What are your top 3?

How often do we critique ourselves, or is it just me? Questioning our choices, performances, or motivation is a pretty common phenomenon. We are, I’ve heard, our own worst critic. I try my best to be an encourager – to point out the good in others, to praise when things are done well, to give thanks when I am grateful. But I don’t typically do the same for myself – and you might not, either. After choosing intentional as my word of the year for 2023, I am becoming more aware of my own self talk, and to be honest, I’m kind of a meanie. I often dwell on mistakes or recall situations that could’ve been handled differently. I’m now focusing more on what has gone well, what I’m proud of, and what I’d like to see continue. As I grow in this direction, I saw a writing prompt that looked helpful “Name three personality traits that you are proud of”. Making myself look for positive attributes of my personality was just what I needed – and I assume you need it, too! I hope you will join me and at the very least make a list of personality traits that make you proud. We all need reminders of the great job we are doing as we push through this crazy thing called life!

Creativity

I’d say that being creative has always been a part of my personality and has served me well. As a child, I could play secretary for hours with a pretend phone and a spiral notebook that I had made into my appointment book. I established Kelly’s Deli, complete with an ever changing menu of what the refrigerator held at the time, and took the orders of my family members, serving them their food as they lounged in the living room. I later used these creative juices to write book reports, poems, and eventually three children’s books as an adult. We would enjoy themed dinners when the children were growing up and chocolate parties and heart hunts on Valentine’s Day. As a teacher, I love to create eye catching bulletin boards and art projects that include color, texture, and fun. Life is too short not to celebrate the average Tuesday, or redecorate a room for no other reason than you got a new pillow on sale. Adding joy to the ordinary has helped me to create many memories , and for that I am grateful.

Organized

I have always loved all things that have to do with organization. Gel pens, journals, colored paper clips and calendars make me giddy. Being able to plan, schedule, and make the best use of my time gives me a high like no other. Of course, the opposite is true as well. Life has a crazy way of taking your calendar and lighting it on fire – take the PANDEMIC, for instance. Being a mom of four and a preschool teacher has also taught me the importance of staying on task. Knowing that a tidy space and well thought out day would only benefit my students and family encouraged me even more to hone in on my organizational skills. Understandably, it’s impossible to keep a spotless home or classroom, and it’s also not healthy to dictate an extremely rigid schedule. But having a routine is crucial, and we all thrive when we know what to expect. I am proud of all that I have managed to achieve so far in my life using these skills.

Compassionate

If I had to choose one trait that I am most proud of – it would be that I’m compassionate. It doesn’t take skill or intelligence- but it does take time, and the ability to notice the needs of others. I was brought up to be generous with my time and abilities. We were always encouraged to have open eyes to areas in the house, school, or community that would benefit from our help. Many people don’t offer assistance because they think they couldn’t do “enough”. I’m here to confirm that it’s the little things that mean the most, and are remembered the longest. A text to check in on a friend, a meal dropped off to a family with a sick child, flowers given secretly to someone that needs a smile. I love doing these things for others because I know how much I appreciate similar acts of love (and really, it’s not difficult at all!). No matter what is happening in my own life, I know that I always feel better when I offer my time or services to others.

Okay – now it’s YOUR turn! What are your top 3? Please share – I’ll be waiting to hear from you 🙂

HAPPY FEBRUARY ❤️

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Intentional

Each year, I think long and hard about what my word of the year should be. I was “this close” to repeating my word from 2022 – worthy – something I had never done in my previous eleven years of choosing a word. The word worthy brought me so many lessons, and I was hesitant to move on without it. Nonetheless, I poured over lists of potential words until one made me stop in my tracks – intentional. The dictionary defines intentional as an adjective, meaning “done on purpose; deliberate”. Now, as a TYPE A personality, I feel that most of what I do in life is thought out, planned and on purpose. But was I living an intentional life? It appears I will be finding this out in 2023.

I thrive on a schedule. Having raised four children, I found that our household also did much better when a routine was established and we did our best to stick with it. As a teacher, I’m fully aware that my days are the most productive and successful when they are scheduled and planned in advance, even to the point of over-planning in case an activity took less time than originally planned. Needless to say, most of the areas in my life are already organized, anticipated and planned in advance. So why did the word intentional tug at my heart this year? Since I’m not a fly by the seat of my pants kinda gal, why did I feel the urge to focus on this word in particular? Honestly – it has a bit to do with an upcoming date this winter. That, my friend, will be my 50th birthday (50 😳). I’m not dreading it by any means, but I am becoming more aware of how time has the capacity to pass rather quickly, and if I have things that I’d like to say, or do, or witness – I better start being more intentional.

