2011: My Year In Self-Improvement

I set out to check four things off of my bucket list this year.  One proved too arduous for now, and petered out in March.  I finished the other three.

One was seeing every film on AFI’s “100 Years, 100 Movies” list, except the R-rated ones.  Finally finished in July.  More on this next week.

Another was ministering to each of my home teaching families at church every month this year.  I didn’t always have a visit–I can’t control if people open the door or pick up the phone–but in past years I’ve gone months at a time without trying to contact people.  This year, everyone at least got a chance, and a lot of good work did come from it.

But the third thing was by far the coolest.  In fact, I consider it one of the best things I’ve ever done in life.  I surprised my wife with a romantic gesture every week for a year.

Needless to say, this did wonders for life in our home.

Some surprises were repeated (I brought home flowers four times, and gave great back rubs four more times–pretty sure now that I could have done that one every week and it would have been even better!), and some weren’t really surprises at all–over the summer, especially, I conferenced with her about what she’d like, and that’s when I ended up doing more household chores one week, and taking the kids out all day another time.

Have you read The Five Love Languages?  I noticed throughout the year that I was hitting multiple languages, and I think that variety was important, though some were received better than others, of course.  In fact, some of my ideas for romantic surprises were kind of duds.

But the ones that worked were awesome.  Not that I’m all that creative.  More than half my stunts were either directly from or inspired by Greg Godek’s 1001 Ways to be Romantic.  Highly recommended.

I’ll mention one thing in detail, though, because I think others really might want to consider it.  One week this year, I called home and asked her out on a date, as if we’d never been out before.  We went out to dinner and a movie, as if we were on a first date.  We had to talk and get to know each other.  Two big things came out of this.  First, we both agreed that it was a lot of work, and felt grateful that we never actually have to go on a real first date again.  We’d both forgotten how hard first dates are.

But we also actually learned new things about each other.  Imagine that.  I even got up the courage to hold her hand and–would you believe it?–by that point I was honestly a little nervous.  Terrific fun.

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