Dang it, I wanted to write about this a long time ago because it came to me so easy this year, but I guess I was too busy doing it to actually write about it before now, and I guess that’s what it’s all about, right?  So here we go.

It was easy-peasy to think of what I wanted my new “word” to be for this year.

I was in the midst of returning with my family from our grand China adventure that made half my hair turn gray and caused more worry and angst than I could have imagined, but that I was so grateful for it made me want to cry every time I thought about it.  I still can’t believe we did that and what a precious gift that time was and always will be for our family.  
But in the wake of all that swirl of motion (and E-motion), followed so closely after lots of crazy remodeling decisions and a big move and trying to find balance in so many aspects of life, I decided my “word” for 2015 would be “ENJOY.”

It’s kind of a contrast to my usual annual “one-words”…”focus” and “choose” and “see“…more power action words.

But to “enjoy” certainly IS an action word.  I know firsthand because I was doing it whole-heartedly when we arrived home from China.  I swear I enjoyed every single second.  I enjoyed our home and where we live in the desert in such a more heightened way than could be possible without leaving it for a while. I enjoyed watching my kids enjoy and soak it all in at my side.  I enjoyed having Dave more to myself and realizing that the worries that peppered my heart and mind every day in China were transforming into something more comfortable and less foreign.

And I really enjoyed not knowing where my computer was for a couple weeks.

During those couple weeks of adjustment I realized, I really like the “enjoy” part.

And I realized that I don’t do it enough.

Sure, I enjoy moments a lot.  Sometimes it’s almost like a punch to my heart when I glance out the window and witness an incredible sunset, notice the spring buds popping out, receive a spontaneous hug or witness children who have been at each other’s throats fighting saying some really nice thing to each other.  But sometimes that punch of enjoyment doesn’t last all that long and I find myself stressing about things way too much.  I worry too much.  Sure, that gets you places and helps you realize your dreams and all that jazz, but there’s got to be a balance.

I believe whole-heartedly that God wants us to have JOY.  And sometimes it’s tough to find that joy if you don’t slow down enough to ENjoy life and the beauty that encompasses it.

And in order to really enjoy, there are a few things I have decided to do (and I’m sure a bunch more will come as the year progresses).
One of them is to put down my phone.

I’ve realized I’m too connected outside my family and not enough connected inside my family.  And most of the time my phone is the culprit.

Another is to guard our family time with a passion.  I will always treasure the serious undiluted family time we had together in China and I have been extremely careful about what I have allowed us to get sucked into since we arrived home.  It is and always will be a balancing act, but it feels so good to be super deliberate about it.

Last but not least (at least for now) to help on the “enjoy” quest is to slow down on blogging.

I adore this blog and am SO grateful for what a gift it has been to me and my family.  I’m not exactly sure how it so happened that this little spot on the Internet has grown to be what it is today and man alive have I ever learned so much from it, from readers and from the way it’s helped me be more deliberate in my parenting.

For years I have written something almost every week day.  Not only have I “met” myriads of amazing people all over the world through this thing, but I think this blog was the avenue that led me to write a book with my mother (here), become a presenter for Time Out for Women for a couple years (here & here…and prob lots of other “heres” I can’t find right now), be named with this little title back here, and all the wonderful relationships and steep learning curves that come with that.

But somehow over the last couple years part of the joy and spontaneity of writing here has become lost in the shuffle.  I have found myself becoming a little unbalanced.  I’ll stay up late to finish a post when Dave is waiting to discuss a little sliver of life with me.  Or I’ll be worrying about how something I said may somehow come across wrong in the midst of playing a matching game with Lucy.  And I don’t want to do that any more.

It’s a tough juxtaposition to balance how much to record life and how much to really LIVE it.

So although I will always write here because it’s such a great way to keep track of life and express things I’m thinking, I am deliberately stepping back just a tad to enjoy life a little more.  I don’t know where the “stepping back” will take me but I know it’s what’s right for now.  That means some posts may not be quite as thought-through as they could be and I may unintentionally rub someone the wrong way (which happens no matter what), but I’m just going to enjoy the process…whatever time I can find to spend here.