I spoke earlier about how I feel that I have already tried to be intentional in my parenting and career. There are so many other aspects of my life that deserve a similar amount of intentionality… my hobbies, my eating habits, my relationships, how much sleep I am getting each night – the list could go on and on. Let’s take this little blog for example. Writing brings me joy. It also brings me frustration and guilt when I can’t (don’t) find time for it in my weekly schedule. It gets pushed to the back seat – heck it’s being pulled behind the van on most occasions. I don’t allow this outlet for myself – and I can’t even explain why it’s not justifiable in my own mind. But no more, I will be more intentional this year about writing more – and hopefully adding blogs for you to read about whatever is in my head at the time (God help us all!). I will also allow more time for reading – another true love that gets shoved aside in the chaos of daily living. I know I will find several other areas in my daily life that are begging for more intentionality.

For the most part, I will open my eyes a bit wider, and wait just a moment longer before I respond – making sure that I understand what’s in front of me, before I open my mouth and comment on it. I will plan more lunches and dinners with friends, be more careful with the words that I choose to speak and write, and be more cautious with what I agree to do with the time I have been blessed with on the earth. I will try to acknowledge that everything I do is a choice – and that others are choosing too… and that’s the hard part. I am going to do my absolute best to live on purpose, not just react and respond to what is happening around me. Being intentional sounds right, it sounds necessary. I know that God had a reason to plop that word in my lap. I am hopeful that this year will allow me to grow in whatever areas in my life could afford some improvement. I pray that this year is a great one for all of you ❤️

Let’s practice asking…

I had something happened to me a few weeks ago, and I thought it was worthy of a blog post. For the most part, I am an independent person that loves to offer help when I see a need, most people could probably say the same thing. On the other hand, I am not good at all about asking for help. In my eyes, if something needs to be done, I find a way to make it happen. I take pride in setting goals and reaching them, on my own accord. But, quite often, life gets in the way, and my lack of money, time, skill, or interest slows my progression or even brings a project to a screeching halt. This is where my blog post gets interesting.

I recently joined a local “buy nothing” page on Facebook. This page encourages those with a need to ask the other page members for possible assistance. This page does not allow any product or service to be paid for, or any exchange of money to occur. For example, a community member may find that they have a perfectly good pair of size 4 soccer cleats to gift someone after cleaning out a closet. They post a picture of the cleats and ask if anyone is interested. There are usually several people interested on any given object. One person is chosen to receive the item, and a pick up/drop off is determined. It’s a win-win situation. The cleats are out of the closet, and they will now be used again by someone that needs them. I have been amazed at the generosity on this page, time and time again. From child sized snow pants to Mason Jars, a robot floor vacuum to jewelry that isn’t worn any longer, items are passed around and people are always happy to help. This community of people (mostly strangers) offer what they have to those in need be it big or small. I’m always smiling after I visit this page to see what is being given away each day.

Finally the best part! For over five years, I have been knitting hats and donating them to various organizations. I taught myself how to loom knit, and I find it ridiculously relaxing to sit down and create a hat, start to finish, in under 90 minutes. I also find great joy in providing these hats to those who otherwise would go without. It’s an easy way for me to use what I have (time and ability) to help others. The most difficult aspect is how quickly I run out of yarn. Once I began giving away all my creations, I let my friends know that I was accepting yarn donations. Even with their generosity, I often ran out of yarn quickly. Hesitantly, I decided to ask for yarn donations on my new favorite page. I explained my situation and for what the yarn would be used. Within an hour, I had my first response. I was ecstatic! In a few days I would find myself driving around the township collecting GARBAGE BAGS full of yarn. My heart was ready to explode! I was so completely blown away that so many people were willing to help me and my mission to knit warm hats for those who needed them. I’ve always said that the people who gave me yarn are the true superstars – I couldn’t knit without them. And here’s the thing – none of these kind souls could’ve helped me -how would they have even known I had a need- unless I asked. Please read that again. I had to ask. I was loaded up with yarn and encouragement, simply because I put my need out there. I asked for help. It didn’t come naturally, I felt silly doing it, but I did it! And holy smokes, my community blessed my socks off. Most importantly, I will now be able to make hundreds of hats and provide the basic need of warmth to so many people. In my excitement, I have knitted 27 hats in 2 weeks since receiving the yarn.

