What’s Your Word?, a Revisit to Resolutions

‘Round-about the beginning of 2022, we said a bad word: resolutions. After washing our mouths out and sitting in timeout, I proposed a different approach to New Year’s Resolutions. The idea was to pick a word to summarize 2021 and a new one to begin 2022.

Last year’s word was Complete.

This, for 2022, is Control.

Photo by Riccardo on Pexels.com

Now that we’re halfway two-thirds of the way through the year, I wish to revisit and reassess my word. Have I taken control as I wished? Did I kick a few drivers out and steer this rocky minivan to destinations on my list?

I didn’t specifically state goals for fear they wouldn’t come true -but I had them. They included: to lose all the pregnancy weight (maybe even get back to my ideal!), find balance between tasks and leisure, remodel the freakin’ house, work a side job while the kids go to day care or school, get a handle on our budget, have a system for the housework, be kind, improve my momming of certain difficult offspring, and go to Europe with the family.

I’ve learned that stating resolutions isn’t a masochistic practice meant to trigger a depressive spiral involving Bunny Tracks ice cream. It’s a form of accountability, like a gym buddy.

Photo by Annushka Ahuja on Pexels.com

In that sense, you are all my swolemates. So, how did I do?

  1. Lose the pregnancy weight.
    Thanks to a group diet challenge from March 27th till May 22, I lost 30 pounds. That was also thanks to MyFitnessPal, personal dedication, and Kevin’s support. My graph has looked like a cardiogram over the summer, but I managed to drop another 15. I went from 195 in March to a record low of 149.8 in August.
  2. Find balance between tasks and leisure.
    This may be a lifetime task. I have given myself much more grace, pausing in the day for ten minutes on a quick app game or for a couple of hours to read a book.
  3. Remodel the freakin’ house.
    The house we moved to has several building code violations. It needed immediate changes, like cement poured in the basement and a furnace put in. We also have eight people crammed into three bedrooms.
    We’ve poured the floor, installed HVAC, filled a giant dumpster five times, worked on framing a room downstairs for the business, and met with an architect to draw up our dream plans. Let’s see if we’re up to code by this time next year!
  4. Work a side job and farm out the kids.
    Since school began on August 25th, I’m a cafeteria worker again. Costs do not match up, however, so I’ll be dropping that and trying something more financially sound.
  5. Get a handle on our budget.
    This is also an ongoing task. Life’s expensive.
  6. Be kind.
    Don’t say anything, Geoff.
  7. Improve my momming with the difficult ones.
    My poor kids. Maybe I can try a knot around one finger. I think I’ll always feel this needs work, but I can certainly put more effort here -like, try not to snap at them after interrupting this blog post for the umpteenth time.
  8. Go to Europe with the family.
    Kevin and I talked about doing this …up until meeting with contractors about the cost of remodeling this old house. We will set our sights a little lower and save for a one-time drive out to Disney World next year. Maybe we can stay with family on the way.

Despite the massive word load above, I’m a private person. But I’m trying an unstated resolution to not be embarrassed at being my own cheerleader. Self-confidence and all that, right?

Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

So, publicly or privately, I encourage you to do the same. Look over your year (if you had a word or no) and see how things have come along. Have you accomplished what you wished?

There’s still time, though even that is proving more fleeting and precious as I age.

—–

Week in review:

Thursday, September 1: “Welcome Back!”
AND The Terrible Poetry Contest beginning. Please enter. Please please please please…

Friday, September 2: Friday Photo. Take Meowt.

Saturday, September 3: A poem for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday.

Sunday, September 4: Quote by Maryam Hasnaa.

Monday, September 5: Mormon Monday: I dress modestly; and fancy, for church.

Tuesday, September 6: “That Ole Road of Life, I Think

Wednesday, September 7: Today.

©2022 Chel Owens

What’s Your Word?

Now is the time we’ve all dreaded: after Christmas. We can no longer laugh whilst claiming, “Ah; it’s the holidays” as we pop another homemade cookie into our waistline. Many of us, instead, throw around terms like resolution and goal.

I’m an all-year-round resolution person, myself. I’m also an all-year-round resolution-breaker. As such, I can’t get too excited about ‘new’ years.

For a slightly different idea, I’ve seen several bloggers come up with a word for the new year. I even read a friend who inadvertently gave a word to summarize 2021 before naming one for 2022.

I LOVE that thought.

Last year has been very full for me: job, politics and divisiveness, a close family member’s passing, moving house, pregnancy and childbirth, and COVID-19. What all-encompassing word, then, can cover that?

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Chaos. Regrets. Crowded. Busyness. Craziness. Full.

In reflecting over the breadth of it, I’m going with Complete.

I’ve had regrets, make no mistake. We left planned projects incomplete in selling the last house. Milestones were unmet regarding when to move by. The bathroom was still in pieces and laundry piles lay all over as I headed off to the hospital to deliver #6. I can’t hang onto any of that like I used to, though. I look back with only a desire to let go.

So, with Complete, my word for 2022 will be Control.

This may surprise you. Control often has connotative surrounds; we’re encouraged to release the illusion of it or focus on reasonable expectations regarding it. The reason I choose control is for good. In my life, I’ve spent too long riding along and resenting. At depressive and stressful points I’ve complained about what is out of my hands …and done nothing to change the situation. I felt I could not.

Instead of being a passenger in the van of my life, I will take control.

Now, I encourage everyone to do the same. Yes, to take control -but also to look back and choose a word for last year. Then, choose a word for the next. What are your words? Why?

©2021 Chel Owens

Bring on the Rain

“I am in control!” She screams, gripping fists of invisibility so hard she feels what’s left of fingernails digging against her palms. Forget the past; forget what Steve or Phil or Jack or even James -if that was his name- said. “I am in control!”

