Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Pursue the Dreams of 2016:

Happy New Year! So I have titled this post "Pursue the Dreams of 2016"! Sounds like I have these really amazing dreams I want to achieve, right? Honestly, I don't know if they are considered dreams. Just things I want to get done in 2016! If I am being totally honest, and a little naive (ha ha), I dreamed of being a background dancer for a famous superstar like Beyonce, Katy Perry, or Justin Timberlake, but I have come to accept reality that that just ain't happening. Obviously. When I was 13, I dreamed to be on Broadway. Well again, that's more than likely not going to happen. When I was 18, I dreamed to become a veterinarian. That dream did actually come true, but I am starting to realize it's not truly a passion of mine. I enjoy it, and it challenges me, but it's no longer my dream. As Joyce Meyer says "If that dream didn't work out, get yourself a new dream". It's not the veterinary medicine didn't work out, but I know I have other things I want to do too. So I asked myself as I was contemplating my New Year's Resolutions, what do I want to pursue in 2016? What resolutions do I have that would be fulfilling a passion of mine, and in turn make me a happier and more fruitful person.

I attempt to find ways to be constantly grateful. So as I was thinking on my resolutions, it occurred to me, aren't we fortunate even to be able to make New Year's Resolutions? We are so blessed in this country that many of us don't have to worry about meeting our basic needs. We have clean, potable water, shelter, as well as ready and available food and other commodities. Our daily physical needs are met, most of the time in abundance! Most people in America are given the luxury of striving for and attaining their spiritual, emotional, and self-fulfillment needs i.e. Maslow's theory of self-actualization. We have the time, energy, resources to explore self-actualization and work toward goal-oriented, personal potential. If you have ever read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair or Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl, then you know living in survival-mode doesn't make much time for contemplating what your New Year's Resolutions are going to be, let alone what dreams you want to achieve. The only things these people dreamed about while working all day in the horrific environments of an unsanitary meatpacking plant and a Nazi concentration camp, respectively, was some rest, nourishment, and peace of mind. I am not afflicted by cancer, starving in Ethopia, or suffering in the hot spots of the AIDS epidemic. So even though our country and world may not be a utopian society, I am grateful that I don't live in those despairing and harsh circumstances. I happen to live in time and place where dreams, resolutions, personal potential, and fulfillment can be explored, sought, and achieved.

With that being said I have, gratefully, come up with my New Year's Resolutions:

1. Become a blogger

..ok I bet you are thinking "you already have a blog?". Well, I want to push myself to blog more; I want to write more; and more importantly I want to connect with people more. I want to be blogging consistently 6 days a week by the end of the year. A long time dream of mine (yes, a dream!) is to be a writer or even, I dare say, write a book! However, it takes time, practice, a niche, and a following! Blogging and doing my research on blogging, will help me move toward that pursuit. I also love the fact that people interact through blogging and you can build relationships, not just a business. My goal also encompasses moving towards a self-hosted blog i.e. a genuine".com".

2. Keep a daily journal.

Yes, that would essentially be like a blog, but this is something much more personal and requires writing with an actual pen or pencil. I started a prayer journal last year, I wrote in it every day. It may have been only a few sentences, but I wrote something. I want to continue that, but I want to also do it more in a memoir fashion. The goal is to write everyday or at the very least, weekly, a recount of the thoughts and events of my life. Recording special memories with my kids, frustrations with daily life, excitement over successes, and disappointment with failures. I am not scrapbooker like my mom. I been there and tried that, but I do enjoy to write. Especially when life with my kids is passing by so fast, and I want to savor and remember all the precious (and not so precious) moments. Do you keep a journal? Comment below and share your strategy for keeping and maintaining one, I would love to hear about it!

3. Be More Generous

Be more generous by joining a service ministry and participating in at least 3 charitable causes/events. Generosity is something I need to work on and not just by giving money to the local food bank. I have been given so much. I need to give back. I need to give back my time, talents, and energy for others. In 2015, we walked as a family for the St.Jude Give Thanks Walk, and Kora and I attended and helped with Lily's Tea Party which helped raise over $4000 for St.Jude's Children's Research Hospital toward Childhood Cancer Awareness. This was a huge undertaking by my amazing and beautiful mother. She put the fundraiser together for my niece and the St.Jude cause. I want to be more involved helping her with it this year. Lily was diagnosed with Lymphoma in 2014, and has been cancer free for a year! My brother is a quadriplegic, so contributing toward spinal cord injury research or helping him more are certainly ways I could help. There is so much more we could do!
At St.Jude Give Thanks Walk for my niece Lily's team
4. Paint 

For a decade, I focused on nothing but school, academia, and science/medicine while in college and veterinary school. I gave up a lot of things I enjoy doing like dancing, reading, and painting. I am so busy and it takes time to do these creative hobbies, but I thrive on it. I want to paint another painting this year. It was on my list last year, and I never got to it. I admit I am not great, and won't be the next Picasso or Van Gogh. But I enjoy it, and its a huge creative outlet and stress reliever.
Painted this years ago, and gave it to mother-in-law. Didn't say I was good, just that I enjoy it!

