When January looks like the inside of a cave

Happy fresh start, everyone! Aside from the icy-cold weather and the somewhat depressing thought that the next three months involve a lot of gray and slush, January tends to be one of my favorite months.

I’m a big fan of clean slates, goal-setting, and dream-big sessions with my hubby. Stuff like that kindles an inner fire; it’s like I have permission to not be weird when I say, “So what does the next five years look like for us?” Kyle usually answers with his standard, “I don’t know,” being better skilled than I at living in the present, but I still like to ask those kinds of big-picture questions late at night when he’s about to nod off to sleep.

I also love that we’re getting back to a routine after a month of Adventing and making merry. There’s something soothing about packing lunch boxes and knowing that gymnastics is on Tuesdays.

So yes, my life is rerouting itself to our rhythm, except for one thing: I’ve got a book deadline in 28 days. TWENTY-EIGHT DAYS.
I’ve loved writing this book so far, and I so look forward to the day when it’s glued into a spine and I can offer it to you for your armchair and cup of tea. But that’s a year from now.

For now, it’s time for me to withdraw into my writing cave. I’ve got a lot to do still, and it deserves most of my writerly attention. That means I’ll be quiet here on Simple Mom for the next month.

But there will still be the same amount of posts—I’ve got a few favorite reruns scheduled, along with some fabulous guest writers at the helm. I think you’ll enjoy it.

This next Monday will be a bit different, though—I’ll be asking you to fill out a survey. Yep, you read that right. The last time I surveyed my readers was, oh, more than four years ago, and I could use your feedback again.

We’ve got some big things in store as a blog network this year, and I’m excited. But I need your two cents to know how to best evolve so that YOU, the writers here, and I are all blessed by a positive change.

So would you do me a favor? I don’t ask for them often, so hopefully you’ll give me grace here. Would you kindly fill out that survey when you see it on Monday? It won’t ask for any personal information at all; it’ll be completely anonymous. I simply need your feedback on what you like to read here, and what you’d like to see changed.

Thank you so much, friends, for everything. It’s because of you that I have a book deadline, and I don’t ever want to take that for granted.

So I’m curious: Do you have a special word, theme, or specific goal for 2013? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Tsh Oxenreider

Tsh is the founder of this blog and just finished traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

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  1. My word for 2013: Connections. This year is all about building and maintaining relationships with friends and family. Everyone from my own kids and husband to our wider family as well as friends old and brand new! It is also about focusing on my connections with people and not my accomplishments (or my to do list). Interestingly, I’m also trying to stay away from social media as, for me, it seems to actually hinder true connections with others. Happy 2013!

  2. Yep – I’ll complete the survey!

    My words are EXPAND, HONE and REVEL.

  3. My word for 2013 is also connection! I want to meet new people and deepen relationships with others. I’d also like to set away from behind my computer screen more often for fun activities outside my house.

    I’m looking forward to the new book and I’ll definitely do the survey next week.

  4. My word LISTEN….:}

  5. I have several smaller goals for 2013, but my main goal is to be a better mother. I have three little ones and I feel like I have been in a hamster wheel of tiredness for the past 4 years…I am finally pulling myself out and I want to make some changes and grow in my role as a mom.

  6. Good luck on finishing your book! You can do it in no time once you set your mind to it.

  7. So excited for you, Tsh! Can’t wait to read the book. Hope these next 28 days are productive AND enjoyable for you.
    My word for 2012 was ‘change,’ and it was filled with all sorts of change inwardly and externally. For 2013, I actually didn’t think I’d have a word. I didn’t want to choose one just to be ‘trendy,’ but still kept coming back to this one word:
    AUTHENTIC: “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character.”
    (Synonyms are: genuine – true – real – original)
    This past year, I’ve not only learned more about my “true self”, but have begun to LEAN into and operate from that place. Remember Dr. Seuss? “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”
    I desire to be authentic in all my relationships: with myself, God, and others. Authentic in how I express my dreams, fears, needs, thoughts, feelings and opinions. In God-honoring ways, but not conforming to status-quo or others ideas for or expectations of me. Removing the masks. Pulling back the curtain. Living an authentic life because I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139) .

