Last year was the year of ‘heart’. If you’re not familiar with it, some people choose a word, or ‘one little word’ to focus on or guide their year instead of setting lengthy resolutions. I’ve done this for three years now, and often set goals to go alongside which are specific rather than resolutions which can be overambitious and vague. It’s about learning and growing and changing through what the year brings to you, and gives you something to come back to when you need a refocus.
I went into the year expecting to continue learning about how it’s the heart behind what we do that matters, that it’s not what you do but how you do it. I also felt that ‘give’ was another element of it, giving with the right heart behind it- giving my time, money, life. But more than those things ( (which did feature) I learned more about the state of my heart. My failings and need for grace are more and more apparent to me, and my heart has drawn closer to God as a result. It is is definitely an uncomfortable thing to realise, to come to terms with your heart being much more corrupted and selfish that you’d like to admit. I remember a friend saying that she had prayed for God to show her her sin, and how uncomfortable that was. I thought at the time that it was something I should do, but didn’t exactly look forward to! I have realised lots of not very nice things about my heart, my tendencies and sins that I was justifying or excusing or just trying to ignore. Whilst it has not exactly been enjoyable, I know that this is needed, to really know that I do truly need Jesus, that even though I’ve not done any sins that the world would deem terrible, that my heart is still selfish and that gets between God and me.
Whilst I wouldn’t say that this whole year has hinged on that word, it has subtly affected the way I’ve see things and my growth personally and spiritually has definitely been affected as well as some other areas. Outwardly 2016 has been been the year that Amelia changed from being a tiny baby who was unable to even roll over to this 14 month old beside me who is starting to talk, show so much personality and has taken a few steps. I took a big chunk of time off from the shop and Etsy for ‘maternity leave’ and didn’t do any of the business side of having a handmade shop. This really freed me up to create when I wanted, to spend that time with three little ones underfoot in the wisest way I could, and to invest in them. I continued making as and when I had time and space to in the evenings or to unwind but didn’t do any ‘should’s!
We spent a lot of time as a family and continued adjusting to Josh working nights (he is an engineer on London Underground). Simeon grew up a lot, we had a fun summer together and a holiday in the New Forest before Phoebe began school in September. That in itself has been an interesting transition for my heart- but she was so ready and is so happy to go everyday and spend time with her friends and peers. It’s been really nice to be involved with the Harvest festival and their Christmas nativity play and getting to know the school better. School forms such a big and wonderful part of my childhood so I hope that she will also grow, learn and form great memories that will impact her throughout her life.
The word I felt that was right for this year was ‘present’. I’ve spent a lot of this year wrestling with social media and the Internet and my own compulsion to be present there. I’ve taken several weeks at a time off Facebook and Instagram (I cut out Pinterest and Twitter compulsions a few years ago but those two remained attractions!) but have still struggles with changing my habits. Where smartphones make it so easy to just quickly log on or have a scroll, I want to remind myself to just do one thing at a time and be fully wherever I am. I have started the year with properly signing off Instagram and Facebook indefinitely with the intention of freeing up time to read in those free minutes, pray, to write more (like this) and just be. I have written so little in this space this year, in part because I felt like I ‘should’ update social media every so often and so didn’t have the mental space left to create any more words. It seems silly to even admit to all this, but I know that writing these words here will make me more accountable and cement the reasons for the shift in my brain. I’m giving myself permission to do nothing, to sit and be still and not need to check what the Internet world wants to say to me. I’m sure that the way I envision this word affecting me this year will change and surprise me, just as ‘heart’ changed this year. Already, undertones and other learning opportunities are nudging me and it will be interesting to see where ‘present’ will see me being this year. Simeon has just started settling in at preschool, which starts another lovely chapter for him and us as a family, and Amelia is bound to change so much again this year. As there are creative dreams on the side which I’m taking tiny steps towards as and when I can, and love documenting and sharing our story over here.
This year I used the 1 second everyday app and filmed (most days) a tiny snippet of time. Looking at them together makes me realise how all those little, ordinary things add up. Mostly they’re filmed at home (because that’s when I remembered) or on little walks or outings, not on our big exciting days or events. I love having that way to remember this year.
Have you chosen a word for the year, or set any goals? What did the last year teach you?
If you want to find out more about choosing ‘one little word’, Elise has a few podcast episodes on the topic, there’s a site here and Ali Edwards also runs workshops to keep you motivated to keep checking in creatively on your word for the year.