, even if it makes him frustrated, and how to try different ideas until one works. He’s got a short rope when things don’t work (just like his mama) and it will be good practice for us both to work on that together. Buster’s most prominent “weakness” (isn’t it funny to think of a baby having a weakness? He doesn’t have a weakness. He’s currently 27 pounds of perfect) is that he doesn’t sleep all night consistently yet. I can help him by keeping him to a good routine, and helping him learn to self-soothe, and that he doesn’t actually need a bottle in the middle of the night. Also: can someone direct me to size 5 or 6 diapers for #huskytots? We’ve tried them all, and about every other night he pees straight through and wakes up because he’s soaking wet!

What is one of your strengths. Think of some specific ways you can exercise it this year.
I’m good at getting things done, especially when my plate is full. This year, I want to fill up my plate a bit more, because it’s seemed a little empty, and really get back into my groove of getting s**t done. I’m much more productive and happy when I have a lot to do and less idle time!

What is one of your weaknesses? Brainstorm ideas on how you can overcome this deficiency.
Coming off of the fiasco that was the latter half of 2017, I feel like I have four hundred weaknesses and that they all need to be improved upon. But to pick one, I need to prioritize self care and time management. I put these together because I am a better mom, wife, daughter, person driving behind a slow driver, retail customer, restaurant patron, person in line behind the guy at the feed store who doesn’t seem to know what he wants but expects the person at the register to ESP it for him, and all-around human when I’m exercising and eating healthy and not spending piles of my time in idle pursuits like scrolling through my phone or plucking my eyebrows to death. I need to be exercising, eating my fruits and veggies and protein, and busy.

Think of an important relationship aside from your spouse and children. How will you nurture that relationship this year?
Naming just one would be remiss, because I neglected my relationships so much last year. This year, I want to make a concerted effort to talk to my far-away friends on a regular basis, and to be more patient in the relationships that frustrate me. If I had a word for my friend relationships, it would be show up (okay that’s two words, but still), and if I had a word for the more complicated (but not bad, mind you—just more to navigate) relationships, it would be grace.

Name a few ways your physical health could be improved?
Sticking to a workout routine, even loosely, and eating more fruits and vegetables. I’m learning how much of an impact my diet has on how I feel and my mood, and I want to give myself the best chance I can to be a good wife, mother, and #girlboss and ain’t no gal going to get that done if she’s tired, hangry, and bloated. Plus, it’s awfully nice when all my pants fit.

Name a few ways your family’s financial health could be improved.
I’m so excited for this one. I have a plan about opening some new bank accounts to help myself budget, and I’m really going to pay attention to when things are cheaper on Amazon and Walmart/Target.com and such and order as much as I can and have it shipped to the house (or within 25 miles of the house. I’ll take that). Also, we’re hoping to pay off student loans this year, and that would be phemonenal. Once I figure out all of this, I’ll write a post because gosh, no one wants to talk about money, but if the Dave Ramsay or the No Spend Year doesn’t work for you, it might be helpful to read what someone else does that works for them. Right?

(PS—what works for you?)

In what ways do you want to draw closer to God?
I want to learn more about the Bible itself, and His story, and what He teaches us.

What is one area of home management that frustrates you? Think of some specific ways you could improve your attitude about it.
The clutter. Oh, the never-ending, always-underfoot tiny children clutter. I’m not sure I can improve my attitude, but I’m mostly focused on setting myself up for success by making sure everything has value and a place, and getting rid of the things that don’t. This year’s home theme might be The Purge. I’m not a minimalist, but I am a “If it doesn’t have a place we need to make a good one or get rid of something” ist.

Family mission statement
We are working on this. Tsh Oxenreider says to sit down over tea with your spouse (to my knowledge, Bert has never sat down over any beverage with any person, much less tea, which he has never consumed except for in the Sweet Iced and Arnold Palmer forms, unless you count coffee at crew meetings), so the ranchy version of that is to print out the questions and take several long drives to answer them, right? Plus this sort of thing is like pulling teeth to Bert, and he’s more likely to go along with it if he’s otherwise occupied yet free to visit, like when he’s driving and both children are strapped in carseats.

