A New Year Reflection

One of my dear friends, Jenni (she is a delight),  is a big proponent of choosing a word to guide her year. Last year, in January, I was certain I would choose a word too. I spoke at length with Jenni about her word (Last year’s was story.), and how she developed and determined which word she would pick. But, alas, I never did pick a word, and here I am on January 2, 2018, still thinking about a word for this year. (In case you are wondering, Jenni’s for this year is enough.)

It is really kind of funny, because I really didn’t think about having a word until this past Sunday, on New Year’s Eve. I was sitting in church listening to my (awesome) pastor (Pastor Jim) speak about new beginnings and renewing commitments to our faith and to God. (Which don’t get me wrong, I fully endorse and plan to do.) But that is not what struck me. What struck me is when he used this analogy involving Jacob Marley from A Christmas Carol. (And, hello, I am nothing if not a sucker for an allusion to one of my most beloved Christmas stories.) If you don’t remember, Marley is Scrooge’s dead business partner who appears to him wrapped in chains as punishment for being greedy and selfish during his life on earth. What Pastor Jim said is, “How often do we wake up, and wrap our chains around us and drag them throughout our day?” And, I thought, Yes, I do that. I don’t know why. This pertains to how I show God’s love for my fellow humans and how I approach and react to the things that come up all day, every day. How many of us do that? Wake up. Wrap chain. Drag through the day. The point of the message was to let it go. Just stop wrapping the chain. Easier said than done, right?

So, now, here we are back at the point of this post. My word for the year. The message my pastor delivered is my starting off point. I know that there will be days when I drag the chain, just like good ole Marley did in A Christmas Carol. Days when I carry over the things that happened the day prior, and I just can’t let it go. BUT, I am going to strive to not do that. I am going to strive to be present, to let go of the things I cannot control, and embrace the positives. I am going to be intentional with my choices. I am going to be intentional with my actions (and, let’s be honest, with my inactions). Intentional will be my word for the year. So, many words ran through my head while thinking on this. Grace was a close second. (Maybe next year.) But, I think that being intentional in all the things will help me keep looking forward and not dragging all my baggage with me from day to day.

By now, most of you know that I use Instagram primarily for all things bookish. (Bookstagram is my favorite. And also smiling.) Intentional will help me so much in my reading life too. I am participating in The Unread Shelf Project 2018, which is a project (coordinated by Whitney (@theundreadshelf)) that simply encourages readers to tackle their shelves of unread books. I have 77 unread physical books. (I didn’t do an official count of my ebooks, but I think it is somewhere around 27.) My intention is to read more of the books I already have and spend less on books in 2018. (Honestly, I want to be more intentional in my spending overall.) So intentional just really fits, both in my personal and professional life, and also in my reading life.

Here’s to a wonderful and intentional 2018!

Do you make resolutions or set a word for the year? Let me know on Instagram (@meaningfulmadness) or in the comments below!

Can we all be a Superhero?

Since my son’s obsession with Batman began when he was three years old (seriously, he wore a Batman costume everywhere–to the grocery store, to church, to a restaurant), I often wondered what is the definition of a superhero. What makes Batman or Wonder Woman or Spiderman a superhero? In the case of Batman, (who I happen to be well-versed in, thanks to my son) he was an extremely intelligent, but otherwise ordinary man doing extraordinary things. While I have always been Team Wonder Woman, and love her, she still has some supernatural type abilities, so she doesn’t qualify as an “ordinary” woman doing extraordinary things. I am sure you are thinking…where is she going with this. (I tend to get excited when I am at my computer with uninterrupted time to write, therefore, perhaps I get wordier than I should…oh well…)

