Last winter my family escaped the cold for a glorious tropical break in Malaysia. We flew in for an extended family reunion. Everybody attended, all except that is, my sweet father who had passed away earlier that year. I spent 2015 walking about like a big open wound. Last year was a year of coping for me. Every ‘firsts’ like his birthday, wedding anniversary, Father’s Day and so forth gutted me. 2015 was the year where I distilled further on what matters to me most in life. As we go into a new year, I’m reminded of the wise words of Dr Seuss, “Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” Focusing on the important for 2016 is a top priority for me.
(photo by www.IttyBittyFoodies.com)
Family is Sacred
My goal each year is to live a simpler life. It’s a work in progress with three young active boys but I feel it’s important to dial back in order to become a better parent and spouse. “Simplicity Parenting“ by Kim John Payne has really helped us in choosing to do less to gain more in our lives. As parents we want our kids to be ‘well rounded’ so we give them as many opportunities as possible, forgetting that we might overload. Last year, we looked at our overscheduled days and sifted out everything because we were too overwhelmed. We’ve now days free every week for good old fashioned playdates, family game nights or a spontaneous excursion. It’s just pure time to indulge in learning a new skill like origami, read books or making up our own board game. On New Year’s Eve, we made a family craft so that we could begin our year with a gift that is both functional as well as beautiful. Everyday, we have ‘inelastic time’ where we all commit to come together and share our day over the evening meal. Having peace, love and trust among the chaos of life is sacred for us.
Lastly, my husband and I want to focus on ourselves as individuals as well as a couple. Self-care puts deposits into your ever depleting emotional bank account. The book “Nurturing the Soul of Your Family“ by Renee Peterson Trudeau best says it about this topic, “Self-care isn’t an act of selfishness, it’s self-preservation and it’s as vial as oxygen is to my well-being.” Trudeau isn’t talking about massages and pedicures though that is part of the whole picture. She’s talking about eliminating self-criticism, saying ‘no’ to too many things and to attune to your body’s needs. It can be as simple as reading a new book, taking a walk in nature or just praying. We must be intentional and mindful to make time for this!
More Joy from Less
Last year, we moved from a 4100 sq ft house to a 1400 sq ft apartment. I wrote about the experience for Live Happy Magazine. People thought we were crazy but we couldn’t be happier. In the process, we were forced to get rid of stuff (lots of it) and we feel emotionally lighter with less. But you don’t have to do a major move to declutter your house. You can take a leaf out of Joshua Fields Milburn‘s and Ryan Nicodemus‘ aka ‘The Minimalists‘ books and have packing party where you pack up all your things and leave it in boxes for 3 weeks. If you don’t miss it then get rid of it. We suggest that pack rats just start with one room at a time.
Another author we’ve loved is Marie Kondo. In a nutshell her book, ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up‘ tells you to get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy. Simple, right? Kondo’s new book, ‘Spark Joy‘ is a great companion with illustrations on her art of tidying up. Take the principles a step further and apply it to other aspects of your life, like decluttering toxic people who do not spark joy in your life.
I’m asking the universe to give me new experiences this year to inspire me. There was a period of my life when I was a trailing spouse (read about my experience My Life As Luggage published on Australians Abroad) and this gifted me time to discover what kind of work made me happy if money was out of the equation. I fell into cooking and writing which is what I continue to do on a professional level today.
My personal goal is to bring my food photography to a new level! I received a Nikon Digital SLR camera years ago but I’ve always been a little daunted by the technology so it’s been sitting storage. My Dad taught me how to use his manual Canon camera when I was a little girl and I loved photography at school. So if I’m to stay true to keeping only the things that add value and happiness to my life, then use it I must. So here’s to a year of stepping out of my comfort zone and to discovering new things about the world around and from within. Please take a moment to share some of your wishes for 2016 and how you will be focusing on the important.
Wishing you moments that spark joy and that you will cherish in your hearts for 2016.
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