Happy 2016! As 2015 came to an end, like many of you, I spent much time reflecting the past year and pondering what is in store for me, my family, my blog, and my shop in 2016. To be honest, it put me in a bit of a funk… I felt stuck and a little lost. In years before I have performed the “word of the year” exercise, and last year was the most effective for me. I had chosen contentment and every time I felt like I was faltering I remembered my own words about why I had selected contentment; they served as a beacon to me, reminding me to be happy and appreciate all of the things I had in my life. Thanks to that word, I am much happier and more fulfilled, and I don’t play the comparison game as often as I used to (but those nagging self doubts still show up at my door from time to time). So as I contemplated my word for 2016, I looked back gratefully at my thoughtful choice last year and hoped to build upon that and continue to grow as a person. Two years ago I chose “dedication” and often I see people choosing words like that, words that seem to have drive and energy built right into them. I hear dedication and I hear that “go get ’em” attitude. I already have drive and dedication built into the very fibers of my soul, so I won’t be working on that.
Last week I sat down and thought about the personal growth I’d like to achieve in 2016 and the word that came to mind was “Grace.” I chose this word for many reasons so hang tight because this post may get a little wordy. 😉
Grace in the sense of forgiveness and mercy, especially to my husband and family, is much needed in my life. So many mornings when Chris heads to work I ask, “When will you be home?” The answer might be 7:30 (most nights it is around then). The kids get home from school, we have some play time, then homework which is always an argument with Sawyer, then dinnertime… As the clock ticks by 7:30 I feel frustration creep in. It’s shower time, and now I’m dealing with an 8 year old who is suddenly petrified of being upstairs by herself. I’m seething as I deal with these battles on my own daily. The clock strikes 8… then keeps on ticking. With each passing minute, I grow more irritated. I put the kids to bed and go to bed myself to read… By the time Chris walks in the door, I’m angry and don’t want to talk to him anymore. This scene happens all too often in our house, and I have control of how I feel and behave. I don’t have control over Chris’ demanding schedule, but I have control of my own behavior, and I need to show him more grace. And I need to show my children the same as we work through homework and shower time battles. In doing so, I will also be teaching my children what it is to love without condition and to let go of bad feelings.
Earlier this week I began reading I’ll See You Again by Jackie Hance. If you don’t know the story, it’s a memoir written by a mother who lost all of her daughters in a tragic car accident when her sister-in-law drove the wrong way on the Taconic Parkway.
I shared this on instagram the other day, and on my facebook page as well, and a couple people said it would be too painful for them to read. Of course it is painful, but what kept me reading was the underlying feeling of hope and love in Jackie’s story. I wanted to read on and see her happy again. One scene that really shook me took place at the cemetery, where she visited her sister-in-law’s grave and said “I don’t know why you did this, Diane. I’ll never know what happened that day. But I always loved you, Diane. I still love you. And I forgive you. I forgive you.” I earmarked that page and came back to it. I forgive you. Three simple words that hold so much meaning and emotion, and oh how they can be the three hardest words to choke out sometimes. This past year was full of a lot of hurt on my part. I am not ready yet to go into details here, and maybe I never will be, but so many people that had come to be my “friends” at Sweet Clover betrayed me in a very hurtful manner. As much as I have been happily moving on since then, I had not yet forgiven. When I read that excerpt from Hance’s memoir, I decided that I, too, could forgive. So I forgive those who have hurt me, and I will continue to forgive those who hurt me in the future, as it is bound to happen again. That’s just part of life. But again, I have control over how I react to negativity. I can show grace and forgiveness and move on.
I also plan to extend that grace to myself… forgive myself in my own letdowns and failures, and understand that I cannot do it all. I did show myself some mercy last month when I made the very conscious decision to not send out Christmas cards for the first time in years. I was feeling overwhelmed and it was one more thing that was hanging over my head. I decided to let it go, and forgive myself for it. At first I was riddled with guilt. but as time went on I felt unburdened by the task. So heading into 2016, I will show myself grace, and do the best I can do always, but understand when the best is not exactly what I had initially hoped for.
Grace is also defined as “a pleasing appearance or effect” by Miriam Webster. Lately I’ve noticed more wrinkles, a few more grays… signs of aging. Well, I plan to age as gracefully as possible. I won’t fight it, but I will embrace it as I can (although I will be covering up gray hair as needed!) You may recall the holiday fashion shoot I did with Silk & Burlap.
Those photos weren’t edited, and were the real me… I felt strong, beautiful, and even sexy in their form fitting fashions. I tend to be a girl who dresses for comfort and a little bit of fashion, but I am hoping to change that and become a girl who dresses gracefully, with a little more care and maturity in my choices.
Just as I did in 2015, I plan to come back to this post to remind myself of who I am and want to be. When frustration and anger creep in, I want to remember to forgive quickly and easily, to walk with grace internally and externally.
Did you choose a word of the year, too? If you did, I would love to hear it! I wish you all the best in the year ahead!