Okay, so I am going to switch gears right now, but this will all come together in the end (Promise!). Last January, I was in a bad place. Unhappy with my health and overall wellness. I had not been exercising. I was in a bad place at work. I was just an overall mess. I was perusing the internet one night after the kiddos were in bed (I mean, who doesn’t?!) and I was looking for some motivation.  I was looking for brain and physical wellness. I was looking for a way to get out of a bad spot. Enter Emily Schromm’s 21 Day Superhero Challenge. Seriously, I just happened upon it. I was on Pinterest (I can waste hours of time on Pinterest…who’s with me? (Please tell me you do this too…please…)) and looking at exercise pins. Then I clicked on something, then clicked on something else, then I was at this website with this ripped girl on the landing page and an Unleashed Fitness logo in the corner.  I looked at the bottom of the page, and I saw something that said EmFit Superhero Challenge, so I clicked on it. My curiosity about all things superhero (thanks, son) got the best of me. I came to a page where I could sign up for a 21 day challenge described as “…a 3-week informational challenge to improve your health, fitness, & habits.” The entry cost was only $21, so I was like, what the heck, I have spent more in two trips to Starbucks, so I signed up. You can sign up here:

21 Day Challenge

When I clicked the button to begin this challenge, this was the beginning of something that totally changed my view on how I eat, exercise, and view wellness, as well as a complete paradigm shift in everything I thought about health.

What do you get when you sign up for a Superhero Challenge? You get incredibly useful information on how to begin your journey into health and wellness from someone who knows her stuff. You get custom exercise programs from an industry expert. You get access to a community of superheroes who support you, answer your questions, and are just in general, totally bad ass. Seriously, signing up for this challenge is one of the best things I ever did. I have learned so much and become so much more aware of my health and the health of my family. It is seriously AMAZING!

Now, we come full circle back to the discussion of all things (conventional) superhero. So, like I said, Batman is an ordinary man doing extraordinary things. What I have learned from the 21 Day Superhero Challenge from the lead superhero, Emily Schromm, is that we all have a superhero within us. We are ordinary humans, but we can do extraordinary things when we combine heart, discipline, and willingness to learn. So, Emily’s vision is that we can all harness the superhero within us and do amazing things. We do not have to rely on other superheroes–we can find one within our self! Her 21 Day Superhero Challenge gives us the tools to do that. So to answer the question posed in the title of this post–YES, we can! Won’t you sign up and join us on August 22nd? It is going to be spectacular!

Disclaimer: I am an Embassador for the Challenge. However, I participate in the challenge, and I believe that it can change your perspective on wellness. You will NOT be disappointed. 

Windmill fun for everyone, Post #1

My son is finishing his 2nd grade year, and it has been an amazing one for him. He has always loved science and been an inventor extraordinaire at home; however, this year his rock-star teacher has ignited a love of history in him. He has come home talking about Ancient China, Ancient Egypt, and more recently, Helen Keller. He is amazed by her story and cannot believe how much she accomplished (my word, not his. I am taking some liberties with paraphrasing.) in her life. He was particularly enthusiastic about an activity he did in class wherein he created a word in braille. This got me thinking about the summertime, when I have the great fortune to be home with the kids and activities we could do together. So, this activity is one that is not my idea, but one I became aware of when I taught eighth graders which I have adapted to meet the needs of my younger children.

Enter the remarkable story of William Kamkwamba, a then 14-year-old boy who was inspired to build a windmill in his Malawian village after seeing the devastation caused by excessive drought in his area.  I think my son will love this story. William reminds me of Helen Keller in the diversity he has overcome to be the success he is today.  So, the cool thing about this story is there are three different versions of this story to choose from based on the age level of the reader. There is the full version, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope, there is The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Young Readers Edition, which is recommended for grades 4-7, and lastly, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Picture Book Edition for younger elementary students.

My plan for my kiddos this summer is to do an interactive activity with them centered around William. I think my son especially will love it, but I think as long as there is an art component my daughter will buy in.  I am on a quest to find enriching activities for them this summer that do not cost a fortune. I will leave you with this for now, but I will be back with a second post to let you know what I did and how I did it with some pictures to illustrate.

Disclaimer: This is not an original idea. I happened upon this story and ancillary materials during a teaching conference; however, the activity I did at the conference was not very exciting, so I am going to try something new.  More to come on this in the future!