Hello friends. Well, it is 2024 now. When a new year begins, do you find yourself reflecting on the year before? I’ve found myself doing that lately. 2023 was full of blessings, and full of challenges. Every year is like that of course, but 2023 felt more intense. I feel like I learned and grew so much.
After many years of homesteading on the side, in whatever spare time we could find, Jeff and I were excited to devote more time to all of our homesteading pursuits in 2023. In addition to our woodworking business, we started putting more energy into offering organic plant starts for locals, which we had been doing for years, but on a smaller scale. It felt so good to be supporting and encouraging local gardeners, and spreading garden goodness everywhere we could.
Between the daily tasks of home, animal chores, homeschooling, running businesses, and extra homesteading endeavors, the days were full. We were growing more, harvesting more, and preserving more. With so much we wanted to do on the homestead, we worked long hours. Spring was full-on. Summer was full-on. Fall was full-on. Still there was so much to do, and I dug deeper to tap into those inner reserves for a bit longer. I tested the limits of my physical endurance. I told myself I could slow down once all the things were done…
By winter I was tired deep down into my bones. All the times I was so tired I could barely lift my arms or walk another step, but pushed through it anyway… finally caught up to me. I was humbled by the depth of my exhaustion.
I felt like I needed a total pause, that I needed a chance to catch my breath.
It’s funny how often I encourage those around me to slow down, and take care of themselves, but how I can be so stubborn about doing that for myself.
Jeff is the most hardworking person I have ever met, and over the years I’ve constantly told him to slow down. When I’ve see him doing too much, I’ve tried to do more, so he would do less. Then he would see me doing more, and get busy to take more of the load from me. We are so alike in that way sometimes, and so much better at telling the other one to slow down than to take our own advice.
The life we have chosen takes a lot of work. It’s rewarding, and we love it, and we wouldn’t trade it for any other life. Last year we had a lot of good intentions, and were doing so many good things, but we were overextending ourselves.
Right now I’m being reminded of the importance of regenerating. It’s wintertime, and just as the garden is regenerating for the seasons to come, we need to do that same thing. I felt inspired to share this, feeling some of you might appreciate the reminder too.
One of the things I learned deeply from the last year is that we can have a strong spirit, and the willpower to get things done, but that our bodies have limits. That seems obvious of course, that our bodies have limits, but it’s one thing to “know” that in our mind, and another to actually feel that truth in our body from experience. There is a limit to the energy output we can give. These bodies work hard for us every day, but they are not machines. They need time to regenerate. And so do our spirits.
I’ve realized, upon reflecting on last year, how much pressure I was putting on myself. I told a friend recently that it wasn’t usually the to-do list that caused me the most stress (there’s always plenty to do), but the pressure I put on myself. I was expecting myself to have endless energy, and accomplish a massive amount each day, and when I said “Yes” to too many requests that over committed me to things outside the house, the pressure increased.
Realizing that is making me more mindful of what I say “Yes” to in 2024, and what I say “No” to. Keeping the schedule more simple is essential, and I’m learning that I can let go of the tendency to over-give of myself and feel guilty over saying no to things.
The last year made me more mindful of where my energy goes. I found myself moving away from relationships where I gave and gave, and started gravitating towards the ones where there was a better balance of giving and receiving. And the relationships where my “Yes” was appreciated, and my “No” was respected. I paid more attention to the things that were energizing for me, and the things that were draining for me. Where I always gave so freely of myself before, I started to think of my time and energy as precious.
I’ve been thinking about 2024, and what I want to do this year- what I want to keep doing, and what I want to do differently. The words that keep coming to me are Stay Focused.
There are endless distractions everywhere, and what we give our attention to is where our energy goes. It’s an important time for me to be very clear about where I want my energy to go. I’m grateful to be learning this lesson. Every day is a gift, and I want to make the most of this life I’ve been given. I want to be of service to myself, my family, and the world, in the best way possible. That starts with filling my own cup first. I’m writing this for myself, and if the words resonate- I am writing this for you too.
What lessons did 2023 have for you?
What are you focusing on in 2024?