Somehow, 2016 is already gone. And last night, I began reflecting on my habit of choosing one word to focus on each year, rather than choosing resolutions. Because I have never, ever stuck to a New Year’s resolution. But one word to focus on all year long – that’s what works for me.
As I thought about this last year, though, I was feeling discouraged. Frankly, I struggled with the word I chose in 2016. It truly wasn’t until December when I felt like I had begun to succeed at my goal for the year. I was feeling discouraged and frustrated.
But this morning, I realized something.
It’s not bad to set a goal that you struggle with all year. In fact … that seems to have been a perfect goal for me. I worked, I struggled … and at the end, finally, I made progress.
So now a new year is here, and it’s time for me to choose a new word. As with previous years, I gave it a lot of thought, but there was really only one word that kept coming back to mind. A word that emulates not just how I want to feel, but the light and hope that I want to project.
This year … I choose joy. I choose not to wait for happiness to come to me, but to find it. I choose to more fully seek the sunshine and keep my back to the shadows. I choose to live in a way that shows others that life is good, that happiness is possible, that hope exists.
In 2017, I choose joy.
What about YOU? What are you choosing this year?
One of my favorite pictures from our recent trip to Harry Potter World, and one of my favorite J. K. Rowling quotes.
Thank you for helping me light up the world, one act of kindness at a time.
Lately, I’ve been in a bit of a rut. Rather unsatisfied with life.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels that way sometimes.
I know that my feelings are partly due to our recent move. We have a lovely new home in a wonderful neighborhood. The schools are great. We have many fun things to do within easy driving distance of our home. We have met so many good, kind, friendly people. But … I am someone who likes having roots. And two months hasn’t been quite long enough for me to put down roots.
So I’ve been going through the motions of daily life, but not very happily. As I wash the millionth(ish) dish of the day, as I vacuum the dog hair off of the stairs, as I dust, as I scrub, as I cook, I have had the same thought over and over.
“This isn’t what I want out of life. I want to be doing something more.”
What is that “more”?
I’m not exactly sure. But as I’ve been trying to figure out what this “more” is that I want to be doing, I can let you know one thing: it does not involve housework. It involves … writing a book, perhaps. It involves sponsoring an orphanage in a third-world country. It involves connecting with people who share the deepest desire of my heart: making this world a better and a happier place, one act of kindness at a time.
And here, somewhere in between of a sink full of dishes and a bookshelf that needs to be dusted, I haven’t been able to find this “more.”
But I’m trying.
So yesterday, I took my son with me to run some errands. There is a new Michaels in our town, and off we headed, coupon in hand. As we wandered through the aisles, looking for felt to make our Star Wars Light Saber Popsicle Holders, I ran across the yarn aisle. I haven’t done anything with yarn since college, but I have been thinking about getting some kind of loom so I could teach my kids how to crochet simple hats. These would be great to add to my shoeboxes or blessing bags, and I thought it would be a good fine-motor skill for them to develop. I spotted the most simple loom – four pegs, just wide enough to crochet a scarf on. And it was cheap, and I had a coupon. Done.
I moved on to the yarn, and – yay! – skeins of soft yarn were on a “Doorbuster” sale. 70% off? Done. As I looked at colors, my son got excited.
“Mom, are you going to make ME a scarf?”
Well … I honestly hadn’t planned on that. But seeing the joy and hope on his face, I couldn’t help but say, “Sure, buddy. Pick your color.”
We settled on yellow AND black (“A bumblebee scarf, Mom!”), grabbed a few more skeins for future projects, and checked out. We came home and got busy with other projects, and then nap, and then a play date, and then dinner. And suddenly it was after 8 pm, and my son was asking (for the tenth time), “But Mom, when are you going to start my scarf?”
With a fair warning that I wouldn’t have time to finish it, I had him gather the supplies together for me. My plan was to figure out how to do it, and then let him help. I started working, and within a few minutes, I had the hang of it. And all kinds of ideas were running through my head. I could make scarves for my shoeboxes! I could give them to the homeless! Hey, maybe I’ll get so good, I can sell them, and use the money to buy more stuff for my shoeboxes! This is going to be the best hobby ever!
And then I looked … and I realized something.
This scarf. Was. UGLY.
The thing is, with a loom this big, you’re supposed to use REALLY fluffy yarn. The thought had vaguely occurred to me, but, you know. 70% off. I thought if I doubled it, it would work out just fine.
I stared at the few rows of hideousness, all visions of crocheting fame flying out the window. It doesn’t even look like a scarf! It looks like … well, something that my 5-year-old would have done. Certainly not something that could be considered clothing. I sighed.
And then I heard a gasp.
“Mom. Look! LOOK! It’s … it’s a BUMBLEBEE SCARF!”
And I looked.