  8. My word is grace. Accepting grace from the Giver and then the most difficult, giving grace to others.

  9. I’m excited about your new book and wish you all the best for the time inside the cave!

  10. Happy 2013! I wish you the best as you finish up your book!

    My words for this year are LOVE, PATIENCE and ORDER. Originally I was only going to have one word (love) but patience and order keep coming to my attention, so I guess I’ll just have three 🙂 Works for me!

    • PATIENCE is mine too with a dash of KINDNESS added to it! Sometimes words blend and help align our focus…I think:)

  11. My word is intention.

  12. My word is “steward”. I started digging in to where it is located in the bible and what the bible has to say about it January 1 and am already learning so much.

  13. Robin from Frugal Family Times says:

    My theme for 2013: cultivate self-love. I am great with tasks, loving and caring for others, but I treat my self like a mule. This serves no one well, but I forget and ignore that.

  14. My word is diligence. Last year was a year of things falling through the cracks… and this year I wan to do better.

  15. I think my word for 2013 is Less. Less time spent online, Less saying yes to everything, Less time on certain projects. My hope is that it will all open me up to something more. More time with friends and family, especially when baby #3 arrives in June.

  16. If my previous comment went through, I’m terribly sorry…Hiccup with the laptop.
    Word for the year : H A B I T
    Goal I’m excited about: Weekly SCRIPTURE ART JOURNALING…I know this is going to stretch me in ways I’ve yet to imagine.

    Enjoy wrapping up that book. We can’t wait! And yes, I will GLADLY take your survey. I find so much encouragement here.

  17. We are still pulling out of sicknesses from the holidays…so my goal making has been put on hold until I can sit with the hubs, hopefully this weekend! I have many ideas, but need to get some concrete steps down as to how to accomplish them 🙂

  18. My goal for 2012 is to come up with some great long-term goals. Like others we’ve been hamsterwheeling for far too long – it’s time to mix things up a little.

  19. HeatherDB says:

    I have a few words – “Create, Motivate, Encourage, Acknowledge” – and to “Be Healthy in Mind, Body, and Soul” – A lot is packed in there – but I get it and that’s what counts I guess. I need to be the healthiest in all areas so I can be the best mommy, wife, woman of God! All the best with your book writing and when you get bogged down, just do the next thing! Always works for me. 🙂

  20. My word this year is “Aware”. Last year my goal was to serve the less fortunate every week. As a result, I met some of God’s children I never would have associated myself with otherwise. I can’t let last year’s goal be for nothing. Being “aware” will help me with how I will choose to live my life in the future.

  21. My word: simplify.
    My goal for 2013 is to not buy anything new for a year. Our family is doing it in hopes of simplifying and breaking away from materialism. There are a few exceptions (socks, underwear, food, toiletries… but that’s about it). Here are the rules and the concept behind it if anyone wants to join me!

  22. Taria Cameron says:

    My word for 2013 is “Discipline”. Not very fun really! I’d rather choose something like “Organization” or “Simplify”or “Enjoy”! But really the reality for me is that none of my goals can be achieved without discipline. I love to plan, organize and come up with new systems:). But, I don’t like maintaining them.
    Thank you so much for your blog, Tsh. I really enjoy reading it and gain a lot of inspiration from your posts. Happy New Year to you!

  23. My word for this year is: RENEWED. After a very long battle with depression, I believe God is
    …renewing my health
    …renewing my dreams
    …renewing my hope
    …renewing my marriage
    …renewing my outlook on life
    …renewing my relationship with my children.
    This is the first year I have had a “word” for the year, and I am fully embracing what God has placed in my heart!

