Almost every year I try to set goals for myself. They’re not really resolutions, more just plans and things to attempt. Usually they’re in one of 4 categories: physical, intellectual, spiritual, or relational. For example, about 25 years ago I had a goal of giving up red meat and pork in the name of good health. All these years later, still no meat, but my 261 cholesterol level hasn’t seemed to notice.
A couple of years ago, the goal was to run at least a mile every day. Turned out to be more challenging than expected when the year began with a stomach bug, but somehow I completed that goal, even with having to run in place in a Nairobi hotel after nearly 24 hours of traveling.
For 2017, in part guided by a question I have always loved, “When was the last time you did something for the first time?,” my goal was to do something new every week. I really wasn’t sure what was ahead with that, but it sounded like a good idea at the time. I kept a weekly log and while I’ll spare you ALL the entries, I thought I’d share a few examples and some insights. Some of the things I planned, while many actually just happened. Many were positive experiences, but some not as much.
Some of the things I tried…
- Explored some new Alabama vistas, including its highest point (Mt. Cheaha) and part of the Cahaba River . It’s amazing how much beauty is close by if we’ll just look!
- Taught a class I’ve never taught and volunteered at some different places, including the Senior Olympics, which was SO inspiring!
- Attended a coloring night with my friend Lydia at the Vestavia Hills library.
- Went on my first college tour as an adult, showing my friends Olivia and Kathy around some great Midwestern colleges. Sharing life memories with the special people in your life is really meaningful. (Oh, and I’m very glad I don’t have to do any more formal education!)
- Started a new position at the college where I’ve taught for more than a decade and then sadly, cleaned out my office on the day the school closed unexpectedly.
- Began my own business doing leadership training and coaching – and even had some gigs!!
- Ate at lots of new restaurants, which was my go-to when I couldn’t think of anything else new to do. Also cooked new dishes (ok, maybe 2), and worked from some fun coffee shops.
- Watched Amelia, one of our former live-in friends, get married.
- Attended yoga, pilates, barre, and body flow classes. Found out I stink at most of these activities, but I really enjoy them and decided to keep going. Hopefully I amuse the instructors, rather than frustrate them!!
- Received a super big hug from the man my husband refers to as my “boyfriend” (For those who don’t know…it was Anderson Cooper!)
- Learned more about one of my heroines (Eleanor Roosevelt) by attending a workshop, visiting her homestead, and touring the FDR Presidential Library.
- Got Invisalign
- Served as a birth photographer for one of the most important families in our life.
- Went on a silent retreat at the Ignatius House Jesuit Retreat Center in Atlanta.
- Walked thorough a very challenging time with someone I cherish – and joyfully saw them emerge triumphantly!
- Presented papers on topics near to my heart at two academic conferences I had never before attended.
- Took my best bud and running partner, Bart, to the emergency room after my friend Dave pushed him down… (Just kidding, I pushed him down…)
- Made a couple of new friends after reading an article about how people in mid-life don’t usually make new friends.
- Planned a 50th Birthday vacation trip and messed up some important details, so planned another trip at the very last minute.
A few insights
To be perfectly honest, my nature is not to be that much of a risk-taker or adventurer. Being married to Nate has brought that out in me, and also trying to embrace Eleanor Roosevelt’s advice to “Do it afraid” has helped. I am continually trying to give things over to God and ask him to give me courage and wisdom.
Many of 2017s happenings I thought and prayed about since I was intentionally being mindful about trying new things. Others I didn’t see coming, but I tried to be present in them when they occurred. Sometimes I was, and other times not. I found that without really trying, I hit the 4 goal areas: physical, intellectual, spiritual, and relational.
In the end, I think 2017 was really great preparation for 2018 when our goal is “Sell it all and move to Ethiopia where everything will be new every day!”