Name one specific thing you could do with your spouse this year that will deepen your intimacy.
Prioritize more just-us time. When the evenings warm up, I’d love to go back to roping a dummy for a little while when the boys are in bed, we have great talks while we do that. We’re also establishing a regular out-of-the-house, no-kids date night (we’re hoping for once a month or so) and a regular weekly at-home date-night where we eat a special dinner or dessert together and watch a new movie (we’ve officially signed up for the old-school DVD Netflix since our streaming is…questionable). And working on projects or doing something together instead of sitting on our phones in the evening.

What is something that is continually undone in your life? What will you do to fully complete it this year?
My projects. My blog and Instagram are always an afterthought, and I don’t want that to be the case any more. Also, I really want to up my meal planning game with some sort of (self-created?) tool to help with grocery lists, because I always forget something and that sucks even when you aren’t super rural.

In what ways will you be involved with your local community?
I’ve joined the local cattlewomen’s group and I’m so excited. We’re doing a cookbook and it’s going to be great. I’m also working on finding some charitable pursuits, but it’s honestly been a little hard because we’re that rural. It’s hard to commit to a whole lot more driving in this season, and so I’m exploring some ways I can help remotely.

What is one thing you’d like to accomplish by your birthday this year?
I can’t choose one, so I’m choosing two (#typical): a thousand followers on Instagram, and the implementation of Phase 1 of a project I’m working on with a professor at my alma mater (CU Boulder). A client or two for my small business would be fun, too.

Think of three words you’d like to describe your 2018.
Growth, grace, joy.

Personal

2017: It Was…A Year

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Tsh Oxenreider has a great set of intentional questions to reflect on the previous year. I’ve listened to several podcasts where they answer these questions, and I really love them and would like to do them every year from now on! The questions helped me have much better perspective about last year, which is always good.

2017 was tough, but gosh we learned so much. I prefer to think of 2017 as The Year That Buster Was Born, instead of the Year We Moved Twice because he’s the very most important thing that came out of this year, and I don’t want his birth year to be…tainted? Glossed over? Locked in the “no thank you” pile in my brain? I don’t know. But even though it was tough, it was great, full of lots of little amazing moments. Big and little highlights: Buster. Wacey and I (and Buster in utero) were in a Dove commercial. We finally got an AQHA member number, transferred the horses to us, and registered our first baby horse. I can fit into my old pants. Wacey can talk. We paid off the pickup. I learned how to properly roast a chicken. I got a new camera lens and it’s ah-mazing.

Onward.

What was the single best thing that happened this year?
Buster being born, obviously. He’s such a puddle of joy! I am so grateful that our transition from one to two was pretty much seamless and that labor, birth, and recovery were so much easier this time around, despite (because of? Someone please answer this for me) no epidural. He fits into our family just perfectly. And seriously, he is the happiest darn baby, he makes us laugh all day long!

What was the single most challenging thing that happened?
Moving was hard, of course, but I think the most challenging thing that happened was the realization that we were going to have to move. We were so happy where we were in Colorado, and still can’t believe that we aren’t there anymore, but things change. Having to drive eight hours home and deal with holiday drama really cemented it for me. But, I’m slowly getting over the whys, and the disbelief, and the anger, and have accepted that we are where we are for a reason.

What was an unexpected joy this last year?
In the middle of all of this moving and shuffling around, we’ve started to make friends! (!!!!!!!) This is a big deal for us, because we’re sort of hermits by natures, but add in that ranches are spread out (due to all that ranchin’) and we’re so tickled that in the absolute middle of nowhere there are multiple families with children that it seems like we might get along with pretty well. I mean, you guys, we were invited to a New Year’s party. This has never happened. It was so much fun to ring in the new year not only awake, but with a glass of champagne surrounded by wonderful people. Also, the cattlewomen’s association here is going to be great. I’m helping with a really cool cookbook. I am excited.