Please do me a favor. Practice asking for help. By all means, continue offering help too. But if there’s a need in your life, big or small, do yourself a favor and ask for help. I created a small tray of yarn scraps to use as a centerpiece in the room where I knit. These colorful balls of yarn remind me that help is available, if only we ask for it. Being a helper is amazing and a blessing, be sure to give others a chance to occasionally fill that role. We need each other, and a few garbage bags of yarn reminded me of that truth. 🙂🧶👏🏻

Worthy – 2022

The past few years have changed many things, including expectations that we all had for our every day lives. Talk was rampant about the “new normal” which I refuse to accept in any way, shape, or form. Control was taken away regarding our school hours, work locations, and shopping options. Weeklong to the familiar, unless we chose to let it go, finally excepting that are all the ways may not have been the best for us. As we begin a new calendar year, I will yet again choose a word to reflect on for the next 12 months. This process has served me well, and I am sharing my word with you in hopes of perhaps spreading some hope in a challenging time for all of us.

A few years ago while in a Bible study, I came upon the scripture Ephesians 4:1, “Live a life worthy of the calling you have received”. This particular this line stopped me in my tracks. How often have I failed to do this? More often than not, I make choices that lead to frustration, guilt and anger. I choose to look away, take the easier path, keep quiet when my voice would’ve helped. I know my choices haven’t all been negative, and that quite often I dive in headfirst with guns blazing in order to make a difference. But living worthy of my calling requires more awareness, deliberate responses, and making the decision to seek the good and promote it even when we question our own future. I am hoping that by focusing on the word worthy, I will take a few more moments before I react, adjusting my attitude and responses accordingly.

The definition of worthy (adjective) is “deserving effort, attention, or respect; good enough , or suitable”. I hope I will be able to feel worthy in the most important areas of my life. Am I feeling valued at home, work, in my friendships and family relationships? How am I choosing what activities, events and organizations deserve my effort and energy? How do I express my feelings if I’m feeling hurt, dismissed, or disrespected? Acknowledging our worth is the first step in taking ownership of our actions and addressing the actions of those around us. Understanding that each and every one of us are deserving and worthy will hopefully change how we interact, and result in less negativity and conflict – something that would benefit all of us!

Focusing on the word worthy won’t change my life. It’s not a magic pill that will fix my attitude or perspective. I’m hoping that it will open my eyes to more positive possibilities. I’m motivated to really think about the ideas, people, and activities that I feel deserve my effort and passion. I want to stop and fully realize the worth I bring to the world and those in my life. The amazing fact is …we are ALL worthy. Every last one of us. What a gift. I don’t know what the future holds, but I will do my best to live worthy this year.

Blessings to you in 2022 ❤️

Social fixes…

I have always loved people. Joining clubs, talking to strangers in line at the store, and getting to know my coworkers are just a few examples of how I like to expand my circle. I think it’s cool when I see a friend on Facebook that knows a different friend of mine – connections like that make me smile. In the end I truly love to celebrate friendships, and help other people realize how very special and loved they are. Maybe that’s why I love planning parties and hosting events. Life is short, celebrating milestones both big and small help us all to keep perspective and find the joy in this crazy world.

A dozen or so years ago, I took a quiz of sorts that would help me to identify my talents and passions useful for helping others while living my best life. I discovered what I’ve known all along – hospitality and service were both at the top of my list. Hospitality is defined as “the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm friendly generous way”. I always offer to open doors at Bible study, send cards of encouragement in our moms groups, or start our PTA meetings with a short story or inspirational quote. These types of things come naturally to me, and bring me joy. Hosting gatherings is also something I love ~ holidays, birthdays, backyard cookouts, whatever the occasion- our doors are open! I have even created a few yearly events as an excuse to gather friends. Each year in early December, I hosted a “Wrap & Write” that included my friends that brought gifts they had purchased for the holidays and wrapping paper, scissors, and tape. We sat together and wrapped gifts, listening to Christmas music and eating yummy food. So much better than wrapping gifts alone! We all looked forward to this event during what is an especially hectic month for most people. It was a time to relax and enjoy the company of others who may also be feeling frazzled and crazed. That’s what I love most about hosting, making people feel welcome and comfortable, feeding them, and making them laugh. Is there anything better?

