Our fourth anniversary (12/30) and New Year’s came and went this year with little fanfare from us at all. My beautiful Aunt Linda passed away on the day after Christmas, so we went to Iowa to be with extended family and remember her together. We had just gotten home from spending Christmas with my family in Virginia. Our kids were full of love (and new toys) from Grammy, Grandpa, aunts, uncles, and cousins. We quickly did some laundry, took down the live Christmas tree, got a travel DVD player so we the kids didn’t lose their minds during another road trip, and hit the road again.
After the visitation and funeral, spending time with more aunts, uncles, and cousins, we spent a few hours in the Amish community nearby. We found a quiet little restaurant that surprised us. It smelled delicious and looked like it had some personality, so we ventured inside with the kids. We were met at the door by a small, Italian woman who greeted us warmly and asked if we had reservations.
Hmmm… Definitely NOT Amish. Despite our lack of reservations, she ushered us into a small room where the only other customer was an elderly widower who was settling his bill. There was a room adjacent to it where I heard a live classical guitarist playing and saw sharply dressed adults clinking wine glasses. The tables were set with heavy white linens and dark wood and scrumptious decor surrounded us. There was no kid’s menu.
I laughed nervously at how times have changed. Once I would’ve been seated in the other room with my lively and attractive friends, enjoying sparkling conversation and trying not to think about the bill. That night, I was grateful to be in the “other” dining room and desperately hoped my kids didn’t melt down during the meal. They were surprisingly well-behaved and we enjoyed a beautiful dinner together. Eliana talked us into getting her hot chocolate, and we splurged and shared a slice of chocolate cake for dessert. We decided our New Year’s celebration was that meal on January 2nd.
We got home on the 3rd, dragged our tired kids and heavy suitcases into the house, and breathed a big sigh of relief. Having been with the kids 24/7, even sleeping in the same bed for the last several days (one adult/one child per bed), I was ready for a break. They missed their grandparents, so the next morning they jitterbugged off to Grandma’s to play. I took a long, luxurious shower (we won’t talk about the shower in the only motel room we could find at the last minute over a holiday). I unpacked, did laundry, and finally took a few minutes to breathe. I opened the computer and began to write, thinking about the new year and what resolutions I needed to make.
2015 was a decent year for me. My kids became old enough to play together and learned how to do many things for themselves; I started thinking about life beyond pregnancy and diapers. I lost 20 pounds and kept it off (whew!). It wasn’t as much as I wanted to lose, but at least it was something! I was a good wife, leaning into love even when I was hurt or afraid, nurturing our relationship for the long haul instead of allowing momentary issues to derail us (most of the time).
I had my own garden and enjoyed learning what to do with all the great things that I grew. I became a more confident cook. I became a more competent mother. I got to do some really fun things, including visiting my friends in Tennessee, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. I love concerts and was finally able to go to a few again. I was a great friend to a few people who needed great friends. I spent a lot of time and energy doing volunteer ministry in my local church and thinking/praying about returning to church work in a formal capacity. (And wondering if I’d lost my mind…) I even preached several times. I took Eliana to gymnastics and story time, went to a mom’s group, and participated in a weekly bible study.
It was a good year. There were some disappointments too, some rejection and frustration, but they did not overwhelm me. Rather, they cleared up some questions I’ve had these last few years and gave me the clarity I’ve needed. They caused our family to re-evaluate some of our relationships and open ourselves up to change.
So what’s the next step? What do I need to think about in 2016? I’m done with the tired old resolutions I’ve tried time and time again. I need something fresh and fun. The thought popped into my mind and developed quickly, bringing a big smile to my face.
I decided that my new year’s resolution is to BE AWESOME.
Yup. Be awesome.
I’ve been doing fine in so-so land, but it’s time for a change. I’ve had an aversion to awesome because it’s never awesome enough for SOMEONE. So why even try to be awesome when you’re ALWAYS letting someone down? Might as well relax a little and not get everyone’s expectations up too high.
But not this year.
The problem with keeping everyone’s expectations low is that I’m not meeting my own expectations. I’m disappointed in myself. At 40 years old, that’s a hard thing to admit to yourself. I’m tired of disappointing myself. There have been times in my life when I’ve been pretty awesome. I’ve worked hard to achieve my goals and accomplished a lot, but every time I’ve somehow fallen short. I didn’t get the job, or I the relationship I was reaching for didn’t work out, or the person I really wanted to impress didn’t notice.
But here’s the deal: I FELT AWESOME. I felt accomplished and beautiful or loveable and fun. I felt free and happy. But when the acknowledgement I expected from others didn’t come (or they had the audacity to let me know I hadn’t done enough), I stopped trying. I stopped being awesome and let someone else’s standard define my life. I rebelliously declared that if my accomplishments weren’t awesome enough, I’d prove just how good I’d been by giving up on awesomeness altogether and being my version of mediocre. Yes, I’m the queen of shooting myself in the foot to spite my face. I’m not proud of this acknowledgement at all.