What was an unexpected obstacle?
The first ranch selling. That was weird. But you know, it actually worked out for the very best, and so it doesn’t seem so much an obstacle as a hiccup.

Pick three words to describe 2017.
Survival, uncertainty, hope.

Pick three words that your spouse would use to describe your 2017.
Tired and stressed but hilarious.

Pick three words your spouse would use to describe their 2017.
Stress, excitement, disbelief.

What were the best books you read this year?
The Lilac Girls, The Century Trilogy, Hillbilly Elegy, The Nightingale.

Who were your most valuable relationships with?
This year, I’ve sort of sucked at relationships, but I’m glad that Bert and I have been doing this year together, and it seems like we’ve done a good job of keeping the transitions as smooth as possible for our boys. I love knowing that the Lord chose me to be both his wife and the mother to my children. It’s reaffirming and gives me confidence and hope.

What was your biggest personal change from January to December this past year?
This year has been a year of learning my weaknesses, and I’m starting to see that some things that I thought I was really good at (managing stress, budgeting, taking care of myself) are actually some of my weakest areas. I don’t like to acknowledge weaknesses or being wrong, so seeing the cracks and how I can improve is going to be really, really good I think.

In what ways did you grow emotionally?
I’ve done stressful things before, of course, but going through big changes as a mother—especially as a mother to two very young children—has made me see what I need to function the best, and has also made me see the ways that stress affects my emotions. I am getting better and checking myself when I get cranky with my family, and at re-starting our day if we’ve begun on the wrong foot. I feel older, and a little more known to myself, which is cool.

In what ways did you grow spiritually?
I really, really relied on my devotional and prayer this year, and I’m learning to give over worries to God rather than fussing and stressing and being short with people. I also learned that I can be angry with God, and that’s okay, and I can come out on the other side of that anger feeling wiser, if a little sheepish because, you know, He’s got this.

In what ways did you grow physically?
I’m learning my (post-two-babies) body, and it’s so exciting to know what works for me and makes me feel good, and what doesn’t. I also learned that this body can do hard things, like push out an eight and a half pound baby with no drugs. Go body!

In what ways did you grow in your relationships with others?
Like I said, I sort of sucked at relationships in 2017. Turns out that when I’m stressed I become even more introverted (not the way to go, ps) and so I neglected a lot of relationships last year. But we’re starting the year off strong, having been with friends when the ball dropped, and we had lunch with friends over the weekend (something I’m not sure we’ve ever done, guys!). I’ve also really thought about how I deal with some of the more complicated relationships in my life, and need to make like Elsa and let it gooooooo.

What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Professionally, I really loved engaging more in the ag community, and am excited to increase that tenfold this year. At home, I enjoy being a mother to my children. This was a hard home year, too, since we had three homes and have lived in a constant state of semi-packed or unpackedness since July, but gosh I enjoy those little boys. I love hearing Wacey talk, and seeing Buster’s personality coming out!

What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Work-wise, the hardest thing was leaving my job in August. A huge part of my identity is my job, and so I really, really miss it. At home, the hardest part was by far and away was packing and unpacking everything multiple times and being in an unfinished house for months and months. We’re almost all the way unpacked and organized here—all that’s left is a few more organizational purchases and hanging art and curtains, and it feels so good to not have to climb around boxes to get to things.

What was the single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
My phone. By far and away, my phone. Whether it was scrolling aimlessly through social media or spending hours trying to sort out new health insurance and rural package delivery, I sort of hate my phone at the moment.

What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
I learned several big, equally important things. That I can do hard things, and parent through hard personal seasons, and that everything will, in fact, be okay. I also learned how to try and see what God is doing in our lives even when I’m frustrated with Him. And I learned that when I get stressed, self-care is the first thing that goes out the window. Exercise, sleep, and good eating habits fall by the wayside and I become a hermit and it’s bad.

Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
We survived—together—and we’re stronger for it.