2016...The Year of Equilibrium

Happy New Year, all! Wow...2016 is here already. The years just seem to slip on by, no matter what I do to slow things down. And with a sophomore on the verge of taking flight, it makes me a little sad. Scratch that. A LOT sad.

Joni Mitchell says it best in the song, "Carousel of Time."

"And the seasons, they go round and round, and the painted ponies go up and down. We're captives on the carousel of time."

Captives. Prisoners. Victims of time's great march. In 2016, it's my plan to challenge that theory and retain some influence over my carousel.

2015 gave us some of the best, new research on our culture of over-scheduling, over-stressing and overwhelming our teens. (Not to mention ourselves.) Doctors stood up and said, "Enough of the madness, parents!" Educators posed the questions, "How much of your child's well-being are you willing to sacrifice? How much of your relationship?" We learned about the rise in depression and anxiety disorders among our young and emerging adults. Stress, high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer were more closely tied with lifestyle than ever before. And lifestyle is a CHOICE, is it not?

So can we make different choices?

Did you know that colleges all over the nation are reevaluating their admission standards and high school counselors are rethinking student education tracks? That means that brave parents everywhere are getting creative, challenging the means and methods by which to help their kids be, not just competitive, but successful. After all, those two things can look very different.

Can I let you in on a little secret? This is where we get to reclaim control, friends.

My #oneword for 2016 is EQUILIBRIUM. Defined, it means "a state in which opposing forces or influences are balanced." And let's be honest, we hear how important balance is but people talk about it like once you achieve it, you're in the clear. Not so easy with all the moving parts of life. But I can make the choice to look at the "opposing forces" in every day and actively "balance" them out. And more importantly, I can teach my kids how to do that.

So as my daughter plans her final two years of high school and my sons look forward to their own plans, I'm going to do my damnedest to positively influence what we focus our time and energy on. Not just the school and the work and the responsible stuff, but the fun and the downtime and the spirit-fueling stuff.

Yes, AP and honors classes can be important as you're planning for college, but it's my responsibility to weigh the cost. And it's true that activities and sports can contribute to well-roundedness and physical/mental health, but it's my job to take a holistic approach to family scheduling, to consider our weekly time bank and leave enough for a buffer. In the end, the values I hold high, they will too, and I want my family to seek out, recognize and always strive for equilibrium.

So as you enter the new year, list of resolutions aside, I hope you find your #oneword. And more importantly, I hope that it acts as a constant beacon that guides you through the ups and downs of your carousel ride.

Happy New Year, friends!


Holly and Jenn

Happy New Year?

Ah 2015. I am so happy to see you go.

Hello 2016. I am welcoming you with open arms as I simultaneously kick 2015 in the A$$ as it leaves, not quickly enough. I have high hopes for you and I'm praying you don't let me down. Maybe I'm putting my hopes in the wrong thing? This last year (said with some disgust) was a year of being tested and thrown down and tested again. How many breakdowns can one person have in a 6 month period? More than I thought. The thing is, even as I remember how many nights you brought me, alone in the hospital, wondering how many more times I would have to go through it, I had a strange sense of PEACE. Weird right? The worst thing I have ever been through, the pain, the fear and uncertainty and yet always this sense of calm. What was it? How can I keep that sense of peace as I head forward down the path that is laid out before me? 2016, what do you have in store?

2015 was AWFUL. Did I say that already? Contention, sickness, death. The list goes on. But in the midst of it all, my God is always Good. He showed me so many things about my life that I wasn't paying attention too. He changed my perspective on parenting, my marriage, the life that my husband and I are building and my friendships. Is it true that God doesn't give you more than you can handle? I don't think so. I think if we could always handle everything we would need Him less and less. He wants us to need Him more and more. I have been pushed to breaking and I broke. I'm still here to tell my story because He was there to give me strength, lift me up, and show me that no matter what may happen in my life, He is the ultimate, the Almighty and my focus and my trust MUST be in Him. Nothing else will be constant. Nothing else will ever satisfy or live up to my expectations. My kids, my husband, my friends, we are all human and as such we are perfectly imperfect. I will be let down by every. single. person. If I count on them to always be there, always fill me up, always lift me up, I will consistently be disappointed. My peace, my fulfillment, my guidance can come only from Him.

So, with that said, as horrible as 2015 was, it taught me lots of things that are worth taking into 2016. Things that are worth not forgetting. Things that are worth putting into practice. Things like taking care of myself. My new year's resolution will be summed up into One Word (#oneword), HEALTH. Two years ago, I learned about the One Word movement and it stuck. I like the idea of choosing one word to represent the year instead of coming up with a list of resolutions that I often won't follow through with after January. HEALTH encompasses a general overall goal that can help lead each decision that I make over the entire year. I have realized how important health is and how fleeting it can be when your not paying attention (or when your doctors are human). I may not join a gym or stop eating sugar in 2016, but I will remember that my goal is health and that will help me think of my 70 year old self and I will make better choices for her. She deserves it. So do her grandchildren.

Taking care of myself will also include SLOWING DOWN. It's almost unheard of in the rushed community we live in. It's almost expected that each child will be involved in one or two sport teams and that everyone will be busy busy busy! I mean if you're not busy WHAT are you doing?? Our life, the one mentioned previously, that we are building, became so consumed with different tournaments, events, and carting children around from place to place, often in different directions, that our weekends were not about reconnection but instead left us feeling so drained and depleted that every Sunday we wished for just one more day to rest! It only continued to get worse as our kids got older. Until we couldn't remember when the last time we had been able to sit down as a family and enjoy each other. One day in the hospital (my reasons for being there will be another post) my kids walked in and I was suddenly struck with how old they are and how much time I don't have left with them. Especially my oldest. At 16 he will be leaving our home in two years. I started panicking! Where had all the time gone? How many more summers did we have with him? Did he appreciate all of our carting around and cheering? Would he remember that? Even if we didn't have time to go to the Grand Canyon or have other fun family trips and other memory making family experiences? After many days of contemplating, my answer was a resounding NO. Luckily its not too late. This foreign, SLOWING DOWN thing is just what we need. I can't do it all and I refuse to do anything that does not feed me or my family in a way that is good for our connection and our health.

My father in law passed away on December 19th. A bang up way to end the year from H-E- double hockeysticks. He was a very generous man who loved my children with all his heart and soul. They could not have asked for a better grandfather. Of the small blessings we were given, we knew he was going so we were able to spend some valuable time, say our goodbyes and share lots of memories. It's something that we will never forget and it taught us tangibly, the importance of making moments count. We will take that into this new year as well.

2016, I am looking forward to you.


Holly and Jenn