For example, (before Rick) a guy who I’d been interested in said to me, “You’ve lost a lot of weight. Great job. Keep it up!” Seriously? Keep it up? He might as well have just said, “But you’re not thin enough for me yet.” Hindsight-Kimberly wishes I would’ve said, “You noticed?! Why don’t you join me? Want to work out with me this week? Exchange food diaries for accountability? We can lose these last 20 pounds together!” But real time-Kimberly allowed this exchange (and a few others like it) to give me permission to give up in frustration because awesome is never awesome enough. Sigh…
So this year my resolution is to figure out what makes ME feel awesome and do that. If it doesn’t make me feel awesome, I’m taking it off my list. Rather than writing about what’s off my list, I’m going to focus on what’s on my awesome list.
Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I read my Bible and write about it regularly. I aim for 5 days a week and when I’m even partially successful, my entire outlook on life changes. I have self-discipline, gratitude, and patience. It puts a lens of Christ in front of my eye and keeps me from falling into self-pity, pride, and fear. It isn’t a formula for a perfect life, but it’s a good start to a better attitude and peace with God. Let’s be clear here: I’m not reading/writing for 2 hours a day. I’m a mom. Realistically, it’s a great thing if I can squeeze in 20 minutes, three times a week.
Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I write. To me, writing is a lot like aggressive exercise. I’m able to get my feelings out in a healthy way. Often I have no idea how I feel about something, what’s weighing on my heart, until I start punching a heavy bag or put my fingers to a keyboard. The opposite effect for me is stuffing my feelings through bingeing on food, television, novels, excessive sleep, and gossip. Lovely qualities, really… Ugh. How I’m capable of making friends without these outlets in place astounds me.
I feel awesome when I give my best to my kids. It feels great when I take time to chase my kids around the house, yelling “I’m going to get you!” and laughing as we all dissolve into a pile of tickles and kisses on the floor. I feel awesome when I play hide and go seek with my daughter, repeatedly trying to teach her not to hide in the same spot I just did the time before. Whether it’s taking a few minutes to put together puzzles, read books, cook together, or throw their increasingly heavier bodies up in the air a few times each day – a few minutes of concentrated focus on them makes all the difference.
I feel awesome when I have time to talk with a friend. There’s something about sharing our frustrations or ideas, trying to solve each other’s problems, laughing at each other’s stories, and at times praying together that refreshes my soul. We can learn so much from listening to one another.
Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I exercise. Even if little change is seen in my body, I feel awesome when I exercise. When I exercise aggressively – punching, kicking, throwing – getting my pent up aggression OUT of my body in a healthy way, I feel strong and powerful. Now, if I could only remember that when the time comes to actually exercise, that’d be even more awesome…
Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I don’t fill up my brain and time with too much television. I can pick a few fun shows to watch when I want to relax a little, but I feel much better about myself when I’m reading good books, creating something wonderful, or talking to a friend. I’ve cut way back on the amount I watch, cut out many of the guilty pleasures I allowed myself with less-than-stellar content, but I still tend to veg out in front of the TV far too much for my own awesomeness meter.
Experience has taught me that I feel awesome when I’m mindful about food. When I take time to plan meals, write down what I eat, and consider how my health is affected by what I put into my body, everything seems better. When I care for my body through preventative health care, it makes a huge difference in my energy level, outlook on life, reaction to those around me, ability to sleep, and ability to move. When I get lazy and forget to do these basic things, I feel terrible. My body aches, I can’t sleep, I have heartburn, I snap at people and get my feelings hurt easily. AWESOME Kimberly is well-fed, well-cared for Kimberly. It isn’t about impressing anyone else, being thin enough or pretty enough or any other “enough.” It’s just about feeling good and being able to live the life I want to live.
I’m looking forward to discovering other things that make me feel awesome this year. I’m planning to do all I can to keep my focus on awesomeness and not let the opinions of others get me off track. I’m going to seek out people who are also trying to be awesome and encourage them.
Also high on my list of awesome activities is to get back to blogging. One thing I discovered about myself in 2015, is that preaching and teaching helps me feel alive. I feel like the amazing things God is teaching me personally are multiplied when I’m able to share those lessons with others through writing and speaking. Blogging is another avenue for that.
In closing, I should point out that it’s January 13th and I’m just now publishing my New Year’s resolution blog. My GOAL is to be awesome. My reality may not be all that awesome. But if I can move closer to awesome this year, it’ll be better than the year before. Now, I just need to figure out when I’m actually going to exercise this week, because so far this year it’s only happened twice…
I’d love to know what your resolutions are for this year. How are you going to be awesome?