Word of the Year for 2011

As I wrote about yesterday, I have begun choosing a word for the year rather than deal with resolutions that would fall flat quickly.

Choosing a word for the coming year proved a bit more difficult for me than in the past. I have a baby due near the end of January which makes it hard for me to envision exactly what my year will look like.

Obviously there will be a new little loved one in my happy little family and I know it will impact our daily lives dramatically, but it’s hard to fathom what that means until it actually happens. So when it came time to start looking ahead for what I want in 2011, I was having trouble pinning it down.

While on the phone with a very dear friend last week, I mentioned my word of the year conundrum and said I may just carry “shine” with me from this year right on through to next year, but that I didn’t feel it was quite right.

Let me say here that there is absolutely nothing that can take the place of a friend who thoroughly understands you and can help light the way when you’re lost. And my friend did just that.

As I talked to her about my need to prepare myself for new motherhood, being able to care for my family and also make sure I don’t lose myself along the way, she suggested the word she saw for me: “nurture.”

I thought about it. I rolled it around on my tongue a little. I let my imagination conjure images and definitions. The more I thought about the word “nurture,” the more I felt both at peace and energized by its possibilities.

So I’m going with it. Because this year I want to nurture my little baby boy when he gets here. I want to continue to nurture my husband and my stepson. Equally important, I want to nurture myself, my desires, my creativity, my quiet time. I want to continue writing because that’s where I get my focus and my drive.

The dictionary defines “nurture” as follows…

  1. to feed and protect: to nurture one’s offspring.
  2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians.
  3. to bring up; train; educate.

It’s the second definition that really hits home for me: “to support and encourage.” That’s what I want to do for myself, my family, my friends, my acquaintances, and my home in 2011.

What will you choose for your word of the year?

Wishcasting: Winter Wish

Wishcasting

Wishcasting badgeIt’s Wishcasting Wednesday so the gorgeous soul Jamie Ridler is inviting us to cast our wishes and support others’ wishes. Today Jamie asks, “What is your winter wish?”

This one didn’t take me long actually. With my baby son due near the end of January, I wish for a smooth final month of pregnancy, an easy delivery, and a graceful entrance to motherhood. I wish to embrace our new addition, to continue to support and be supported by my husband and stepson, and to ensure I remember to make time for myself.

What is your winter wish?

Thankful

While wishing it also seems appropriate to take a minute to reflect on what I am thankful for. Today I am thankful for the cheerfulness of Christmas decorations. For lights and trees and stockings and garland and wreaths. I am thankful for the time I will get to spend with my husband and stepson in the coming week and I am thankful to be fortunate enough to have my current big decision be what we will eat on Christmas day. We are truly blessed.

Experiment: Will Anyone Get Up for a Pregnant Woman?

I was at the mall this weekend finishing up a little Christmas shopping. My husband and stepson were there also and we split up for a bit because my stepson wanted to shop for me. (So sweet and thoughtful!) We made arrangements to meet up in front of a particular store an hour later, which worked out nicely because there was a row of three couches there.

I got to our meeting spot about 10 minutes early, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to rest my feet. After all, I’m now eight months into this pregnancy and carrying around much more weight than I’m used to. When I got there, however, all of the seats were full.

Now I’m not the type to ask people to get up and I was content to stand while I waited, but I also thought it would be a good opportunity to run a little experiment to see if anyone would offer up a seat to the pregnant woman.

I positioned myself at the end of the row where most everyone sitting would be able to see me and I set my bags on the ground. I should add that I was wearing leggings and a fitted sweater, so unless someone thinks I actually swallowed a basketball, it is very obvious that I am very pregnant.

Let’s also consider that this is Christmas time, generally a time of year when people may be feeling more generous.

So what do you think happened?

Did any of the four men occupying one couch get up? No. A few of them made eye contact, but that was it.

Did any of the women occupying another couch get up? No. Some of them didn’t notice me at all, though one made eye contact and looked away.

But here’s the kicker… did the woman closest to me, who had her packages on the couch next to her offer to move her packages so I could sit? No.

