My original word was simplicity. In January of that year, I noted that the word meant that I would be focusing on always evaluating and reevaluating what I could do to get back to having the simple things in life be as big of a focus as possible by making sure that I was not so exhausted at the end of the day and on weekends that I missed out on spending valuable, quality time with family. This picture of my daughter at her easel resonated with me and captured a dimension of what I hoped to invite into my life with the word.
That same month I left work one day a half hour after my contract time was over, rather than staying a couple of hours after work like typical because I was hosting a Pampered Chef party at my house that evening. The thought came to mind that it would be so nice nice to come home at a decent hour on a regular basis in order to still have energy for cooking, cleaning, and quality family time before the bedtime routine. Nonetheless, I knew that I would not sacrifice the quality of my teaching in order to do so. Instead, I decided that being efficient with my time at work would be my road to simplicity in order to utilize my time better without sacrificing quality.
What's the natural next step for an educator who was feeling overwhelmed with career/family balance and dedicated to simplifying? Layer in a doctoral program at a university 60 miles away of course... While counter-intuitive, having that potential large time commitment on the horizon was one of the reasons that prompted me to choose simplicity to begin with though.
The few times I documented reflections on my word throughout the year, there was a trend in noting that even though the life I was living seemed to be the opposite of what I was trying to invite into my life with a focus on simplicity, the word was still a good reminder to slow down, refocus and consider my priorities. As I prepared to close out 2010, I knew that simplicity would resonate for years to come, especially as long as I had children at home.
7 years later I can confirm the hunch that simplicity would matter for years to come. I still think about efficiency in order to be a good steward of my time in resources, seeking to work at a high quality and maximize the time given; yet, there are still areas where I know I do not utilize time as well as I could. There are moments when it is challenging to focus because my mind darts from one task to another that I need to complete. There's also still a tendency to add more into my schedule even when it already feels full. It has been an on-going juggle of saying no in order to stay yes and reflecting on whether or not I am making the "right" choices through on-going prayer.
I see so much linked to my faith when I look at simplicity. I think about how Saints like St. Teresa of Calcutta inspire me to let go of material things and simplify in areas such as the amount and style of clothing that I own. My Confirmation patron Saint, St. Aloysius also inspires me to reject the worldly in favor for a recognition that seeking what is from above is better. A desire for simplicity is a good foundation for humility.