things i do and things i don't do.

Where my heart residesThis is the time of year when I feel pressured to do everything. It's self-inflicted pressure---well, half self-inflicted, half Pinterest-inflicted (even though I barely use Pinterest anymore, I still see pins in my head sometimes). Every year around this time I feel the need to make meals from scratch, start a new fitness routine, buy perfectly personalized gifts, wrap those gifts with parchment paper, set the table, decorate the mantle (I don't even have a mantle! What!), pitch articles to magazines, take my photography business to the next level, and.....a hundred other things.

Between the holidays and the end of the year, I suddenly feel the need to not only do everything, but to also do everything better. How exhausting.

In Shauna Niequist's book Bittersweet, she writes a chapter called "Things I Don't Do." In it she talks about the freedom that accompanies acknowledging what we're not good at---freedom that, in turn, allows us to focus on what we love. With that sentiment in mind, I am writing my own list in preparation for the end-of-year pressure I place on myself.

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Things I Do:

I trust God and follow him to the best of my human ability. I trust His guidance, His will, His calling, and His direction. I talk to God, sometimes in the quiet and sometimes in the shower and sometimes in the car and sometimes through journaling. I listen to God, through Scripture and through the Holy Spirit and through other people that have been purposefully planted in my life.

I pour love into my marriage. This isn't something I do perfectly or constantly, but it is certainly something I do. I work hard to foster love and commitment and communication between us. I plan date nights and make spending time together a priority, especially on the weekends.

I'm an on-the-floor type of mom. I go down slides, I hop like a frog, I play catch, I wrestle. While Everett is an only child, it's safe to say that I'm his best friend. I dedicate most of my time each day to keeping him safe, content, and emotionally nurtured.

I write with purpose and intention. Not only do I write, but I make the space to write, which is sometimes half the battle. Writing is how I tell His story, how I process feelings, and how I preserve the legacy of the family I am creating.

I take a lot of pictures. I love seeing the world through a camera lens and I love capturing beautiful things. I keep photo albums updated with our milestones and adventures, and love to rotate photos around the frames in our home.

I blog original, heartfelt, genuine content. While I could easily write and take pictures without blogging, I come here for the community. I come here for you. I come here with an open heart and all the vulnerability my soul can muster, hoping that once in a blue moon, I will say something that someone needs to hear. I come here to encourage you, to lift you up, and to be encouraged by you.

I invest in intimate community. I do this in a number of ways, through bible study and playgroup and one-on-one friendships. I pour time and energy and love into a handful of meaningful relationships. I bring dinner, I babysit, I plan baby showers and send cards in the mail. I allow those friends to do the same things for me. I ask for help when I need it and offer help when I see a need.

I spend time (and money) making my house beautiful. My home is an extension of me, and I take pride in keeping a lovely home. I spend most of my time here; this is where I raise Everett, where I work, where I have meaningful conversations with Brett, and where I host dinner parties. Beautifully decorated rooms make me feel inspired.

I plan family vacations and getaways. I want Everett to see the world, and he's not going to be able to do that from the couch. I try to plan a family getaway every couple months, even if it's just a day trip. I value experiences and memories and would always rather spend money on that than on stuff.

But when I do buy stuff...

I shop on sale. Literally, almost everything I buy, I buy on sale. I love coupon codes and red clearance stickers and the Cartwheel app. Saving money is my love language.

I connect people. I am a stranger matchmaker, the tie that binds, the mutual friend. I love introducing people to other people with similar interests or common goals.

Things I Don't Do:

I don't make the bed. I usually get back in bed to write or edit photos on my laptop while Everett is napping. Something about keeping it unmade reminds me to rest every day (at least, that's what I tell myself). My room always looks a little messy; I'm okay with it.

I don't meal plan. I have tried, and tried, and tried to love meal planning, but for whatever reason, I just can't seem to do it consistently. I'm convinced there are worse things than spontaneous, thrown-together dinners, right? Speaking of which, I don't cook from scratch. Like, ever. Jarred marinara sauce and pre-cooked chicken are fine by me.

I don't run. I have tried to love running, but the fact remains: I hate it. Once in a while I will be in the mood to run, like the day after I ate half a pizza, or if I have a lot on mind, or if I'm staying at a hotel with a cool trail nearby. I don't like to run fast and I don't like to run far, so the most you'll catch me do is 1-2 miles every once in a while. For a long time I tried to convince myself that everyone who can run, should run. That is dumb. I love to walk, hike, do yoga, and do pilates. Not everyone needs to be a runner. I am not a runner.

I don't get dressed (0n most days). I make no apologies for this. Skinny jeans and heels are not conducive to chasing a toddler around the park. End of story. I basically get dressed when I have a reason to, and since I don't get dressed that often, when I get dressed, I GET DRESSED (skinny jeans, cute top, ankle boots, boom).

I don't spend a lot of time in the beauty department. I don't read beauty magazines or beauty blogs or buy expensive makeup. It's just not important or interesting to me, and I'm sure my face suffers because of it. I can appreciate a new lipstick and good dry shampoo as much as the next girl, but neither of those things are a priority for me. When I see women who are really put together, sometimes I think to myself, "Dang, I wish I looked like that." And then I think about the time and energy and money it must take to look that good and I decide it's not really something I want to pursue. Sorry, Brett.

I don't have (or buy) a lot of clothes. I've been minimizing my closet for the past two years and I have to really love something to add it to my wardrobe. I go shopping for clothes a few times a year, and that's enough for me. (p.s. I'm hoping to use StitchFix for that now and then I'll never have to leave the house to shop again!)

I don't try too hard with people who don't like me. I can't spend my whole life trying to be someone that I'm not.

I don't do Pinterest-y parties, but I love and appreciate and admire my friends who do.

I don't make gifts. At all.

I don't keep a lot of stuff. I purge on the regular; Goodwill is in my top GPS favorites.

I don't read a lot of blogs. I read some, but not a lot. I only subscribe to a few, and read the rest via Twitter or Facebook. The internet is full of a lot of noise (I would know, I contribute to it!), and my brain can only handle so much. I'm learning that the less noise I expose myself to, the better my art is.

I don't watch sports. Ever. I hate them. Even football. Sorry.

I don't really like touching animals. I don't want to talk about it.

I don't give energy to relationships that are toxic, negative, or otherwise harmful to me, my marriage, or my family. I set boundaries with people that I don't trust, and limit conversations with people who love to gossip.

I don't go to the dentist and doctor regularly. I know. This is a terrible habit. I am working to move this to the "things I do" list. Aiming for 2014.

I don't weigh myself. Ever. I don't even own a working scale. I get weighed at the doctor, and I never go to the doctor, so I really have no idea how much I weigh. I find freedom in that. My eating habits and exercise patterns are dictated by how I feel, not an arbitrary number. For me, my self-image is healthiest this way.

What about you? What are three things you do and three things you don't do? Let's get to know each other in the comments... :)