Hey readers, it’s Kayli.
I want to write a little about 2015, and about the new year.
I don’t believe in New Year’s Resolutions.
I don’t think that changes should be made on only one day. I think that if you want to make a change, June 6th is just as good of a day to make changes as January 1st is. I also hate that so often, we make unrealistic resolutions only to end up disappointed in February because we’ve “failed.”
That said, I love New Year’s Day. I love starting fresh, and the idea that we can leave everything that has happened in the last 12 months behind us, where it really belongs. I love the idea of developing positive traits and progressing a little at a time.
So instead of resolutions, I pick a word for every year. I haven’t written about it much before because it was new for me, and I wanted to give it an honest go of my own.
I started this in 2013. My word then was faithful. I needed to develop a trust in my Heavenly Father. I needed to rely more on him and believe things would work out.
In 2014, my word was bloom. I wanted to really embrace the ways in which I was leaving childhood behind and settling into my twenties. I wanted to embrace the woman I was becoming and take risks.
And this year, for 2015, my word was shine.
I wanted my testimony to be my most defining feature. I wanted to let the happiness the gospel has given me, radiate. I wanted to accomplish things and share things and be happy.
I completed the Color Run, where the theme, very fittingly, was “shine.”
I attended the temple and received my endowment.
I overcame heartbreak. I spent time with my girls. I started over in Safford and spent time with Kassi, her husband, and Klara. I moved in with “new” family and found another home.
I student taught and fell madly in love with my “job.”
I went to football games, and basketball games, and I even attended a ballet.
Then I graduated at the top of my class in Secondary Education from New Mexico State University.
I grew. A lot.
And the entire time, I reminded myself that what I was trying to do, was shine.
Choosing a word instead of making resolutions has been really effective for me.
I can’t fail my word.
It’s something I’m trying to develop, not something I’m trying to achieve.
I work on it throughout the year. When given opportunities, I think about my word. When faced with choices, I think about my word. When in times of darkness and trial, or joy and celebration, I think about my word and what I need to do next in order to exemplify it.
Wanna join me? It’s an easy process, I promise.
I pick a word at the end of every December. I choose something I want to work on, a word that describes something I admire and feel like I need to develop. It doesn’t matter what part of speech it is. Faithful is an adjective while bloom and shine are verbs. It can be anything you want to be more of, or do more of.
Then, (and this stuff is totally optional) I pin to my “Words of the Year” Pinterest board. I search my word and save quotes. You can see that board here. (I started the board over the last year. Before that I was just saving quotes to my “Things that Inspire Me” board, here.) I make my phone wallpaper something that reminds me of my word for the first couple of weeks of January. Then, I do my best to look for it, and remind myself of it, throughout the year.
So, what’s my word for 2016?
I’ve chosen “gentle”.
This is something I want to work on, being more gentle. Initially I thought about “strong”. I certainly want to be a stronger person, but before I develop that strength, I want to make sure that in my heart, in my actions, I’m soft. I want to be more kind, and more tender, and more loving.
I want to be more like my savior, and he was the most gentle person to ever walk this earth.
I want to be teachable, and moldable, and willing to change and love what comes, whatever that is. I want to be GENTLE.
So what’s your word going to be? I’d love to know. Share in the comments!
Getting into family history can be hard. Like real talk. And there are amazing people who get up in sacrament/Sunday school/Relief Society and they talk about how fun family history is and we all think, “someday.”
Someday, when I have more time.
when I’m not in school.
when my kids are older.
when I get x, y, or z done….
And I get that. I’m guilty of it in my own way.
But then, one Sunday in Relief Society, our Bishop’s amazing wife tipped us off to a talk that was given by Wendy Watson Nelson at the BYU Women’s Conference in the spring, and how amazing it was.
So I hunted it down.
You can watch it here.
Or if you don’t have time to watch the entire talk, you can read the “highlights” here.
Sister Nelson (wife of Elder Russell M. Nelson) talked about what it means for us to be “covenant women” and how our covenants can help guide and shape our lives for the better. During her talk, Sister Nelson talked about a challenge she gave in response to a group of women who were struggling with anxiety, depression, and various other heavy burdens that caused stress. Sister Nelson suggested a sacrifice, each day, for 21 days, to increase time spent in family history work and temple attendance. She admits this might seem counterintuitive, but then she told of the results.
She reported that the women who accepted the challenge were not more stressed or more strapped for time. They felt better. They were happier. Then she extended the challenge to those listening.
