A few years ago I started a New Years Resolution Plan called Rosebud, which I heard about through one of my travel podcasts. Rosebud is less about making goals and more about setting a direction. One of the benefits of logging this from year to year is that it allows me to see these year to year plans as part of a larger narrative as opposed to a simple checkpoint of things that will qualify as either a failure or success. This makes this exercise an ideal point of reflection that can help give shape to where I am focusing my attention in a given year.
The process essentially looks like this:
Step 1: List Three Roses-
This is the stuff that I would consider the greatest strengths, successes or accomplishments of the past year, the stuff that has managed to blossom into a Rose.
Step 2: List One Thorn
This would reflect my greatest personal struggle of the past year.
Step 3: List Three Buds
Weight my strengths against my weakness and come up with a list of 3 things (goals) I would like to “bud” into Roses in the coming year.
Step 4: Come up with a word for the year
This should be a single word that can help reflect the direction I want to head in the coming year, a single word that can give my year a theme or a recognizable focus and narrative.
A quick added note on this challenge. The reason for the disparity between the number of strengths and weakness, something I asked myself when I started this process, is human nature. For as much as we sometimes demonstrate differently on the outside, if you ask the average person (and there are stats and research to back this up as well) to list their strengths they are likely to have a really hard time being able to come up with more than one. Ask them to list their weaknesses though and a good number of us can come up with a list longer than a page on the spot.
Setting the challenge up like this pushes us into some uncomfortable spaces and keeps us from getting lost in an exercise of self lament. It focuses us towards the positive and the potential for growth.
Looking Back at My Rosebud 2019 Challenge
1. Reconsider and give thought to where I am with the idea of ministry as a vocation
2. Challenge myself (as an introvert with strong social anxiety) to talk and listen more to people I do not know well or at all.
3. Use my reading and film related challenges to help me grow in a greater awareness of the place where I live (think about how to make the most out of home, work and neighborhood), and consider some larger perspective questions on what this life is all about.
One Word: Perspective
1. Dedication to my film related challenge
Last year I challenged myself to really lean into the end of a decade by using 2019 to catch up on my film watchlist, including blindspots and lists. To help me do that I came up with a plan. Each month I worked through one year from the past decade (2010’s), compiling lists of films and prioritizing them. At the end of the month I would then come up with a top list for that year, working towards a final top 100 films of the decade list which is to be finished and posted before the new year in this space.
To say that this was successful is an understatement. I have had by far my most successful year in film yet. I am part of an online film community and database called Letterboxd that documents and keeps stats of what I watch. According to these stats, and with 4 days left on the calendar year, I have logged 782 Diary Entries, 772 Reviews, 49 Lists and 1393 film watching hours. I have always loved film, but this is very much an anomaly that is unlikely to ever happen again.
What it does speak to though is the dedication I was able to find to sticking with my goal, something that also required a willingness and need to adjust and improvise. Early on I recognized that I couldn’t keep up with both the film challenge AND plans to read and write, and so I allowed the latter two to fall by the wayside. And it payed dividends for my ability to focus on something more manageable. This is a learning I hope can translate in positive ways into other areas of my life.
2. More integrated with my students at work
I am a School Bus Driver. Given the nature of my job, every year sees transition and movement in the students that I drive. The last two years I had a particularly rough group of students. To help respond to this I decided to make part of the focus of last years challenge spending more time with my students. Given how rough it was it was far too easy to simply avoid the situation by spending time in the coffee room or chatting with other teachers rather than embracing the time I have with them in between and during runs.
Efforts last year feel to be paying dividends this year with a fresh group that is more open to interaction. Given that success, this year feels like a good opportunity to push this even further by establishing even stronger relationships.
3. Got reconnected with the youth group
It took a while and some wrestling with this idea, but I decided to come on board as a leader for the youth at our Church as part of this process of working through the question that I was pondering from last year- is ministry done with me or am I done with ministry (vocationally speaking).
So far I feel oddly like a fish out of water, having to navigate territory that feels like it should be familiar but, largely thanks to anxiety and ministry baggage, feels foreign. As someone already with social anxiety, starting from scratch brings with it a thousand and one relationship dynamics from leaders to students to my own son who is graduating and in his final year of youth group that feel entirely overwhelming and make every youth night feel like one very big step into the unknown and the uncertain. But it is a step nonetheless, and we will see how this goes.
1 Thorn: Anxiety
This is both internal and external, social and psychological, and it’s even more realized in its online form (social media, groups and communities, messaging).
I’ve picked this thorn because, the longer I do this Rosebud challenge the more opportunity there is for personal growth. And the more opportunity there is for personal growth the stronger the force of this anxiety seems to become. I feel it particularly when it comes to this time of year (Christmas), a time that I cherish for the ways it lets me let go of some of these concerns if only for a moment, but that also feels heightened in the challenge to maintain this overwhelming concern for letting go of this anxiety for a season and focusing on things that are important and that matter.
Anxiety, wherever it rears its ugly head, has a way of taking a whole year of positives and spinning them in a negative direction.
1. Read more and write more intentionally
This past year with the success of my film challenge, my ability to keep up with writing and reading took a hit. My goal this year is to create a more integrated challenge that will better connect my film watching experience to my reading and my writing. I’ve been leading up to this in the back half of 2019, but my plan for 2020 is to travel the world in film while integrating this more intentionally with a reading and writing plan. Here is a link to the particulars of this challenge:
2020 FILM, WRITING AND READING CHALLENGE
I wrote a separate blog in this space on the particulars, but here is some of what I am focusing on this year, the reasons why, and the ways I hope it enriches my engagement with art, culture as a social form. Here’s the link:
2. Grow my sense of place and perspective even more
There are some interesting and significant transitions coming for us in the next couple years that could see us wrestling with any number of spirit led nudges that could broaden our world and our sense of place. As I travel the world in film and reading, one of the things I want to do is start to give thought to how this broadening awareness and perspective translates to life at home. Which leads into my third bud.
3. Invest in Family traditions
Speaking of anxiety riddled scenarios, our son, whom we adopted at 13, is graduating this year. Turning 18 and seeing the end of this part of his journey on the horizon is bringing with it a whole host of changes and questions. One of the most overwhelming is thinking back on the ways we have tried to instill in him a sense of family and what family means. Adoption brings with it a very unique set of concerns and challenges in terms of how family happens and how family is established. The bonding is particular and attachment never something we can take for granted. As graduation approaches, it feels important to be even more intentional this year about how we invest in continuing to build this sense of family that he is learning, figuring out and hopefully coming to trust in.
This reminds me of a book I read a few years back from one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove, called The Wisdom of Stability. It is all about balancing growth and movement with investment in the places we occupy now. In a world where the one constant is change and where change is happening all around us at a rate unlike anything we’ve seen before in human history, stability feels counterintuitive and even boring. And yet it is also essential. For us as a family, this is a crucial year for helping us all to embrace the changes that will come with Sasha’s graduation while helping all of us to know that family will always be here no matter where these changes lead us.
My Word For the Year: Stability