When I look back at 2013, my natural instinct is to see all the ways I fell short. I didn't do this and I meant to do that and I was a total failure in these 500 ways. This is my knee-jerk life view: the glass is mostly empty, and I am just not good enough.
I was thinking about this as I vacuumed the floor at about 10:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. We had just watched a "family classic" Christmas movie that turned out to be really inappropriate, despite its PG rating, and I felt it had ruined the spirit of the evening. I was mad at myself for sharing with the family a movie I had not screened, and then not turning it off when it wasn't a good thing to watch. I was negligent in the first place and then a poor example to my kids. Lame, lame, lame, lame.
But then a voice came into my head: It's OK. You haven't ruined your kids' lives. You didn't even ruin the evening. They loved dinner and they loved the pillowcases you made for them, and they loved that you shared your precious Candy Cane Oreos with them, and they loved the Christmas songs you sang as you tucked them into bed. I realized that despite my mistakes, I had also made some great choices, both that night and throughout the year. I had done some things right.
With this perspective, I look back on this year and offer a list of 13 Things I Did Right in 2013. It was really hard for me to come up with this list, but here it is for
all the world my blog readers to see. I know that in the future I will need a reminder of my successes this year. So, in no particular order....
1. I completed (or will, in the next few days), a daily journal. I only wrote a sentence or two each day, but I already treasure the snapshot of my life. I'm look forward to daily entries for the next four years, all in the same book.
2. I shared my love of the LDS Church with friends. My testimony of Jesus Christ is something near and dear to me, and I always love the chance to share the joy I feel in the gospel.
3. I tried my best to be a good Young Women leader. Despite some difficult setbacks in my own life, I think I was always "there" for my girls and my fellow leaders. I learned a lot as a teacher and made some treasured friends. I look back fondly on my year of service in that organization, and I miss my girls.
4. I advocated for myself in a number of ways. It's so easy for me to just do what people tell me, especially medical professionals and people at church, but I am learning to set boundaries and be brave enough to quit or change something that just isn't working for me. That's a skill set I hope to keep developing.
5. I blogged a LOT. I'm happy that I am keeping a good record of our family life, both the good and the not-so-good. I love the therapy that blogging gives me and the validation I get from all of you that I'm not alone in this crazy world. And it helps me find humor in everyday situations.
6. I nurtured my marriage. Garry and I have been on more dates this year and attended the temple together more often than in years past, and finally took a trip together. I tried to connect with him more and put his needs first. I'm certainly not great at any of this, but effort counts for something.
7. I tried to make new friends. Is it normal for this to be hard for someone my age? Well, it is for me, but I worked on it a lot, and I am pleased to report some improvements. I learned that friendships come and go, that some people just don't fit well together, and that it's usually not personal when someone else just walks away.
8. I wrote a song and arranged a couple of others. I like experimenting with this new, creative part of my mind.
9. I completed full 72-hour kits for each member of my family. It's time to update them again, but still...
10. I did fun things for holidays and birthdays with my kids. I often refer to this as earning "cool mom points," but really it's more about making happy memories together.
11. I spent some of my time serving others, which is and always will be one of my favorite things. I plan to make a tradition of doing random acts of kindness on my birthday.
12. I realized that my limitations don't have to define me. I recently learned that someone I love has a heartache I know all too well. I look at her and see how fantastic she is and all that she can be and do, despite her struggles. That made me realize that when people say positive and encouraging things about me, they are true.
13. I read The Book of Mormon twice. I listened to dozens of sessions of General Conference while I worked out at the Y. Feeding my soul with the good word of God is one of my top priorities, so it definitely needs to make this list.
In my favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, Calvin complains to his father about being cold in the house one winter. His dad explains the cost of running the furnace, which Calvin thoughtfully considers and accepts. Then, as Calvin walks away, his father says, "...and being cold builds character." Ha! Of course there is always an uncomfortable lesson in every cold part of our lives.
I'd be mixing my metaphors to talk about under-performing furnaces and half-empty glasses, so I'll just end with this: Here's to a warm and full 2014!