Fresh Focus

I rang in the new year in truly the most perfect way possible… an impromptu date night with Davey at our favorite, The Blue Taj, after my mom offered to watch Nora Beth for us, then time on the couch with a glass of wine and season 2 of The Hills while David went to bed, and the clock inched ever closer to midnight. I also streamed some of our church’s annual Praise Party and was ever thankful for the power of worship to declare the truths of God (even while Lauren, Heidi and Audrina bickered on Hulu in the background). I ended my night in bed before the stroke of 2016 with a stolen kiss from my baby (I know, I know, she’s a toddler, but I just can’t) and husband.

I really hate New Year’s Eve as a general rule. It’s a lot like prom… overhyped with underdelivery and really much ado about nothing. I’ve hated it since I was about 18 and old enough to have plans that should include more glamour than PJs and the basement, and I’m thankful to be a 29-year old working mom and allowed to put on sweats by 7:00 and treat the night for what it really is… just another night.

I don’t put much value on resolutions, but as I close out the best and worst year of my life, I felt the stirrings of meaning in planting a new flag in 2016 and prioritizing and defining areas of focus. My “resolutions,” if they must be titled, are more about stress management and self-management, but for the first time, I’m excited about a January 1 for more reasons than just a bowl game, and I’m eager to look back 365 days from now and see the work that God is doing and the progress that I’ve made.
I almost labeled this section as “finance,” but that’s exactly what I don’t want generosity defined as. We’ve made huge strides in our finances and our ability to be generous through our tithes and offerings, but since giving birth, I’ve thought a lot about what lessons I want to teach my daughter and, more importantly, how I want to teach her. I want her to place emphasis on being generous to those around her – going out of her way to give and do for others – and to find joy in the inconvenience of giving. I’m a firm believer that your talents are an ideal breeding ground for your personal ministry. In the later part of 2015, I realized that I have a strength for cooking comforting, (mostly) healthy meals and meal planning, and I wanted to put that to work, seeking out opportunities to give meals to people who need them. I want Nora Beth to see me not just happy in the kitchen but building relationships through that practice. And more practically, I hate that our generation seems to have lost the importance of eating together around the table, creating meals from scratch and connecting in community, and I want Nora Beth to help carry it on to the next generation. This year, I want to continue and increase meal gifting. Whoa, that was entirely more preachy than I had intended. I will tumble off my soap box now and thank you.

In general we’re a healthy little bunch over here at the Arey house, but of course we have room for improvement. We very rarely eat out, a pattern I’d like to continue in 2016. I want to experiment with more recipes, streamline my weekly meal planning, utilize more local produce, bring more meatless meals into our weekly plans, and wean away from needing desserts after every meal. I also will not talk about the amount of diet soda I drink. I don’t need your judgement (slyly cracks up a can of Diet Dr. Pepper and continues typing).

In terms of working out, I’m thankful that I already love to exercise and even on a bad week, fit in a minimum of 3 workouts. But, I’ve gotten lazy, and I park myself in front of Bravo or E! on an elliptical, pedal for 35 minutes and go home. Or worse, I settle into a recumbent bike (ours even have armrests… really?!) and “spin” along to trashy reality shows then wonder why I’m not sweating (ahem, Caroline, you are sitting in a recliner that moves). I’d like to re-establish a yoga practice in 2016, get back into cycle classes (I LOVED these through high school and college), challenge myself in my weight routine, incorporate new cardio, and revisit running. Davey and I had so much fun running our first 5K in 2015, and I loved having a goal that we achieved together. More races in 2016, please!

I feel so Gwyneth Paltrow/Conscious Uncoupling writing that, but in the last few weeks I’ve noticed the effects of not having any plan for self-care in place. It’s been an emotionally assaulting year, and like every woman, I’ve found myself neglecting my own emotional health and needs – not in martyrdom but just out of the rhythms of our life – and I don’t like it. I don’t like the manic and edgy I feeling I’ve been having or the hitch and grind (isn’t that some cool new dance? Shouldn’t it be??) that’s worked its way into our typically well-oiled household as a result of me pushing rather than triaging my needs. Even yesterday I determined that I would have a self-care day and hired an adorable sitter who watched Nora Beth in our church’s eKidz every Sunday with the sole purpose of working out, showering and getting ready at the gym and relaxing with a manicure and pedicure. That was it. Instead, I ended up running just a couple of errands that needed to get done, working out, but not showering because I forgot my towel, then forgetting other people revel in NYE so the waits at the salons were beyond the time I had and going home to shower while our sitter played downstairs with NB. It seems so superficial to mention that I felt a little bit weepy as I drove home, but it also made me realize that I do feel it when I neglect myself. The day wasn’t about my cuticles (though Lord knows they need a little bit of love), it was about taking a few minutes and exhaling. My family will be better for it.
Good gracious I love my family. I pulled NB into bed with us the other night for some sleep cuddles, and I truly felt like my heart was going to rip in half. She is the most magical human in existence. Our schedules are a little whackadoo what with juggling a full time job from home and David’s schedule, which varies daily, and we don’t receive until the week of (woof), so our day-to-day can seem reactionary. I want to be more intentional in planning activities for all of us. Santa brought Nora Beth a membership to My Gym, and I’m excited to use that as a starting point for fun that we can all enjoy. She’s starting to walk more, so park trips, hikes, the zoo, the kid’s museum… will all become great stops for us this year.

David and I both want to start volunteering at church again, as well. After I left our church’s staff, we took a giant step backward, and it took us both longer than we expected to recalibrate and feel the desire to plug back in. But we’re there now, and we can’t wait to find the right spot to serve.

Work. Work. Work. I am just beyond thankful that I have been able to fairly seamlessly transition from a full-time office job to a full time freelance role for 5 clients that allows me to be a mostly-stay-at-home mom. I want to write more about that transition and the benefits and challenges it provides, but for now, let me reiterate that it has been the greatest thing for me. My clients are amazing and very understanding of my schedule, and I feel so fulfilled to be able to work and be with my girl so much. But, I also feel crazed more times than not trying to remember the most urgent need, double booking meetings, trying to be available for conference calls while baby girl pulls the ear buds out of my ears, and I need to figure out a solution to organize myself better. One way I plan to do that in 2016 is to hire a friend for a few hours a week as a project manager. I’m excited to see how that simple step will improve not just the quality of my work, but my mental state as well. I don’t want to have to say no to incredible opportunities just because my disorganization is limiting my capacity.

I’m ready for you, 2016. Show me whatchu got.

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