Creating New Rituals

Happy New Year, readers! I hope you all had a wonderful and fulfilling holiday break. My family and I had many relaxing moments, but I am very happy to be back to the real world today. The week between Christmas and New Years was a bit of a haze for me.

Our homeschool co-op doesn’t pick back up until next week, but we started our second half of first grade today. I’m excited about all the things JC is excited for this year, and I’ll be writing a full blog on it soon.

But for today, I want to talk about creating new rituals for a fresh year. This year I’m not setting any resolutions, because I feel like making a list of things to do and ways to be better is just setting yourself up for disappointment and frustration. I know I’m not the only one who had a rough go of 2016, and this year, I really want to be good to myself. Here are some of the rituals I hope to create this year for myself and my family:

  • Ending our day with music: At the end of the day when dinner is done, parents are exhausted and the kids get that wild, pre-bedtime wind, we often turn on the TV to kill time before bed. I would like to start trading the TV for music and audiobooks. I’d love to see what playlists my family come up with.
  • The Best Year Ever jar: I’ve made room on our kitchen bookshelf for a big empty jar, and I’m encouraging my family to drop a note inside when something good happens or when they’re thankful for something. At the end of the year, we’ll have a whole jar of happy memories.
  • Using essential oils in my showers: Most days, a shower is the only time I get to myself–and some days even then I have a small visitor pushing trains around the bathroom. I would like to utilize some essential oils and scents to help set a tone for my day.
  • Starting my writing time each day with a writing prompt: I have a whole Pinterest board dedicated to writing prompts and at least 3 books full of them, all for when “I have time”–and this year, I will make the time.
  • I want to set aside a time each week to be creative outside of writing: I used to love to sew and scrapbook and do crafty things. As a homeschooling mom, it was very easy to let those side projects slide. I’d love to pick some of them back up, though. I started a Harry Potter pillow almost 3 years ago I haven’t finished. Is there really any excuse for that?
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It should not take 4 years to make a pillow.

 


I’d love to know: what rituals do you have? 

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This Will Be The Year.

I’m not making resolutions this year. Why? Because I do not keep them. Resolutions from years past hang over my head like a giant, scowling to-do list that is never, ever going to get done. So this year, I’ve made a list of things I want to do this year that are FUN. This may be the year I finally drop the weight or organize my house from top to bottom, but it won’t be because I’ve declared them resolutions. This will be the year for…

…More sleep. Less social media scrolling before bed.

…More movement. Less crazy structured workout plans.

…More beauty in my house. Less stuff for stuff’s sake.

…More good books. Less mediocre tales.

…More nature. Less screen time.

…More decadent and special yummy treats. Less eating out of boredom.

…More regular mornings and evenings. Less fly by the seat of our pants patterns.

…More spending time with people I love. Less forced social interactions.

…More standing up for myself. Less pushover.

…More intention. Less random.

…More writing stories. Less writing “to do” lists.

What do you want more of in 2016?

 

20 Ways This is Going to be the Best Year Yet

Welcome to another Writers Workshop Thursday, brought to you by Mama Kat! Today’s topic: 20 ways this is going to be the best year yet.

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1. Because Judy Blume is going to publish another adult novel. Are you there, God? It’s me, Allyson…thank you for finally answering that request!

2. Because I’m going to publish a book this year. No, I don’t have an agent, or a publisher…yet. But I do have some great rough drafts, the makings of a kick-ass query letter and a whole lot of belief in myself.

3. Because Friends and Gilmore Girls are on Netflix now.

4. Because I’m not allowed to pin anything crafty until I finish a project I’ve already pinned. Less mental clutter and more fun projects.

5. Because I get to host a #DisneySide party next month! Stayed tuned for a review.

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6. Because things are a little crazy at my house right now. We’re facing some big changes as a family, which is terrifying…but I’m trying to remind myself that change doesn’t have to be bad and can be the start of exciting opportunities. Time to bloom!

7. Because of this blog and my newly refreshed fitness blog, Girl Seeking Healthy. I love writing and blogging and I love getting to know my readers.

8. Because I’m working on a “long weekend getaway” wish list. There are lots of places I want to visit–and a fair number of them are close by. Mini break, anyone?

9. Because two of my BFF’s are moving and they will be closer to me. Hurrah!

10. Because JC turns 5 this year, which is important because “it’s a whole HAND, mom.”

11. Because I’m going to learn to make my own pasta this year.

12. Because I’m going to learn to speak Italian this year.

13. Because my husband and I celebrate a decade of being together this year, and I think that’s a big deal.

14. Because Zoo Atlanta is opening their brand new reptile house this year. Little boy heaven, anyone?

15. Because even though 2015 has already thrown me a lot of curve balls, there is still plenty of time to look up and keep perspective.

16. Because I just discovered this awesome independent bookstore and plan to spend a lot of time in it.

The Little Shop of Stories. Which of course makes me sing: Little shop...little shop of stories...