Covid took a lot from us, robbing us of many social events that we had unknowingly been taking for granted. We grieved this loss over and over as days, weeks, and holidays passed, and we had to create new/different ways to get our social fixes. We spent even more time investing in the relationships within the walls of our home. Taco nights, game nights, watching both new series on Netflix, and old family movies is how we spent our new “free time”. We texted, FaceTimed and used the Marco Polo App to stay in touch with loved ones that we couldn’t see in person. We fought to maintain connection – and we did it! Better yet, our friendships and relationships grew stronger through the uncertainty of those long months (years?). We realized that we didn’t need to be face to face to encourage, vent, laugh or cry. We are grateful for the efforts we made and now that we can join together again in person, the time is even sweeter! Never again will we take for granted meeting someone for a drink, or having a lake day with friends.

I’m writing all of us to encourage you. You may not be the type that enjoys loud parties. Whatever form of fellowship feels comfortable for you – I urge you – go do it! Make the call, take the walk, meet for coffee, stop for ice cream, look at the stars. Find a friend or family member and enjoy your time together. Dive deep into those relationships, strengthen those bonds, create new memories. There’s nothing better!

Here we are – already…

Have you ever devoted years (I’m talking more than 20) to a cause, person, or goal, and then wept when success was at hand? We experienced sacrifice, fatigue, and exasperation as we did our best to navigate through years of uncertainty Finally, as we see the culmination of our efforts, we strongly desire to sneak off to our bedroom and cry. Welcome to parenting. Parenting: a job given by God to raise independent humans that will in someway change the world. From the day that babe is first placed in our arms, we are working full-time to ensure that someday this tiny one can fend for himself, going about his daily tasks without a care in the world, without the help of his mom. The nerve.

No matter how underqualified we may feel, we are released from the hospital with an arm full of flowers, receiving blankets, and ice packs for our sore bottoms. Cards of congratulations and a few casseroles welcome us home if we are lucky, and we don’t look back – even if we wanted to look back, we couldn’t – time was not our own anymore. It was now time to focus on nurturing, teaching, guiding, and encouraging. Oh, and cleaning, feeding, managing, and disciplining. We wiped tears, noses, and bottoms. We calmed tantrums, drove carpools, and watched the calendar pages flip faster than the sleepless nights passed. From the very beginning, our goal was teaching independence…Can you soothe yourself to sleep? Drink from this cup? Use the bathroom alone? Go to preschool without me? Write your name? Ride this bike? Make friends and keep them? Each and every new milestone was a significant step forward, closer to the ultimate goal of independence. We were right there for all of it. Encouraging it. Promoting it. And here we are – already. The days are long and the years are short. Our son can tie his own shoes. Heck, he graduated from college and moved 17 hours away from us to excitedly start his first full-time job. It’s all a big basket of bullshit if you ask me.

 The complexity of the situation is darn right silly. I took on the task, the mission, the calling of parenthood. With great anticipation, humor and a bit of naivety – I joined the other Moms of the world in our daily attempts in keeping the tiny humans alive and thriving. I did my very best so that my children would eventually be able to leave home and succeed. So why was this all such a shock to my system? Why was saying goodbye so difficult? Why did parental success come tied with a bow of grief? Once again, life is teaching me that most occasions require a wild mixture of feelings. The joy of being the parent of a graduating senior is accompanied by the grief that declares the end of an era. The anticipation of dropping our child off at college is met with the concern that neither parent nor child is prepared adequately.

