January 3, 2019

the year of grace

I love the word grace and the meanings behind it.

Growing up, my family was super involved in our church. Mom taught Sunday School. Dad performed in musical ensembles. The rest of us participated in just about every other way. We never missed a Sunday School class or the service that followed. We attended every Bible School, youth musical, and potluck (except the one designated for singles only). There were a lot. Besides developing a taste for the grape juice they served at communion once a month (I was so disappointed the first time I drank real wine) I learned a lot about grace.

I remember my mom telling me that grace was our core tenant and belief. The faith in free and absolute forgiveness from a higher power, even to those who might not seem worthy of it.

That first definition of grace has always stuck with me through the years. The idea of complete forgiveness, no matter what.

Since those early days, I have learned grace's other meanings. Like simple elegance. The kind exhibited by the aptly named Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn. And, of course, grace periods were totally appreciated when I received my first extension on a major project freshman year of high school. (Thank you, snow day.)

All these definitions wrapped into one simple word have always seem more aspirational than tangible to me. Yet as I looked back at 2018 to evaluate the year and consider what I want to strive for in 2019, that one word kept coming to mind.

I love the idea of focusing on simplicity (and maybe even adding a touch of elegance) in all aspects of my life. I want to continue pursuing my goals and aspirations from last year and expanding upon them. I also need to learn to cut myself some slack. To forgive myself--no strings attached.

So that has become my plan--my intention--for this year. To live it with more grace.

It won't be easy. But it's so important, it's worth aiming for it.

Especially when I look back at the past few years. While overall I'm happier today than I was a year ago and a year before that, I still lose the faith in myself. Particularly when it comes to writing or developing meaningful connections with others. For example, last year even as I found more pockets of happiness than in other years, I still felt all-to tempted to give up on my dream of being an author. Maybe I just wasn't good enough to be a writer. Maybe I'd tried long enough. Maybe it was time to find a new dream and bury this one once and for all. I mulled this over in my mind, slumping into a bit of a funk. But when I came out I decided I wasn't ready to do that. I just needed an extension time (grace). I needed to cut out some of the excess and get back to simple, classic aspects of writing (grace). And most of all, I needed to stop beating myself up and forgive myself for not living up to be a mirror image of my youthful expectations (grace).

That's why I need to make this my year of grace. In all its forms.

Like last year, I used Lauren Layne's "Life by Design" workbook to determine my word and my top three goals. I'm also using goal-setting (and achieving) techniques from Sarra Cannon's Heart Breathings website and YouTube channel to add action to them.

For full disclosure and accountability, here's my list of goals (or my Bucket List as Lauren calls it) for 2019. Some are business driven, others personal. All weave together.  The ones with asterisks are the top three areas getting the most focus now.

  • Make writing career profitable. *
  • Lead an active, balanced lifestyle. *
  • Build strong relationships. *
  • Reduce debt.
  • Strengthen friendships with empowering people.
  • Explore romance. 
  • Continue weight-loss efforts.
  • Read average of one book per week.
  • Visit more local vineyards, breweries.
  • Pursue a career as hybrid author.
  • Take another real vacation.
  • Be more effective with screen time.
  • Enjoy creative crafting and baking.

Big goals (though some overlap and fall under similar categories) and likely not all will be accomplished, but they're still worth trying.

Now it's your turn. What are your hopes and dreams for 2019?

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