Saturday 27 January 2024

Word of the year 2024

 Hi friends,

A belated Happy New Year to you all.  

I love the new start that the new year brings.  I know some people feel that winter is the worst time to begin a new habit, or break an old one, but for me it is the perfect time.  We are passed the shortest day, the evenings are beginning to get lighter, I have seen blossom in a hedgerow and a lamb in a field, it feels like spring is just around the corner, even on the bitterest of frosty days. Hope is in the air.

For many years now I have chosen a "word of the year" to inspire and motivate me, to give me a focus and to help me be more intentional in my goals, choices and with my time.  You may recall last years word was "Joyful"; and if you have been following my blog you might have read my monthly posts where I shared a monthly focus.  These monthly focuses really helped me make progress throughout the year and keep my "word of the year" in the forefront of my mind.  This year I have a new word and a new approach and I hope that me sharing about it here with you might encourage you to choose a "word of the year" for yourself, it's not too late!  It also might encourage you to head over to my Patreon where I recently shared a guide to choosing a "word of the year" for yourself as well as some artwork that you can print and display your "word of the year" on.  

So I am sure you're wondering what my word of the year is this year.  I had been thinking for a while before new years about this word and how it was something I really needed in my life.  It comes off the back of a joyful, but extremely busy and at times stressful year, as well as a year of being sucked more and more into social media based distractions.  I was especially inspired by a post I saw on Instagram by Ancestrally Rooted Mother encouraging us to rest.  

My instant reaction was to think "well how can I possibly do that when I am so busy all the time?"  and Emily very generously responded with this answer: 

Oh, this is a great question! And for me, the answer has been pretty multifaceted and somewhat hard to swallow. First, "the answer" will depend on what is going on in your life. I've had to get honest with myself about what I'm doing to be so busy and why I'm doing it. Sometimes we have things we are doing because we need to and sometimes those things make us busier than we want. But, I've gotten pretty ruthless about the extras. I have a garden and chickens -that's it. Also, I've been leaning more into the community I have available to me - the paid and unpaid. I'm making sacrifices in the things I want to do to make room for building community. We try to do too much alone. And I try to make the activities more restful. Rest doesn't have to equal idle. For me, that has meant getting off my smartphone. I only listen to podcasts occasionally vs all the time. As hard as it is, doing dishes and just doing dishes feels more restful than doing dishes while trying to shove more information in my brain. Lastly, sometimes all I can do is rest in knowledge of what should be. Some years I've had to work more and I've had to just be ok with that. I find the knowledge that I should be resting more restful. And helps me be gentler with myself when I can't keep up or just power through. 

Because of this response I chose REST as my "word of the year".  The mindset communicated by Emily in her reply helped me to form an attitude towards how REST can inform my year and has helped me think about how I can make it work in practical terms. 

I also have to give a shout out to my sister, who, when I told her I was going to be doing a "word of the year" workshop with my good friend Vicki to help me choose my word told me in no uncertain terms that it should be REST! 

For a home educating mother of four children who continues to pile more and more upon her plate you might be thinking that REST was a foolish word to choose for 2024, I am quite obviously a busy person, so what REST looks like for me might not be what REST looks like for other people.  

It might not, for example mean lots of sitting down.  It might not mean spending a lot of time alone or on self-care, and it certainly won't mean lots of long hot bubble baths!

Here is what REST has meant for me so far in 2024:

  • Allowing my mind to rest when I breastfeed the baby by reading the Bible or a book  rather than scrolling social media,
  • Being present and allowing my mind to rest and wander when cooking or going to the toilet rather than filling my mind with noise from podcasts and YouTube videos,
  • Beginning my day in a restful way by preparing for the day and enjoying a book during breakfast rather than scrolling on social media the minute I wake up,
  • Ending my day in a restful way at a decent hour and with a book rather than social media,
  • Recognising that it is ok to just sit down and rest, I do not have to justify resting my body by trying to do something else whilst I sit down, or feeling like I only deserve a rest once I have completed a million and one tasks,
  • Allowing my body to rest by stopping eating at 8pm so my body can have time to heal and repair by resting from digestion at night,
  • Creating a restful, less stressful life by planning and organising my time and creating a meal plan so I am not having to live reactively all the time, which is stressful,
  • Recognising that I don't have to do all-the-things and a rich and joyful life doesn't necessarily come from filling our time with activities,
  • And most importantly, resting in the Lord by passing my burdens onto Him through prayer and remembering that I don't need to worry or stress about my life because he has it in hand. 
Resting in the Lord it the most important aspect of REST this year and I am remembering these Bible verses to encourage me on my journey of restfulness this year: 

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.  (Psalm 62:1-2)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.(Matthew 11:28-30)

I'm also informing my year by remembering that God thought rest was important by giving us a whole day on which to rest: "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." (Genesis 2:2-3) And in Exodus 20:8-10 the Bible tells us: "Remember the Sabbath day and keep it Holy, Six days you shall labour and do all your work.  But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work." Also that His son Jesus sought rest.  If Jesus needed rest them how much more surely must we?

I really hope that by the end of this year I can look back and feel less stressed and worn out, that by practicing leaning into the Lord and searching out Him for spiritual rest, I will find myself refreshed, renewed and energised and that I have an attitude of restfulness rather than busyness. 

Friends, please tell me what your word of the year is for 2024, I'd love to hear. 

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