Welcome, 2017! Another year has flown by – it feels like I was just sitting down to articulate my hopes & dreams for 2016, and now it’s over. Last year, I shared some thoughts on a Word of the Year as opposed to traditional resolutions, and I’m excited to complete the same exercise again this year.
Last year’s Nurture proved accurate and comforting for our family. It was a gentle, sweet year – what you’d expect in 12 months of caring for an infant-turned-toddler. It was a relief to know that, above all, a nurturing lifestyle is what I was striving for last year. And in retrospect, it was a success.
This year, as I look ahead, Amos’s newfound independence as a stubborn 18-month-old doesn’t bend my heart to nurture like it did last year. Of course the same joys and duties of motherhood and work befall me this year, but it’s just a different year, calling for different dreams. I thought endlessly about this coming year – what are we hoping for? What are our goals? How can I sum it all up? I debated among “contentment,” “create,” “patience” – but nothing really hit the nail on the head. Until I considered a word that has been weighing on my heart for months now, a concept I’ve been seeking and pondering more and more with time: peace.
Looking into 2017, there is nothing I desire more than peace. Peace for myself, for my marriage, for my son, my friendships, my work, my home – peace! A lack of conflict, tension absolved, anxiety abated. Is there anything more restful, more tranquil, and more desirable than peace? All the money in the world can’t buy it, and yet there it is – the promise of peace.
Peace is fascinating to me, because it takes on so many meanings when applied to our lives. All of our intentions and dreams this year point back to peace, and having this as the end goal truly motivates me to simultaneous rest and action. For 2017, there are 4 ways I hope to see this theme unfold in our life and work:
1. Peace as a state of being.
This one starts with me – what can I do to create peace in my personal life?
• Redeeming the mornings: I’ve found that I’m a frazzled, tired, irritable mess if I wake up when Amos does. I am a night owl by nature, so no part of my body or soul desires to be up before my child, let alone before the sun. And yet (I can’t believe I’m saying this), the days that I get up before him and have some alone time are the most relaxed, organized, and life-giving. I give myself time to wake up, to read, journal, plan my day, and have my coffee – in peace! By the time Amos is screaming “MAMA!” from his crib, I’ve at least recharged enough to hit the day running in peace. This is a big goal for me, and probably sounds silly to all you morning birds, but I’m hoping to maintain an early morning routine for myself for the rest of the year. The payoff of peace is so worth it.
• Prioritizing Self-Care: This may start in the mornings, but carries on through the day. How can I nourish my body best with healthy food and plenty of water? Can I make time for a walk with my family, a long hot shower each night, and a stack of books I love? Self-care isn’t selfish; it’s much-needed maintenance to keep things running smoothly, physically and emotionally. I love the sense of peace I feel when I have a little time to myself to relax, read, walk, or enjoy good food & drink.
• Quieting my anxiety: I’m a natural worrier, inclined to anxiety if I let my thought life get carried away. I can fret endlessly about the future, replay the past in my head, and question myself at every step if I’m not careful. I’ve seen what unchecked anxious behavior can do, and it’s unsettling. There’s nothing less peaceful than succumbing to anxiety and worry, so this year I’m resolving to clear my head and heart and pursue peace instead. I plan to rest in kindness, good intentions, and the assurance that I’m trying my best. And if I fail? There’s peace in apologies, fresh starts, & forgiveness, as well.
• Relinquishing control: I’m also letting go, mentally and emotionally, of the unanswered questions, worries, and imagined struggles of the future. I don’t know what this year will look like, honestly. I’m not sure what will happen with our business, our bank account, what Amos will be like in 12 months, if our family will grow, what things around me may change, or – perhaps even scarier – stay the same. But peace will settle those struggles. I’m not in control, and the most peaceful thing I can do is accept and rest in that truth. As author Kelly Flanagan said, “Peace is what happens when we quit doing violence to the present moment by searching for a better one.” Amen.
2. Peace as an initiative
This is where the rubber hits the road – what actions will I take to create peace around me for myself and my family? My goals for this year are all shaped around creating peace in my environment and relationships – giving peace a very real place to live and breathe.
• Our home: This begins with my home, our dwelling place where we live and play and work and rest. I am a huge believer that our environments influence our behavior and well-being, and so I’m resolving to create a place of peace for our family. Our home has been a couple of years in the making now, and while it’s a lovely, functional space, there’s more I can do to streamline our lifestyle and help create peace. This starts with decluttering (hey KonMari!), will require constant tidying, and an ongoing system of baskets, hooks, organizing, and more. And I don’t want to overlook small details throughout the year that usher in peace – clean laundry, beds made, a roaring fire, candles lit, music playing, good food cooking, windows open in the springtime, fresh flowers in the summer – the little things matter, and it all contributes towards an environment of productivity and peace.
• Our food: Food is a constant struggle in this house, and something I’ve yet to conquer. I know that a consistent meal plan and having groceries stocked in the house would contribute so much towards peaceful evenings and dinner routines. The amazing thing is that if I just meal plan and make sure we have food on hand, Brad does all the cooking! What’s more peaceful than having your husband cook you dinner!? And yet I still struggle to think of healthy meals and stay on top of this task. Here’s to hoping 2017 is full of organized meal ideas, grocery lists, and family dinners around the table.
• Our structure: I find that peace exists most easily when there’s order. At the risk of sounding like a control freak, I keep so many lists, journals, calendars, and more to stay organized. The quickest path to a peaceful week for our family is to fill out our weekly calendar, meal plan, go over our goals and deadlines for the week, and keep daily to-do lists. Taking the initiative with our time and tasks is always a worthwhile chore.
Peace will not just create itself; I’m feeling motivated and excited to do my part towards helping usher this state of being into my home and lifestyle.
3. Peace as a character quality
Being a woman of peace is such a lovely and lofty goal – it would mean so much to me if people described me as a person of peace. What kind of legacy will I leave? Will I burden my family and friends with an attitude of stress, unrest, irritability, and turmoil? Or will I be described as someone content with her life, responsible in her roles as worker, wife, and mother, and someone who is peaceful to be around? This will surely be a lifelong goal of mine, to pursue peace with my whole heart and rest in the eternal promise of it.
4. Peace as a gift to others
Lastly, I hope that as I pursue peace in my personal life, that it becomes a quality I can bless others with. When friends ask for advice, can I push them towards peace? Can a gentle answer bring comfort? When Amos needs a loving mom and open arms, can I be a refuge of peace for him? Instead of creating friction or conflict in my marriage, can I be a place of peace and openness for Brad? When friends and family visit our home, can I extend peace through conversation, food, and hospitality? These are the things I’m striving for this year. The elusive, beautiful, restful Peace and all that comes with it.
Peace will at once be a personal mindset, a goal for our environment, an enduring character quality, and a gift we pass on to others. For 2017, as I look at our work and our home and our relationships, I can’t think of anything else I’d rather see unfold.
What are your hopes and dreams for this year? Have you chosen a Word to guide your goals? Please share!
“Let him seek peace and pursue it.” -1 Peter 3:11
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” -John 14:27
“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness” -James 3:18
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone.” -Hebrews 12:14