Seriously.

Honestly, I was surprised, especially when it comes to the woman who took up seating with her shopping bags. How sad that courtesy and compassion has sunk this low, particularly at a time of cheer.

After 5 or 6 minutes, someone got up to leave and I took their seat. Incidentally, it happened to be the seat on the other side of the shopping bags. And yes, I smiled at the woman across her shopping bags. Not a nasty, sneering smile, but a genuine smile. And I felt really good about it.

Now let me restore your faith in humanity a little bit. After meeting back up with my husband and stepson, we went to Brookstone where between my belly, the bags I was carrying, and the mass of people in the store, I found it difficult to maneuver the small aisles, so I found a somewhat out of the way spot to stand while my men went to browse.

I was standing there for probably two minutes when a Brookstone employee came over and asked if I’d like to sit in the massage chair. She explained that we couldn’t run the chair since I’m pregnant, but she welcomed me to rest as long as I would like.

Maybe kindness isn’t dead yet.

What do you think? Have you experienced or witnessed any seat offerings for pregnant women, the elderly, or otherwise?

Pause Before Reacting

I’ve been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, which follows her journey through a year of trying various happiness resolutions.

The biggest lesson I’m getting from the book isn’t necessarily her particular resolutions, rather it is to stop and think before reacting in a situation.

Throughout the book Gretchen gives some examples of irritating moments in daily family life.Like when her kids are bickering or when she or her husband are in a bad mood. You know those times.

What I’ve found intriguing is that due to her happiness project, she was sometimes able to pause in that moment before reacting to look at things from a different point of view, then react more creatively.

It’s easy to yell or join the bickering or get defensive or say something resolutely to the moody party like, “then just fix it.” In her moments of pause, however, Gretchen had the presence of mind to realize how she would normally react and realize that such a reaction may not solve the problem or may even add more stress to the situation.

For example, when she found her two daughters arguing and crying, she marched to their room and almost told them to “knock it off” or some other such parentism. But she didn’t. She stood in the doorway, realized that probably wouldn’t actually make them stop, and instead said something like, “Crying always makes me thirsty. I’m going to get you girls some water.” Soon they were all in the kitchen drinking water and Gretchen even got her girls to laugh.

Wow.

So that’s the sort of mindfulness I’m trying to bring into my own life now. When I feel a gut reaction rising, I’m pausing (when I remember to) to ask myself if whatever I was about to say will actually help the situation. If the answer is no, I’m taking another minute to get creative with my responses.

When my husband gets yet another work call on a night or weekend, rather than what has become my standard reaction (a huff or rolling my eyes or asking, “seriously?”), I’m trying to be more mindful of the fact that he’s just as irritated about the interruption as I am. It doesn’t help to have me adding my annoyance to the situation. Instead, I try to give him a sympathetic look as if to say, “I know it stinks that you are stuck working during free time.”

Or like yesterday, when my stepson came home from school hyper and without saying hello told me he was going to a friend’s house, my gut reaction was to say something like, “Not even a hello? Just ‘you’re going to so-and-so’s house? You didn’t ask our permission. What other homework to you have? What about chores?”

Instead, I paused. I realized a stream of questions and parentisms wasn’t going to make for a lighter mood. I also realized that my stepson often says he has plans that turn out not to go through and this might just be another kids-talked-at-school-but-didn’t-run-it-by-parents-yet situation.

Having that moment really helped. From there we had a discussion about the school project for which he is partnered with the aforementioned friend and what they need to accomplish together. We talked about the good grade he got on a quiz and we discussed what homework he had. I asked him if his friend had spoken to his mother yet, to which the answer was no. So I sent him on his way to carry about his afternoon and asked him to get back to me when he had talked to his friend and to please let me know what time he would want me to drive him over and what time he needed to be picked up.

No bickering. No struggle. And you know what? The plans never materialized, so had I gotten worked about it in the beginning, it would have all been for naught anyway.

That Gretchen sure is onto something.

