I’ll be honest…I’ve been looking forward to writing this post for months. Today is January 1st- it’s the first day of a brand new year, and it’s also the launch my latest Sugar Block BOM series. Last year we had so much fun with our blocks and recipes, but as I started thinking about what the 2014 series would look like, I had to ask myself, what do I really want? What do I need? Sure, had a sketch book full of whirly, twirly, pin-wheely blocks just waiting to be stitched up, and I’d been saving some special fabric just for this new quilt- some Liberty of London lifestyle cottons, in a really lovely assortment of vintage florals, along with Kona Snow and some pretty Essex linen. Surely these are just the fresh change I need after a year of crisp solids, but it just didn’t feel complete yet. I can’t explain it, but I knew that somehow this year’s quilt needed to be infused with inspiration at a deeper level.
Something a bit….beyond the block, beyond the fabrics, beyond the patterns…something empowering. Just like the impressive array of unfinished projects that clutter up my sewing room and often leave me feeling guilty and defeated, I’m a serious WIP myself…not just a work in progress, I’m a woman in progress. And as I breath in the fresh, untainted newness of 2014, and reflect on all of the blessings and growth I experienced this past year, I feel optimistic, energetic, and motivated. I don’t want to wait and see if I eventually stumble into the woman I want to be…I want to step out of my comfort zone now, take a look in the mirror, and drag some of my peskiest failings of out into the light (aka, the interwebs).
So this year, in conjunction with new quilt blocks and sweet recipes, I’ll also be posting on the 1st of each month, both in the Sugar Block subscription emails, as well as here on my blog, about things I want to BE this year. I want to be a servant, a neighbor, a teacher. I want to be present with my loved ones, and be young with my children. I want to be more positive, and merciful, and, well, more of the woman God intends for me to be. And I suppose this is the part where my faith really comes into play, because it is such a quintessential part of who I am. It’s my faith that calls me to be the best wife I can be, neighbor I can be, friend I can be, quilt blogger I can be…to show love and faith and joy in everything I do…not just when I’m Instagraming about peanut butter bars and my holiday table settings. Way, way beyond that. Even when the airlines lose my luggage, or my kids color on the new couch with sharpies. Even when someone flips me off in traffic with my kids in the backseat, or our house floods, or my husband loses his job…the storms. In fact, not just *even* at those times, but *especially* at those times.
But I can tell you right now that I can’t just will myself to be that woman. I can’t just make a cute list, write some blog posts, tie a string around my finger, and transform myself- just like that. For me, and I venture to say for us all, that’s not how it works. That’s why so many of the New Year’s resolutions we make are practically fizzled out by Spring. We so WANT to achieve them, we WANT to change, but at the end of the day, we are flawed, we fall short. It’s only through supernatural grace and power, that we can truly see change in our lives.
And you may not agree with me- I understand that, and I choose to write this anyway. You might not believe in God at all, let alone that He loves you, and just want to get back to quilting. You may say, no way Amy, I’ve met goals and shaped who I am through my own hard work and determination. I don’t need supernatural grace or power- I’m a good person. And I respectfully say, keep digging. The less work you think you need, the more you probably do…and I’m at the top of that list. I guess what I’m getting at in all this talk of faith, is that I know I can’t do it alone, and so I’m not even going to try…doing it alone that is. Before I even embark on my year of goals and challenges, I’m throwing my hands up, and praying for help, that’s all.
So…for January, the challenge before us to be intentional.
This month is all about the plan…the prep before the race. There are a few specific things that I’ll be focusing on this month, in preparation for the year, and I challenge you to consider them as well, if you’re so inclined to follow along.
- First, as I’ve already touched on- prayer.
For you, this may be meditation, or just quiet moments- for me it will be prayer that my heart will be open and receptive this year, to whatever opportunities for growth I might encounter. If I’m closed in any way- bitter, or doubtful, proud, or even just overly busy, it will hinder my growth. So I’m spending time specifically asking for openness and clarity, and making sure my heart is in the right place.
- Make a list
You knew this was coming. I heart lists in a major way! Perhaps because I’m such a visual person. I’m making a list of specific, simple goals that I want to reach this year…things like “walk the kids to or from school, instead of driving, at least 3 times each week.” Everyday things that I know I should be doing, but am not.
Write them down, be specific, and make them realistic enough for you to achieve. Try not to include really broad goals like “Be more confident” or “Get healthy”…these goals are easily swept under the rug because we end up having a hard time wrapping our heads around them and making them tangible in our everyday lives, so be as specific as you can. Instead of “Spend more time with my spouse” perhaps it’s “Go on a date once a week.” Another example: one of my broader goals is for my husband and I to develop healthier habits this year, but instead of writing that down as a goal, I’ll probably include something like “Pack Russell a lunch the night before his work day.” – I zoned in on a specific part of my broad goal (too much eating out), and came up with a specific achievable goal that works toward the broader one.
As the year progresses, I’ll be offering monthly challenges that dig deeper into some of these broad categories that are on my heart, and explore some ideas to help us refocus on our habits and mindsets in these areas.
- Lastly, this month I’m going to experiment with reminders. I know I’m going to need to get creative in order to keep my goals fresh, and at the front of my mind on a daily basis. Yes, I’ll probably post them on the fridge, but I want to push myself a little more…invade my own comfort zone. Perhaps posting sticky notes in places I see everyday, like the inside of my medicine cabinet and kitchen cupboards, the background on my computer… heck, even taped to the back of the remote! I know if I picked up my remote and saw a note that said “Why are you watching TV?Get outside and take a walk!”, I’d probably have a tougher time giving in to a completely unproductive and thoroughly lethargic hour of American Pickers, when I complain from the other side of my mouth that I “don’t have enough time to work out.”
And don’t even get me started on sewing-related goals! I need some notes tucked throughout my stash and on my machine that say things like “Don’t even THINK about starting a new project until you finish that hexagon quilt!” It’s not that I don’t want to finish it…I just get distracted. Maybe some of the reminders need go with rewards for myself…”Here’s $20 to spend on new fabric as soon as you finish mending this quilt!”
Another reminder idea I’m considering is periodic notes set to pop up on my phone, like little alarms, that prompt me to do whatever it is I’ve committed to start doing. Annoying, but obviously necessary.
Well, there it is. That’s what I’m chewing on this glorious first day of the brand new year. I’m so excited to dig into this, not to mention, get a new sampler quilt stitched up in some Liberty. How are you feeling about this year? Any special goals? I’d love to hear your thoughts!