The Little Shop of Stories. Which of course makes me sing: Little shop…little shop of stories…

17. Because I’ve finally mastered my iPhone, and I can’t upgrade until December, so I have a full year of knowing what buttons to push.

18. Because for every book I read, I find two more to add to my “to read” list. Best problem ever.

19. Because I’m determined to have a family portrait taken this year. We haven’t had one done since JC was 14 months old.

20. Because there are new paths to explore, sticks to whack trees with, friends to make and naps to take. What else could a girl want?

My 2015 Wish List

2015

I’m a little weird in that this time of year, I’m not making a list of resolutions for the upcoming year. I’m more prone to do that in April on my birthday–I like the idea of re-assessing when your personal year turns over. And even then, I don’t like the idea of creating a laundry list of ways to improve yourself. I’m certainly not perfect…but I’ve spent a lot of years cultivating my own little brand of not perfect.

Instead, I like to look at January as a time to start fresh and make a wish list. Where do I want to go? What do I want to do and see and create? What do I want to learn–not because I should, but because I want to?

I want to go…To Washington, DC. I’ve never been!

I want to…Move more. After taking a year off of running because of illness and injury, I’m ready to be active again. I’m not sure if it’s going to be running or yoga or barre class but I’m excited to get back into it!

I want to see…More of my local world. I live right outside of Atlanta, and I can tell you A LOT of things to do with kids. I’d like to find some new local restaurants and maybe even venture out to the Georgia coast and get to know it a little better.

I want to create…Well, words, of course! But I’d really like to create a more simplified and streamlined space to live in. Maybe it’s just the post-Christmas piles that are making me feel closed in, but I’m ready to do some purging.

I want to learn…Italian. I’ve always wanted to. I took in college but didn’t retain much, and I’d really like to get a better grasp on it. And I’d love for JC to pick up a second language at a young age.

What’s on your wish list for 2015?

Christmas: Reality vs. Fantasy

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Sometimes the most imperfect moment becomes your favorite one.

 

I spent a good deal of my life in search of the perfect holiday.

I could see it all in my head: the big happy family, the perfectly decorated tree, presents beautifully wrapped underneath…and then the oven catches on fire because I forgot to set the timer for the marvelous holiday cookies I’m baking and the fantasy bubble pops.

I’ve realized the perfect holiday doesn’t exist. Because perfect isn’t perfect: perfect is embracing the reality and making it your own. My imperfect perfect holiday resolutions:

  • I will give up on the big family dinner. As an only child, I always daydreamed about the big family holiday experience. When I married into a big family, I was thrilled. Then my first (and last) big family Christmas dinner included Grandma flinging spaghetti at the wall to see if it was done because she forgot to set the timer, my new husband lurking at the door, ready to dart at the first available moment, and my mother in law asking me to take the family picture of her “real kids”. Note: She must have decided she liked me, because the year after I was allowed to be in the picture.
  • Because of the afore-mentioned crazy big family holiday, I will make a point to spend time with people who are important to me individually, and catch up with people I don’t get to see a lot.
  • I will let go of the dream of a pottery barn inspired front door and porch…mainly because I live in an apartment and have no porch. Maybe next year.
  • I will embrace the cookie my kid wants to make, and accept that decorating gingerbread man cookies and cookies shaped like trees are not as fun as decorating cookies shaped like trains and footballs every color of the rainbow.
  • I will not kill myself designing the perfect Christmas card. I will choose a photo that represents my son as himself, and not a posed shot. Instead of wasting time agonizing over the card, I will spend more time writing notes to people I don’t get to see often.

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  • I will continue to emphasize to JC that Christmas is less about gifts and more about spending time with the people you love. I will also try to drive home the idea that when you choose a gift, you pick something the intended recipient will enjoy…and not something you like. That being said, if he chooses a Lego fire truck for me, I will love it all the same.
  • I will let go of some of the traditions of my childhood. Things change, people move away, families become different creatures than they were when you were a kid. I will pick one or two traditions that are the most important and carry on with them, but I will focus on creating new traditions with my family now.
  • I will become realistic about snow and bad weather. The sweet image of my son romping around in the snow with ruddy cheeks wearing an adorable snow suit was never given much weight, because we live in the south, where it snows once every three or four years and absolutely stops the city. Last year when we got four or five inches, most people were too busy being trapped in their cars for 24 hours on the interstate to enjoy it. When I took my son out to play in it, he was not in coordinated Lands End snow gear—he was in layers of sweatpants and a raincoat with plastic baggies on his feet under his rain boots. Did he care? Not a bit.

(On a side note, after reading this list back over, I’m pretty sure Pinterest may be responsible for most of my holiday fantasies).

The holidays are supposed to be fun. The most wonderful time of the year, remember? So this is the year I’m going to take back the happy feelings and leave all the stress, obligation and expectations behind. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be outside in my four layers, eating the delicious gingerbread football cookie covered in purple icing.

How do you handle expectations at the holidays?