the best way to commemorate a year

I woke up this morning in a panic, much too early for my last two days of Christmas break. I've been spending the last few hours doing a couple of things, the first of which is figuring out why in the world I would wake up so early, given I stayed up late finishing what's now one of my most favorite books, Love Does by the ever-so-bubbly and inspiring Mr. Bob Goff. I mean, look at the guy.

(Caution: The book is excellent and will absolutely both make you feel like you can be awesome effective immediately and at the same time remind you you're currently not awesome enough, page after perfectly penned page. Brilliant.)

You should know the consequences of my staying up late and waking up so early have been three-fold:

  1. My husband just informed me that sometime during last night, I asked him what my name was.
  2. I forgot to turn the coffee pot on first-thing upon getting out of bed. Bad idea.
  3. When my husband realized I was writing, he lovingly snuggled up next to me, and decided to open his mouth. Poor guy. He only wanted to suggest that there should be a hyphen somewhere in the previous paragraph, and I snapped off like a Ninja Turtle under fire. Blame it on the fact that I apparently don't know who I am and am still - against my better judgment - without caffeine. 

The second thing I've been doing is trying to figure out how to best commemorate this past year, while also trying to figure out how to spend the last hours of the last day of this current year, while also trying to figure out how to be awesome in 2014.  Here's what I've come up with in my head, no kidding:

  • Read your Bible and pray and write in your journal. (Great start.)
  • Say good morning and be nice to your amazing husband, Delwin. (FAIL.)
  • Write a blog post. (Doing it.)
  • Eat breakfast.
  • Go to the gym, either Zumba at 8:30 or Yoga at 9:45. But if you go to yoga, go early so you can get a good 45-60 minutes of fat-blasting cardio in before laying on a mat and doing what's good for you but not really all that slimming on its own.
  • Go change your name at the Social Security Office. It's about time, Holmes. (Eiland? See, that's the reason why, right there.)
  • Go to Party City and get balloons, streamers, party hats, noisy things, fake champagne glasses, and some other frilly stuff to throw up around the house so guests will think the "party" (it's really a low-key hangout) is really cutesy and at least, if not fun, Pinterest-worthy.
  • Zoom over to Jewel to get champagne, party treats, and ingredients to make one last mean batch of Buffalo Chicken Dip for the year. 
  • CRAP! Clean the freaking house.
  • Exchange stuff at Crate&Barrel from your wedding gifts that you'll never use (but were really appreciative for) so that you can get that awesome juicer and book about juicing and new flatware set that's currently sitting in your online Shopping Cart. 
  • Quick! Go outside and snap some photos of what the last day of 2013 "looks like" (whaa?) to savor the moment. 
  • Text a bunch of people you really like telling them why you were thankful for them this last year. 
  • Browse Facebook for great blogs and status updates about the end of the year and resist the urge to compare and contrast yourself. 
  • Call Mom...yes, DEFinitely remember to call your mother. 
  • Make a playlist of the best songs of 2013 and order each song so there's not too much chill up top and not enough "party!" 
  • And last but not least, pick out what you're going to wear but do it neatly so as not to mess up what's hopefully by then a clean room.

Exhausting! And I haven't even been up for an hour. Welcome to my mind, folks. Just taking another peek at the list above makes me wanna hurl and then lovingly remind myself of this simple truth, a truth that's probably going to be my one (not 17) resolution for 2014: Do Less. Be More. Because being the most authentic version of yourself is the best thing you could ever do, the best gift you could ever give to yourself, to others, to the world.

If I'm honest, I'm sick of making lists year after year of all of the stuff that I want to do in the next 365 days. All that does is take my mind off of all I had to be grateful for in the last 365 days, and sets me up to not like myself very much for taking on too many new shiny projects that really don't matter and then succeeding at maybe a few of them. Nothing's wrong with having goals, for sure. But when the goals spin me into a frenzy to a point where I've lost focus of who I'm created to be and - more than anything - the Creator Himself, keeping more focus on checking off to-do items on a list and losing myself in the process so I can somehow feel more worthy (because that's what I'm really doing), we've got a problem bigger than no caffeine in the coffee pot. We've got a self-absorbed, self-serving crazy lady who spends the first minutes of her morning making lists about what she should do to make the day go just perfectly, bulldozing over the people she's supposed to be loving in the process. (Sorry, Delwin.)

Maybe you're not like me in this regard. I hope you're not. Maybe your mind is completely centered, completely sure of who you are, and maybe you're already doing less and being more. Maybe today is just like any other day, and maybe you have complete peace. But for those of us who struggle with our peace falling to pieces from time to time as we strive to better ourselves, force-fitting a new-and-improved us into 365 days at the beginning of each year, try this:

  • Be thankful. Begin today - every day - with thankfulness. Be thankful for the little things like warm blankets and cups of coffee, sunrises, and fresh snow, be thankful for the big things like air in your lungs and a place to call home. For grace and for friends. Be thankful for all of it. Something about thankfulness reminds us just how good life is, how it's probably better than we think. Thankfulness keeps us from getting too self-absorbed as we recall the things we're thankful for, and then maybe, are mindful of those who don't have it so great. Thankfulness usually leads to stuff like peace, joy, love, patience, goodness, self-control...sound familiar?
  • Be surrendered. Remind yourself you're not perfect and that the day won't necessarily go perfectly. (Some of us need more reminding than others.) Some days are challenging and hard, others are beautiful and seemingly perfect, but they're all gifts, there's no denying that. Be ok with acknowledging the things you're not that great at. Quite frankly, there are some things that just aren't in your wheelhouse, and that's fine. (For me, that's texting people back immediately, being crafty, cooking, and being super strategic, whatever that means. I have some shining moments, but for the most part...) On the other hand, humbly remind yourself that there are just some things that you bring to the table that others cannot, that your unique contribution, your unique wiring is necessary. Be open and surrendered to the possibilities of your choosing to be your awesome and unique "you," not just for yourself, but for others. And know that the world won't end if you don't get it right all the time, because it was never your world to begin with. 

That's it. Be thankful, and be surrendered. Be more of you today, tomorrow, in 2014, 2015, 2016, and beyond. That's the best way I can think of to commemorate not just a year, but a day. I think you'll avoid too many mental tornadoes like I created this morning (I already feel more like myself as a result of writing this post), and see every day not as a thing to be conquered, but as a gift to be experienced. I also think you'll naturally end up accomplishing more as long as the accomplishment is not the main thing. Keep the accomplishment the main thing, and you'll be disappointed, at some point. Guaranteed.

If you're a Christ-follower, your thanksgiving and surrender are postured toward Christ because He not only taught us what perfect surrender looked like (see Philippians 2), He's also holy and good enough to be forever deserving of our thanks, powerful and loving enough to take on and transform all of who we are. Even the panicky and snappy parts. 

I'm going to go make a pot of coffee now. And guess what? I'm going to be super thankful for it. My guess is Delwin will be, too.