1st year in review…

Well, it’s been over a year since I started embrace/refrain.  I definitely faded down the stretch of 2012, but that is mostly due to starting a web-design company over the last couple of months.  Still, I did 9-10 embrace or refrain projects and wrote around 60 blog posts.  Not terrible for year 1.

Some thoughts on the past year:

  • Starting new habits is hard work, but definitely worth pursuing.  Taking habits that are beneficial, but not part of your routine…. to part of your daily or weekly routine takes patience and persistence.  A month gives you a good start, but many times it isn’t long enough to get something fully ingrained as part of your daily life.
  • In our over-stimulated, thing-driven western culture, fasting (or refraining) from things like foods, entertainment and typical conveniences is a great practice.   My favorite project of this past year was staying away from wasting time on the internet.  I got so much done and spent my time so much more efficiently that month.  At first, I kept a lot of that momentum, but after awhile, my old habits crept back in.  I probably need to do that fast at least once a year.
  • Writing is hard work.  I give a ton of credit to bloggers who post creative, original content on a weekly basis.  It takes a ton of time, determination, and creativity.  I thoroughly enjoy writing, and find it incredibly beneficial, but it is still difficult.

And moving forward….

  • I really enjoyed doing this experiment of 1 project a month over the past year.  However, there were months that life was just a bit crazy to be pursuing an embrace or refrain project and writing about it on a regular basis.  So I was successful with it some months, and others not at all.  In light of that, I plan on continuing this year, but on lighter schedule.  My hope is do to 5-6 month-long projects over 2013.  I’ll start them when it works as opposed to figuring out a project for the beginning of each month.  I’ll probably get my first one going in the first couple weeks of February.
  • My second favorite project of the past year was the month I attempted to blog everyday.  That month forced me to write about a greater variety of interests beyond the original embrace/refrain idea.  Since then, I have continued to to do that on a sporadic basis and I’ll continue that in 2013.

Introducing Embrace / Refrain

Over the next year I am going to take each month to embrace something new, or refrain from something that is a regular part of my life.  I am going to embrace 6 new practices for a month, and refrain from something 6 times for a month as well.  I will do alternating months, starting this January with my first practice to embrace.  Let me explain a little more:

Embrace:

I often have these ideas of new practices that I think might make my life better, or healthier, or something along those lines.  I often make plans to put those things into action.  However, I am apparently not all that disciplined.  So, I put these things into action once or twice, and then I have another idea that comes along and I move onto that.

My ideas for these kind of practices can be pretty varied;  flossing (I actually was successfull in making flossing a habit about a year ago!),  a daily practice of prayer or meditation,  exercise of some sort, etc.  Some ideas could be pretty intense to do for a month, while others would be beneficial, but not all that difficult.  My hope for any of them is that they would help me see the world in a new way, get in better shape, or just simply accomplish something new.  Ultimately, I hope they help me grow as a person in some way.

So, for six months over the next year,  I will choose a something to practice, and embrace that practice as fully as possible for one full month.  During that month, I’ll blog occasionally about my progress, and what I might be learning in the process.

Refrain:

On the months that I am not embracing something new, I will choose something that is a regular part of my life and refrain from it for the full month.  Awhile back I did a fast (from food) for about 3 days.   During that fast, I realized how much I love food, depend on food, and I missed it during the fast (obviously).  I also could see ways in which my life was negatively impacted by some of my habits around food.  I had a new appreciation for the place that food had in my life.  Afterword, it occurred to me that I could take the process of fasting beyond food and get the same type of perspective on whatever I might refrain from.

Just like with embracing new practices, I could refrain from something simple like not drinking pop.  Or, I could do something something much more difficult  like a technology black-out (not sure how I will blog about that if I choose to do it).  Most of my endeavors will fall somewhere in-between.

So there you have it… this is what Embrace / Refrain is.  Six months where I embrace something new.  Six months where I refrain from something that is a regular part of my life.  I invite you to follow along, join me in my endeavors, or do your own alongside me.

Ideas

I specifically didn’t get too much into ideas of what I might actually embrace or refrain from.  I’ll do a few of posts over the next couple of weeks exploring some of the possibilities.  I’ll try to settle on what I’ll do for January, well…. sometime before January.