Multiple years of longing for significant growth in the areas of career and family balance, desires for simplifying my life, and craving more space for silence positioned me to engage with core as my one little word for 2015. I had considered play as my word for the year, thinking about being more playful, a better work and play balance, exploring new creative and crafty ventures, and playing with my girls. Nonetheless, I recognized that what needed to come first would be to focus on what was core for me, to think deeply about my priorities at that point in time. I wanted what I valued most highly to shape my daily routines and decision making.
I crafted a mission statement at the start of the year – “Strive to live life according to God’s will by nourishing spiritual life and nurturing connections. Conscientiously focus on showing family is important, value self care, and work with joy.” I wanted to start and end my day in prayer, I wanted to begin the girls’ morning routine early enough that it would not be rushed and stressful, I wanted to have more meals together as a family and be more intentional about quality time together, and I wanted to continue to grow with saying no at work or negotiating to take something off of my plate if new items needed to be added. Often it was about giving myself permission to shift something to the back burner as needed in order to focus on nurturing and mentoring as the core of who I was as a teacher educator.
During this year, I began each academic quarter with a vision for the term to shape my priorities and decisions in order to align more to the core. It was a good frequency to pause, take stock of different aspects of my life, and refocus as needed. I considered the typical flow of each term, my course load, any events scheduled, and how all of that overlapped with other layers of life, including the bigger picture of my family. I considered what was working well in order to carry forward, as well as challenges to attempt to alleviate or shift. I thought about mindsets, convictions, and actions, such as, “Putting my life in focus. God at the center. I am more than my career. I won’t feel guilty for making tough career decisions in order to say yes to my family.”
I learned more about how my Catholic faith could provide me with guidance on what to prioritize, as well as how it could be challenging based on different counter-cultural layers or the need to prune aspects of my life that were addictive, even though they were consuming my time and leaving me feeling empty. I recognized engaging in the work to align to what I identified as core required courage and perseverance. I noted, “Previous words helped lay the foundation for this vital work. Perhaps though it is so obvious now, I wasn’t ready yet before. Other areas led up to helping me see, value, and do this work.” Growing into alignment with what matters most would require stepping out of my comfort zone, but I was inspired by a deeper understanding of Mary and strengthened by more regular reception of the sacraments.
In December, I reflected on how the year had been pivotal but that I was still very much a work in progress. After having a year intentionally focusing on the core, each year after continues to have that concept at the forefront. I reflect on what I most highly value and how that intersects with priorities of others in my family and with whom I interact beyond my household. I navigate tensions and confusions, as God continues to nurture my growth along the way – learning to better trust and surrender all the layers of my life and the lives of those I love.
Copyright 2021 Amanda Villagómez // Photo by Josh Boot on Unsplash