Ringing in the New Year

The hardest thing about not blogging for a couple weeks is figuring out where to pick up the story.

Do I start with yesterday's skiing and move back backwards in time to the church Christmas concert where my brother and his family arrived, just in time for the banquet, officially kicking off eight days of Christmas with twelve people?

Or do I start where I left off on December 19th, making my lists, giddy with anticipation of family and festivities?

Let's start further back in the winter, spring, summer, fall of 2014, and finally the breaking and rebuilding of early December.

The emotional rawness and strain of 2014 carried into my Christmas celebrations. I hadn't anticipated that because most of December brought with it incredible healing and hope. But add seven extra people to the mix, into my place of work and wellbeing, and a change of routine (to a routine-loving person) and it's not much of stretch to see how I could feel emotionally strained during Christmas.

The interesting thing about working, living, learning (everything) at home is that home is both my workplace and my safe place. Having people in that space for extended days changes the flow of both the work and the sanctuary, and that is challenging for me and not necessarily relaxing.

I have an amazing family. These are the people who love me most dearly. Who appreciate and accept me as I am, but I still felt raw and exposed, vulnerable in my healing.

It would be easy to misconstrue my words, to imagine family drama where there was none. Most of the drama happened inside my head and heart, in tender spots just starting to heal.

Healing takes time. That's all.

We haven't seen my brother Brad and his wife Dawna since August 2013. Too long.

I was so happy to see Brienne and Navaeh become best, fast buddies. Most of Brienne's friends are younger than her so getting along with a younger cousin came pretty naturally.

There were epic amounts of Minecraft played, culminating in a juried contest for best castle. Joah, Laurent, and Brienne each contributed to that competition and I managed to extricate myself from judging (phew). Hats off to Brad, Nana, & Papa who came up with a clever re-working of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd places into three 1st place categories for different elements - structural, artistic design etc.

One of my favorite memories wasn't captured on camera at all, an evening of tubing on my brother's birthday at the ski hill with all the kids and most of the adults.

The weather didn't cooperate for a lot of winter snow play, raining on Christmas day, but we enjoyed walks on the beach and I was able to get out for a couple afternoon skis through the back fields and woods. This time out by myself, in nature, was hugely important to me.

We ate well. My schedule worked wonderfully with necessary tweaks as we went (we didn't need as much food as I originally planned for).

Having a four bedroom, three bathroom home with a guest house worked beautifully for this many people. What a rare gift in our family history to have this much space to share.

There was so much energy in this Christmas, and not just from six kids bouncing off the walls. Brad and Dawna are in a really great place with their work and life vision, they fully support their family with a thriving and growing doTERRA business. Their enthusiasm was contagious. Such great people to be around. (Love you guys!)

When everyone left I was relieved to laze around and not have to worry about meeting needs (perceived, or real). My kids can fend for themselves in our home and perhaps more importantly, they know the routines and my preferences for how things get done, etc.

Last week the temperatures dropped, finally starting to cooperate for skiing. We bought our season's pass at the ski hill and some combination of family members were at the hill almost every day. I love the freedom of a season's pass to take advantage of the best snow conditions, skiing for just the morning and returning home by lunch, or for a full day of winter fun.

I had an end of the month writing deadline and once that was met I shifted into full rest and holiday recovery mode; reading, napping, lazying around, and thinking about 2015.

This is the most intentional I think I've ever been going into a New Year; identifying what I want from this year, what I need, my goals, dreams, etc. Our hike and my post-hike breakdown precipitated this.

Many other years we've been traveling, winter adventuring, or hosting people right up to, and beyond January 1st. I am so grateful for the space I had between Christmas and the start of real life (today) to reflect and plan.

Ever since we returned from our hike in late September I have been writing down to the marrow of my being. I've written pages and pages (in Evernote specifically) of notes with titles like: my career vocation self-employment direction; spiritual goals; my needs, goals and top values; marriage healing; attacks to my self-worth; late fall 2014 life assessment; post-hike evaluation; who I was as a girl; etc...

Through this process I created an eight point list, eight compass points, to guide my goals and personal development moving forward. Those are:

  1. creative
  2. intellectual
  3. work
  4. body
  5. spirit
  6. relationships
  7. home
  8. adventure/travel

Late last week I organized all that introspection and self-reflection. I updated notes, and permanently filed others as "resolved". I created new Notebooks and renamed others.

From my many pages of writing, about who I am and what I need and want out of life, I curated a list of actionable steps into a document called Life Projects & Goals; a long note (in Evernote again) divided into a six month plan, one year plan, 1-3 year plan, 5 year plan and 10 year plan; each section divided according to my eight compass points.

I also wrote out my focus for 2015 - a year for personal health and healing; a year to take care of me, to focus on activities and ways of operating that feel right for me. A year to rest and prepare the soil for the next stage of life - my post-homeschooling career, my forties, 20+ years of knowing and loving Damien, our children graduating (and eventually leaving home), etc.

Although this is a year of rest and healing for me we actually have some big plans on the horizon. When do we not? But these plans, instead of taking us on grand adventures into the unknown, waters we have navigated for nearly four years, are instead to ensure stability and steadiness in our lives. There will be changes, but they are changes designed to support our marriage and our family by supporting me.

2015 is my year to rest and recover, to focus on healing and home. To live in my safe zone and relish the comfort I feel here, to re-gain my security and confidence in who I am and how I operate. It's my year to live in a way that rings true for me, building a more solid foundation for my mid-life years.

« She's makin' a list, checkin' it twice... (and talkin' religion)
Year of the Fallowed Field »
  • Misti

    Misti on Jan. 5, 2015, 4:34 p.m.

