The time for resolutions to be made and words to be chosen is here. We’re filled with grand dreams of what we want this next year to mean for us. Some people scoff at these practices, realizing how often they are futile, being pushed to the side as soon as the realities of life come knocking. I’m not one of those people – I think it’s important to have aspirations and goals, even if not all are achieved. The setting of goals is as important as achieving them, I think.

This year, however, I’ve decided to approach things a little differently. I’ve been reading about the practice of developing a Rule of Life for a couple of years now. As of yet, I have been hesitant to put pen to paper. I was approaching the practice too rigidly, believing that there was a specific way that I should go about it, a certain way it should look. After reading through Sacred Rhythms, which featured a few real examples of rules that others have implemented, I finally felt the freedom to begin my own, knowing that it didn’t have to look “right”; it just needed to reflect myself.

I decided to go about this using the guideline presented in my Sacred Ordinary Days planner, looking at my life in seven key areas: spiritual, physical, mind, relational, work, resources, and home. Instead of listing rules, I wanted to think about words that inspire me and build a framework to live by them. I wanted to determine what is essential and leave the nonessential at the door, welcome to pick it up when I want and also welcome to lay it back down when it’s too much.

Tolkien, in The Lord of the Rings, stated, “It is no bad thing to celebrate a simple life.” Through his tale of the One Ring and the ordinary people who aided in its destruction, he highlighted the fact that we all have a path laid before our feet, one that we would not often choose, but are responsible for walking. Nonetheless, it is the humblest and simplest of qualities and characteristics and desires that seem to dictate their success on that road. In the balance of the celebration of the simple and the action we take towards the road laid before us, we find fulfillment. Further, Tolkien’s friend CS Lewis once said, “We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.” Living consciously aware of the presence of God, I feel, makes striking that balance possible. When walking in the awareness of God, we see more clearly all of the little things worth celebrating, while simultaneously being drawn towards the hard roads that God would have us walk for the sake of others and His kingdom.

To celebrate simplicity; to make active choices towards “uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till”; to remain aware of God’s presence in each and every moment – this is my guidepost.

1 | Nurture my spirit by spending consistent time in scripture, saturating my mind with the themes that weave its way through the Bible, attending church regularly, reading and memorizing prayers and scriptures, and exploring spiritual discipline.

2 | Nourish my body by eating whole foods, limiting processed foods, sugar, and alcohol, adding key vitamins and supplements, detoxing and restoring by taking salt baths and sleeping 8-9 hours each night, and walking and practicing yoga daily.

3 | Protect my mind by seeking quiet, reducing the use of screens and external input from social media and the internet, practicing meditation, and taking regular walks.

4 | Practice presence and build relationships by making the time I have with people count, listening well, and acting on what I learn about the people I’m with. Strengthen my marriage by spending more quality time with J, away from distractions.

5 | Create a peaceful home by developing schedules and routines for its maintenance, developing meal plans, instilling a sense of consistency, and discussing changes with J so that our home can be a comforting, reliable place for us to live and others to find warmth and hospitality.

6 |Invest in work that I love and that benefits others by spending more time researching and learning effective therapy techniques, developing writing and photography skills, and collaborating on quality projects. Use my time wisely by blocking out time for specific goals and activities.

7 | Steward my money well by planning purchases, reducing waste, creating an accountability system, and avoiding impulse purchases. Steward my time and energy well syncing my activities to both my cycle and my desires and avoiding multi-tasking and distracted participation.

In addition to my Rule of Life, which I will use to guide decisions and goals throughout the year, I do have a few specific things I would like to work towards throughout the year. Instead of launching into all of them head first, I’m focusing on smaller monthly “challenges” to work on changing my habits over time and (hopefully!) without as much pressure or overwhelm. In no particular order, I hope to:

  1. Greatly reduce the amount of added sugar that I eat
  2. Do some form of yoga daily
  3. Build a wardrobe of primarily sustainable, organic, fair trade clothing
  4. Greatly reduce the amount of processed foods/take out/restaurant meals that I eat
  5. Reduce alcohol intake
  6. Walk 5 times/weekly
  7. Meditate daily
  8. Take one true Sabbath a month
  9. Transition to as low waste as possible home and body routines
  10. Take control of spending, especially for thrifting and clothing
  11. Spend far less time on the phone or computer
  12. Learn to wake up earlier

For January, I am working towards numbers 1-3. I have completely eliminated sweets from my diet, excluding tiny dabs of honey in my tea and added sugars that might be in packaged foods (which I don’t eat too much of anyway and plan to reduce further with number 4). I’m making yet another attempt at Yoga with Adriene’s January 30 day challenge, vowing to not miss a day. And lastly, I’m committed to establishing the “capsule” part of my wardrobe through only sustainable, organic, fair trade brands – I realize this might not actually be completed in January, but I’m working to plan it and purchase what I can, in addition to weeding out my current closet. I’ll provide an update on these 3 challenges sometime in February, as well as share what I will be working towards in February.

What do you have in mind for the new year? Are you a resolution person? A word of the year person? A go with the flow person? Let me know!