My kids are growing up much to my chagrin, gosh darn it!  Max and Elle just barely looked like this:

And now suddenly, they have turned into this:
How in Heaven’s name did that happen??

They are going to start leaving the nest one right after the other.  Elle right after Max and then before I know it Grace and Claire and Lu and I can hardly talk about it if I don’t want the “ugly cry” to come out with a vengeance.  I love so much who they’re becoming and I want to enjoy the whole process.

There was this one successful mother (I can’t remember where this came from, but I think of it often), who said something along the lines that she felt certain that she was “there” in the “raising kids” years as much as her children needed her.  But in hindsight, looking back, she wasn’t there as much as she needed them.

I think I need them more than they need me.  The same goes for my husband.  Sometimes, after a busy week I’ll look at him and think, “oh man, I get to be married to that guy and I hardly even enjoyed it this week!”

Ok, not really, because that’s a little on the cheesy side, but when I slow down to really climb into his mind, ask real questions about work and life and close out all the other distractions, I sure enjoy life more.

Growing up my Dad would often try to go “the speed of going slow.”  He would try to slow everything down around him and I thought it was goofy as all get-out.

But now I get it.  Life is often times too fast-paced!  I’m done trying to wear a badge of honor about how “busy” life is and running around all harried and out of control.  I think we live in a world where “thinking” and pondering are going out of style.  We run from one thing to the other, cell phones extending like an extra extremity from our hands, texting, busying ourselves when what is most precious…real life relationships and discussions, get pushed into the corner.  I am working to consciously slow it all down.

One of my favorite quotes (brought to my attention by my wise friend Sarah) says, “Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around to catch you.” — John De Paola.  I love it.  It is truer than true.

Because THAT’S where the enjoyment comes in.

And I’m starting on my quest to slow down my never ending heart-racing to do just that: ENJOY.

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  1. That all makes perfect sense to me though I hope you'll make it back here more often than not. I hope you ENJOY all the richness of life around you as you step back. I have started leaving my phone in my bedroom in the evening when I get home so I can be present with my husband and dog during that time. I've really loved the change and felt more comfortable explaining to people that "no, really – I didn't have my phone on me when you texted". 🙂

  2. I think you'll see that as mothers we all understand where you are coming from and goodness knows we ALL need to slow down and ENJOY. Thank you for sharing your heart and home with us and I look forward to future posts even if they are few and far between. God's blessings to you and yours.

  3. I too hope you will continue to blog because your voice is needed! Three popular bloggers that I read are no longer active in the church. We need to hear about the lives of active Mormon women who can inspire, and enjoy life AND live the gospel! Don't disappear! 🙂

  4. Good for you Shawni! I've been meaning to comment on your last several posts. You have such concrete advice and a wonderful perspective on life that I enjoy reading so much. I hope you don't let negative comments online get you down – I've written to you before and think that just comes with the territory of having a wider audience than you did in your earlier days. It seems you can't please everyone – that's just part of life unfortunately. But please know that there are so many people who have literally nothing in common with you who enjoy your perspective and thoughts and advice. (I'm a 30-something newly married childless professional in NYC for the record. And not Mormon). Jumping subjects, I can totally see where you need to slow down and enjoy life. I find so often that I'm checking my phone or reading stuff online instead of being fully engaged with the people around me. Not good! Thanks for the reminder to be present.

  5. What a wonderful resolution for you and your family, and I totally get where you're coming from.

    Having said that, I'm going to miss your regular posts. A lot. They have meant so much to me over the years, it's been a bright spot on the Internet where I can come to find people living joyfully and lots of great food for thought.

    I'm so grateful for the wealth of archives with wonderful ideas for deliberate motherhood. Thank you for all the time and effort you've put into it — it is greatly appreciated.

  6. Moving from Ohio to Va and back again to Ohio within two years makes this post so true to home. IT really is weird when you have your social life stripped down after moving to a new place. And it's a good reminder to make sure we keep our family time sacred. I have loved reading your blog and look forward to the mom advice, hair tutorials, photo tutorials, and family life encouragements. It's so encouraging. Thank you!

