A New Year of Daily Intentions

Spending New Year’s Eve sick was the best dose of reality. New year’s day was not the day I would begin my marathon training; it was not the day I would sort through my closet and minimize; it was not the day I would begin writing ten pages a day. It was the day I took care of myself, so that I could heal faster.

The best advice I read for the new year was to set daily intentions instead of one overarching resolution. On a given day I may intend to create a new lecture, clean out the fridge, write a blog, or rest and drink lots of liquids. It means taking a moment to read the day, consider my obligations, and gauge my own personal needs. Some days I genuinely need to work out, not to meet a dictating resolution for the year, but to clear my head and balance my emotions.

In my field of composition and rhetoric, I have learned that timing is key. A writer crafts his response to fit a particular moment. The action is co-determined by the setting, the current conversation, and audience. Likewise, my everyday actions are also determined by multiple factors. Perhaps it would be different if my life did not involve children and a job that has varying demands day by day. All I can do is make the best decisions in the moment. This is what I can cook and eat with the available ingredients and the allotted time. I have had write this blog post in pieces because sometimes a six year old appears on my lap or the noise level in the house escalates beyond the point at which I can concentrate. In those moments, I move on to a different intention, which doesn’t require the same cognitive labor or better serves the needs of my household.

My goal is not to set myself up for disappointment or agitation but to still have expectations. I have discovered when I have set up unsustainable goals, such as I am going to write 500 words a day, when I fail, I quit. A daily intention is not about a streak of behaviors that can be broken. It’s not a diet you can fail. It’s about waking up each morning and planning what you have to do and what you want to do. Today is the last day of my children’s winter break. My intention is to remove the holiday decorations, visit with my parents, let my children dictate some fun activities, and prepare for a work day tomorrow.

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A Week of Photo Gratitude to Kick Off 2016

One constant tenet in positive psychology is gratitude. I have tried gratitude journals and the more enjoyable practice of having my family share their favorite moments of the day. This new year I have been approaching gratitude through my lens (thanks in part to a new DSLR from Santa). I stumbled upon this practice accidentally, as I tried to enjoy an endless game of hide and seek with my children. Children are by nature attention seekers, which can be emotionally draining, especially on what feels like day 100 of Christmas break. It’s easy to try to push back and isolate yourself in housework, a good book, or whatever it is you feel you “need to get done.” To appreciate the time, I pulled out my camera and began taking pictures. Immediately, I found myself smiling at their comically bad hiding places, at their antics upon discovery, and how they were getting along so well.

Today’s favorite picture: my hide and seek superstar.

A photo posted by Jen (@owlsandolives) on Jan 1, 2016 at 4:30pm PST

 

Once I began looking for new photo opportunities, I fell more in love with my environment. As an introvert, home is my recharge station. Like Batman, I have my own cave filled with gadgets of knowledge (i.e. books). One of my favorite book titles is for the prequel to Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, Little Altars Everywhere. This is how I feel about my house, like it is filled with little altars and nests. In fact, I may like it all too much, as the winter break bred in me a deep contentment that has diminished my desire to socialize and explore. Next week, I am hoping the fresh snowfall will give a new canvas of inspiration.