  24. The first word that came to mind as I was contemplating was REBIRTH. I’ve done quite a bit of positivve work the past 1.5 years to become better at accepting life rather then focusing on what I think should be. Still have a ways to go but feel much more content and able to handle life gracefully then I have before. But then I got a little overwhelmed thinking that so I added in ACCEPTANCE…because that is what has been helping me in my life. Accepting me, accepting circumstances, seeing the good in what is…not that I am stagnating. In fact, I see more growth then I ever have but inside I feel better and more peaceful so…that’s my year. Looking forward to your book!

  25. My theme for this year is: Simplicity.

  26. I have some goals in mind for 2013 but am letting them sit with me for a while before I commit. I don’t like making goals I can’t keep. 🙂

  27. My word for last year was perspective. I thought I would gain so much insight on studying this word and have more perspective from God’s point of view. Turns out He gave me perspective for a couple of situtations I thought I needed answers too and it gave me freedom! What a wonderful gift I received from Him toward the end of the year. My word for this year is worship/praise. Should be an exciting journey.

  28. my word for this year is NOW. Be fully in NOW not thinking about the past not worrying about the future or being so busy planning. Be fully in NOW. and enjoy all that NOW is
    Looking forward to the survey, I have just discovered you and just bought your book so I am anxious to devour it and start off my new year of NOW.

  29. I chose grace this year…need to be better at giving it to others and to myself. Good luck with the deadline! I can’t wait to see your next book!

  30. Integrity. That’s my word for 2013!

  31. Will you be doing a blogging seminar this year? If so, I’m going to make it one of my 2013 education goals.

  32. My word is DWELL. Which I resisted because it sounded kinda static, but it was right for this year. This is why:

  33. I am anxious to learn more about your new book! And I love reading everyone’s words. Mine is SELF. Self-awareness, self-care, self-discipline, all so I can give more of my self to my family in a loving, healthy way.

  34. My word is FOCUS. I’ve wondered for a few years now if I’m an undiagnosed ADHD-inattentive type. And the F stands for Family, C- contentedness, S- simplicity and spirituality

  35. My word is “intentional.” I want to do more things on purpose. With intention. Not so much “just because.”

  36. My word for this year is CONSISTENCY. We have had so much change in our life, and I am finally at a point in which we can begin to be consistent in the things that we find important :-).

  37. PURPOSE(in God’s Kingdom).

  38. 2013’s word: efficiency. For me, that basically means “get your lazy tush off of your chair, close the laptop, put the tablet away, hide the phone and get stuff done!”…all that…in one word. 🙂

  39. My word is Natural. My goal is to live as naturally as our family can. I want to learn how to use more natural products in our life. To be free from chemicals and fake products.
    I am looking forward to your new book and 2013 on Simple Mom. I’ve been listening to all of your past podcast and have really enjoyed all the information you share with us. Thanks for keeping it real, Tsh!

  40. you’ll like my word….its SIMPLE!! lol. I’m looking forward to simplifying my life….home, mind, schedule, spirit!! I’ve had enough of the clutter!!

  41. My word for the yer is simplicity. Simple foods, routines, home, life, decisions, actions, etc…..

  42. My word for 2013 is REAL. Real people, real connections, real food, real “stuff” (like less plastic…more things from the earth.)

  43. Christine says:

    I will definitely complete your survey. Thanks for keeping us connected.

    My word for the year is CALM. After a year with a broken leg, a house move, a fire, and a flood, I need some quiet time in my head and in my home. I can’t control any of the external factors that created such chaos in 2012, but I can create an environment where I breathe and speak quietly and just take time to do things with more deliberation, thus creating a sense of calm. No more yelling in the morning because we’re late. No more stressing over the first grader’s lack of attention to homework. It’s all about being CALM.

  44. Ah, January is a great month to go into a cave, if you ask me! It’s that lovely lull between the holidays and the spring madness that sets in around March… it’s when I catch up around the house and regroup for the coming year. And this year, my word is DISCERNMENT. Think I’ll need a lot of that this year!
    Best of luck with the book and and I’ll look forward to the survey.
    xo Heidi

  45. My word is BREATHE for 2013. I feel breathless lately with work, kids’ schedules and a house to run. I want to live in the present moment and foster calm iny family. Breathing is the only way I know to do that-and breathing deeply!

