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2018 Review and A (Late) Word on New Year’s Resolutions

It’s like raaaaa-eee–aaaaain on your wedding dayyyyy

via GIPHY

Isn’t it ironic? Yep, a little ironic (or not, ’cause we’ve all been concerned about Alanis’ misuse of the word in her classic for some time) but completely on brand that I’m just now bringing up new year goals as most of us (me included) have already guilt-riddenly ditched ours for a return to chocolate chip cookies and Netflix binging once again. But let me tell you, this post is NOT about shaming, because let’s be real, I was never concerned for a second on getting it “together” this year.

(And speaking of on brand, here’s a throwback to the most on-brand photo that will exist of me ever:

#PreciousCargo)

But just like we all want to say those year-round gymmers who complain about the influx of resolutioners at their health clubs come January, WHO CARES. Who says we need the turning of the calendar pages to January 1st to start improving ourselves? Starts — the start of a new week, a new month, a new year — typically get us in the mindset of initiating change in our lives, but truth be told, we can start anytime to be a little better. Isn’t that a more stress-free (sanity-saving) way to become what we want to be? I think so. Screw resolutions (as we currently think about them).

Who says we have to set a numbered list of goals on a checklist, and if/when a slip-up happens, we scold ourselves and give up? Not on my watch.

In ways that are stretching while still being kind and gentle, let’s resolve to be better. We can set our expectations high and still maintain our sanity, joy, and hope. We can face the future with confidence.

One of my aims — not just of the year, but of my life — is to be more like Christ. It’s the loftiest of goals, and can seem impossible at times. Okay, at pretty much all times. But that doesn’t make the daily effort worthless. It doesn’t make slip-ups the end-all, be-all. It’s something I can keep working towards, no matter the time of year, in the way that works for me, not in the way thst some hot-shot expert, self-help book, or goal-setting worksheet says.

In my religious study this week, I was reading Luke 2. Verse 32 says:

“And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”

Even Christ, a perfect Being, grew and progressed in process of time. Progress and improvement I realized, are Christlike attributes. The effort we put in — whatever that effort looks like — is a holy, refining process. It’s divine. It’s not instaneous.

So we’re not perfect. (I am a clear witness of that, if you should ever need one). But we should truly relish and be grateful for the opportunity to be works in progress.

Another message of hope: “…be patient with yourself. Perfection comes not in this life but in the next life. Don’t demand things that are unreasonable. But demand of yourself improvement. As you let the Lord help you through that, He will make the difference.”

So, ditching all those Official New Year Resolution Lists, I’m taking a page from one of my favorite internet gals and my self-proclaimed kindred spirit, Kim from Talking Wordy, to conduct a little 2018 self-eval mixed with a few goals (let’s call them hopes). Here we go:

WHAT IS A WORD OR PHRASE YOU WANT TO FOCUS ON THIS YEAR AND WHY?

-Target. As in, my 2019 place of residence. Truly, with both newborn and toddler twins, I’ll need the comfort of the motherland this year. Kidding. I’d love to focus in 2019 on the word BREATHE. Like some Ariana “just keeping breathin and breathin and breathin” stuff. If that’s like waaaaay basic (as kids these day say), whatever. ‘Cause things about get reallll crazy, y’all. I want to remember to breathe through the hard and trust in my ability to do seemingly-impossible things with faith. It’s all going to be okay.

WHAT WORKED FOR YOU IN 2018?

Ovulation. I write this mostly in jest, but I have to laugh at life’s sense of humor and my body’s overly-productive ovaries. Like, #TwinsTwice??? But in all seriousness, I am grateful to have gotten pregnant in 2018, and for the journey ahead. It’s a blessing and privilege (and crazy insane miracle) to carry these new twins, and I know not everyone who desperately wants to is able to have children. To those of you who struggle with infertility, my heart truly does go out to you. I hope 2019 works for you in this and other ways.

