A few years ago I began a New Years Resolution Plan called Rosebud. I heard about it on one of the travel podcasts that I follow. 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
Based on my “thorn”, this is a list of what I would like to “bud” into potential 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.
So, why Rosebud?
I have been asked in the past, why three Roses but only one Thorn. There is a reason for this actually. Most of us often don’t realize it, but when we peek behind the masks we wear, it is often much more diffciult to come up with roses than it is thorns. Also difficult is learning how to speak about thorns in a way that imagines forward movement, seeing it in light of one’s potential for growth. It’s kind of like that old adage that says, when you are in an interview for a new job and they ask you about your weaknesses, always give a weakness that you can do something about. That said, one can always add two more thorns or flip the thorns and the roses if that worked best for them.
The great part of the Rosebud system is that it allows one to document these things by year as a kind of working and interactive diary. You can build on the previous year and form a kind of ongoing narrative out of your life. This is not about resolutions, it is about making space for introspection and observation and forming that into goals and hopes. And it allows one to not just make goals, but to examine what those goals are about.
With this in mind…
LOOKING BACK ON MY THREE POTENTIAL BUDS IN 2020:
1. Invest in Family Traditions
One of the biggest questions on my mind this time last year was looking back on the idea of ministry work. I have a B.A. Degree in Youth Ministry and I am a few courses short of my Masters in Christian Studies. Just over 7 years ago I left my last payed ministry position and started driving a School Bus for a local private school. I’ve often called it youth work without the politics.
A chance to volunteer and drive a group of students to Tennessee for a youth conference in 2018 had sparked some questions in my mind about whether youth ministry as a vocation was done with me or if it had more to say. The decision to sign up as a volunteer for the youth ministry at my Church in fall of 2019 was a result of visiting this question about vocational ministry and my future.
This year has been an interesting one on the potential vocational ministry front, not the least of which has been a year of Covid and distanced relationships in all facets of my life. What is important for me to recognize though are two key conversations that I had on this front with my pastors. Heading into 2019 a conversation with a Pastor had left me anticipating that maybe it wsn’t done with me. Volunteering with the youth ministry was supposed to be a stepping stone towards this end. Heading into 2020, and even more so heading into the start of a new school year this past September has found me asking some different questions. I find myself wondering if it is time to put vocational ministry behind me. I struggle with the notion of being payed for minisry. I struggle with ministries competitive edge mixed with my own lack of self confidence. And I still wonder whether the damage done from my last ministry position will ever be something I can reconcile.
At the same time, the question I was focusing on looking into 2020 was a need to reengage family life. This came from some struggles with our adopted son Sasha in terms of reflecting on our sense of family as he moved into graduation and a new phase of his life. This seemed like it was someting that needed equal and balanced focus with the youth ministry questions. There were things at play in our relationship that left us uncertain about where his attachment to this idea of family was, a common struggle for any adoptive family. And for me personally, I felt like I had numerous challenges on that front as a father that didn’t really have a lot of answers. The one thing that I thought could help that was coming back to some of those shared tradtions from his new life in Canada and his Ukranian heritage. Sadly, I feel like 2020 has been a lost opportunity on this front as a whole.
2. Grow my sense of place, home and perspective
I laughed when I read this one. Home in 2020 has become all too familiar, for better and for worse. Things have been scaled back, responsibilities and activities have all but disappeared, and there has been a ton of time to reflect. If anything, this was a prime opprotunity to reinvigorate some of those family traditions, but I feel like things swung in the opposite direction with the feelings of increased anxiety, isolation and depression that followed shut downs.
3. Read more and write more intentionally
In 2019 I had a record year in terms of one of my passions- film. My passion for reading had dropped way off though. My desire for 2020 was to scale back on my film watching while also being much more intentional with what I watched and to get back into reading in an intentional way.