  46. My theme this year is to Be Me. Not what anyone else wants me to be or who I feel I “should” be. Last year was “Simplify” and we downsized over 3000 square ft and spent 5 months traveling full time so I think we accomplished that! Now I just want to continue the journey and focus on what makes me happy in the process.

  47. The first word that came to my mind was COURAGE. Many decisions this year are going to require courage. Courage in parenting my pre-teens, courage regarding my husband’s career, moving or staying put, courage in my marriage. COURAGE is what I’m praying and pleading for this year. Prayers for this next month and a completed manuscript.

  48. My word for this year is TRUST. ‘Nuff said…

  49. Congratulations, and keep up the great work! January will be a great time to focus after all the holiday madness.

  50. My word for 2012 was LOVE as I felt God had me on a love journey to understand what authentic love is.
    I was so excited with the bracelet and necklace I received for Christmas that says LOVE .
    Wishing you the best with your writing project. Happy 2013 and may we run into each other in the most random places 🙂 as it is a small world after all.

  51. My word is “Be Present” –I guess that’s two. 😉 I want to be all there in whatever I’m doing. If I’m hanging with my kids, I want to be present not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Turn off the internet more and live in the present.

  52. Katherine says:

    My word is grateful. Happy New Year to everyone!

  53. My word for this year is Wholly. I’ve been feeling called to be entirely present with whatever I set my hands to. 🙂

  54. My word for 2013 is: forgive.
    I am challenging myself to mindful of any past resentments I have held on to and to let them go. I am seeking a deeper compassion for myself and all others I am connected with whether it is for a moment, a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime.
    I look forward to answering your survey, reading your book, and continuing to be part of this community. Thanks, Tsh!

  55. Gratitude-
    I live such a blessed life and yet I so often complain. This year I want to intentionally remember the blessings the Lord has given me for they are plentiful and wonderful!

  56. I’m slightly debating my word. I think MINDFUL is the way I want to sum it up. Paying more attention to my daughter, to the world around me, to my health/fitness, to how much time I waste online… etc. I was debating ATTENTIVENESS, but I think mindful sums it up better!

  57. Respect. My dad once said to me, after he drove around a resort looking for me and my friends, “What’s my favorite word? R-E-S-P-E-C-T!” I didn’t get it then, and I want my children to understand it and feel it, sooner than I did.
    Respect for others, respect for ourselves, our home, our life, relationships, and the relationship my husband and I have. We need to give that a bit more respect. So, this year, we will work on it!

  58. My word is HEALTH. Taking care of myself of course, focusing on eating cleaner, but also continuing the quest to make my family’s home healthier. We’ve already switched to primarily reusable grocery bags and eliminated bottled water. Now we’re slowing switching to all-natural, mostly home-made cleaning products.

  59. I have chosen the word “choose” for 2013.
    I want to remind myself that it’s a choice to work out or sit on the couch. It’s my choice to watch mindless tv or work on my blog.

  60. My theme for 2013 is HOMEMAKING.
    2012 was such a busy year from me at work that I feel really disconnected from my home and the people that live in it. I was so busy that my home became the place where I slept and showered, but didn’t live in. I want to organize, clean, and decorate. I want to make good healthy meals and share them with friends and family. I want to spend time on hobbies that I enjoy and that renew my energy. I want my home to be a place or refuge for me and anyone who walks in the door. I want to make a home.

  61. My goal for 2013 is SLEEP! I wrote about it on my blog today. What’s your theme or goal for 2013?

  62. Every year we sit down with the kids on New Year’s Day after a big crazy yummy breakfast and make our family resolutions. This year I wrote on the markerboard “Don’t Waste Your (Life) and under “life” I wrote Time, Opportunity, Resources. So this year we are focusing on conservation rather than consumption, serving rather than taking, being productive rather than merely entertained. I’m excited to see where we end up in a year!