Not at the scarf.
At my son.
He was absolutely thrilled.
Apparently, I was making his dreams come true.
I smiled. And I kept going. Because apparently, this ugly scarf … it’s going to be enough.
I did a few more rows, then put it away as my husband and I put the kids to bed and worked on a few things around the house. I forgot about our new project.
But my son didn’t.
This morning, as I began preparing breakfast, he asked eagerly, “Mom, while you cook my eggs, can you finish my scarf?”
I started to chuckle. First, that he thinks that I’m coordinated enough to handle a hot pan, flipping eggs, AND a crochet hook all at once without scalding or impaling myself. And second, that he feels so secure in my love for him that he didn’t think I had anything better to do with my time than to cook for him and to make him a scarf.
And then I stopped in my tracks.
And tears came to my eyes.
And I realized something.
In this search for “more” … in this quest for fulfillment … in this desire to change the world … in the middle of this passion to make the world a better place, one act of kindness at a time …
I had forgotten.
I had forgotten that there is really, truly nothing better for me to do with my time than to cook for my son and to make him a scarf.
Because if I could change the world … this is what would be happening. In every single home where a child lived, there would be someone who has nothing better to do than to cook breakfast and to make a scarf. Every child would know this. Every parent would know this. And with that love, with that security, with that confidence, that parent and that child would walk out the door together, ready to bless everyone in sight.
I began to look around my kitchen, and I began to see things. The dishes left in the sink from last night were a remnant of the meal that I had prepared. My family had eaten. We had discussed our day, we’d made plans, we’d set a family goal. We’d left that table full and happy. That time in the kitchen, those chores that I often dread – they were an investment in my family.
The fruit bowl on the counter was full. And it was full because I had taken the time to grocery shop with my son the day before, teaching him about healthy food choices that give our bodies energy. And as I peeled and washed and chopped, I was teaching my children to invest in their bodies and their health. I was giving them the strength they needed to step out the front door and change the world.
Every meal. Every dish. Every hug and kiss and song and prayer. Every story. Every tangle brushed out of long hair. Every ride to school, or to swim lessons, or to a play date. Every shopping trip to buy clothing or food for growing bodies. Every bit of unpaid, unnoticed, thankless service.
They all matter.
Every single one.
This message is for you, exhausted new mom who feels like you do nothing but feed and clean and burp and rock.
This message is for you, young dad who has forgotten what “free time” feels like because every extra minute you can find is dedicated to your children.
It’s for you, teacher who spends day after day after day trying to instruct and correct and protect and guide children who are not your own, but who you love with all of your heart.
It’s for you, who spends your days brushing tangles out of hair, breaking up arguments, folding piles of laundry, bathing little bodies, and cutting food into tiny pieces.
This message is for you.
What you do every day: it is enough.
You are enough.
By all means, take a break when you need it. Reach outside yourself to serve and to make a difference. Find your passion and pursue it. Do what you can do to make yourself strong and happy. Because if you are strong and happy, your family will benefit.
But then come back. And fry another egg. And know that in that small act, you are changing the world.
And maybe … just maybe … you can even crochet an ugly scarf.
Hi there, friends! I wanted to take a moment to check in with all of you and fill you in on my life a bit.
My family is getting ready for a move to another state. It is exciting, it is terrifying, it is BUSY. My stress level has been very high for the last month or two, and I have found myself constantly sick and tired. So for the next little while, I’m backing off of several things … including writing. As much as I LOVE this little website and sharing new ideas with you, I truly need to take some time to focus on my family, my health, my sanity … and selling a house. And settling into a new one. And learning a new area. But before that, spending some quality time with my Texas people. (Sob.)
So what does that mean? Less posts around here for a while. But I’ll still be on Facebook, and if you would like to hang around, look on the right-hand side of this page. Scroll down a bit, and you’ll find a handy spot to enter your e-mail address. It will automatically send you an e-mail when I post.
Thanks for joining me on this journey, everyone! I can’t wait to come back less stressed, more rested, with a clear head and a heart ready to give and serve with you.
P.S. Please feel free to keep asking me questions! Need an activity to do with your kids? Looking for a way to spread kindness in your community? I always welcome your questions and your comments!
So sorry about the late New Year’s post, friends! I got pretty sick last week and thought I’d spare y’all the rambling thoughts of a feverish woman, slightly loopy from medication. This week, luckily, I’m feeling great, and so excited to share some thoughts with you.
For those of you who have been around here for a year, you might remember last year’s New Year’s post. For the last several years, rather than choosing New Year’s resolutions, I have instead chosen a word.
One word that I’d like to focus on for the entire year.
And it has been AWESOME.
I have never, ever stuck to a New Year’s resolution. I am not terribly great with goals. But a word? Just one word to focus on? Even I can do that!
