I really love the practice of picking a “one word” for each year. Some prefer choosing a word to making new year’s resolutions. I like to do both because I usually lose steam with my resolutions (around March) and having a “one word” helps me re-focus on my goals.
In 2015 when Daniel left his job in Florida and we were selling our house there to live at the farm in Texas for his livestock internship, my word of the year was “adventure.” That year was all about letting go of security and jumping off into the unknown. I still can’t believe we did all that. I’m so glad we did.
2016 was all about recovering from our year of adventure. Such a busy season! We still had one foot in our adventure at the farm, but needed to also plan for life after Daniel’s internship. We had to make big decisions about our next steps. Then came job hunting and house buying. In late August we moved into our new home and more than two years after deciding to leave our life in Florida, we finally got settled into our permanent (at least for now) home in Waco. It felt so good!
Now that we’ve had a little minute to come up for air, I want my word for 2017 to be “order.” I’m not a type A person. If you’re familiar with the Myers-Briggs personality types, I’m a strong P. I struggle with creating and maintaining order. I probably always will. But as a work-at-home homeschooling mom, more order is necessary. We’re out of our season of survival mode now, so it’s time for the year of order.
(Psst! I’m going to be sharing one more word that I want to define my year in a secret post this week just for my email newsletter subscribers, so be sure to sign up here so you don’t miss it. It’s free, of course.)
Here’s some practical ways I’m bringing order into my life in 2017:
- Prioritizing personal prayer time. I’ve been getting up each weekday between 5 and 6am before the kids get up. After making a cup of turmeric tea and letting our dog Olaf jump for joy and snuggle me, I sit down on the couch and have a few minutes of silent prayer. I try to listen first and then speak to Jesus about whatever is on my heart. Then I pray for my family and begin a Rosary (I can’t finish one that early in the morning without falling asleep again!). Only then do I grab my phone and open up my email to the daily Mass readings from Blessed Is She.
- One of my goals this year is to bring more prayer into our family life and homeschool day. I set an alarm for noon on my phone so that the kids and I can pray the Angelus. I’ve found this to really help re-center us! Often by noon bad moods and rotten attitudes have taken over (and the kids can get crabby, too!). See what I did there? Yeah, the bad attitude is usually mine. The Angelus helps bring me back to what’s important.
- A goal I haven’t undertaken yet but have wanted to ever since reading The Little Oratory is to pray the hours as part of our homeschool day. If you’ve found a resource you love, please share!
(Spiritual reading is also part of this goal and I’ve shared my 2017 reading list in this post if you’re interested!)
- Since I have a painful autoimmune condition (IC), focusing on my health is always a must. Having more order in my life helps me make the time I need to heal and stay well. Enough sleep, good food, gentle movement, and stress relief are all a must for me. I’m committing to walking 4x a week and doing yoga 6x a week. Last week I almost met my yoga goal but was WAY behind with my walking–but it was COLD, y’all. Texans aren’t used to sub 20 degree weather!
- I’m definitely prioritizing meal planning so that I’m getting truly nourishing and healing foods and not grabbing something I know triggers a flare for me just because it was easy and I didn’t plan ahead.
- As the kids get older, I find that we need more structure to our schedule. This is hard for me because I like to wing it! But if I don’t plan ahead, things seem to fall apart quickly. And now that my two oldest do schoolwork almost every day, I have to really schedule life so that we have time to go to the grocery store, the library, ballet, Jiu-Jitsu, and still have time for the zoo or the museum now and again. (I shared about how I’m keeping my calendar organized in this post.)
- Every year I’m blessed with more opportunities as a writer and speaker. More speaking events, collaborations, podcasting, book projects, and I’m so grateful. But I’m feeling the pull to focus on time management and sticking to certain working hours so that work isn’t trickling into family time and homeschool time. I’m not sure exactly what this will look like but I’m pretty sure that having childcare at least one morning a week is going to be necessary so I don’t spend all weekend catching up on work when we should be having quality family time.
- From moving twice in the past two years (and getting rid of half our stuff before leaving Florida) we’ve done pretty well at keeping the clutter to a minimum. But it’s always crazy just how much JUNK five people accumulate. I’ll be joining in with Ann Marie over at White House Black Shutters with the 40 Bags in 40 Days challenge during Lent.
- But even more than getting rid of stuff what I want to focus on is organizing stuff. We’re starting to find our groove with this new house. I’m starting to figure out the best place to keep things and room by room we’re getting organized. But paperwork, the attic, art supplies….there’s so much more that needs some order.
