I am all for living with intention, but life gets so busy and all of a sudden we’re in February, swinging back into routines, never getting a moment to sit down and often frantically behind in the to-do lists. Somehow, stopping to work out exactly what those intentions might be seems incredibly indulgent. And so we bumble along in the year and, hello, it’s December again.
That’s exactly what happened for me in 2015.
In 2015, while I didn’t do a great deal of planning ahead, I did manage to choose my one little word for the year, which was ‘Ease’ (although I didn’t even make enough time to tell you about that 😉 It certainly wasn’t an easy year, for a number of reasons, but keeping the focus on my word did help me make decisions that welcomed more ease into our lives. While living through renovations is never particularly stress-free, work completed on our house has definitely made it easier and more enjoyable to live in. The focus on ease also helped me say no to things that were going to make our lives more challenging unnecessarily. I think we had enough on our plates without adding anything too big to the mix.
I was determined not to let 2016 go by without giving some time to working out my intentions for this year. As I get to this stage of my life, I realise just how quickly a year can slip through my fingers.
So, with no further ado, this year my word is Expand.
Expand my vision.
Expand my horizons.
Expand my dreams for the future.
And make things happen.
I have heard people say that sometimes the word chooses us. I know that in the lead up to a new year I often have a few different words swilling around in my head, but one usually just clicks. Expand was that word for me.
The landscape of our family has shifted again this year. Having three children within four years, and then adding some curve balls to that mix, has meant that the past six or so years have been pretty intense for us. In each of the ‘new baby’ years, every ounce of energy went towards growing our little human, preparing the family for the newest arrival and settling into life with a new family member. It was all-consuming. Our children are still quite young, I know, and being their parents is still quite a busy affair, but now that we have two at school and one at kindy, I feel as though I have a little more breathing space. Though the workload hasn’t changed, I now have a few more hours in the week when I can do things like grocery shopping, cooking and laundry without also having to referee, supervise and play simultaneously. I can finally breathe long enough to start dreaming again.
Sam’s diagnosis also led us to simplify life over the past few years. We scaled things back, stayed at home and away from germs more, we limited our external commitments and focused on our family. We haven’t been able to consider travelling overseas as a family due to the combination of chemotherapy, difficulty sourcing travel insurance and fear – chances are we wouldn’t have gone anywhere anyway, but it hasn’t been an option for us. I’d like to think we haven’t put life entirely on hold, but it definitely changed our perspective and priorities. But we have recently received the date of his final treatment as 10 November 2016 (hooray!), after what will be just over three years of our journey with Leukaemia, which is very exciting. He will still have regular check-ups, blood tests and hospital visits, but it will be a new phase for all of us.
And, so, as we move away from the intensity of the baby years and erratic hospital visits, and towards the time of having all children healthy and at school, I feel like I’m slowly able to take a deep breath and extend my vision beyond the four walls of our house. It’s time to make the conscious decision to take on new challenges and do my best to live the rest of this ‘wild and precious life‘ with intention.
In the hope that public declarations will help me keep focused, I want to share with you the two fairly significant things I’ve committed to over the next 12 months:
- I will raise $10,000 for children of Thailand being cared for by Hands Across the Water and then ride a bicycle 800 kilometres from Nong Khai to Yasothon in Thailand over nine days in early January 2017. I will join a group of riders, including my lovely friend Tricia (who undoubtedly I’ll be swearing at after the first 100km for quietly talking me into this craziness). Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t been on a bike in over five years and I had never (ever) worn padded lycra, so this challenge is definitely beyond my comfort zone but I’m focusing on all the good things I hear from those who have gone before me and am currently blissfully living in denial about the scarier aspects.
- I will write a book. I have been asked to write a biography for a beautiful woman and I won’t go into too many details just yet, but it is an incredible honour to be entrusted with her story. To be honest, in many ways it terrifies me. What if I’m not good enough, what if I let everyone down, what if I embarrass myself…what if, what if, what if. I’ve already learnt so much over the past few months, and I know in my heart it’s something I need and want to do, so I will feel the fear and do it anyway.
Of course, living with intention is more than just having grand ideas. I know that I also need to show up and do the work.
I need to write words every day before a book is written.
I need to ride kilometres every day before I am physically capable of riding 800 kilometres through a foreign country.
I’ve read a few wonderful books recently, including Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and the delightful Pip Lincolne’s Craft For the Soul, which talk about the concept of creating habits and doing regular work which encourage ideas to flow, rather than waiting for fleeting inspiration and creativity, and about being brave and showing up, regardless of the fears that inevitably arise. This year, I need to build up my writing and creativity muscles, as well as the muscles required for cycling, and I’m trying really hard to silence my inner critic when it gives me a big list of reasons I shouldn’t be taking on these challenges. I’m trying really hard to have the courage to trust my own voice, rather than trying to be someone I’m not.
So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
― Elizabeth Gilbert,
Apart from these main commitments, there is a whole host of other items I have on my intentions list for 2016. Like trying to always have my children at school on time, be better at writing weekly meal plans, and increasing my productivity. And I’m pretty excited about a creative retreat scheduled for July, and going to Queenstown, New Zealand, with my husband in August. I think it’s going to be a big year and I know not everything is going to turn out the way I imagine, but does life ever look the way we think it will? At least if I set my intentions and give myself a guiding light, I can work out the details along the way. I’ll keep you posted on how I’m tracking.
Here are some additional resources if you want to join with me in living intentionally this year:
If you’re new to the one little word concept, this is a good podcast to listen to.
The lovely Alison Hill has a great planner that you can download to help reflect on the year that has passed and get ready to rock 2016.
You can download goal setting worksheets over at Blog Society, courtesy of the lovely Jaclyn.
If you have chosen one little word for the year, will you please write it below in the comments? Or tell me what one challenge is that you’re hoping to conquer this year? I’d love if we could cheer each other on! x
PS. Big thank you to everyone who filled out the reader survey. I was humbled by your loveliness and am so grateful for all your wonderful ideas and feedback. The lucky winner of the prize was Catherine T from Western Australia 🙂