 Accepting the notion that my job description is dramatically changing is perhaps the most difficult aspect. I am still needed, just differently. As a 48 year old, I still talk to my own Mom daily. But she doesn’t see me, feed me, or hug me daily any longer (sad face). Our relationship has changed. It has grown. I must change my hat, this is yet another phase of parenting that has left me feeling a bit unprepared. The challenges of caring for a newborn, toddler, school-ager, and teenager were ever-changing and kept me on my toes. Learning to parent an adult child that lives across the country will present a few challenges as well, I presume. The silence in our home is proof of a job well done, a task completed. It’s time to move on to new situations, new solutions to be found, new endeavors to be encouraged. I am up for the task. I am ready to FaceTime, text, and travel to ensure our connections stay strong. I will try to be easy on myself as I learn my new role and draw on my past experiences for confidence and peace. I will move forward with gratitude and energy to make the most of every “first” that is yet to come.

I wish there was a word bigger than proud, because I am fully THAT WORD. Blessings and hugs to all parents who are currently changing roles. Please know that you are not alone in your own emotions! Find a friend and talk about it- all of it- it helps ❤️

THE BEST IS YET TO COME.

Why walking is my favorite…

I have always loved walking. For me, more than anything, walking is a way for me to de-stress and clear my mind. It was a saving grace, that when life in general was cancelled at the start of the pandemic, my walking could continue. In fact, going outside each day and walking in my neighborhood and the surrounding area gave me something to look forward to (and also an excuse to break out of my house!). On average, my walks are between 2 and 5 miles. Each night before bed, knowing that I will be walking the next day, I make sure to charge my phone, my Apple Watch, and my ear buds. I would definitely say that walking has become part of my weekly routine.

I typically walk 3-5 days a week. Setting aside 30-45 minutes to walk is probably the most beneficial thing I do for myself. Writing that sounds silly, but I always feel better after a walk 🙂 When I’m out for a walk, I will either listen to something on my air pods, call someone to chat, or simply walk and let my mind wander. I got bored listening to music during lockdown, as my walks were long, and they were daily. I have several playlists created on Spotify, but I was listening to these songs so much, they I started to dread them. I added new music, asked people for recommendations, and even tried a few new genre selections, but still, the thrill was gone. It was about this time that I discovered podcasts (my new favorite thing!). I downloaded the free app AccessMore, and have found several Podcasts that I am truly enjoying. I also am walking longer, because I don’t want to stop my walk before the podcast ends (hey – whatever motivates me!) I now have several “go tos”, Hey! It’s the Luskos and DARE TO BE never disappoint, and I love that I’m learning and growing while I walk. Such a cool concept, really – basically verbal blogs 🤪 I think it would be fun to have a podcast – perhaps I should attempt one. Actually, a vlog would be more my speed – turn my phone on video and start talking … would you watch?

I love to catch an available friend on the phone and chat during my walk, too. My Mom is the first number I always dial – and yes, she’s my very best friend! We can talk and laugh for an hour, and it seems like just a few minutes. I am always surprised at how long our conversations end up being. How blessed am I?! Walking and talking with another actual person is my all time favorite – my daughters often come along and we catch up on all the work, school, friendship and sports tea as we log in our miles.

There are days, when the world is a bit too loud, and I choose to not add any more clutter to the airwaves. I leave my phone and air pods at home and just walk. My footsteps, birds, the brakes of a nearby vehicle, and a barking dog is all I can hear. It’s enough. My thoughts are given the green light to wander, and sometimes I come up with some pretty good material on these walks. I sort through drama, consider other people’s views, plan upcoming parties, and write grocery lists – all in my head. Considering the daily craziness of this world of ours, these quiet walks are especially helpful for my weary mind. Every walk is beneficial, but I have to be deliberate about what I need before I head out the door. In the end, I’m the only one that truly knows what will fill the void of the day.

Do you like to walk? What about it is your favorite? I’d love to know! And give me a call if you ever need a walking partner 👏🏻❤️🌟

March has brought a lot of progress…

March has been a great month for me to focus on my word of the year – progress. I’ve struggled my entire life with setting my expectations too high for both others and myself. The pandemic has taught me some tough lessons, but I think the most important one has been that something doesn’t have to happen the way I had envisioned it in order for it to have sentimental value or importance. Take it for what it is, and be grateful. Here are three examples of this lesson from this month alone:

1. On March 5th, I received my second vaccination. Was I hesitant? Yes. Did I wish with all my heart that it wasn’t necessary? Also yes. But I was completely grateful to the state of Ohio for acknowledging the importance of vaccinating its’ teachers, and I will now be able to teach my class of unmasked 3 year olds with less apprehension and fear of the virus. PROGRESS