- A cleaning routine that works. I’m also trying to develop a cleaning routine. I wrote it down on the same chalkboard I keep my weekly meal plan. For the first time I’m feeling like dishes and laundry are just about under control. But consistently cleaning floors and bathroom, decluttering surfaces, dusting, making beds? All of that is still a work in progress. But I’m committed to making it happen because I discovered when our house in Florida was on the market (and clean and tidy for once!) that an uncluttered space is key in keeping me feeling sane as a homeschooling mom. My stress level sky rockets when everything is at sixes and sevens. I really need tidy or else I get crabby and irritable.
What’re your goals for 2017?
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to Amazon.com.
Ryian Hilpisch says
My free trial just ended recently, and I decided to keep the membership too! It is so great! I’ve never looked forward to getting household essentials before!
Haha! Same! Even Benjamin (age 7) gets pumped about it. “OooooooO! It’s a box from Grove! What did we get?!”
Oh, the Grove kits always look so nice! I can’t wait until they ship to Canada.
Anyway, I’m so delighted that your word of the year is order! Mine is structure, and I have a lot of the same goals as you. I’m counting on you to keep me motivated! 😀
I’ll need you to keep me motivated, too! <3
Can I ask what type of yoga you do? I personally love yoga (calms and relaxes me. love the stretching benefit. i could go on…) but I’ve read a ton on it and I’m torn. For some reason I also feel guilty “practicing” it as a Catholic. I know that I am grounded enough in my faith to not be swept away in new age religion, but it’s hard for me to get over the feeling that I’m doing something wrong. I’ve talked to many people (including holy priests) all with varying opinions. Do you have any advice or sources? Doing yoga at home vs. in a class with a teacher? You always seem to have such a wonderfully balanced perspective. I’d love your thoughts. Thank you!
Hi Haley, I wanted to ask the same. I personally dont do yoga, and honestly have only heard that it is incompatible with catholicism.
Good questions, Shirley. It seems a lot of people are confused about the compatibility of yoga with their faith.
The Vatican put out a document on the New Age in 2003. It lists yoga as a tradition that flows into this movement. (sec 2.1) See http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/interelg/documents/rc_pc_interelg_doc_20030203_new-age_en.html
The Women of Grace blog (Women of Grace founder Johnnette Benkovic has a program on EWTN) has a whole section on yoga and why it is incompatible with Catholicism. It’s well worth reading.
The Archbishop of Hobart (Australia), Julian Porteous, has written an excellent article on yoga, reiki and and tai chi. See http://www.therecord.com.au/blog/reiki-yoga-good-for-the-soul/
The bottom line is, there are a plethora of exercise options out there that are not problematic or potentially problematic. Free weights, aerobics, swimming, walking, cycling, to name a few! And for ‘centering’? Nothing better than prayer and meditation on Christ! Take a leaf out of the book of the late great Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, and take a brisk walk while praying your Rosary 🙂
Helen here is a quote from Archbishop Julian Porteous’s link you shared: “These practices can be used simply as physical exercises that are helpful. If a person is wary of getting caught up in the spiritual philosophies, then they can be used with no detrimental effect at the moral or spiritual level. Indeed, it may be possible for the development of similar techniques grounded in a healthy Christian spirituality.”
While I think it’s important to stay away from new age or eastern spirituality in making yoga more than a physical practice, as Catholics we don’t have to live in fear! Our faith does not ask us not to stretch our muscles! Please see my above reply to Shirley and read the article posted there.
The Vatican article you shared is in response to yoga as a spiritual practice. I have read many of the articles over at WoG. Their writer “SBrinkmann” who writes on the topic of yoga (and anything else beyond conventional Western medicine) is very hard for me to stomach. His or her logic is bizarre and her sources are faulty. SBrinkmann even believes that Harry Potter is evil and claims that the spells are “real spells” which is just ABSURD. They’re latin phrases, completely made up for this fictional world. It’s very hard for me to take any of SBrinkmann’s claims seriously at all. Thank goodness our faith is not opposed to logic and reason!
Hello Hayley, and thanks for your response!
As Catholics we have to be very, very careful about putting ourselves in a near occasion or an occasion of sin and thus endangering our faith. As Archbishop Porteous (who is also an exorcist) said in the afore discussed article,
“While they [yoga, reiki, tai chi] may offer practices that can be helpful at a superficial level they are a Trojan horse for dangerous spiritual infiltration. Engaging in them opens the person, in their desire to know more of the technique, to the possible exposure to demonic powers.”
