Happy New Year! I absolutely love this time of year. It’s nice to have a holiday that’s all about reflection and new beginnings that occurs when nobody is working much, so that you actually have some time to take stock of your life and make changes. Making New Year’s resolutions is one of my favorite activities, and I usually wake up on January 1 with a detailed list of concrete changes I’m going to make.
…Which makes it weird that I haven’t done that yet this year. Every time I went to think about goals for the new year, I felt like I was getting the message, Wait.
Maybe it was a prompting from the Lord, a nudge to let me know that changes are afoot and I’m not supposed to make any decisions yet. Or maybe it was my subconscious reminding me that being a homeschooling mother of six kids under age ten — including quite a few who spent a lot of time yelling and/or not sleeping — has left me so maxed out that until something changes in my day-to-day life there is no point to committing to any resolution other than “Try not to lose will to live entirely.”
Not that you could tell from that last paragraph, but I’m actually feeling really happy and optimistic about this year. I just don’t feel prompted to make resolutions yet.
I also don’t feel led to do a word of the year — not yet, anyway — which is also something I normally like to do. Although hearing other people’s words makes me feel so utterly uncreative. Sarah Mae’s word is JESSE, her husband’s name. Lisa Leonard’s is HELLO. A friend told me that her word was EPIC.
But like with the resolutions, nothing’s coming to me right now. However, it has been interesting to think of what word would best capture last year. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about a one-word theme of the year, and I think that the perfect one is this:
In 2013, I spent a lot of time being very, very weak, and so did people I love. Things had gone so well in 2011 and 2012 that I think I had started to believe that I could control every aspect of my life and my family’s lives. I felt powerful — a little too powerful, in fact. So 2013 was a year in which I came face-to-face with weakness in all of its forms. It was not particularly fun, and I can’t say that I handled any of it in a spiritually mature way at the time. However, now that I have some space to reflect back on our crazy year, it’s quite a fruitful topic for meditation. (I would tell you what Joe’s word for 2013 is, but I try not to use profanity on the blog.)
What word best summarizes 2013 for you? (Underlined because I’d really like to know!)
I’m going to try to do a daily log this year! I’m really excited about the idea, which I got from creative guru Austin Kleon.
I’m using my wonderful daily planner from Faith Calendars as a log book instead of a calendar this year. I like that there’s not much space for each day, so I won’t feel pressure to write a lot. So far I’m really enjoying having this simple record of our days, and I know it will be a treasured keepsake in years to come.
Today I send my edits to the galleys back to my publisher. Galleys are proofs of what the publisher is sending to the printer — the final-final-final shot to catch typos or make other small tweaks. I will not see the manuscript again until I hold a copy of the book in my hands. It’s kind of surreal.
Our awesome friend Fr. Dan Lorimer was in town for New Year’s, and we had so much fun hanging out with him. He left a nice parish job to volunteer for military service because he heard that there weren’t enough chaplains to serve our soldiers, and now he’s headed to Afghanistan soon. Say a prayer for him!
He joined us at a New Year’s Eve party hosted by one of Joe’s friends from Yale whose family are fellow crazy religious homeschoolers (my words, not theirs). Every year they throw a fabulous New Year’s Eve party that involves s’mores melted over open fire pits, a mouthwatering spread of food, plenty of champagne, and lots and lots of fireworks.
We originally thought my dad would make it as well, and Joe and I kept laughing about the setup: the friends hosting the party are Protestant, we’re Catholic, Fr. Dan is a priest, and my dad’s an atheist. It sounds like the beginning to an awesome sitcom, or maybe an epic: A nice Protestant family is hosting a party, and bunch of Catholics show up with a priest, an atheist, and a huge bag of fireworks…
Talking about themes words for 2013 made me wonder what my theme song would be. Without question, it’s Mumford and Sons’ Lover of the Light. It came on the radio frequently when I would do my late-night drives to the hospital to be with the baby in the NICU — and, oddly, I have only rarely heard it since then.
The lyrics love the one you hold always hit me hard, since our little guy was full term and quite alert, but we couldn’t pick him up because of the chest tubes. He would cry and I could do nothing to comfort him, which aged me about a thousand years. One night while driving to the hospital, Lover of the Light came on again, and this time I noticed the line, sung emphatically: breathe in, breathe out — which of course, made me think of my own life-threatening breathing issues in addition to the baby’s. I broke into tears, and by the time they belted out love the one you hold, I was sobbing so hard I could barely drive.
For me, that was the defining moment of the year, and, oddly, I’m glad I have that song to bring me back to that place. I don’t want to forget what it was like to be there.