After a sub-par year of doing the things I thought would make 2012 better than 2011, I’m cautious about what I add to this year’s List. Not just because I hate public failure, but because it reveals that I’m not trying to change the right things… if I’m serious about it, I would put effort behind it. Truth be told, I’m probably a bit too ambitious, putting too much on my list.

The biggest way I think I can Make 2013 Better Than 2012 is to focus on relationships; namely, to be better at them. I want to be more of a giver than a taker, to be more attuned to the people I love.

Though I’m quite social in nature, I am at my core an introvert. I derive energy from time in my big brown chair, reflecting, reading, writing. However, I’m a verbal processor, so I take those thoughts and try them out on others. I love meaningful conversation. This means that many of my friends and family become targets for me to take those inner workings and spew them about, because often I feel as though if not shared, I might simply bust. My friends thank their heavenly stars this blog exists because it tends to catch the what would’ve been a long, drawn out phone call during the dinner hour.

All of this to say, my interactions with others tend to be self-driven. I want to change the course of conversations to center beyond my ponderings and into the events of their lives. I want to move beyond my pithy theory into their actual life. Those who have fallen prey to my overly-excitable thoughts know this could be a tad lofty goal for a girl who lives so high in the clouds, but it’s something I’m willing to climb toward. So most of my Ways for 2013 should center around how I hope to see this out.

1. Respond to text, email and phone messages in a more timely manner. I’m awful – awful – at this. Especially when it doesn’t directly affect my current moment in life. Sometimes, I’m busy. So that’s allowed. And sometimes, I don’t even see a message. Again, forgivable  There’s room in my life to not be so… electronically connected. But the times that I see the message and just don’t feel like responding. Not. Cool. This must change.

2. Tell JJ my most substantial thought each day. Because I love him, I tend not to target the hubby with my musings. Sometimes, it’s just a lot to carry. I’m not sure if it’s because I feel we have enough going on already under this roof or if we simply become too caught up in the nuts and bolts of making the household function, but home is often the last place I share my big Aha. But he should probably be the first. In theory, I know a relationship flourishes when we share the deepest parts of ourselves. In practice, I know life is simpler when we focus on dinner and children. Not to lead you to believe that we lack any substance… far from it. But at the end of 2013 I want to be able to say that we took our marriage to another level, digging deep as a couple.

3. Bring JOY to my children’s life. I’m no Miss Hannigan, but I’m not Mary Poppins either. I tend to lean toward efficiency over emotional impact. In my defense, there’s 3(.5) of them and such a production requires a bit of whip-cracking if we ever want to leave the house. But I want to laugh more than I raise my voice. I want to encourage more than chide. I want to be okay with things that are less than okay. I love the sound of Miss M’s sweet cackle and H Boy’s ringing belly laugh. I want to inspire and encourage this, not be the one who throws a wet towel on it.

4. Engage with my small group. I’ve earned an A+ in conversational contributions, but that’s only a portion of the overall grade. While I feel I’ve opened up well with the group and allowed my truer self to be present (not a small feat when you consider what a freak I am. No, really.) I’ve slacked on the reciprocating end. I don’t listen well. I don’t take in their questions, fears, concerns or the challenges of their life circumstances. Empathy doesn’t make the list of my top skills and I can see where I haven’t really put forth enough effort at overcoming for the sake of the group. This must change.
I believe that I hesitate to take these relationships to that place in my own heart because I know what comes with it: love, which simply doesn’t “stop” after the chapter is over. I tell JJ that what I believe, I believe strongly and what I feel, I feel deeply. I still suffer the aftershocks of loving so many of my beloved “kids” (youth) that at times I get a bit weepy thinking about their beautiful lives right now and the privilege God gave me for sitting in on it. My heart swells for them and I often wonder if it can take on a new set of people who would allow me ringside seats to their encounters with God. I simply don’t know how pastors do it.

(Those were the relationally-driven Ways. Now a few generalities that will make next year better)

5. Find 2 more clients. It was the week of Christmas and I sat around on Pinterest because I had most of my tasks crossed off, ducks in a row. Clearly I have capacity for a bit more work and the variety of clients keeps me fresh.

6. Floss more. Seriously, the Dental Debacle of 2012 doesn’t need a repeat.

7. Take more pictures. Thanks to KLR, I hope to create better habits. We’ll see. I’m apprehensive, but willing.

8. Get healthy. Whilest I eat whole foods and avoid the junk the normal person indulges, for the most part my body has some healing to do. It turns out that having 4 kids in 5 years is a bit tough on the system – my chiro told me that it’s just what happens when you, quite literally, have someone sucking the life out of you for so long. I saw a brief respite during the summer, so I have high hopes that after I finish nursing this Grand Finale, I can focus efforts at getting my body the nutrients it needs to function properly – and eat cookies like a normal person. So while I probably won’t get to the stage of nursing completion in 2013, I do plan on getting serious about treating my body well while I ask so much of it. I need to care for it as much as it has cared for babies, and that means avoiding junk that makes it feel like junk. Easier said than done, but a priority.

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