So Long, 2023

On this last day of 2023, it's time to see how the resolutions I made at the beginning of it fared. Did I relax?

So Long, 2023
Photo by Sincerely Media / Unsplash

At the beginning of 2023, I was focused on the word relax, which is way more fun to say in Spanish: relajarse. More than anything, I wanted to stop sweating the small stuff and do things daily that help keep me more calm. Here are the action items I listed off that would help me reach my goal:

  1. Keep exercise and healthy eating a priority. *I did well with this. I feel better when I treat my body well. It's that simple. It's not that I never fall off the healthy wagon, I just get right back on it whenever I do.
  2. Stick to a consistent sleep schedule as much as possible. (This is a biggie. If I can sleep in, I almost always hit snooze, but I pay for it when I do.) *I was better about this than the year before, but during the summer and over the holidays, I stayed up too late and hit snooze too often.
  3. Challenge my brain in some way. (I'm learning how to play the guitar, and I strive to be more consistent with Duolingo.) *I was super good about practicing the guitar five days per week until summer hit. I do Wordle and Connections, though. That should count. And I played the piano a little more (I grew up playing it and it's been fun to revisit).
  4. Hold connecting with family and friends as a top priority. (Isn't it amazing how a conversation with someone you love can turn your day around in no time?) *While I feel like I never have as much family and friend time as I'd like, this was certainly a priority for me.
  5. Read daily devotions. (I really like the YouVersion app. I get their daily devotionals on my Apple Watch and phone, and it's amazing how many times the messages change my perspective.) *Daily devotions continue to center me.
  6. Help others and avoid judging. (It really is impossible to know exactly what others are going through. A little compassion can go a long way.) *I hope to do more volunteering this year, with the girls. I want to give of our time more, instead of just our money.
  7. Admit that I need help when I do. (As a control freak, this is a biggie.) *My dear, dear daddy died this year. I was definitely brought to my knees. I sought therapy and don't know what I would do without my wonderful family and friends as well as my faith.
  8. Remind myself that self care is not selfish. (You really do have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others.) *I made getting fresh air a priority. I worked out almost 9,000 minutes via the Peloton app. I made sure to prioritize sleep.
  9. Be in the moment, aka lower my screen time. (Try to spend each day like it could be my last.) *My screen time is definitely down, but I know I need to continue working on it. I've listened to more podcasts, and I've just been really busy.
  10. On the hardest days, remind myself of making it through really tough times in the past. I often think of that awesome Winston Churchill quote: "If you're going through hell, keep going." *I continue to think of that quote and one of my dad's: "We're all stronger than we realize." And, finally, a favorite of Peloton instructors: "You've made it through 100% of all your hardest days."

Last evening, at dinner, I asked Matt and the girls if they thought I was more relaxed this year, as a whole, even considering all the heartache, and they actually said I was. I think the most important thing through it all was my faith coupled with their love and support, and the love and support of all our friends and family. The girls have amazing crews; they and their parents helped a ton with rides and bringing the girls fun. And everyone should be as lucky as I am to have a friend to call at any time, who will stop whatever they're doing to give them a hug, when the world is crashing around them. Blair, I could never thank you enough.

It was also the forever inspiring faith of my dad, my hero, who even when struggling to breathe in his final days, reflected on his wonderful life. He always saw the bright side of things. He didn't ignore the bad, but he focused on the good. He was such a wonderful person in so many ways, so kind, so gentle, so generous, so smart, so compassionate, so calming. His goodness lives on in the world, even as he resides in Heaven. I aim to be more like him.

And I can't help but be inspired by the resilience of my wonderful, absolutely incredible mom, who lost her person. My parents were inseparable. Through all of my mom's heartache, she puts one foot in front of the other and does whatever is necessary to take care of everyone, always leading with love. She is way stronger than she realizes. I admire her more than she will ever know.

And I am so grateful for my mom's sister, my Aunt Cathy, an angel on Earth.

I think as we move into 2024, I want to continue focusing on relaxation, but also work to simplify. I love to be productive, but over-scheduling can be a killer. It can be tough with sports schedules, birthday parties, sleepovers and school assignments, but I want our dedicated family time that we have to be special.

And clutter is chaos and anxiety for me. I want to organize our house and give away what we no longer want or need. I want to do whatever I can to make the time I spend with those I love quality time that isn't full of distractions. And I want to fully realize the immense beauty of life's simple pleasures.

I pray that whatever 2023 was for you, 2024 is way better. I wish you all health and happiness, peace, fulfillment and fun.

Cheers to a new year!

Natalie Kaar