I came up with my word for this year as I lay trying to fall asleep early the morning of New Year’s Day. Up until that time, no words had come to me. I was reflecting on my word for 2015, TODAY, and how I had achieved some of my goals associated with that word. Basically the idea was to stop putting things off for fear of the unknown or just plain being lazy. Things like exercising, eating better, getting stuff done, and (the big one) having a baby. I think I did a pretty good job of sticking with that plan last year. Of course, the whole getting pregnant thing really helped me keep on track with the exercise and eating better. 🙂

I realized that 2016 will bring a lot of change in my life, so I toyed around with the idea of change being my word this year. I hate change. Always have, probably always will. It gives me lots of anxiety, mostly because I like things to be familiar and comfortable. I so prefer my comfort zone; usually someone or some circumstance has to kick me out of it to get me to make a change on purpose.

And there is a lot of change coming up. First of all, my little teeny baby is going to change into a walking, talking toddler by the end of this year. Each month he’ll grow and learn and change a little bit more. He’ll keep us on our toes constantly with an ever changing routine and ever changing needs. In his short eight weeks he’s already changed his pattern on us so much, we barely have time to get used to the new “normal” before he’s moved on to something new. Second, I have no idea what I’ll be teaching when fall comes around this year. For now, I’m in my support position, but I imagine I’ll be moved back to a math position next year, when I’m not going into the year seven months pregnant. Will it be my old position? Will it be another math position at my campus? Or will I be moved to the high school, where there are tons of options? Change, change, change. Even worse, change that I can’t prepare for.

The more I thought of it, the more I didn’t like change as my actual word. Change is going to happen to me this year no matter what I do, but what kind of action can I challenge myself to do with that word? Really, I need to working on accepting the change. So I played around with having accept be my word. Could I accept change as it was thrown my way? Then I realized, I really don’t have the luxury of accepting change this year or not. It’s going to happen to me one way or another. I could go into it frustrated and sad and anxious… or I could embrace it.

Embrace Change: Embrace feels much better as my word. And I realized it doesn’t have to pertain only to change in my life. It can be extended to everything.

Embrace the “Baby Year”: This year, the only year my first child will really and truly be a baby, is a perfect year to embrace every little thing. Even the things that drive me crazy. Like a baby that won’t go back to sleep after nursing at 3 am, or a fussy baby I’m trying to entertain while simultaneously doing dishes. There’s a country song from several years ago, where the chorus starts with, “You’re gonna miss this. You’re gonna want this back. You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t flown by so fast.” This song is constantly flitting through my head during some of the most annoying parts of having a newborn; thankfully I’m so glad for this change in perspective that helps me embrace the situation immediately. And, of course, there are so many wonderful moments to cherish and hold on to: Lincoln’s beautiful smile when he sees me in the morning, his gurgle laugh when I lay him on his changing table, his crazy mouth-wide-open, baby-shark-eating-frenzy when we sit down to nurse. I’m ready to embrace all the moments.

Embrace Relationships: I also really want to focus this year on embracing relationships. Social media has made it really easy to keep tabs on all your friends without actually, you know, talking to them. It gives the illusion of keeping up with everyone, without having to make plans or put out a lot of effort. I’m super guilty of going through Facebook and Instagram (while waiting for Lincoln to fall into a deep enough sleep to put him down for the night), seeing what’s going on with everyone, and posting my own stuff so they can do the same. This year, at the very least, I want to intentionally communicate with my people, whether it be through comments on social media, texting right back, or making play dates and other plans. A few weeks ago, two of my best friends moved their family to Texas and it’s been really bumming me out. I’ve know these two since we were in elementary school, and I always pictured my kids growing up with theirs; it really saddens me that now Lincoln is here he won’t grow up around their girls. This idea of embracing relationships really spun off from my thinking of ways to keep in close touch with these friends from so far away, how to help Lincoln develop a friendship with their kids even though they will rarely get chances to play together or see each other aside from Skype.

Embrace Fitness: I’ve got a baby who wants to look at everything, an awesome stroller, and sneakers. I have literally no reason not to go walking all the time. I’ve also got some baby weight to lose. Enough said.

Embrace Food: I have never been so aware of what I’m eating than now, when I’m literally sharing everything with Lincoln. Since I’ve been home on maternity leave, I’ve been able to get back into cooking a lot more, and I really love it. I love planning out meals, getting everything I need from the grocery store, and pulling everything out to make a delicious healthy dinner for us. We’ve been getting Hello Fresh meals off and on since the beginning of December, and that has been an awesome experience. Fresh food all measured out for me and sent to my door? Yes, please! And I’ve been learning so many new cooking techniques from their recipes and using their dishes to make something similar but new for us. Anyway, all that to say I’m tired of us eating out so much. We spend way too much money on outside food because we’re too lazy to cook, or go to the store, or meal plan ahead of time. This year I really need to focus on taking that time to meal plan, since that’s really where it all begins. I hate going to the store and just grabbing things without a plan for them–so much goes to waste in our fridge when we do that. Maybe I should designate a day and time for weekly meal planning so I make sure to get it done.

Embrace (My) Creativity: When I sit down for “me” time, it’s usually at my computer to sort through pictures, make some quick edits, and attempt to scrapbook, in the form of Project Life. This is my relaxing time. Sometimes, though, I end up on Pinterest for a little too long, searching for ideas or following some of my favorite scrapbookers to see how they’re using white space or brushes or titling their weekly pages, blah, blah, blah. And then Lincoln’s awake and my free time’s gone. Or I realize it’s one a.m. and I’m going to be awakened in three short hours by a hungry baby (who may or may not let me go back to sleep after that). I realize that if I want to get much memory keeping done this year (and of course I do, it’s my baby’s first year), then I really need to just embrace my own style and get it done.

Embrace Frugality: This one was an afterthought, but definitely an important one this year. We spent a lot last year getting ready for Lincoln, and our budget for this year had to be expanded to cover his insurance (ugh) and a few other things we haven’t had to account for in years past. So we’re really wanting to stick to our budget this year and not make any impulse purchases. One area in particular we always struggle with is our grocery budget. We blow that thing out of the water every month. Enter extreme couponing! I’ve been exploring the “couponing for beginners” articles that are rampant on Pinterest, and I’m pretty excited to start trying some stuff to save us money. (This excitement might stem from the fact that my days are currently spent nursing, sleeping, and trying to entertain a two-month-old, so a focused trip to the grocery store sounds fabulous.)

Speaking of couponing, there’s this amazing app that helps you match sales with coupons to get the best bang for your buck. So glad I waited to get into couponing until technology was ready to do all the work for me.

Aaaaand there’s probably a bunch of other things I can be embracing, that will come to me throughout the year. But I think this is a good start. 🙂