craft verb \'kraft\ to create with care, skill and intention

Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's resolutions

Sitting here on New Year's Eve, I can't help but think about goals for the upcoming year. I have so many! In an attempt to stay moderately grounded in reality, I will skip over resolutions that are really unlikely to come to fruition and focus on goals that I can actually accomplish. And if I do happen to actually lose 40 pounds, well that will just be a bonus, okay?

In 2011, I will:

  • be more intentional about giving. I will involve my family and find creative ways to make giving real and important to my kids.
  • be more accepting of people. I will look for and attempt to highlight the strengths of people and relationships that are challenging for me and accept people just how they are. Including myself.
  • focus more on how to fulfill my kids' emotional needs and focus less on how my kids could fulfill my emotional needs.
  • work throughout the year on handmade gifts instead of scrambling at the last minute!
  • stock my etsy store. I opened a store a couple of years ago, just before a big life-changing event, and never put a single item in it.

I've never really figured in any accountability when it comes to New Year's resolutions. But I've never had a list that felt so important to me, either. I will check back in with my list from time to time to see how I'm coming along. Monthly, I think.

What's on your to-do list for the upcoming year?


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A little inspiration from Maria Shriver

I have spent an insane amount of time this evening trying to track down an online transcript of an episode of Oprah from years ago when she had Maria Shriver as a guest. I was unsuccessful in my quest, but I was able to get a little more information about the interview. It was from April 8, 2005 and I had forgotten that Maria Shriver's mother Eunice appeared with her as well. Without a transcript or any kind of link to give you, I will just have to do my best to relay this story that has stuck with me for so many years.

During the interview, Oprah asked Maria Shriver how her parents had managed to raise children who are so dedicated to giving back when they came from a family that had so much. Shriver told the story that once a week her mother would come to the dinner table with a piggy bank and a box of cereal. She would explain to the family how much they typically spent on dinner, and how much they were saving by eating cereal. Then she put that amount in the piggy bank and every so often the money from the piggy bank went to a special charitable cause.

I remember being blown away by this at the time and it still blows me away today. Their family had enough money to give and give and give without ever sacrificing anything (Eunice was a Kennedy). And it should be noted that the Shrivers did give and give and give. But I think the Shrivers gave their children a great gift by illustrating the importance of sacrificing something and making a choice to give intentionally. Maria Shriver still has the ability to give financially without sacrificing anything, but she does more than just write checks. She gives very generously of her time and her talents. What an amazing legacy!

I don't know if my kids would really consider it a sacrifice to eat cereal for dinner (we've had cereal for dinner before without any sort of philanthropic motivation and you would have thought Christmas came early at my house), but it still illustrates the point about making choices and being intentional about giving. And maybe it would even show them that the choice doesn't always have to be hard. In the interest of keeping it real, as I have pledged to do here, I'm not really sure that feeding my crew cereal for dinner would end up costing less than a regular dinner. I have five kids and they REALLY like cereal. But if it means that I get to "cook" cereal one night a week and teach my kids an important lesson about giving, can I be forgiven for a little white lie?

This concept has made me think of a couple of other switcheroos we can pull as a family to put money in a giving bank.
  • We order pizza pretty regularly on Friday nights. What if sometimes we got frozen pizzas or grocery store take & bakes instead? Or what if sometimes we had cereal night on pizza night? Cereal would definitely be cheaper than pizza delivery and that could put some green in the bank.
  • Sometimes we order movies On Demand. What if sometimes we switched family movie night into a family game night? We still get family time together, but we would save a little to put in our piggy.

Just a couple of silly ideas. Even small things make a difference when they add up over time. Do you have any switcheroos you could pull at your house?


My hope for this space

A friend recently brought to the forefront of my mind the concept of "sacrificial giving." That is, giving until it hurts a little, or at least until you can feel it. It's great to donate our pocket change or our old household items to charitable organizations and I'm not suggesting that we should stop doing that. But I am suggesting that we shouldn't stop there. Let's face it, that sort of incidental giving really doesn't cost us anything. Those old clothes would end up in the garbage if there weren't groups willing to take them off our hands.

And even when I do give in larger amounts, say twenty bucks here and there, it's generally because I know we won't miss that amount at that time. And because I've always put a value on giving quietly, I don't usually say anything about it - even to my family. But since my friend planted this "sacrificial giving" seed in my heart, I realize that giving is an activity we should do as a family. God has been keeping me up at night with this, y'all. My biggest goal in the coming year is to be more intentional about giving and to involve my children in the process.

I am creating this space as a place for me to work all of this out. Because I enjoy crafting, and because I think that hands-on projects can be more meaningful to kids than simply writing a check, I am hoping to focus on a lot of crafty projects. Sometimes I may include crafty projects that don't involve charitable giving just because I think that making things by hand can make my family and my world a better place.

Here are some guidelines I will try to follow:
  • Since I would like to create a kinder and gentler world, I will begin by being kinder and gentler to myself. It is important to me to be a good person, but I'm never as good as I might hope to be. This is not a space to beat myself up over shortcomings, but is a place to celebrate effort and steps in the right direction.
  • I will endeavor to focus on small steps and moderation. I will not try to steer my family toward a lifestyle of austere piety. My husband assures me that the reality of that lifestyle is not nearly as romantic as the image I have in my mind. Plus, this seems like the quickest way to guarantee failure (or mutiny, in my family).
  • I will keep it real. I love me some Martha Stewart, but I am not her. I'm not Mother Teresa, either. I'm just me. I'm trying to be a better me, but I am just me nonetheless. This is a place for working things out.
  • I will not control-freak the fun out of it. 'Nuff said.

I guess that's about all for now. I would love to have some company on this little journey, so feel free to hop on board!