Embracing a Mantra: Create a Storybook Life

By | 2018-01-02T19:53:41+00:00 January 2nd, 2018|Adventures, Just Life, Life after Loss, Our Story|0 Comments

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On New Year’s Eve, I wrote this on the Meek Manor Facebook page:

Have you seen all the inspiration going around about choosing a word for the new year?

A word of the year will motivate you, inspire you, and help you focus. It’s seriously all the rage. New Years Resolutions are out, and Focus Words are in.

In theory, I love this concept. In practice, nothing induces panic in me more quickly than trying to pinpoint a word for the year.

I have spent the last week paralyzed by this whole word thing.

I *want* a word. I *want* the focus and motivation. I *want* to go into the new year with hope and promise and intention. But, I also don’t want to set myself up to fail. It’s kind of my specialty. Even when I attempt to lower my expectations to a reasonable level, they’re still usually too high.

When I look back on 2017, I see that I accomplished quite a bit that I hoped.

I went into the year with a few goals, and I built on those goals through the year. And when I look back, I can say, “Wow, I did that” and, “Well, I need to take another stab at that.”

Last night, my husband, Lloyd, and I were talking about this whole word thing. I told him that I want a word. I want to go in to 2018 with intention. I’ve made some goals (which I should probably write down). I even have a mantra: Work smarter, not harder. I’ve been trying to put that into practice the last couple of months and hope to really hone in processes to make my life easier, both personally and professionally.

But, I also know that that having a focus word and intention won’t protect me from life completely derailing.

I know, going in, that things won’t happen when I hope they will. I’ll get frustrated. I’ll feel defeated. I’ll convince myself that I’m a failure. But, then I’ll get back up again, because my stubbornness runs DEEP.

So, instead of having a word this year, I’m going to have an anti-word:

Failure.

I won’t set myself up to fail. I won’t fail my husband, my daughter. I won’t be a failure. I won’t expect others to fail me. I won’t expect failure from others. Failure is off the table. Failure is not an option, one might say.

Maybe at the end of 2018 I’ll be able to look forward to 2019 without absolute panic. Or, maybe the way I do things, step-by-step throughout the year, is more effective for me. Maybe I need to not worry about what’s all the rage, and just keep taking one step at a time, acknowledging the progress along the way.

What works for you?

Do you have a word for 2018? I really would love to hear it. I want to encourage you all to do what works for you. If you have a word, I will cheer you on. But, are you like me? Does choosing a word induce panic? What DOES work for you? I’d love to hear that too.

***

Since I wrote and posted that I’ve read several more people’s thoughts on resolutions and words of the year.

I found a few more people who, like me, just aren’t feeling it. Rachel Lewis called herself the Scrooge of New Year’s, which made me laugh a bit.

I’ve even watched a video of a wise four-year-old describing her issues with New Year’s Resolutions: “[Change] won’t happen in one big moment. It’ll happen in thousands of little moments.” She also addresses my anti-word of the year, failure: “Even if you fail one or two or thirty times, it’s ok! You’ve got thousands of little moments ahead of you. You’ll get better.”

 

These thoughts and this video brought me back to what I already know and practice.

Life is made up of thousands of building blocks.

Each experience stacks on top of the last, preparing you for the next block. Sometimes those blocks get knocked down, and you have to rebuild. Much of the time, we have absolutely no control over when those blocks tumble. Yes, sometimes they tumble due to choices we make. But, just as many–maybe even more–times they tumble because of something completely out of our control. And that doesn’t happen neatly at a the end of a year, allowing for big changes and growth in a new year.

We also don’t necessarily learn in a linear fashion. We have to experiment, even fail, to learn and grow. We can’t magically decide that we’ll learn something come January 1st. We might not have a clue what we need to learn this year.

#CreateAStorybookLife

As I’ve continued to consider all of these points, I keep coming back to the mantra I chose as the tagline for MeekManor: “Creating a storybook life.” We create our stories. We don’t control the circumstances, but we do control our responses. Hard things happen. Joy happens. We mesh all the experiences and create our stories. We CHOOSE to make it a storybook life.

I’ve joked for many years that if my life was written and produced as a Lifetime Movie, people would stop watching it halfway through. Or, if it was a television series, people would think it had jumped the shark. Sometimes it seems absolutely unbelievable, and there have certainly been times when I wasn’t sure things could or would get better. But, you know what? They always have.

Will hard things still happen? Absolutely. Have I lived through the hardest part? Probably not. But will the hard times ruin me? No. The foundation of those building blocks are strong because of the work I’ve done.

So, I will approach this year with the same mantra I’ve been holding recently: “Create a storybook life.”

Will you join me?

It can be a scary place, filled with uncertainty. But, it can also be incredibly liberating to own your story and live an authentic, full life.

Keep building those blocks. Don’t worry about words and resolutions, unless that feels right for you in this moment. Embrace what will help you create a storybook life.

With love,

Valerie

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