Is yoga the same as regular stretching? If so, why not just do stretching?!
All the pro-yoga material I have come across insist that yoga is not the same as stretching! Rather, it is an ancient practice that requires practitioners to put their body into certain poses. Yoga means ‘union with god’, and since Hindus are pantheists that means finding gods and honouring gods in everything. Yogis call it the ‘art of healing’, of ‘finding your inner strength and getting to know yourself better’ to ‘improve your mental health’. They claim that any physical benefits are by-products. Many, too, insist that yoga and Hinduism are inextricably linked.
Fr Ripperger, arguably the best-known exorcist in the world at the moment, warns against yoga, period. He has dealt with cases of possession that came about merely through doing yoga. He also states that the poses are representations of pagan deities. In fact, affirmation of this can be found at both the Yoga Journal and the Gaiam website:
You brought up Harry Potter. If you have not read Michael O’Brien’s book on the Potter phenomenon, Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture, I highly recommend it! It is telling that most exorcists say to steer well clear of Harry Potter. The late Fr Gabriel Amorth (may he rest in peace), Chief Exorcist of Rome, was a vocal critic, as is Fr Chad Ripperger. As for saying that it is absurd to say that the incantations in the Potter book are real…please listen to what Fr Ripperger has to say about that in the YouTube link below.
It is interesting that among the most vocal critics of both yoga and Harry Potter are exorcists. If anyone knows anything about the effect of the occult on people, it’s those priests who actually have to deal with the effects of it. They know the subtleties of the devil. It’s one thing for us as Catholic parents to say that a book appears to be a well written and compelling, but what do most of us know about the occult and how it influences people (especially children)? I know little of the occult myself and I really don’t want to go there. However, there are holy priests who have had to come into contact with it in order to save souls from possession. In short: they know their stuff. This is why it is essential that we take what exorcists say seriously.
The devil doesn’t show himself in all his evil because he wouldn’t suck many people in that way: the seduction must be subtle. He’s far smarter than we humans are and he knows he can snare more souls by sugar coating evil rather than presenting it as it really is.
Also, check out what former Yoga and New Age enthusiast Fr Bill Kneemiller has to say about yoga on EWTN’s The Journey Home. He minces no words!
Hi Shirley! I’ve done a class for pre-natal yoga in the past, but otherwise I use Leslie Fightmaster’s yoga classes on YouTube and do my workout in my living room. While I think it’s perfectly possible to use yoga movement and poses to stretch and strengthen one’s muscles, it’s clear that using it as spiritual practice is incompatible with Christianity. So the question is CAN it be used apart from Eastern spirituality and I would argue absolutely. However, if you think you will drawn into new age or eastern religion due to practicing yoga, then it would be best to stay away (and a priest or spiritual director would be the best person to consult on such matters). Here’s a good article that sums up my attitude toward yoga: https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/the-trouble-with-yoga
To argue that THE POSES THEMSELVES without spiritual intention bring spiritual dangers strikes me as highly absurd and yet this is a frequently posited position. If you have ever sat with your legs criss-crossed, touched your toes, done a push up, etc, then you’ve “done yoga” if by that you mean practiced yoga poses and strengthening exercises. Many of the stretches and poses I do during yoga are the same ones I did when I was a ballerina! Was I practicing eastern spirituality or in spiritual danger by doing them even though there was absolutely no connection to spirituality? Nope. But that’s the conclusion of such logic that despite your intention you can be undertaking a spiritual practice without your assent.
It’s simply a fact that deep breathing exercises bring stress down and that stretching and strengthening your core is good for your body. If practiced with spirituality that’s incompatible with Christianity, obviously a no-no. If practiced for movement and exercise, it’s spiritually neutral.
Haley, thank you for this reply! I appreciate you taking the time. You’re right- I should ask my spiritual director. And I loved your point in another post about our faith not being opposed to logic and reason. I totally agree.
I’ve been reading your blog for a few years but this is my first time commenting… so I’m a little nervous! 😉
I need to tell you, you really are the bomb! I really appreciate your arguments in favor of yoga as an exercise being compatible with being a Catholic. I love yoga; especially being pregnant, I have found prenatal yoga to be so healthy for not only me but my baby!
I have had debates with my aunt who believes that I am going to become possessed if I do yoga. I agree about the logic from the sources she pulls from, it’s not compatible with our God-given reason.
