New Year’s Resolutions. Goal setting. Annual themes and projects. Whichever perspective you choose, this time of year is a time of reflection, reevaluation, and renewal.

Personally, I am glad 2011 is over. Many of my friends seem to mirror my  view, based upon their Facebook status reports and the like. This year included life-threatening battles with post partum depression and viral meningitis. Nutritional changes, deployments, and the usual craziness abounded. Family and friends of ours dealt with cancer, car accidents, job loss, divorce and financial difficulty. The economy is in the pooper, and our officials are struggling to unravel the messy ball of yarn that we call our government. Those are all items that I like to consider complete and in my past. I’m glad that we don’t have to relive them.

On the other hand, 2011 brought with it the first full year of my son’s life, and my daughter’s third year. This year was wondrous in that way. I learned tons from them, and we held together through every storm. I laughed harder than I have in my life, and cried harder, while helping them to explore and figure out their place in our world. Last year brought with it volumes of learning. Boy learned how to eat from a spoon, swallow solids, crawl, walk, dance and play. Girl learned to share (sort of), to listen (kinda), to play with others, the meaning of time-out, how to learn at school, her numbers, her letters, how to dress her self, potty training, and just how far she can push her parents before she lands in a world of trouble. Together, the two of them pushed me to the very edges of my sanity and patience, but also taught me how to calm myself, when to pick my battles, and how to more appropriately address and guide them on their journeys to self discovery. It really is a journey of my own as well as theirs. This year I learned how to be a better parent to MY kids, to eat better, to exercise, to relax, to live more deliberately, and to savor the blessings that are ever present in my life. In those ways, this year was amazing and I wouldn’t ever change it.

I like the way that one of my friends does her resolutions. She picks a theme, and then wraps her goals and motivation around that theme for the entire year. I never thought of my life as a cohesive unit that way, but she is right. Our world, especially now that we are always “plugged in”, is seriously intermingled. Why not pick an over riding theme to run in the back of your mind throughout all of the different parts of your life? That’s my goal. This year, my theme is going to be “Simple Value“.

People call it all types of names: “stuff”, “clutter”, “noise”, “responsibilities”, “obligations”… You know what I am talking about. It’s all the extra stuff that we have in our lives and in our homes that  cause needless stress in our lives. They distract us from what is truly important: The people around us, the relationships that we can foster with those people, and the connection with a sense of peace. American culture tries to sell us that THIS product, or THAT experience, will immediately change our worlds from chaos to clarity. This isn’t true. God gives us nine months to get ready to have a baby, teaches us to walk over the course of months, and gradually increases our nutrition from liquid to solid form. There has never been a person who was born as an adult. We all have to go through the process. This year, I’m going to ignore the “noise”, get rid of the “clutter”, examine my “responsibilities” and “obligations” to decide if they are valid or if I’ve imposed them upon myself, and I am going to reduce the “stuff” in my life. I’m going to replace it with quality. Quality time. Quality products. Deliberate action. Consideration. Breaking down projects to smaller bits so that I can get satisfaction on the short term while maintaining motivation for the pursuit of long term goals. I find myself to be too interested in the immediate, and to distracted to things that seem emergent, only to find out that if I’d just slowed down and thought things through I would have saved myself tons of time and money. My goals are going to be defined, realistic, and considerate.

Directly stated, I wish to accomplish the following:

  • Friend/Family Member: I am going to concentrate on fostering my relationships with family and friends (chosen family) by listening, supporting, celebrating, and a acknowledging the events and those things that are priorities in their lives.
  • Mother: I will slow down and set aside time to exclusively spend with my children doing things that they are interested in doing. I will read to them more, and turn on the television less. We will explore outside more this year. This is all possible now that I have two children that are capable of interaction and play. I will savor their time and growth. I will appreciate how fleeting these years are, and make the conscious decision to pay attention.
  • Personal: Slow down. Listen. Spend time paying attention to what is today, not distracted by the frustrations of yesterday or anxious about a future that may never become a reality. To lose 20 pounds through Weight Watchers and repeated weekly exercise.
  • Business: I hope to increase my business, while maintaining the balance between my work and personal life. I will work to achieve a monthly income that offsets the loss of tax free months and per diem that will be created upon my family’s move to a new working position for my husband. Our website will be completed, our blog established, our hosting space filled, and several sites designed and published.
  • Blogging: After this week’s restructuring of my personal and family sites, I have decided that this year, I am no longer going to renovate the look or organization of my own sites. Each Sunday, I am going to post an update on our family site to help me to create a scrapbooked album at the end of the year that will have both stories and photographs for the year.  Each Friday, I will post a photograph in my Project 52 Challenge (also themed Simple

A Collection of Values). In addition, I pledge to post three times weeky on this site with a post about my creative adventures, photography, perspective, and/or motherhood.  You can see the chosen topics in my menu, and know that as a creative geek there will also be tutorials and geekery in the mix.

  • Home & Fashion: In 2011, I vastly reduced the amount of personal possessions that my family lives with within our home. I intend to reduce our household goods further in preparation for the downsizing of our home from 3,200 square feet to approximately 1,700. You will hear about this adventure of repurposing, evaluation, elimination, and selective addition on this blog. I only intend on adding clothing and home goods that my family truly requires, and then only in forms that satisfy our aesthetic. I will not settle for an immediate solution that does not fully satisfy what we wish to accomplish. Instead, I will be considerate of the needs, and will wait when necessary to purchase the quality products that will be satisfying in both form and function.
  • Financial: In addition to my business goals, our family is going to plan our purchases to be frugal without sacrificing quality. Monthly savings and retirement investments will be increased by 20% by the end of the year, while we will strive to reduce our expenses by 15% through better planning.
  • So there you have it. Deliberate. Simplified. Quality. That’s 2012 for me. How about you?