    I love the idea of planning out several years into the future, or at least writing out an idea of what you want it to look like. 

    I hope the year is restful and inspiring for you!


  • Anna

    Anna on Jan. 5, 2015, 6 p.m.

    Glad you had some down time after Christmas, I too spent that week in reflection and rest. I've designated 2015

    The Year of Self-care; and reading your blog today was part of that. Your writing is so soothing and inspiring to me.

    so thank you for being you, and for the great photos because I realized today as the wind blows, and the temperature plummets that you have to be outside with the kids to take all those great shots!




    • renee

      renee on Jan. 5, 2015, 6:03 p.m.


      you better believe it. I was freezing my fingers yesterday taking photos on the chairlift, but it's all worth it. I love having photos of our fun outdoors together :)

      Sounds like you and I are on a similar track for this year. 


      • renee

        renee on Jan. 5, 2015, 6:07 p.m.

        (just realized the chairlift photos aren't on my blog but on my personal facebook page, but you get the idea)


  • Tara

    Tara on Jan. 5, 2015, 7:04 p.m.

    I feel like I am in need of focus on healing and home too.  May 2015 be all that we hope for and more because I am sure we can't even imagine where it's going to take us, even if it's somewhere in the center of our beings.


  • Leonardo Augusto

    Leonardo Augusto on Jan. 5, 2015, 11:06 p.m.

    Hi Renee! Greetings from Brazil! Was a really refreshing post! I'm follow your posts and now,reading it ..wow .

    Thanks ! Nice tips that you gave me! May Jesus bless you! Keep writing!


  • Jenn B

    Jenn B on Jan. 6, 2015, 7:18 p.m.

    I used to be better at documenting, planning, undersanding my goals and dreams. Maybe it's the season of motherhood that I am in....when I finally sit down to collect my thoughts, I am too tired! Write or type for myself specifically?! A luxury. Am I not making enough time for myself? I love your practice of routine and documenting with words and photos. Any advice for someone who wants to be more mindful of this practice? :) Thanks Renee!!


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 6, 2015, 9:30 p.m.

      Jenn B. Funny, I haven't always been so good at documenting my goals and dreams, though I've always been a good planner and organizer. 

      Advice for how to be more mindful... hum... well, here's how I do it. I use Evernote as a collector to capture my thoughts as they enter my head through the day(s). I keep them in different Notebooks that make sense to me. And then I have a dedicated writing time each morning in which I take those thoughts further, with the intention of publishing them to the blog, but they don't always make it that far. 

      The dreams and goals stuff from this post was not about blogging though, that was a separate activity. 

      For me the practice and routine of blogging is all about making a place for it in my day, scheduled like everything else that is important to me - afternoon exercise, meal prep, food planning, bill paying, teaching kids math, etc. etc. My kids are older so my schedule runs pretty smooth in this life season. When they were younger I had less activities planned for my to account for all the interruptions, transitions, etc. with smaller kids. 


      • Jenn B

        Jenn B on Jan. 7, 2015, 8 p.m.

        I know my struggle is with scheduling that time for myself. It's on my "to work on" in 2015. I am also working outside of home for 30 hours a week and running a small business with my husband. We have two children, so life can be pretty busy at times. I am going to look in to Evernote! Thank you for mentioning it.

        I tend to think about my time management in terms of making sure I get everything done and then after... I can focus on my needs. I know that when I take that meal planning, exercising, reading or self care time, I am more patient and focused for my family. Your posts regarding family and resting and healing have been hitting home for me. Thanks Renee, I do love your writing.


      • Laura

        Laura on Jan. 7, 2015, 9:55 p.m.

        Renee, I am enjoying reading about your journey. I've been praying for you. I'm glad that you are slowly but surely healing.

        I usually type such things in a word document. I'm curious if there is an advantage to using Evernote over just typing a document and saving it on one's computer.


        • renee

          renee on Jan. 7, 2015, 9:59 p.m.

          What I like about Evernote is I how I can organize my thoughts into notebooks. I manage the rest of our files, recipes etc. in my usual computer files and folders but I really like Evernote for capturing ideas that I'm currently working on, not ready to filed for reference. I guess I use regular computer files containing word-type docs, pdfs etc. for more reference purposes and I use Evernote for current and evolving ideas and thoughts - does that make sense?


          • Laura

            Laura on Jan. 8, 2015, 9:43 p.m.

            I have an Evernote account, but haven't typed the first thing there. Maybe I'll try it. I've been quite interested and inspired with all of your thinking and writing. I love to do the same thing, but sometimes wonder if I am wasting time. Your posts lately have given me food for thought in more ways than one. Thank you for your bravery in sharing with us. I look forward to reading more about your fallow year. I hope it will be lovely.


  • Ellen

    Ellen on Jan. 8, 2015, 4:36 a.m.

    I too am interested in your Evernote organization... I have an Evernote account but I don't think I'm using it to its full potential.  I think you and I process similarly, and I see a lot of similarities in our appreciation for order, beauty, and space for thoughtful reflection every day too.   

    We have a 2 year old and a 4 month old, and probably aren't done having children quite yet.  I love your blog because I feel like it gives me a glimpse into the future.  I imagine us homeschooling, being outdoors in all weather, and having a fairly quiet but vibrant home life that has time for me to be reflective and type pages of introspective process on the computer.  Right now, those moments are more scarce, as they should be. 

    I really enjoyed your writing before you left for the trail, but there is something new since you returned that has me hanging on to every word and repeating sentences in my head a few times.  Thanks for allowing us to read along with your journey.  Your writing is a gift both to my present and future self.  : )


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