Writing. Not only did I have some amazing opportunities to build my portfolio this year, but I had some serendipitous experiences that led to me meeting, learning from, and writing about some incredible people, like the amazing duo from the Moms on the Loose podcast and Lamanda Ballard of Flo Code. (See my Portfolio section for more.) I also got to sharpen my writing sword at the Storymakers Conference, which was such an amazing learning opportunity that put the fuel back behind my writing goals. Even writing opportunities that didn’t work out provided a lot of growth and perspective.

With Kaylee, my cousin’s wife and Storymaker’s organizer extraordinaire.

Scripture study. I had suuuuuch a hard time digging into scripture and prayer with newborn twins in 2017, and while I forgive myself on some level for that negligence, I know 2018 has been such a better year for my spirituality. Excited to continue that this year.

Finding Walmart Grocery pickup. A gamechanger. NEVER GOING BACK.

WHAT DIDN’T WORK IN 2018?

Making my own baby food. THANK U, NEXT. That well-intentioned but ill-executed phase lasted for oh, a month? Then I came to my senses. Killing yourself to reach your idea of “supermom” is overrated. Vastly. Bring on the baby food jars, y’all. The world will keep on turning, trust me.

WHAT WERE THREE MEMORABLE MOMENTS WITH YOUR FAMILY IN 2018?

Watching Seth become an Ironman. With a full-time job, twins, and a needy wife, my husband was able to train for a full Ironman that he absolutely KILLED in September. Watching him cross that finish line was amazing — and it almost empowered me to get off the couch. Ha, AS IF. His IRL victory was my vicarious one. But still, so proud of him.

Visiting the Holy Land. In another one of those serendipitous, insane moments of the year, Seth and I found ourselves on a plane to Tel Aviv for a writing opportunity. In a tiny car on winding streets, we explored some of the most amazing places on earth, experiencing the settings of the Savior’s life, floated in the Dead Sea, and ate really good falafel. Definitely one of the most memorable adventures of my life.


Moving into our first home. My husband and I have decided that we don’t do “quiet” years. It’s either babies, a mortgage, international travel, or moving. Or all of the above. Ha. But really. We took a giant leap and left behind years of apartment life for our first glamorous double-wide in the Sausage Capital of Texas. It’s been wild and crazy, exciting and new. We are so excited to put down roots on our precious ten acres (what Seth has lovingly dubbed Double Twin Ranch). Next up: Bailey chickens, coming Feb 2019! And no, I actually mean real chickens. Not just babies. My husband is jumping into the “ranch” idea with both feet.


WHAT DO YOU NEVER WANT TO FORGET ABOUT YOUR KIDS IN 2018?

My boys turning one. Can I just say: making it to my twins’ first birthday was an accomplishment — for all of us — that I will never get downplay. Two nearly-kids-themselves managed (with the help of angel nurses, family members and friends) to raise two under-three-pound babes through to their first healthy year. It was one hard 365. But on February 13th, we celebrated the incredible growth that took place — from learning to breathe on their own to walking and feeding themselves. I mean, they started here:

Then made it here:

Wow, hello waterworks amirightttt?

Their personalities are blossoming and it has been incredible to be witness to. I never want to forget the little people they’ve become, and 2018 was such a representation of that.

(They’re so cute it’s making me forget that they still poop in the tub and catapult every dinner I make them onto the kitchen floor. Kids have strange voodoo magic that way.)

WHAT WERE THE HARDEST THINGS ABOUT LAST YEAR?

Learning to find myself — and my health — again. Having kids is amazing, incredible, rewarding, and challenging. It can also make you feel at times like you’re losing your identity and sacrificing your well-being as you give yourself completely to another being (or two). Between making meals for tiny hands and battling endless diaper mountains, I experienced a late-onset bout of postpartum depression that had me hovering dangerously close to rock bottom. As I spent the greater part of the year recalibrating, I was able to start rediscovering myself — my joys, my needs, my goals. That journey, while paved with incredibly treacherous and soul-trying terrain, has helped me become a better mother and person.