And it hit me. I want to do this.
I started May 30th, because it was as good a day as any, and every day, for 21 days, I either logged into Family Search (a free genealogy site sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with connections to other renowned sites) and worked on my family tree, or I attended the Gila Valley Temple.
At first, it was kind of difficult. Mostly because I really didn’t know what I was doing.
Some days were more involved than others. I had days where I really got in there and was ready to learn and did live-chats with support specialists. I even had one day where a sweet sister in the support center called me to give me extra help. I had some days where I found and reserved names for temple ordinances, and I had days where all I did was review a record hint and attach it to a person. I had days where I was desperate to get to the temple and feel the peace of being inside, and I had days where I had to force myself off of the couch and into a dress.
So, the big question. Did it work?
The short answer is yes.
The long answer is yes, but it didn’t come all at once. In fact, it took sitting down last night and reflecting to really see just how much of an impact this little 3 week journey has had.
Day to day, I didn’t really notice anything particularly different. But I look back at the girl I was just 21 days ago, and the girl I am now, and it’s very clear that they are not the same person. I AM happier. I AM less stressed. And I think this is why: family history and temple work teach me who I am, they change my perspective.
I have taken anywhere from 5 minutes to three hours everyday, depending, to do work that means something in the long term. REALLY long term. Like, eternity.
Looking at that bigger picture daily made my temporal worries shrink in size.
Peace. That’s the feeling.
On top of that, I noticed a few other things:
I know my genealogy better than I ever have, and I’ve been able to find and reserve family names for temple ordinances.
I have a better understanding of my own temple covenants.
Time I might have spent worrying or overthinking was taken up with something simple but productive, and being productive makes me feel good.
Sister Nelson called it a sacrifice, and I’ll be real and tell you that at first, that’s exactly what it felt like. But as the 21 days drew to an end, and I caught myself singing in my car again, and smiling more, and wanting to paint again, it didn’t feel like a sacrifice at all.
It felt like a gift.
And isn’t that what sacrifice is anyway? Trading something good for something better?
If you accept the challenge, let me know. I’d love to hear about your journey too.
What do you do to center yourself?
Sometimes life gets hard.
I’m all about optimism, don’t mistake me, but I’m all about being real too, and that means admitting that some days are just more difficult than others.
I’ve thought about adversity a lot lately. I’ve been struck by how much we all go through, and how no one’s trials are the same, but we all have them. More than that though, I’ve thought a lot about the purpose of trials— not just the what, but the why— and regardless of how hard life gets, I believe that everything we experience is ultimately for our good.
Think of the Gila Valley Temple.
If you’ve been inside, imagine yourself there again. Think about the details you remember. If you haven’t been inside, look at the detail of the outside, look up some pictures of the inside from the open house if you like, and take 30 seconds and just take it all in.
It’s a beautiful building. right?
Where it is now, there used to be a beautiful field, and that field was surely content with how beautiful it was, but Heavenly Father had bigger plans for it.
That ground was beautiful yes, but He wanted it to be sacred, and that transition between beautiful field and holy temple was ugly. The field was torn up, the dirt was turned over, the plants and grass were removed, and left in their wake was broken ground. It was muddy in the rain and dusty the rest of the time. Construction was loud and messy as materials stood in piles.
I’m sure it seemed like it was never going to be a gorgeous building with gorgeous flower beds and trees. It was just a wreck of un-level dirt.
But day by day, things got done. Tasks were accomplished.
The dirt was leveled. Concrete was poured. A wall went up here, and another there. Things were sanded, straightened, hammered down. Angel Moroni found his way to the top of the building. Stained glass windows went in, paint was applied and wallpaper was put up. The font, altars, pews, and records desks were installed. Soft carpet was put in. Chairs were placed in the sealing room, mirrors hung up across from one another. Chandeliers were placed and polished. Flowers were arranged on tables. Things were swept and vacuumed and wiped down. Snapdragons were planted, trees placed in the ground, and suddenly, there it was.
Sometimes we might feel like that field under construction: broken, ripped apart, turned upside down, removed, but the temple was not built in a day.
We have to give Heavenly Father time to work.
We might be confused about why things happen, why life changes. We don’t understand why we would be rearranged when we were beautiful, but like the field,
Heavenly Father does not just need us to be beautiful, He needs us to be sacred.
I hope we’ll all give time a chance to prove that the trials we experience aren’t for nothing.
How do you cope with the changes life throws you?