Thankful to be Healthy Again

You know how after you’ve been sick, there is one day that you realize you are better? Of course it can be a slow process so you may have a few days where you progressively feel a little better than the day before. But there is one day that you realize you are buzzing around with normal energy and it dawns on you that you feel great. Not just great, but the kind of huge great you can only feel after being sick. You know what I mean?

Today is that day.

I’ll spare you the details, but Monday I woke up nauseous, had a really rough 24 hours, then Tuesday started to recover. Wednesday I was really tired and had no energy whatsoever. Even just walking a few steps left me winded.

Today, however, I’m back. I just realized it. I woke up at 7:00 and have been steadily getting things done all morning. I even hauled my Christmas packages to the post office and went on a grocery run. While carrying the groceries in to the house, I realized I’m better. Hallelujah.

These are the kind of days when you swear you’ll never take your health for granted, even though eventually you probably will, until you find yourself sick again and realize “I don’t truly appreciate those healthy days.”

So today I’m appreciating my health. With all my body and mind, I am thankful for my health. So thankful. Thankful for my energy. Thankful for my ability to eat and drink.

And I’m so so thankful for my husband who took the very best care of me and never left my side.

What are you thankful for?

Put the Cell Phone Down

I’m a big fan of the Rose is Rose comic strip. I particularly liked last Sunday’s edition. What a poignant reminder to put the technology down and really pay attention to what is around us.

Rose Is Rose

Wishcasting: Go Slow

Wishcasting

Wishcasting badgeIt’s Wishcasting Wednesday again where Jamie Ridler invites us to cast our wishes and support others’ wishes. Today Jamie asks, “Where do you wish to go slow?”

This question stumped me. Go slow? I have a baby due in 8 weeks, in-laws still living in what is supposed to be the baby’s room, baby supply shopping to do, Christmas shopping to finish, gifts to ship across states, and Christmas decorations to put up. Meanwhile I’m getting bigger, slower, and less flexible by the day. Aaaaah!

So that is exactly where I wish to go slow. I know that my in-laws have a couple prospects for moving (this part I hope goes fast), so I am trying to trust that this will happen and the baby’s room will soon be vacant for us to clean, paint, assemble furniture, and prepare for our baby’s arrival. My husband hopes we can do that during the week between Christmas and New Year’s.

I wish to slow down and enjoy the process of the holidays. I love decorating for Christmas and there is no rush. It’s only December 1st. There is plenty of time to slowly unpack and carefully place nutcrackers, garland, and ornaments in the coming weeks.

I have already wrapped a few gifts that I purchased early. I just received a shipment of gifts I ordered online, so I can leisurely wrap those over the next week and prepare them to ship to my friends and family. There is time. I can go slow and enjoy this over time, rather than needing to rush and get it all done in one day. And yes, I still have some gifts to figure out for my husband and stepson, but it will come to me if I slow down and lessen the pressure on myself to get it figured out and finished now, now, now.

I just need to remember that I started early so that I wouldn’t feel rushed. I can go slow with the remainder of my Christmas preparations. And honestly, no one will likely notice or care if it doesn’t all get done.

Slow. Deep breathe.

Thankful

Yesterday I wrote about my desire to return to a practice of daily gratitudes. So here we go.

Today I am thankful that I did my Christmas cards early for the first time ever. They are stamped and ready to go. I am thankful for the ability to create photo books in iPhoto, for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and for my washer and dryer. (Seriously. It frees me up to do other things while my clothes are being washed. How smart is that?)

December Special

December 1/2 Price Offer

December 1/2 Price Offer

It’s a new month, so I have a new Thirty-One special to share!

During the month of December, for every $31 you spend, you can purchase one of the following items at half-price: flat iron case, hard case wallet, or mini on-the-go organizer. It’s a great way to get a little extra something for yourself or add to a holiday gift (for example, buy a purse and get the half price wallet to make it extra special).

See the December flyer for details, then start shopping at my Thirty-One site. You’ll find purses, organizing totes, weekend totes, baskets, and all sorts of gift-giving goodies. If you have any questions, email me at lifeafterweb at gmail dot com.

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