2. On March 16, My Prince and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Was it as magical and romantic as every movie portrays it? Well, it was a Tuesday in March during a pandemic, sooooooooooooooo… Did we appreciate our milestone and celebrate both the good and bad of our years together that has brought us to our 25th anniversary? You bet your bottom dollar that we did, and it was simple and perfect. PROGRESS

3. March 17th was the 18th birthday of our third child. Her school closed for a week because of positive Covid cases, and for the second time in two years, she would spend her birthday at home in front of a computer. Was it the 18th birthday of her dreams? Nope. Did she have a memorable, super fun day spent with those that love her? You’re darn tootin’! She will never forget some of the wild things that happened on that birthday that never would’ve happened had she been in school. PROGRESS

None of the events described above played out the way I had originally imagined they would, and that’s OK. In fact, the lessons that I was taught regarding flexibility and gratitude more than made up for the stress and frustration we experienced. I am planning on continuing to look for the good – especially in events that are canceled/postponed, or changed due to restrictions or limitations. Acceptance is huge when control is taken away, and looking at life through the lens of gratitude is essential. PROGRESS

Family traditions…

I have always wanted to be a mom. Even as a young child, I dreamed of someday having a family of my own. Part of the fun that I had anticipated was being in charge of the traditions that my family would enjoy and anticipate. I often encouraged newly married couples to start thinking (before their children are even born) about ways to include special celebrations and events that are specific to their own family in their lives. Stop for a minute and think about what an awesome privilege that is – you and your significant other are in total control of when, where, what, why, and how you will celebrate ~ YAHOO!

The word tradition has several definitions, but for the sake of this post, I’ll use “a long established or inherited way of thinking or acting”. Most of us think of holidays when we recall traditions, but it doesn’t have to be that way. In our house, we have “first and last day of school” traditions, “Super Bowl” traditions, and a “creating a new coffee mug with a picture of our children on it each year” tradition. That’s the fun part – it can be anything. Life can get in the way… do this, do that, do the other thing, go to sleep, and do it all over again tomorrow. This is precisely why celebrations are so very important. Who cares if it’s a Hallmark holiday??? Valentine’s Day is a day to remind others that they are special, loved, valuable – and… CHOCOLATE 🍫! The key to creating these traditions is to find a commonality, something that everyone will enjoy, and then run with it. Does your family love being outdoors? How about establishing a yearly family obstacle course that you set up together, and make increasingly difficult each year as your children grow up? Are you all competitive? How about an annual trivia competition or week end board game tournament? Are you all big readers at your house? Try setting a yearly “books read” goal each January to encourage this awesome hobby? Do you absolutely love chocolate? Our family had a chocolate party each February, and every guest brought a delicious chocolate dessert to share. In fact, many of our family traditions include food (😬). Every Fat Tuesday we ate pazkis for breakfast and the children got luchables for lunch ( a special treat for them because we never bought them any other time of the year). A few times each winter, our family had a “carpet picnic” and we threw a blanket on the floor, choose a favorite movie, used paper plates, and ate our dinner together while watching a movie… they have realized as teenagers and “kids” in their 20’s that it’s not as comfortable for the adults. 😬 Our kids also get sugared cereal for their birthdays which is a tradition carried on from my own childhood because we never ate sugared cereal, and for my birthday as a child, I asked for a box of Sugar Smacks! This proves yet again that traditions don’t need to be expensive, extravagant or exhausting. Memories can be made by simply handing a child a box of sugared cereal on their birthday – easy peasy!

As fun as random traditions are, we also absolutely love our family holiday traditions. Our four children are now teenagers and young adults, and they still come home for events and holidays that they loved when they were growing up. Leprechauns still dye our milk green and bring Lucky charms for breakfast on March 17th. And to this day we have a red dinner and heart hunt on Valentine’s Day. I create a scavenger hunt, and they follow clues and search the house for gooodies. The gifts at the end are fun, but not the main focus. I found this out a few days ago when I asked if they just wanted their gifts at dinner and my college age daughter stated that she “came home for a heart hunt!”. We absolutely love driving around together looking at Christmas lights and going to local firework displays together in July. I can’t wait to see which of these traditions our children carry on with their future families. I also adore hearing all about the traditions that my friends and their families carry out in their homes. Anything that builds connection and quality time spent together is fantastic!

