I’ve always maintained that January 1 was a senseless date to make resolutions. Most people are coming off a hectic holiday season and need to settle back into their normal lives in order to accurately judge what they want to change. It’s also smack-dab in the middle of a cold, dark season for most of us — and all you want to do is cozy up at home and sleep. Who wants to be all yang-ish and “Forward, march!” when you feel like that? You’re just setting yourself up for failure.
But a few weeks into 2016, and I’m ready to stake some flags and mark some territory. The landscape of my new, improved life! The terrain of my beautifully enabled soul! The work-of-art that is my life-in-progress!
Or, really: stuff that needs to change before I freaking lose it. (Though I do believe life is a creative act, and it pays to be intentional about it if you want it to be lovely and amazing.)
So here is my sort-of to-do and to-be list for 2016. The big picture items, at least: I’ve left off my writing goals like revising my novel and working on some new forms of writing because I want to cover them separately in a different post and/or they’re kind of boring, because most people don’t care about your progress as a writer. I’ve also left off stuff like “try snowshoeing” and “finally learn chess” and “ride at least one rollercoaster and one horse, but not at the same time” for the same reason. And I’ve kind of already mentioned my vague yearning for gentleness after a rough 2015.
These are more my “everything else and the kitchen sink” types of items. But they have the most impact on my quality of life and the people around me, so they’re the most important, really.
UGH TO ERRANDS. Believe it or not, this is one of my major goals. It sounds so boring and housewife-y, but the truth is that having a child and family in general means a lot more Target runs, drugstore trips and grocery excursions if you’re not careful. Before I had a child, it was a nice diversion to run somewhere to pick something up — because it didn’t happen often and my needs were pared-down and sometimes wandering around Walmart after midnight is an interesting, sometimes dark excursion into humanity. But babies and families multiply needs tenfold, and I just don’t have time for this anymore — and it’s also no fun to run out whenever I need something when I just want to sit in bed and finish watching my nightly episode of “Parks and Rec.” (Which is part of my daily prescription for sanity this winter.)
So: my goal is to do only one run a week for groceries and household stuff. This is a deceptively quotidian goal for me, because it actually involves creating more systems of organization, management and communication than you’d think. So you’ll probably be hearing more about my attempts to deal with this later. It’s surprisingly epic.
BUY AS NOTHING AS POSSIBLE. I’ve written earlier about this, so there you go.
BE A TREASURE TROVE OF MEMORIES AND LIGHTHOUSE OF LOVE FOR MY FAMILY. Aww, this sounds so corny, no? But again, this intention is much more “dense” than it first appears. I’ve never really been a memorabilia/photo-taking/”capture the moment” person — I like to be as present as possible during most of my daily experiences and have relied on memory and words to pin down my nostalgia. But the cliche is true: babies change and grow so fast, and sometimes I feel like the small, delicate moments that make up memories escape so quickly. (I blame chronic sleep deprivation.) So I’ve been trying to photograph more, and record more voice memos of the baby babbling, and have experiences that cause me to look at the world and myself with fresh eyes. And documenting everything just a little better allows me to savor experiences afterwards and recall details that were too flyaway at the time. (I also found it inexpressibly comforting and love-inspiring to look at old photos and videos of my loved ones in the darkest moments of post-partum depression, so there is a mental-health aspect here.)
MAKE FRIENDS WITH NEGATIVE EMOTIONS. This is partially related to the “lighthouse of love” part above, because you can’t be full of light and love without some chiaroscuro of the soul, no? But if there is any one quasi-universal lesson that I could impart from my bout of PPD, it’s that the path to wholeness means not just cultivating positive mental and emotional traits, but tending and befriending your dark ones as well. It’s learning to label, accept and experience things like anger, sadness, fear, anxiety and even rage in a good, safe way. It’s very facile to say “Oh, yes, I’m well acquainted with my dysfunction, neurosis and sadnesses!” because we’re good at ranting on Facebook or enjoy a good ranting session over drinks and whatever trendy street food is popular on Instagram now. I’m talking instead about something deeper: having clarity, seeing the relationship between your yucky feelings and patterns — and then accepting the fact that they might never go away. You can lessen their grip, be amused by them, perhaps even love them and thank them for teaching you where you need to stretch and grow — and in doing so, truly choose something different for yourself. You might call this “radical acceptance,” or perhaps learning a kind of graceful emotional proportion. I don’t know. But I hope it will be beautiful, and a beautiful year.
(Photo: part of my ‘treasure troving’…I framed my baby’s birth announcement, footprints and the hat and socks he wore on the way home from the hospital.)