  7. AMEN!! I love reading your blog, but I am happy for you that you are slowing down. I want to do the same in my own life… I'm with you in starting a "Slow Living" revolution 🙂

  8. Way to go Shawni, good for you, love the word for this year by the way. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog the last few years, I just wish I had found it sooner, you are right to want to cherish what time you have left with your kids. My oldest is married and given me my first grandchild, my daughter is graduating from college this year, and the youngest is 19, still at home, but should be on his mission. They were just babies the other day, it goes by so fast, you are doing the right thing, best of luck to you, I will continue to follow you, no matter how often you write.

  9. Totally agree with you ….
    feels like its been years im not posting anything in my blog , busy with my boy and my newborn baby…

    ^_^ id love to spent time again in my blog now …

  10. Thank you Shawni for all your inspiration. You have uplifted and inspired me in numerous ways over the years. Thank you SO much and I hope you do ENJOY every moment with your family. (I completely get the whole need to cut back on blogging. I have found I have needed to be more deliberate with what I write on my own personal blog, but I do look forward to reading what you have to share when you get a chance!) 🙂

  11. EnJoy this phase of parenting. Not being the parent of very little ones–you are in the middle and above now–I believe plays are roll in that need to be with the fam more! It's a precious time, and in many ways they all need you more than ever. Thanks for sharing your word! It's a keeper 🙂

  12. I thoroughly enjoy your blog. I will look forward to the posts that you choose to write in the future, and look back to other posts when I feel I need an uplifting comment, an example of mothering, or a story that will make me smile. Take care of you and your family. Thank you for sharing what you do.

  13. I hope you keep us in the loop at least a little but I am with you all the way! Enjoy is one of my favorite words and you are in a "soak it in" season for sure right now. I can't tell you how grateful I am for your generosity in "taking us with you" to China; we have been putting off travel with our kids (just for a week! not even a life change!) and you have really inspired me to take the leap by reminding me of the big world out there and how much I want to be a part of them experiencing some new corners of it. So thank you for that. And while I miss your frequent posts already–this is what blog aggregator apps are for–whenever you post, I'll be checking it out. Go ENJOY and know there are lots of us here cheering you on!

  14. Shawni, I will miss your frequent posts, and enjoy them even more when they do come! You are right, this time is precious and fleeting, and you will never regret spending every possible minute soaking in the joy of being a mom. My oldest just turned twelve yesterday, and my husband commented that we are 2/3 through having him at home with us! I feel more and more all the time that I NEED every minute I can get with my children. Life is too busy and harried and hectic, and I get too easily distracted. They will move on and grow up and be gone WAY too soon! Love you Shawni, and I'm so grateful for the light you share. It has illuminated my mind and heart as a mother!

  15. Oh Shawni I am so so sad to hear that! I absolutely LOVE reading your blogs, it gives me so much joy and hope for a bright future. I understand why you want to slow down on here, but what if you wrote/posted pictures and updates while the kids are at school? I sincerely hope you change your mind because it is a highlight of my day to come to the blog and get updated. It is a wonderful blog and I find it so inspiring to be just as good of a mother and person that you are one day. My favourite posts are those crammed full of photos and general 'small things', you have a great family! Please don't stop Shawni, you have a gift for this and I need to read your blog everyday!

  16. With these three comments above, maybe you should turn the spam button on. 🙂

    Since the word "mean comments" sometimes pops up, I want to say, that I don't necessarily think that the comments are mean per se. You have once written that one should read your blog with the benefit of the doubt. I believe that the same goes with comments. If you read them with the benefit of the doubt, sometimes these comments are just honestly discussing something you wrote which doesn't mean criticising.

    That being said, I think you have chosen your word very wisely!

  17. Thanks for this post, everything resonated so well with me and the thoughts that I have had lately! It is such a tricky balancing act and it is so easy to spend our time on good things, but not the "most important" things. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your adventures! I love checking in here and there!

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