In 2014, my word was “hope”. I began the year facing a scary surgery, and hope was something that I desperately needed. And during that long and difficult year, I clung to hope like an anchor. As I continued to battle challenges (both physically and emotionally), I kept hope in my mind and in my heart.
In 2015, my word was “savor”. I felt a bit silly choosing that word, but after a year of challenges and struggles and pain, I desperately wanted to begin to enjoy my life again. I particularly wanted to relish this season of life with young children. The years are flying by SO fast, and somehow my baby is almost kindergarten age. So I wanted to make 2015 a year to savor. And I did. Not every day, certainly. But many days. I stopped to savor moments. I paused to create memories. I said “yes” when I would have rather said “no” to one more book, one more song, one more goodnight hug. And it was a beautiful way to focus my year.
So 2016 is here. And I’m going to get real here, y’all: I am a little bit afraid of 2016. My husband and I decided to accept a job opportunity that he received. It should offer a much better quality of family life, and I am hopeful that we will get to spend more time together than we have in years past. But it means a move. It means saying goodbye to my friends who have become like family. It means leaving my new home. It means leaving my wonderful job teaching preschool. It means starting over in a new place. And guess what I don’t like doing? Starting over.
But I’ve realized that I get to choose.
I get to choose if I am going to dread this move. I can decide that I’m going to hate my new home. I can loathe the weather. I can whine about all of the changes in my life. I can mourn the loss of my friends. I can throw a pity party when I leave my job.
Or I can make another choice.
I can choose to be happy, wherever I am.
Is it going to be that simple? Goodness, no. Am I going to be successful at this every day? I highly doubt it. I anticipate that I will struggle with this. A LOT. In fact, this is likely going to be a real stretch for me many days this year.
But I have made a choice, and I need you to help me stick to it.
I have chosen that wherever I am, I will be happy.
And not just that … but wherever I am, I will find a way to make the world a better place. I will find someone to bless. I will find a way to brighten and cheer. I will not just survive, but I will flourish. I will learn more about myself, I will become more confident, and I will use my strengths in ways that will make life better for others. I will love myself, and I will help others to love themselves, too.
In 2016 … my goal is to bloom.
And I can’t wait to see what opportunities await.
Are you joining me in choosing a word for this new year? What is your word for 2016?
I have an awesome friend named Amy. She and I grew up in the same area. She’s a wife. She’s a mom to three beautiful children. She is kind, she is strong, she is faithful, she is a warrior.
And right now, she is fighting breast cancer.
Her Facebook posts bring me to tears. Sometimes, when I feel like I am having a tough day, I see a picture of her doing something simple, like helping her kids with homework, and I am completely humbled. I realize how hard these simple things must be to do while receiving chemotherapy. But she keeps fighting, and she keeps LIVING. I am so grateful to know her.
Last week, she shared this thought on Facebook. It has stayed with me. Today, I asked her if I could share it with you, and she graciously gave me permission.
“I am surrounded by the absolute BEST people out there. From family to friends to ward (church congregation) members, my little family and I have been taken care of beyond what I could have ever imagined. A few years ago I remember hearing a talk about service (and while I have searched for it, I’m coming up empty-handed). Anyway, one thing that really stuck out to me was that we need to stop telling people “let me know if there is anything I can do” and start offering to do something concrete. Earlier this week, I got a text from a neighbor (one I have never even met in person mind you), telling me how much she loved to vacuum and how she felt better when her floors were clean and asked if she could come vacuum my house. If she would have asked me if she could do anything, I never would have said “sure, please come vacuum my house!” But it was so easy to say yes to her offer to do something that I really wanted done and couldn’t do myself. I may think I have a lot to complain about most days, but I am seriously so blessed.”
This story amazed me. What a simple thing to do – and what an impact it made. I know that sometimes when we see someone who is going through a big trial, whether illness or death or divorce or any other life challenge, we do … nothing.
Probably because we just don’t know what to do.
And maybe because we feel like anything we do will only be a tiny drop in a big bucket.
But today, take a moment to think about Amy’s story. Think about someone in your life who needs your help.
Then don’t just say, “Let me know if you need anything.”
Today – show up and do something.
That something might be vacuuming or folding laundry. It might mean homemade muffins or a gift card to dinner. It might mean babysitting or yard work or an envelope with cash in it. It might mean a phone call or a text message, a Facebook post or a card in the mail.
Just choose to do something. Because what might, to you, seem like not enough … might be just what someone needs today.