There were two primary ways I planned to do this. First, I decided to embark on what I called my #filmtravels2020. My plan was to make my way around the world by watching films from specific Countries, researching that Country’s film history, and reflecting on what I experienced and learned. Likewise, I wanted to pair this with reading books on film and on films that I love to help bolster and restart my reading habits again, and reflect on it in order to encourage writing.
A bit of irony on this front. While this was intended to bring together my three primary passions- film, literature and travel, 2020 proved to be catastrophic for any potential physical travel goals but perfectly suited (given the lockdowns and the time off of work) for this kind of travel goal. I travelled through more than 25 Countries, watched a ton of international film, and I had a good deal of fun researching these different film industries and exploring the world from this vantage point. While there are a couple of desired Countries I failed to get to (mostly because their films were not readily accessible where I live), this personal challenge exceeded my expectations.
On this same note, any perceptions I had of dialing down my film watching went out the door with Covid. Thankfully I also had a record year when it came to reading as well.
Total Films Watched in 2020: 1175
Total Books Read in 2020: 111
One Word: Stability
My one word for the year was “stability”. This overlapped with my interest in gaining perspective on my future in “ministry” in the previous year, travelling the world in film and reading and writing more intentionally in 2020, and attempting to be dilligent in increasing my sense of home and traition. If 2020 has been good for anything, there has definitely been a dialing down of business and a focus on home. This was also good for offering a foundation for building traditions into our daily life given that 2020 demanded us to get creative on staying engaged. Spoiler alert, my one thorn heading into 2021 is feeling defeated. So I’m not sure this was something I was fully successful at, which is interesting considering my one thorn coming into 2020 was cynicism. For as much as I tried to attend to this thorn through my three buds, 2020 pushed back HARD.
1. Commitment: to my film travels and reading plan and youth ministry
Even though there is a ton I feel I failed at in 2020, I was proud of how far I got in my film travels, and that I have stayed connected at youth, coming on for a second term this fall despite my struggles and challenges. Still figuring that out, but the best way is to be in it.
This sounds silly, but its the one word that I cling to. Sometimes surviving is the best we can do. Covid, social struggles, feelings of failure, health problems. It’s stuff that has followed me through this year. And if I have been able to adapt positively over Covid, I’ve stayed engaged with walking every day and routine and trying to manage my mental space.
3. Taking control of my social media habits
This was a late game endeavor, but I feel there was success in reaching a breaking point and finally deciding to do something about it.
1. Redefine priorities, especially with social media
For as much as social media keeps us connected, I’ve definitely felt its negative side in 2020. The over saturation, the exhaustion, the ineffective ways that it fosters dialogue and relationship, the all consuming aspect of groups that draw you in to lengthy debates and heated conversation about all things politics, religion and even film, travel and books. It’s a I can’t live without it and it’s hard to live with it kind of sentiment.
One thing that I did do coming into this new year was curate my social media so that negative posts, trigger points for me personally, and groups that encourage constant arguing were taken out of my feed. This has been recent, but so far it has reaped rewards.
Knowing where to spend my extra attention will be a question for the early goings of 2021, especially considering some of the ways in which I am feeling defeated.
2. Rebranded website
Recently in December I decided to rebrand my website. I started this blog when I was turning 40 to help attend to my anxiety over that number. Coming up on 45 it felt time to change my focus from 40 to something more positive or forward thinking. Changing the name to The Stories of My Life was an attempt to use this site as a way of engaging rather than just reflecting. Of seeing the years ahead as an opportunity to see, hear, listen and discover the stories of people, film, places, books, etc that are meaningful for me. At the same time I invested in an upgrade to get rid of ads and have my own personalized site. The hope is that this can continue to foster dialogue and conversation with others. Hoping to use 2021 as a way to really define this
3. Work on a research project and book
I started working on a personal project on memory and the role of memory in faith on a collective and personal level. Potential plans for this to maybe become a book down the road are in the back of my mind, something I’ve always wanted to do. But 2021 is a chance to begin this process and to do some research.
My Word For The Year