Forces more powerful than any touched by man answer, without words. Pushing, tearing, whipping the lake’s edge against her -her, a small, insignificant figure to challenge God’s great breath.

“I am -” she gasps, “in control!” Spray and tears stream down her face;
wipe clean
spray
clear

Till, beckoned by her challenge, the sky-fall comes.

Inspired by Carrot Ranch‘s prompt, high winds:

September 3, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about high winds. It can be on land, sea or in outer space. Who is facing the wind or protected from it? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by September 8, 2020. Use the comment section [on the site] to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

©2020 Chelsea Owens

“Those who stand at the threshold of life always waiting for the right time to change are like the man who stands at the bank of a river waiting for the water to pass so he can cross on dry land.

“Today is the day of decision.”

-Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Three Choices,” October 2003

Who’s Driving?

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I was supremely confident as a child that I could drive a car. All I needed, I’d say, was the green flag from the government for seven-year-olds to operate a vehicle and I’d be off!

Oh, I had experience: My parents occasionally allowed me sit-on-their-lap steering privileges home from church on Sundays. And at fifteenish, I pulled a few turns unassisted in that same church parking lot.

Man, I was set!

By the age of nearly-sixteen, however, shift got real. My mother may have realized this, as I was enrolled in Driver’s Education at school and had grown tall enough to look her in the eye. One day she took me to a quiet neighborhood side street, steered herself for the worst, and told me we could switch places.

Even on the best of days (as in, post-op heavily-medicated) my mother does not handle other people driving. When my annoyingly patient and meticulous father is navigating the roads at a rate that would put a sloth to sleep, she’s frantically kicking the floor of the passenger side in phantom braking actions.

Turning the wheel fully over to me is on my mother’s list of Bravest Things She’s Ever Done.

For my part, I was counting on my first time driving as heading the list of Epic Life Adventures or Most Awesome Experiences Ever. Right? Instead, as I sat in front of the wheel completely on my own, I was gripped with terror. The awesome power of everything I was now in charge of washed over me and my mind blanked. My foot convulsed at the pedals the same way it did when I tried to navigate a sewing machine. The wheel was strangely hyper-sensitive. All of the cars parked calmly at the sides of the street were trying to leap out in front of me.

“I thought you knew how to drive!” My mother screamed as we jerked along and sashayed from right to left.

I thought I did, too, I told myself. I felt sad, confused, surprised, and hopeless. We pulled over and returned to our former roles. My confident plans of self-dependency and road freedomness dissolved forever. Maybe we should’ve used an automatic.

Luckily, my driving actually improved from there. I throw that out, in case anyone has determined to never set wheels on pavement when I’m out and about.

This morning, however, I was thinking about life. Specifically, if at all, I was pondering on my decades-long feeling of directionless discontent.

I kept thinking, Who’s driving, anyway?

I have been a stay-at-home mother for thirteen years, ever since being fired in the first trimester of my first pregnancy. I have felt motivated some days more than others. Lately, however, my life has felt completely out of my hands. My children cannot legally drive (yet), but I’ve put them and my husband in the front seat, crawled back over Cheerio crumbs and Hot Wheels cars to the dirty back of the car, and wondered why I keep getting car sick.

And yet, I don’t move.

What do I do?

Well… I pretend to be useful. I hand around a few snacks, break up fights, give the pretense of modeling good behavior, and pick up loose wrappers now and then. Oh, and sometimes I tell the person steering exactly what’s wrong with his driving.

As the tension in the car rises, I withdraw to less activity. I tell myself I am not sleepy when the suns sets over our dented hood, intentionally tiring myself to a state of drunken drowsiness when that same sun rises over that same hood. I eat the bad car snacks. I forget to shower at camp sites. I wonder why the floor cannot stay clean even though I’m snapping at everyone to please pick up your garbage!

Who’s driving, anyway?

Shortly after that first, fateful day at fifteen when my mother gave me full control, I attended the driving portion of Driver’s Ed at school. Perhaps because I was the tallest female, our instructor picked me for the first turn. I don’t learn well by going first; I’m an observer.

The rest of our small group piled into the small sedan, buckled for safety, and waited for me to start the engine. I gulped. I adjusted everything I could think to adjust: seatbelt, steering, seat, side mirrors, rearview mirror, headrest. We’d been walked through this in instructional videos during class, and I was determined to get all the steps right. Then, ignition -with foot on brake pedal, of course. My hands flew to 10 and 2 like boot camp soldiers. I looked forward through the windshield, and waited for whatever hell the instructor at my elbow would direct me through.

My turn didn’t last long then, either. Another boy in the class took over after a few blocks and did marvelously. He drove better than the instructor! It turned out that he’d been allowed to man tractors on his grandfather’s farm since thirteen years old. Cheater.

Who’s driving? Floats through my mind when I wake up and get ready for the children’s day. They need to dress for school, eat breakfast, sit up at the table, not punch their brothers, pick up their shoes, do their homework, eat right, not talk back, feel loved, and then understand that I am a person and I love their father and our relationship is the most important of all.

Yeah, we’ve been seeing a marriage counselor. She’s a good driver.

Who’s driving? My mind recalls the sappy Country Song “Jesus Take the Wheel.” That’s a subject for a few pages all its own, so I’ll summarize with: I may not be in a great place discontentedly backseat driving, but I trust that spot a lot more than the places He might take me.

I know others in a similar state. Their reactions have varied from meekly asking for a turn at steering, to pushing the special Eject button James Bond-style and parachuting irresponsibly to a new adventure.

I’d love to end this personal reflection with a determined statement; a wonderful aphorism on life to pass on. Unfortunately, all I’ve got are chocolate almonds, yesterday’s clothing, and criticisms.

Perhaps you know a good solution? Anything’s better than here.

Maybe.