Happy New Year

I’ve tried to write drafts of this post twice now and both times I haven’t successfully saved them in wordpress but hey, third time’s a charm! Admittedly, it’s sort of difficult to rally the same spirit for this post the third time around but I am going to give it a try. So, yes, 2015 had some ups and downs for us but it is hard to dislike a year that brought us this guy:

Duncan1

Having a second child is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Watching Evangeline and Duncan’s relationship develop has given me more joy than I ever thought possible. Our finances are certainly strained and without any family nearby Sam and I sometimes feel overwhelmed but I wouldn’t trade these two for wealth or relaxation, not even for a second:

parkbreak

We are deep into early January – close enough that any resolutions we made can still seem shiny with promise – but far enough away that talking much about 2014 seems trite to me. I didn’t read or write nearly enough but I hadn’t planned on it – a baby’s first year can be terribly consuming and I made the conscious choice to simply focus on Duncan’s first year and work on everything else in 2015. One nice thing about my thirties – I’m growing out of making resolutions, but I did sit down on New Year’s Eve and write some guiding words for the year. (Okay, here is the point where I realize that I forgot to bring my journal with me and so don’t have the words immediately in front of me. I was going to explain a little about each word but instead I’ll just write about a few of my intentions.)

One of the concepts I am embracing wholeheartedly – indeed, that I started incorporating into my daily life before the new year – is the concept of minimalism. So often I feel overwhelmed by paperwork, my kids’ toys, by all of our things despite owning a large home. In the fall I started following Rachel Jonat at the Minimalist Mom and even downloaded her book, Do Less. Both her blog and the book are loaded with great information to steamline your home, your life and your mind. One of the first tasks I tackled was throwing away all of our old, ratty towels and buying one towel set for each family member, as well as a guest set. As they show signs of wear and tear I will replace them, but otherwise they get laundered on Saturdays and used the rest of the week – my linen closet is already greatly improved! She also had some really great tips for applying minimalism to our on-line lives. I really thought about the outlets that bring me joy (my blog, facebook on occasion, twitter almost never, instagram when I remember it) and relentlessly began defriending people on facebook who bring negativity to my space (the anti-vaccine crusader who I hung out with in high school, the racist Obama-haters), unsubscribed to a million newsletters and online catalogues (another concept she tackles is reducing the want in your life by reducing the number of catalogues and online advertising you subscribe to) and trimming my twitter lists.

I know most people probably don’t need a how to book to purge and improve their lives but I’m the kind of person who needs a bit of guidance so I’m grateful for Jonat, her book and her blog.

Another one of my guiding words – Art – is pretty broad, but basically by improving my home I am hoping to make more room for my writing and reading, and whatever creative pursuits my children set their minds to do. Evangeline really loves crafts and Duncan responds in a very visceral way to music so I am hoping to make lots of room for this kind of exploration for them.

In terms of the blog, I would like to make this a more visual space without it becoming all about the pictures. My favorite blogs to read are still the long text heavy ones that tackle subjects, ideas, passions and wormholes – but one or two good photos slays me every time. I also hope to keep up its overall theme by discussing “sandwich day” issues, but I also hope to use this space to talk about my current passions and interests. Thanks so much for sticking with me in 2014 – here is to a fascinating, complex 2015!

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9 thoughts on “Happy New Year

  1. Have a great 2015! I look forward to meeting you here & other online spaces.

    As I read about your towels, I thought: why haven’t I done that? My linen closet is a mess & I recently found 3 sets of sheets in it that were too ripped or wrong size to use. I imagine the towels are in the same shape. It helps to have a few old ones though when the plumbing breaks or you leave the windows open during a storm (both recent in my life).

    When my child was a toddler, my life was chaotic: illness, death, career changes, housing moves as well as all the regular day-to-day craziness of raising children & being a responsible adult. Yet, when I read blogs & tweets & stati online from mothers today or talk with women in my family or social circles, I think that their lives seem so much more stressful. I wish I understood why that is, or had some words of wisdom to offer, but I don’t. Minimizing and being present for your kids — emphasizing experiences, emotions, togetherness, creativity rather than things — seems to be the way to go though. I think I did a pretty good job of child raising but if I could change anything it would be to have done that even more of that than I did.

    Have a great year, Courtney. Your children are beautiful creatures & I love reading about them.

  2. Happy New Year, Courtney. I really am looking forward to this new year, and I know you are, too. My life is much different from yours, but I love reading about yours — not just the bulletins about those beautiful children, but your thoughts and musings on the whole variety of issues you tackle. Here’s to a prosperous and creative year — with just enough of everything, and never so much it weighs us down.

  3. Happy 2015 to you and your family, Courtney. I love your creative approach to life. Like Anne Camille, I have learned to prioritize people over things (and have a couple of friends who look at me strangely when I say this), but it really does bring happiness and does make for calmer, more centred children.

  4. Happy new year to you and your family. I have found that we have so many similar concerns and difficulties, because we are the same age and both working mothers of young kids (maybe your 2 daughters will marry my 2 sons? just kidding). My word for 2015 is “Big picture” (I heard it first from Serial, but now I see it everywhere) and simplifying is paramount for us. I look forward to exchanging ideas and info with you in this new year!

  5. Happy, happy New Year, Courtney to you and your gorgeous family. What cuties! Funnily enough, one of my watchwords for a couple of years now is: simplicity. Even saying it makes me take a deep, cleansing breath! I never handled the early childcare years well – they are so manic – and you are doing just beautifully. I’m sure a focus on art in all its manifestations will bring only more richness to your lives.

  6. Happy 2015! Does is surprise you that I, too, need guidance from someone else when it comes to purging? That tip about the towels is a great one! Lovely pictures of Duncan. Wouldn’t it be nice if THIS were finally the year that we purged so much we could meet each other somewhere between me and you in some fun spot in PA? Let’s think about that — when it’s not quite so cold.

  7. I love the idea of minimalism. I feel like i am constantly purging in my life, trying to find that right balance of stuff. One of my words for the year is mindfulness – and I think that goes hand in hand with minimalism because I want to make mindful choices about everything I do – what I eat, what I buy, what I do, etc. Happy new year to you and yours!

  8. Anne – I don’t think our lives are more stressful – I think we have the internet and are able to clutter it up with our voices, and then outlets like pinterest and facebook can add to the stress level of those of us prone to it. Thanks for your continued support – you are one of my role models, undoubtedly!

  9. shoreacres – Your blog is one of the ones I admire most – full of substantive, beautiful writing. I don’t always have time to leave a thoughtful comment but I ALWAYS read. thanks for joining me in 2015!

    Charlotte – it’s so fun to hear from my heroes in this thread! In, in turn, take cues from you in what to prioritize in life – room for writing, room for the odd television binge, room for exercise and room for chocolate! Huzzah! Happy 2015 to you and yours!

    Litlove – manic is the right word for it! And I agree – just saying the word simplicity allows for a moment to take a breath, to calm down. It’s a great watchword for the year.

    Emily – that would be really so much fun! Let’s discuss when the weather becomes a bit more dependable.

    Jen – yes, I agree – facebook and pinterest have their time and place (I enjoy them both) but I really have to be mindful (!) about my time with them. Looking forward to having some FUN with you in 2015!!

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