The Facebook photo stream of children dressed as glittery snowflakes and sugar plum fairies for the Nutcracker filled me with regret. Should I have signed my daughters up for ballet? The arrival of Christmas card photos with perfect families on tropical vacations stirred up a deep longing for a different, better life. Even friendly deliveries of holiday cookies provided an inferiority complex because I’m a terrible baker. Don’t get me started on decorations. I’d drive like a mad woman to the craft store because I thought we needed a better Christmas wreath.

This is an in between kind of week isn't it? We're beyond the bustle of Christmas and after weeks of advent. . . all the anticipation and waiting has passed and we are looking ahead toward a new year- a fresh start. For many of us the lull brings us a chance to pause, to dream to set goals. I'm pulling out pencils and paper, journals and planners and making lists and praying about what this new year might hold. 

When I'm setting new goals for the year, my heart is in it, and I begin with gusto! But as the months wear on, I often find that what I set out to accomplish is stalling, my motivation is lacking and I forget why my goals were so important in the first place. 

I so easily forget the why.


There are two sources of inspiration for this post, and I must give credit where credit is due. The first is Ann Voskamp's post about her birthday, when she does an act of kindness for every year she's lived. Oh, that post was good. 

The second inspiration is my mom, who looked at me, when I was knee-deep in anxious, no-hope living, and said, "Jessica, you are holding a mirror to your face. You're miserable, because all you see is yourself."

See, both these wise women (Ann and my mom) know the secret. 

When you feel down, help others. It's the only way to happiness.