Welcome back! It was nice these past couple of weeks – the pace of life was noticeably slower with kids out of school and everyone operating at about half capacity. Many friends I’ve chatted with in the past few days are reporting that they devoted the 10 days after Christmas to some combination of playing outdoors and binging on Netflix. If that’s not balance, I don’t know what is!

It’s tricky when the New Year begins midweek to throw yourself headfirst into resolutions. I’m a pre-dawn regular at the YMCA, and usually the Y is swimming with New Year’s resolution types this time of year. So far, though, it’s been mostly the regular crowd – maybe it didn’t feel right to start a new exercise regimen on a Thursday.

But now we’re squarely in the middle of the first real week of 2020. The kids are back in school, we are back to working regular hours, activities schedules have resumed, and it’s time to get on with it.

According to their Facebook posts, lots of friends and family members have spent time deliberating on a “focus word of the year” – a word that they will reflect on and use to guide their decision making in 2020. There are numerous online quizzes that you can take to generate the word you should focus on this year.

I’ve spent some time thinking about a word of the year, too. Is there a singular word or intention that I could focus on in 2020 that would make me a better mom and more effective leader at work? Is there a change that I could deploy in my life that would maybe make my community just the tiniest bit better? One online quiz suggested the word “bloom,” and during this winter season, the idea of blooming is entirely appealing. Another quiz suggested “intentional,” which during this figurative season of my life holds a certain sway. With three kids, a spouse, a house, a job and various volunteer commitments (don’t forget self-care!), many times I am running around doing far too many things at once. If I were more intentional, I would admit that some of these activities deserve my undivided attention and some I should forgo altogether.  

While I like both of those words, I’ve chosen “deliberate.” The verb form means, “to use one’s powers of conception, judgment or inference,” and the adjective form means, “done or brought about of one’s own will; implies freedom of choice or action without external compulsion.”

My plan for 2020 is to become better at intuiting the consequences of my choices – how choosing to respond to my kids with anger, for example, leads them to respond with sadness and defensiveness. And, I want to model for my kids that everything we say or do is our choice, but it always comes with consequences. Some consequences are good – you study hard and then perform well on a test; other consequences are not as pleasant. Nevertheless, I want them to know that we must be deliberate in our choices because we are always responsible for our words and actions, and sometimes they come with unintended consequences.   

My hope is that by acting deliberately I will strike a balance between the routine and the extraordinary and that compassion will be my compass.

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