Monday, July 20, 2009

The Year of Temperance - Part 1

Photo courtesy of yomi995

I've mentioned before that every year I set an intention (and sometimes one or two sub-intentions) for the year beginning on my birthday. This year is the Year of Love and Joy and last year was The Year of Trust. Well, my birthday is about two and a half months away, so I've been kicking around ideas for year 31 and I think I've come up with a winner. 31 is going to be my Year of Temperance.

It's amazing how one year flows into the next. I don't think I could have tackled this before my year-long focus on love and joy. Like a lot of people, I tend to use indulgence as a cheap substitute for love and joy. Hot fudge and marshmallow sundaes are much more easily attained in times of crisis than real joy and require an outlay of only $3 at Culver's versus the much more expensive humility, trust and sacrifice required to obtain actual virtue. The problem is that the hot fudge and marshmallow sundaes don't really do the trick. 8 months into my experience with the real thing and I don't think I can stomach the substitute any longer. My heart wants more.

Zach, who's birthday is four days after mine, is joining me in my intention this year. We've identified a few areas we want to focus on for the year.

-Food. This is a problem area for both of us, although Zach's metabolism hides it well. I gain weight watching him eat. It's also a hard one to fight in our culture. Not that I'm complaining. An over-abundance of food is a problem most people in the world at most times in history would have loved to counted as their biggest challenge. I was reading the introduction to a cookbook I own that was written by a monk and I was struck by the simple wholesomeness of their diet. The monk, Victor-Aintoine D'Avila Latourette, talked about how Benedictines eat a (mostly) vegetarian diet, in solidarity with the poor. While we will not be going vegetarian I do want to bring that spirit of gratitude for what we have and appreciation of "enough" to our table. That whole "starving kids in China" thing may have been a bit abstract when we were kids, but at 31 and 27 I think it may prove to be a much better motivator.

-Clutter. While there are many lovely things about living in a house passed down through generations, one of the downsides is that you tend to have some clutter. We've been sorting through our inherited belongings for a year and a half now and we are not yet where we would like to be. This coming year we would like to tackle the ancestral clutter once and for all.

-TV. This one isn't really a problem in the summer, but in the winter we watch more TV than we should. Now that the girls are going to be in school we are cutting out TV on school nights except in rare cases.

By cutting things out of our lives and learning new habits we hope to make room for better, healthier blessings.


  1. These are great goals, and I love what you said about food. That cookbook sounds so interesting! What is the title? We try not to take food for granted, but for kids it can be a hard concept to grasp. I think getting Emily involved in the garden made a big difference, but we still have a ways to go.

  2. The cookbook is called From a Monastery Kitchen. That same monk has several cookbooks. I also have his 12 Months of Monastery Soups and 12 Months of Monastery Salads. All three books are fantastic.

  3. I recommend the book Hungry Planet - it is a photo book with brief stories from around the world, showing families with a week's worth of food. Its companion book, Material World, showing families from around the world outside their abode with all of their possessions, is also fascinating for both young and old.

  4. Thanks Rosemary! I will check that out. It sounds like just what we need.

  5. I love your yearly birthday goals. They are so inspiring to me!

    The year I turned 30 I had a good job and no children. I did something pampering for myself every month-Like a spa treatment or some good shoes. It was blissful (though mostly unenlightened)and I still remember it as a really wonderful gateway into my 30's!

    My Birthday is in less than 2 weeks and I am thinking of some of my own goals that I'll focus on as well! Thanks for the reminder of your wonderful idea.

    I hope you share some of your year on your blog!

  6. That sounds like a wonderful way to celebrate 30 Christine! I will definitely share some of my Year of Temperence here. It should be interesting.

    Good luck on whatever you decide to do for your birthday!