I've been pondering a post from my heart to you all for some time, though I just didn't know how to start it or where to fit it in to the calendar. And then, bam, it's a new year and we're all reflecting and setting goals and such - a perfect time for an out-of-the-norm post, right? So while I am going to write some goals here like I do every year (see past goals here), I am also going to lay a bunch of other stuff out there that has been on my heart for awhile to share with you. I am a real-life person just like you who struggles and certainly doesn't have it all together and I want to make sure that I am not putting across something else - that imperfect thing I champion? It's not just for DIY projects!
First of all, am I ever glad to wave goodbye to 2014! In all honesty, I never want to have another year like that again, though of course we don't know what the future holds and God never gives us more than we can handle. While we had our share of family illnesses, money problems, tears and misunderstandings, we also had wonderful things to celebrate (two graduations, sweet family times, and amazing friends), many answers to prayers, and the faith-building that happens when you see the Lord provide in tight circumstances.
But life enjoyment was hard to find for me last year and I'm tired, friends. I feel like I spent the entire year running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. Seriously. You know those book lists lots of bloggers are putting out this time of year: "I read 48 books in 2014" or "I can't believe I read 85 books last year!" and such? Guess how many I read? 0 - yep, a big fat zero (okay, if you don't count the Bible, because I did complete a yearly Bible reading plan, which is a plus!). What is so sad about this is that I used to be a voracious reader, minoring in English in college and reading 2-3 books a month. I LOVE to get lost in a book. Or to learn from a nonfiction book. It's indicative of how I felt this last year, though - rushed from morning to night, where my only goal was to be able to knit for an hour or two (one relaxing thing that I did make time for - and was able to gift people with my creations) while watching TV with my family before going to bed where I'd read for half an hour. But that was when I read blogs through Feedly to stay up to date, plus have links to share. I simply couldn't figure out how to fit reading books in my schedule.
The other thing I'm seeing right now a lot are writers talking about saying 'no' to things that are not their favorite thing or passion. And I get that - I do, and I plan on saying no to some things, too - like running around like a chicken with it's head cut off. But it's a little bit of a luxury, isn't it, to be able to say no to anything you want? Sometimes it's just not possible. Brian lost a major client last summer and we've had a drastic reduction in our income so I've felt like I couldn't say no to things if they brought in money (or even had the potential to bring in money - which is most of blogging by the way...potential money. sigh). So the things I ended up saying 'no' to were things like reading, sewing for fun, or finishing my dumb French chairs.
And yet, how can I complain when I read about moms losing a child, dads fighting cancer, grandmas dealing with memory loss? These are real, heartbreaking issues that make my trivial problems seem utterly selfish.
But you know what? I'm coming to realize we all have seasons in life - some will be hard with the loss of a loved one, some will be so full of joy you'll feel guilty from blessing, and some will just be hard with 'normal' trials of life, like my busy 2014. And God uses all of them to grow us - our hearts, minds, and our ability to relate to others. None of us escapes them totally - we'll all get to grow through the good, the bad, and the ugly, so it doesn't do much good to stuff down whatever you're feeling because someone else has it harder at the moment.
I could go on, but you don't need to read more of my little sob story to get the idea that when it came time to think about goals for 2015 - which included evaluating my 2014 goals - I was oddly unmotivated (it's usually something I look forward to - you know, the blank slate and all). I didn't really want to see all we didn't accomplish in 2014 - and it's hard for me to 'dream big' when I'm just trying to put one foot in front of the other. So I'm calling it okay to make just a few, simpler goals that I think I can actually accomplish, no matter what this new year brings. Let's just call them "small dreams," okay? 🙂
Short recap of 2014 goals ('cause let's just move along, shall we?):
- I actually didn't finish any of the home goals, though the chicken coop was officially taken off the goals list. Our time for chickens has passed as we're looking to downsize in the next few years and I don't want to have a brood of chickens to deal with.
- The only financial goal we reached was purchasing a used car to replace our 250,000 mile Jeep, which we purchased literally two weeks before the floor dropped out from under us, financially. Oh well, we have reliable transportation anyway. 🙂
- I'm happy to report all the business/blog goals were met, though I'm still working on the best way to organize our gardening posts and I tried a specific editorial calendar for 6 months before abandoning it for a general-theme calendar that works better for me.
2015 goals - aspirations:
- We have a list of 'things to do before selling' which includes refreshing paint, gravel, etc. that we will work towards completing this year (and yes, painting the dumb laundry room is on it still!)
- We're not at a place to make generic financial 'goals' other than explore business ideas/jobs to replace our income (and our depleted emergency fund - but thank the Lord we had an emergency fund!)
- Read 1 book a month - while this may not seem like much, after 0 last year it feels like a big goal to me! But I'm already reading two books, a growth self-help book and a biography, and I've carved out reading time before bed so I think this will be an attainable goal.
- Blogging Goals: this is the area I feel I can make the most concrete goals, as I want to do better for you guys, but in less time for me - and I want to make room for a bit more of our life and just talking to you regularly. So, here's what I'm thinking (the changes I mentioned in the title- nothing huge, the AOC you know - simple & imperfect diy, recipes & gardening - will not change fundamentally):
- Weekly posting schedule changes: Mondays - monthly menus, garden chores, and republished classic AOC posts from our 6 years of articles. Tuesdays - gardening posts & Tuesday Garden Party Link-Up. Wednesdays - DIY/Crafting themed post. Thursdays OR Fridays - Recipe. Saturday - New "Three Things" post where I'll share 3 things that happened the previous week, 3 things I'm loving, the 3 most popular posts on AOC, and any other 3 things I may want to add (the format of this post is inspired by my friend Amy's fun It's the 3 Little Things posts).
- Write another eBook (or two), add more videos to our You Tube channel, and develop a course to illustrate for you some easy diy skills.
- Schedule: set up time blocks and stick to them in order to make time for family, relationships, and personal growth.
- Monthly recipe 'themes:' I'm looking for ways to streamline and I thought having a monthly theme for new recipes will help guide me in what to share with you all. Here's the plan:
So that's what it looks like this year, friends. You know what? Just writing this out is helping me to become more hopeful and realize that there are some things in my control and I can work towards them. Thank you for hanging in there with me!