The most helpful arguments I have found about yoga being not only ok to do but a good thing because of its health benefits if used as an exercise are:
*If we are going to say yoga is not ok as Catholics as an exercise because of its origins in Hinduism, then we should also never participate in track and field because that originated as part of a ceremony to worship the pagan gods.
*Also, we should never drink coffee because we stole that from the Muslims.
I’m glad you commented, KK! <3
I find that doing a yoga dvd but turning off the sound and playing some type of gregorian chant or an audio rosary is a really great way to have the benefits of the exercise, but keeping true to our Catholicsm. It’s very relaxing too.
Let us know when you come up with a good cleaning schedule! I’ve done fly-lady before but would like to have a weekly schedule that’s generally standard. I’m pretty random with my approach- depending which area the kids have most recently trashed.
I thought yoga was a no-no for Catholics? With it being religious postures? (The way it was put to me was: it’s as if a Hindu told you they do the sign of the cross to exercise their elbows)
But exercising your elbows is not a real thing – whereas exercising your core, back, legs, and arms IS. I think as with everything, intention matters so much here. If you are not actually worshiping the sun as a deity, I can’t see what’s wrong with raising your arms above your head, bending forward, etc. etc. And the mindfulness component is a practice that can help your Catholic prayer life!
I use the Laudate App on my phone to do the hours! It is super convenient. If your interested!
I’ll try it out!
I’m so excited you’re doing a 40 bags in 40 days! I did it last year and got rid of so much stuff, getting ready to do it again this year since we’ll be moving soon. The 40 Bags facebook group is so supportive too it’s a great resource!
Yes! Can’t wait! We finally have storage space (an attic! Yay!) but I want to get everything sorted, declutters and organized.
For help keeping track of cleaning and organizing tasks, you might take a look at the 2017 planner from Motivated Moms. I’ve been using it for a few years, and even though I never get all the jobs done each week, it really helps me stay on track. I usually print the whole thing off and have it bound, but you can just print a week at a time, too.
Thanks for the tip! I’ll look it up 🙂
I don’t have anything profound to say, but I can’t get over how long your hair is now! Looks great! 🙂
Thank you, Maryalene! It’s growing fast. I started shampooing it with some essential oils in the shampoo and I think it’s spurring on the growth 🙂
Greta Bergmann says
I felt like I could have written so much of this! I am not an orderly person at all and it’s one of my biggest battles every day. Cleaning, work, health, daily schedule; they all need work in my life.
I’ve always been a wing it kind of personality but now that I’m responsible for so much (adulting is hard) I have to bring order to my life! I’d love to hear how this keeps up for you this year.
I’ll do an update in a couple of months!
I would HIGHLY suggest the app “Home Routine” to help with daily household cleaning. It has really helped me. It splits your house into “zones” that you can edit, and suggests things to do to clean those zones. Spend 15 minutes per day on a zone (it even has a timer and a fun trumpet fanfare after the timer goes off!) and it is not overwhelming. It also has morning chores and evening chores (which take me about 20 minutes each) which you can edit. Your husband can download the app too and if you sign up under the same name, he can just sign in and see what you’ve already checked off. So there’s no confusion as to what chores still need to get done that day.
Just bought the app! Thanks, Ashley!
I love that you have a “word” for the year! Our family fell upon “Whatever God wants” in 2016, and we’ve continued the trend this year with “Joy in Christ alone”. Praying that you are able to find (and create) order in your life this year!
Those are great phrases to focus on, Karen! <3
I am loving your long hair! I am also growing mine out, and as a fellow petite person, I don’t know how long is too long for my body frame… I have worn it shortish for my adult life until now. Also, any styling tips? I have naturally wavy hair, but weird-wavy, not cute wavy, and I hate to straighten it every day.
And I love that you are talking about yoga! Good discussion on how to do the exercises as a Catholic.
My hair got wavy after Benjamin was born (It used to be stick straight!). If I wear it wavy, I’ll blow-dry it upside down so that the hair close to the scalp has some body and doesn’t stick flat to my head to make my hair look like a big triangle, and then I scrunch the ends (sometimes with product) and let it air dry. Sometimes I straighten it and then keep it like that for 4 days with the help of dry shampoo because who has time to straighten everyday!! And then I wear it in a messy bun a lot. Hope that helps! Wavy is tricky! I also use argan oil to keep it from getting frizzy.
Instead of yoga, ckeck out SoulCore. A great Catholic alternative. http://Www.soulcore.com.