Realizing it’s okay not to be “on” as a mom 24/7. And that the way I mother doesn’t have to look like everyone’s else’s version. Those are hard — but vitally important — lessons, y’all. Stop comparing. Stop shaming. Stop expecting perfection.

WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN 2018?

God wants me — nay, expects me — to do hard things. I mean, a second set of twins? Helllllloooo, refiner’s fire. But in that respect, I’ve learned that I am capable of so much more than I think. I have watched myself adapt to an insane new normal and survive soul-stretching things.

WHAT NEW PRODUCTS, HOBBIES DID YOU DISCOVER LAST YEAR?

Line Upon Line scripture journaling: One of my absolute favorite things to come out of 2018 were the scripture journaling editions of The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants done by Line Upon Line duo Emily and Alexis. I have always loooooved journaling (you’ll learn this about me if you haven’t already; mega journaling post to come) and getting to combine that with scripture study in beautifully-bound scripture editions was really special. I’m a fan. (P.S. They’re releasing New Testament editions soon!)

Felt florals: One of the things I gave myself permission to do this year as I learned to better care for myself was try new hobbies. As a paper-product addict, one of my favorite places in Austin is the Paper + Craft Pantry. Pei, the owner, is the sweetest and most genuine person, and I love browsing her amazing curation of products and chatting about life. One of my favorite things her shop sells are felt flowers made by Lauren of Zella and Kay. I always buy some when I go in. So when the P+CP offered workshops on how to make the flowers, I immediately signed up for both sessions and got my hot-glue on. Remember: don’t let yourself feel guilty for doing things you enjoy or pursuing passions. It’s important.

Skincare/makeup: Okay, this probably seems silly. But growing up, I don’t ever really remember learning how to put on makeup or care for my skin. Maybe I didn’t care, maybe I didn’t want to take the time to educate myself, or maybe I naively saw it as self-centered to care about lipsticks and moisturizer. But truly, something I have only come to understand lately is that when we can feel good about ourselves we can give of ourselves more richly. I’m 26, dangit. It’s not selfish. It’s care. This year, I found joy in the discoveries of the Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask, Deborah Lippman nail polish, Laneige Eye Sleeping Mask (those kid-induced undereye bags, though….WOOF), Glow Recipe Watermelon Sleeping Mask, and Pat McGrath lipsticks.

WHAT ARE YOUR WILDEST DREAMS AND GOALS FOR 2019? WRITE THEM AS IF THEY’RE ALREADY IN THE WORKS (THEY ARE)!

Flower farming. I am obsessed with Erin Benzakein and her swoon-worthy flower farm in Washington. I have been thumbing through her book religiously for more than a year trying to work up the courage to order some seeds and get my hands dirty by growing my own flowers. Then, it’s all:

Uhm, do you actually know how to grow anything?

What will that actually help you accomplish?

Yeah, you don’t even like the outdoors, remember? Bugs. Dirt. Ick.

Isn’t that a collosal waste of time? You do have work…and CHILDREN, you know.

(All questions my Inner Censor mutters disparagingly, as I sheepishly return the book and my flower dreams to the literal and figurateive shelf for another few months.)

But this year, I really do want to give it a go, lack of green thumb be darned. You know, self, it’s okay to try things just to try them. They don’t have to be a box to be checked on your to-do list or a project that advances your career. They can just be passion projects or interests delved into for the joy of discovery.

(Did this internal-turned-virtual pep-talk work for your 2019 wildest dream/goal, too? I hope so.)

Finish my YA manuscript. I’m swinging for the stars here, okay?! But really, if I write 50,000 words and nothing comes of it, it will still be this huge-a accomplishment that I will be proud of. Hey, if all I get is one complete, kick-butt chapter and a middle finger to that blinking cursor, that’s awesome, too.

