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Embracing the New Year As a Single Mom

Being a single mom has been one of the most challenging and most rewarding jobs I have ever undertaken. It’s likely the same for you too. While it isn’t a job I wanted or chose, it is one I choose to embrace as we move into a new year.

The past years have been some of the most difficult for me personally. But, they have also brought me closer to God and to a greater understanding of His sovereignty in my life.  And this alone has been worth the price of admission. It’s not something you can fully describe .  .  . like explaining the concept of cells without a microscope. It has been a gift I treasure and one I will lean on as we move into very uncertain times this next year.

But, realistically, all of life is uncertain. Tomorrow is only a promise and yesterday a memory.  So how can we embrace an uncertain future as chief cook and bottle washer and everything in between?

There is something about new beginnings and beginning again that is magical and wonderful, that holds promise and hope, and that each of us ultimately desires. Who wouldn’t want to erase the problems and mistakes of the past and start over?

That’s exactly what every new 24 hour day holds for you. Most of the time we hold out that hope for a new future or a magic moment until December 31. At some point near midnight we anticipate the goals and dreams we’ll write the next day – January 1st – on a piece of paper.  And, unfortunately, most of those dreams will be felled by February 1st by the business of everyday living.

The truth is that you can enjoy the rejuvenation of new beginnings on any day during the year. You can start fresh on your birthday, your half birthday, or on February 1st. It’s your choice. You can choose to embrace YOUR new year on March 31 at noon. All your choice.

But, since January 1st is just around the corner, let’s make the assumption you’ll be starting a new year of new plans, goals and achievements on January 1st.

This day holds the promise of something new, something better. Your very spirit yearns for something more, to have your thirst quenched. When I was young there was nothing more satisfying than coming inside from playing in the heat to pour a large glass of ice cold milk and chug it. Today, I wouldn’t think about chugging milk – but that’s another story.

You have your own glass of ice cold milk that you find deeply satisfying and uniquely filling. What calls you about a new year and new beginnings is uniquely human and can’t remain in yesterday. It’s more than a feeling. It is grounded in hope and promise that each of us believe we have a right to claim as our own.

And today, you can claim your new beginning, hope and promise because you have the tools to make a difference in your life and the lives of your children and your family. The question isn’t do you HAVE the tools – but rather will you USE them. In other words, are you willing to take the action you need to take in order to enjoy the successes you have only dreamed about?

There are many platitudes that end up on memes, images and in emails or coming from the mouths of friends and relatives. But although they are commonplace and commonly shared, there is more than a grain of truth to many of them. For instance, “Failure is an opportunity.” It is – failure gives you the opportunity to do it better, faster, greater, and with more panache the next time.

“Discouragement is a path to joy.” Yes, because when discouraged there is no way out but up – unless you choose to stay discouraged.

Your new beginning doesn’t have to be marked by a physical event – such as moving to a new home, having a new baby, or entering into a new relationship. Instead, your new beginning may be marked by making a new decision or choosing a new goal. Here are a few strategies to keep in mind as you begin again:

Stay open: Keep your mind open to new ideas, new ways to do things and new people in your life. Make smart decisions but don’t close doors to something just because you always did. Have a good reason for saying “no.”

Notice the small things: Not all your accomplishments come with fanfare and excitement. Sometimes it’s a smile on your youngest face, a note from your oldest child or a short “atta girl” from your boss. You may not get the big raise, but it’s important to celebrate the small victories in order to build to the big ones.

Stop editing: In any brainstorming meeting no thought or idea is discounted. You never know when a great idea is sparked from a crazy one. It’s also important to stop editing your thoughts and feelings. If you’re uncomfortable doing something new, then own it. Revel in the discomfort. You will get past it and you will accomplish your goals despite your discomfort. Then, the next time discomfort rears its ugly head you will be ready and waiting to crush it. Don’t edit your thoughts – but once you realize they aren’t productive, kick them to the curb.

Work, Work, PAUSE: You can’t stop time, but you can stop the madness in your own life occasionally. Clear your calendar and your schedule for a couple hours of reflection and planning for the next phase in your action plan. Without pausing to recharge your brain and body you may be operating on fumes, unable to achieve the goals you set for yourself and disappointed once again.

 

You CAN achieve your goals and desires this year. You need to do the research to determine your journey. Make a plan to take the journey. Take the steps on the journey and remember there are many others who have achieved these goals before you. This means you CAN do it. You may just need to find someone who has done it before you and follow their path.

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