Sunday, November 29, 2009

Back By Popular Demand...

I'm still frantically writing the last 2,500 words of my novel (tomorrow's the last day), but several of you asked me to re-post my December resolutions in November. So here they are, just in the nick of time. As I read over them now I realize I so needed this reminder. Thank you for requesting the repeat. And I'll be back on December 1 with Twelve (more) Gifts.

Turning Those Rants into Resolutions

This year I resolve to:

I resolve to "just say no" to the alluring drug of every holiday obligation: office parties, piano recitals, school programs, art fairs, and anything else that pulls me away from my family during the evening. Instead, I want to spend December singing carols, reading stories, sharing scriptures, and feeling home.

I resolve not to turn into a "wicked stepmother" of fairytale proportions on December 24, suddenly panicking over what's not done and taking it out on those nearest and dearest to me. I will not yell at anyone to help wrap, help assemble, help mail, help deliver, help organize, help clean, help cook, help decorate. I will not yell. Period. I will speak in reverent tones and spread nothing but joy on Christmas Eve. I commit now to a stress-free Christmas Eve, whatever the cost.

I will not allow my burgeoning to-do list to eclipse my morning workout. I will not eat a dozen of my own fresh-baked cookies on-the-run every day because I can't make time for a good lunch. I will not eat a steady stream of chocolate from 8 pm to midnight to help me stay awake. I will simply go to bed. And get up early enough to incorporate a workout into my day. I will take care of myself first.

Next year I will not have a cow when we bring up the Christmas china, only to discover that the contractors were not gentle when they moved the crate and the entire set is shattered. I will just be grateful we have food, and plates to eat it on. I will be grateful we had contractors work on our basement instead of doing it ourselves. I will be grateful Christmas is coming, with or without the special plates. I will not let anything so immaterial as a material loss get in the way of my holiday spirit.

While I love my innate flexibility and utter spontaneity, leaving too much to the last minute, or worse, to chance, is one of my biggest weaknesses. I will plan more and fret less. I will make a list and check it twice. I will make room for the most important things first.

Sure, we did the "giving tree," the donation to the food bank, the children's book drive, the open house benefiting Mothers Without Borders, and enjoyed participating in all of them. But I want to feel like we made a sacrifice as a family that made a significant difference. I resolve to set aside money all year long to do one significant act to bless someone else's life.

That was one of the most meaningful things I did last December, and I already have at least three more posts already written in my head. I'm going to prepare a few early, write a few more as they come to me, and be glad I have that time to reflect, and rejoice in those of you who take time to respond.

I'm actually glad this hit me this way this Christmas, because NOW I'm totally worked up, totally motivated to make changes, totally on board to start making progress NOW.
It feels good to turn those rants into resolutions, and hopefully by next December those rants will become raves. I'd love to hear your rants, and how you plan to turn them into raves this year.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I'm Grateful for the Wilderness

In fairy tales, the wilderness is a frightening place where characters either run for refuge or are order to fulfill a mission, face a great challenge, meet someone instrumental, or learn an important skill. The wilderness is an instrument of change.

The same is true in scripture, both ancient and modern. Consider:

Our first parents were cast out of the Garden of Eden to a wilderness...the lone and dreary world. Without that step into the great unknown, the world would never have been populated. We would not exist. Adam said, "Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.
And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient." (Moses 5:10-11)

Moses led the children of Israel out of captivity...and spent the next forty years circling the promised land, in the wilderness. It was in the wilderness that they witnessed the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea, built a golden calf for idol worship, and received the Ten Commandments.

Lehi was warned in a dream to leave behind his riches, his possessions and his remarkable real estate and journey into the wilderness with his family. The entire Book of Mormon begins with this crucial story of one family's journey into the wilderness.

Mormon pioneers were cast out of their homes and farmland and driven into the wilderness, crossing thousands of miles on the plains before arriving in the Salt Lake Valley.

John the baptist was raised in the wilderness. Living in the wild was somehow essential to his preparation as a baptist and an elias, one who ushers in.

Christ spent 40 days praying and fasting in the wilderness, and ultimately retired to the wilderness, the Garden of Gethsemane, to talk to God and atone for our sins.

This year our oldest son spent two months in the wilderness. It was a much-needed instrument of change. The beating down of the earth's elements seem to soften his heart in ways nothing else had succeeded.

At some point every one of us, just like fairy tale characters as well as prophets and patriarchs, will have to pass through a personal wilderness. Perhaps several, both literal and figurative. These wildernesses are frightening places, full of unknowns, full of danger...but often harboring wise leaders, helpful guides...and always effecting change.

This year my gratitude for the wilderness is profound. I am grateful for the progress our son made there, for the peace and reflection that comes to me when I escape there myself, and most especially for the wilderness Christ was willing to enter in our behalf. I am acutely aware of the fear that comes as we leave our personal comfort zones to embark on a journey. I am in awe of the peace that is offered, often in the very face of life-threatening danger. I am humbled to my knees at the wilderness Jesus bore for each of us. And I rejoice in the miracle and power of change.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

It's My Favorite Holiday.

No, not Halloween. That was yesterday. Besides, free candy isn't nearly as awesome as free sleep. No, I've been looking forward to this day for a full six months. And like all major holidays, the celebration actually begins the night before, on My-Favorite-Holiday Eve, when we perform a cherished ritual each year: Setting back the clocks.

Can you think of anything more magical and worthy of celebration than a 25th hour in an overcrowded 24-hour day? Or reversing the role of aging, by actually turning back time? I live for this day!

Today in particular there is much to be celebrating:

1. My Favorite Holiday — one free hour to do whatever we please...sleep, party, create — this is every woman's dream.

2. Speaking of favorites, I have answered Luisa's tag and listed my own favorites here: To The Fifth Power. (Interestingly, Luisa tagged me for my first meme in addition to this one. I think I'll call them Meme One and Meme Two.)

3. The beginning of NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month.) Yes, I've decided to do it for real this year. (Although I must add that I value sanity over word count, and will not hold myself to the whole 50,000 if my life starts falling apart at the seams!) I'm joining blog favorites Brillig, DeNae , LT Elliot (no relation to TS?) and Melanie J...and writing a book called The Bridge Club Chronicles: A snarky account of the misadventures of four creative teenagers who choose to rebel against society in ways that are both harmless and hilarious. Please cheer me on. (And forgive me if I become a blog slacker in the meantime.)

What are your doing with YOUR free hour?