Stop and smell the roses. Ready or not, two more Baileys are crashing into our universe soon (like, yeah, really soon) and a year with a newborn (or two) is bound to be wild and crazy, challenging and trying. But while I attempt to navigate twin breastfeeding, four in diapers, and recovering from surgery, I want to work (and re-learn) how to enjoy my new normal. As Nate and Toby have taught me, babies don’t stay little forever. I want to cherish the day-to-day goodness. Double twin life is going to be amazing. And terrifying, but I’m trying not to dwell on that too much right now.

WHAT ARE SOME HABITS YOU WANT TO BREAK?

Endless scrolling. It’s spirit-numbing, generally toxic for my well-being, and detrimental to my productivity. There are virtues to the internet and social media to be sure, but in almost all cases, there are better ways to be spending my time. Digital detox, anyone? (Okay, okay, you know I still love you, Netflix. I’m not ready to break up yet).

Negative self-talk. I know, easier said than done. But the stream of berating comments, mom-guilt, emotional body-slams and — isn’t helping me grow or become a better person. I want to conscientiously strive to replace the negative with positive reinforcement.

WHAT NEW ONES WILL REPLACE THEM?

Using time more intentionally. By spending less time staring at screens and primed-to-look-perfect squares, I want to use my time — whether it be during the naptime calm-before-the-storm moments, nighttime feedings, or witching-hour stretches — to engage mindfully with my children, make a dent in my to-be-read list, learn from new podcasts, cultivate my talents, and connect spiritually through study and reverent meditation.

Redirecting. When my children are fighting over a single toy, I will typically take one gently by the hand and lead them to engage with a different toy or in an alternate activity. Soon, the must-have-it object is forgotten and peace restored. I’d like to try to do this with emotional self. If chaos and unrest ensues (meaning: destructive thoughts), I will take myself gently by the hand and redirect my thoughts to something else, something happier and more productive. I’m going to try to turn my I can’t do anything right!s into I’m doing the best I cans. Not a perfect metaphor there, but I think you see what I’m getting at. We need strategies, people. (And for me, that includes getting back on my antidepressants and finding little things to joy in, like a new season of Stranger Things, a new Sarah Dessen novel, or a dairy-free milkshake, along with redirecting away from the mental and emotional negative).

WHAT ARE YOUR TRAVEL AND OR ADVENTURE DREAMS FOR 2019?

Utah for Storymakers 2019. Still mentally navigating the logistics of travel, breastmilk, and babysitters for this one, but I’d love to return to Provo for the 2019 Storymakers Conference. Writing is not only my career, it’s my passion, and the opportunity to refine my craft, learn from the gurus, connect with other like-minded (and not-like-minded) individuals is one I consider of vital importance. Let’s hope the stars align for this one.

Austin Bucket List. I’m a homebody. That much is obvious. I could stay inside for days on end with a good book, a binge-worthy show, or craft project and feel no FOMO of outside happenings. Pathetic, I know. But this year, I want to venture out with my family and explore the wonders of Austin. So, yes. We’ll be a scene with our two double strollers. What else is new? 😉

Outer Banks Family Reunion: Another logistical nightmare for a double twin crew, but my extended family is convening in one of my favorite places (OBX!!) for a family reunion this summer. So maybe I’ll be sitting in the backseat of our Highlander nursing two babies while my toddler twins gobble Happy Meals for 20+ hours and our luggage sits strapped to our roof. Still. This is one travel adventure I hope really happens.

-And while we’re dreaming: Greece. Visiting there in 2016 was an is-this-real-life??? experience I never want to stop thinking about. Travel woes, budget, work, and family responsibilities aside, I would be on a plane to that blue-and-white paradise in a heartbeat.

What does your 2018 eval look like? Let’s connect and progress together this year, eh?

Well, time to sign off. I can hear my twins planning a post-nap mutiny from the next room.

Beijos!

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