My word for 2021 is progress. As my children grow up and schedules and school take top priority, I have learned to adjust. Don’t let your traditions become a bother. Continue doing these activities only if you are all still enjoying them and are fully invested. Let’s be honest, life happens … sometimes we all get the flu in February and the chocolate party has to be postponed or canceled. Sometimes, we are all bullied by a pandemic and 98% of our traditions are suddenly all but “against the law ” .😕 Instead, we compromise… we went to a drive-through light event instead of walking through our gorgeous zoo before Christmas. We ate Thanksgiving dinner just the six of us, concluding the meal with each of us reading a list (written in advance) of 100 things we are grateful for …by the way, this was amazing and a new tradition was created! Don’t make yourself do something because “that’s the way we have always done it”. Give yourself permission to eliminate or revise your traditions. It’s also important to be flexible as your schedules change, children grow, and interests shift. Discuss together what your family would like to continue, and which traditions can stay happily in the past.

I treasure the time spent with my family. Memory making has truly been one of my favorite parts of parenting. In exactly one month. my husband and I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. This special day will include pulling out two white pillowcases that the guests from our wedding reception all signed – some with advice, some with jokes, and some with fancy or sloppy signatures that puzzle us every year. I love looking at these pieces of our past, and remembering each person that shared our special day with us. In the end, traditions are essential in creating bonds. Family bonds are crucial for establishing family friendships and loyalty. Having shared traditions makes us feel connected – like we belong – and that we are necessary. They grow us as individuals and simultaneously strengthen our relationships. They aren’t required, but are incredibly useful as they help a family stay connected years after they are living together under one roof. Traditions are a blessing, and the one thing that I will always recommend to a brand new couple as they begin life together. I pray that each of you have at least one family tradition that you cherish. If you don’t, there’s no time like the present to create one!

We are all works in progress ❤️

For this year, I have chosen to focus on the word progress. Over the past 10 years, instead of creating a list of resolutions, I have chosen one word or concept and done my best to use it to improve my life in as many ways as possible. This idea has proven beneficial to me, and I have loved to hear success stories from friends who have also focused on “one little word” for the year.

This particular blog post will attempt to explain how I plan to use my word of the year. According to my online dictionary – “progress” (noun) is defined as “advance or development towards a better, more complete, or more modern condition”. This word can be used in all areas of my life – relationships, work, physical activity, faith, and more. The most difficult aspect will be in identifying and measuring this progress. I’m pretty certain that I’m not alone in my exceptionally high expectations and consequential disappointment when dealing with progress in my own life. 

In 2021, I’m going to do my best to look at the big picture. I will deliberately choose the non-traditional way of assessing my progress. I’ll avoid the obvious when determining if progress has been made – like only using the scale when I’m trying to become more healthy. The numbers moving down are not the only way that I can see improvement, other indicators include: more energy, better fitting clothes, more flexibility, and healthier skin. As a teacher, I always use a wide range of assessments in determining progress and growth. An obvious place to begin would be knowledge of colors, shapes and numbers. But there are many other areas to observe in order to determine progress in a preschool child… some examples include whether or not this little one can transition in the morning without tears, hold a crayon with a proper grip, sit at circle time with limited interruptions, open his own Ziplock baggie at snacktime, tell me about his needs with enough time to get to the bathroom, etc. There are many facets of progress. Being aware of the various aspects of progress will allow me to watch my own growth in certain areas of life this year. Perspective is important, and acknowledging both big and small improvements is my goal.

Basically, I want to establish free and clear that progress can be measured in many ways, and can mean something different to everyone. I plan on taking every single victory (big and small) and running with it. I’m not going to wait until I reach my goal – whatever it may be – before I’m proud. I’m going to be proud of my progress during every step. I’m not going to wait to congratulate myself until I’ve done what my friends have done. Life is short. I’m celebrating DURING my progress. I’m not going to wait until others notice my progress. I will pat myself on the back. I will be my own biggest cheerleader. I will encourage myself to keep moving forward – starting with this very blog post. Like everyone else, my plate is full and I had to set aside time to write this… and I did it!!!

I hope this year finds you making whatever progress you feel is necessary in your life. I would love to help motivate you if you need it. I look forward to sharing my progress with you throughout 2021. Happy New Year!