  63. My word is blessings. So far in the few days of this new year, my family and I have recieved many. I would like to help others and give that feeling to as many as I can.

  64. My word for the year is Faith. Not much else to say about that, except that I hope to have a lot of it!

  65. Fearless. Fearless in grace, art, writing, life. 🙂

  66. Happy book writing. & I’ll be filling out the survey, I personally love doing them :). I haven’t ever done a word for a year but I always want to be thankful for what God gives me.

  67. My word for 2013 is GUMPTION! It’s already working to make me more decisive and assertive.

  68. Thank you so much for your wonderful, inspired words always! So thankful for everything you write!
    My word for 2013: FEARLESS! I can’t wait to see what God has in store for our marriage, our our kids, our church, our life, as He leads me on this journey this year.
    The verse that keeps surfacing…
    “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” 1 John 4:18. Here’s to a new year, a year without fear!

  69. My word for 2013 is Hobbit.
    Hobbit is a fun word to say. H o b b i t. It’s a great movie and an amazing book. It in many ways describes me. An introverted extrovert. Comfortable in my cozy Hobbit hole, yet longing for someone to ask me to go on an adventure.

  70. Good luck with your book! I have a word – calm – and some goals, I shared them here:
    I am a recent subscriber to your blog and am enjoying it very much, thank you 🙂

  71. Choices. This will be a big year for us. We’re having our 3rd child in August, our middle child will be starting preschool at our church and I’ll be starting to homeschool our oldest for Kindergarten (we’re using K-12). I like to pretend to be wonder woman, but I know that adding these big things means that other things I love will have to go. I’m going to see the world around me as full of choices, not things I have to do. I am choosing not to continue doing daycare so that I can choose to homeschool. I am choosing not to attend our preschool extension group so that I can choose to go to the homeschool gym time at the Y. etc. It’s going to be hard to say no to things I’ve done for a long time and love, but I think it will be worth it. Because doing so means I can say yes to other things that are important, too.

  72. one word: Renew.

  73. Best wishes with your writing! What is the title/topic of your book?
    I’ll look for the survey on Monday and add my thoughts.

  74. Tsh, my word for the year is Bittersweet. My sweet Mama (age 65) is dying of breast cancer. My sister is having her first baby. God is opening doors for our family. I didn’t want this word for this year, but I’m asking God to help me understand that it’s all a part of His Big Story.
    I identify with so many things you write, being a third culture kid (adult?) as well. It kinda feels like you’re a friend I’ve never met. Hugs. c.

  75. Leigh Ann says:

    My word for the year is commitment. I want to commit to several goals. Reconnecting with family and friends through actual phone calls, snail mail and visits. Creating a budget and becoming debt free by year end. Keeping a positive attitude. And most importantly growing in my faith. These are things that I want to do to improve my quality of life and it will take commitment to see them through.

  76. My word for 2013 is FOCUS. I really need to get focused and get moving on those things I set my sights on! Focusing on quality family life, focusing on organization, focusing on writing, etc. Focusing on what is important instead of allowing all the outside static to come in. If I could have TWO words, my second word for 2013 is SUCCESS. Not necessarily financial success (though that would be nice), but feeling like I have successfully done the things I set out to accomplish. I feel like focus and success are very interrelated in my life right now!

  77. For 2013: Living in freedom. Living in the present.

  78. Heather H says:

    choosing to be present to the kids, husband, ministry, garden. whatever is in front of me.
    Happy Cave/writing and happy 5 years to you!

  79. my word for 2013 is “Establish.” I’m working with the Lord to try & establish (declutter/clean) our home, our finances, our marriage, our parenting practices & myself as a…. (sheepisly) …as a writer. It’s been an extremely good practice so far. Congrats on finishing “intention” btw… (just read that post =)

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