And the winner of our “31 Gives” bag …
Comment #2, Hillary! “If I had $1000 to give to any charity it would actually be split between four charities near and dear to my heart: Make a Wish, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, Beads of Courage, and Bags of Fun. When my toddler was diagnosed with cancer almost 18 months ago it sent us on a Rollercoaster adventure. Two of the first charities we were introduced to were Beads of courage (a program that provides color coded beads that are going through chronic disease or serious illness to help explain and show every poke, test, surgery, hospital stay, etc) and bags of fun (a local charity that provides a backpack full of age appropriate “toys” for kids stuck in the hospital. My son was 18 months at the time and received several toys, a portable dvd player, a couple of movies, and a very nice backpack). Make a wish just sent our family on an all expense paid vacation to Disney world. It was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience that I will cherish, even if my kids were too young to remember it in the years to come. And Alex’s lemonade stand is a charity set up in memory of a little girl that lost her battle with cancer, and yet as she fought she set up a lemonade stand to earn money to donate to childhood cancer research.”
Congratulations, Hillary! If you’ll e-mail me your address at LetsDoSomeGoodToday.com, I’ll pass along your info to Amber! And thank you for sharing those beautiful charities with us.
If anyone is interested in purchasing one of these fun bags for yourself, or to give as a gift, Amber would be happy to help you! Her page can be found here, and you can e-mail her by clicking the link at the top of the page. Thank you, Amber, for hosting this giveaway for us!
Edit: The giveaway has ended and the winner announced here. Thank you so much for entering, and for your thoughtful comments!
This week, I was thrilled to get a message on Facebook from a great friend, offering to personally sponsor a giveaway for us. I have had several people offering to sell here at Let’s Do Some Good Today, but just giving away something to one of you? Something that promotes an excellent cause? I was thrilled, and I hope you will be, too. I’ll let her explain it to you in her own words. Thank you SO much, Amber!
My name is Amber. I have been a friend of Kimbers for many years. More recently I have become a follower of her blog. Even more recently than that I became an independent consultant with Thirty-One. With Thirty-One we have a mission is to celebrate, encourage, and reward. Thirty-One has a charity called 31 Gives . We work with Girl Talk and Ronald McDonald House. We have special products that a portion goes directly to help and encourage others. I would like to reward a reader with one such product.
The U R U Collection is synonymous with the Gives mission to celebrate others for who they are, giving them the support and self-esteem needed to lead a purposeful, thriving life. Each product is personalized with an inspiring message on the inside, symbolizing internal beauty – U R Strong, U R Bold, U R True, U R U – encouraging all of us to be strong enough to be bold and bold enough to be our True Selves.
In February 2012, Thirty-One Gives launched to help Thirty-One Gifts to pay back the many blessings we’ve received as a company. We are dedicated to three key pieces of our heart – girls, women and families. Since 2012, Gives has donated $36 million in cash and product and touched 8.5 million lives.
We have a passion for serving and supporting girls, women and families. We believe strong, confident girls will grow up to become strong, compassionate women, who will be the driving force behind strong, healthy families and communities. Our mission is to celebrate others for who they are, giving them the support and self-esteem needed to lead purposeful, thriving lives. When we all work together and give a little piece of our heart, we can make a huge difference.
Did You Know?
- A girl’s self-esteem peaks at age 9
- Only 2% of women describe themselves as beautiful
- 62% of girls are insecure about themselves
- Less than 7% of national philanthropic dollars are for women and girls
3 Pieces of Our Heart
Girls, women and families make up the three pieces of our heart. We primarily focus our national giving on one national mission partner for each piece of our heart.
Girls: Girl Talk, Inc. is our mission partner aligned with our mission to build, strong confident girls.
Women: The Gives Care Council is working hard to identify a national mission partner who shares our mission to build strong, compassionate women.
Families: Ronald McDonald House Charities® is our national mission partner aligned with our mission to build strong, healthy families.
We are excited for you to learn more about who we support and ways to give!
Amber, Thirty-One Consultant
Thank you, Amber! And now, the giveaway!
If you’d like to enter to win this fantastic URU Uptown Mini Pouch for yourself or for a loved one (hint, hint – Christmas is coming), you have three ways to enter. Please leave a separate comment for each entry. Giveaway closes Tuesday, September 8th at midnight CST, and the winner will be announced on Wednesday, September 9th at 2 pm CST.
- Leave a comment letting us know what you like, or what you learned from, the facts Amber shared with us today (or about this specific product).
- Share this giveaway on the social media platform of your choice.
- Let us know … if you have $1000 to give to any charity, where would you donate it?
Thanks for participating! Good luck!
Edited: The original post stated that a girl’s self esteem peaks at 91. The correct age is actually 9. Sorry about the confusion!!!
And the winner of our Blog-iversary giveaway is …
“I think my favorite challenges are the homeless challenges. The needs are great and I love being reminded that little things can help.”
Thank you so much, Nancy, for taking part in our service challenges with us! Please leave a message here, or e-mail me at [email protected], and I’ll send the Mercy House gift certificate your way!