5. Read about the Saints.

As a practicing Catholic, its a sort of pitiful that I don't know more about the lives of the Catholic Saints. I know bits and pieces of the lives of some of the more popular ones like Saint Theresa of Lisieux "the little flower" and St. Frances of Assisi, but nothing in depth to where I can really fully appreciate the pious attributes that canonized these people as extraordinary beings. They are people that exemplified faith, charity, good deeds, selflessness, hope, sacrificial love, and wisdom. Even if you aren't Catholic or religious by any means, there is so much to learn from the Saints about life and living it for a purpose with humility, peace, and gratitude. My New Year's resolution is to read about 2 saints a month either through a book, website, or a Catholic resource. In fact, I have a copy of the Story of a Soul which is St.Theresa's of Lisieux's famous memoir that I have never completed. Now just may be the time, and I feel I am in a place where I would appreciate her story more. Who is your favorite saint or one that most inspires you?
A picture of St.Theresa "The Little Flower"

6. Get More Organized

I am organized, and then I am not. I keep my home well organized, my closet, my car. I know where things are filed, folded, and stored. But my life is not always managed and organized as it should be. I am kind of all over the place. My mother-in-law is one of the most organized people I have ever met in my life. She seems to have it together all the time. Her pantry is pinterest-inpiring because she has these neat labels and baskets to keep it all organized. When Dusty and I got married, I was baffled by her notebook and folder with all the important information for the wedding filed and ready to go. I can be absent-minded sometimes, and this doesn't make for me remembering to do things. I have kind of always kept a to-do list on a scratch piece of paper. But with having kids now and life just staying busy, I am determined to get more life-oriented organized. So I picked me up one of these planners at Mistletoe Market to help me. I also use the app "Keep" to jot down reminders. So far the "Keep" app has been very helpful, but like my journal resolution, I just like to write stuff down sometimes. So I got a planner and plan to use it....hopefully!
A Faithful Mom 2016 Planner. Check out

7. Continue and/or start a collection

My only current collections consist of about 50 pitiable-looking nutcrackers and Christmas tree ornaments. My nutcrackers are badly falling apart because they are getting old and sit in an 100+ degree attic during the year except for the month of December. Some are missing noses, a beard, a foot, or a sword/staff. Its sad, but its the nature of a collection getting old. I adore my nutcracker collection because they are from my childhood and will always be cherished, but the collection stopped after I graduated from high school. I also love to collect Christmas ornaments from my travels or special occasions. Anytime we visit a new place or enjoy a special event where they have Christmas ornaments for sale, I usually pick one up. I was intrigued in The Happiness Project how Rubin (loved this book by the way) explains that a collection offers a boost in happiness. If the collection is practical, doesn't take up a lot of space, and isn't financially restrictive:

"A collection provides a mission, a reason to visit new places, the excitement of the chase, a field of expertise (no matter how trivial), and, often, a bond with other people"-Gretchen Rubin.

This is just about half of them!
I don't know what a new collection will be yet, but I think the process of figuring it out and starting to acquire the first pieces will be fun. My husband loves looking at and collecting artwork. We only have few paintings by local artists, but we collected them together. We bought them together; we both adore them; and they stay in our home as sweet reminders of our special time together in pursuit of the artwork. So I guess you could say we collect art, and I may just make the time with him to find another painting this year to add to it. Do you have a special collection? Comment below!

Our first date weekend in NOLA after having Kaleb, we bought our first painting in Jackson Square

8. Start a book club.

I am a reader, I love books. I keep an updated library card for crying out loud! I find myself watching less and less television and no longer quite as entertained by many shows. I like movies and often feel I watch the same ones over and over. But hands down I would rather throw myself into a book. Fiction, non-fiction, self-help, spiritual, historical, whatever! The quiet absorption into a book that is stimulating, entertaining, or provides insight and knowledge is my idea of good time. Call me boring, but that's me. I would love to share this passion of mine with other like-minded readers, and have always wanted to do a book club. I have attempted to start this by forming a private Facebook group called "Be Better, Be Happy in 2016" which is a starting point for a quasi-book club via a social media platform. Although I would love to have face-to-face meetings, life can be crazy busy so those are not always possible. This group will start with self-improvement books, but could really morph into anything interesting we want to read together. I am starting the group off with Gretchen Rubin's Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everday Lives which I thought appropriate for the start of a new year! Many of us have new habits we would like to start and maintain, and New Year's Resolutions to fulfill. This book will help with mastering those new habits and resolutions. If you want to start a book club, join "Be Better, Be Happy", or have any ideas, please comment below and let me know!

9. Bonus Resolution: Give up Sweets!

This is the bonus resolution. The one I really don't quite expect to achieve, but its nice to think (dream) I could actually do it. Now there are conditions to this resolution. I am not talking about carbs/low carb/paleo dieting, I am talking about super-stimulating sweets like cakes, cookies, pies, candy, ice cream, etc. You get the picture. The only thing I will allow myself on occasion is dark chocolate, ONLY because its so good for me mentally and physically it would be almost irresponsible of me not to allow myself dark chocolate here and there! I have a major sweet tooth, that often gets me in big trouble. Once I allow myself sweets its all down hill. If I can avoid sweets, except dark chocolate, for a year, then I literally could do just about anything in this world. I am also curious just to see how long I can go. I will take bets now!?

So I have 8 New Year's Resolutions (plus my bonus)! That's quite a bit, and I don't know that I will truly resolve in completing them all. However, I think it's the pursuit that is the fulfilling part. The chase is what's exciting! The saying goes to "keep your eyes on the prize", but I am saying "keep your hearts in the pursuit, and enjoy the process"! I will let you know how things turn out! Happy New Year's!


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