I’ve waited to write a New Year post, because I have mixed feelings about using January as a jumping off point for big life changes. After all, it’s still the dead of winter. Any physical health goals that involve weight loss, increased activity, or eating fewer calories is sure to be a challenge when you’re freezing or stuck inside, so I don’t feel right about trying to get you amped to make all these changes when doing so when the weather warms is likely a better choice to actually get the results you’re looking for.
New Year Reflection
This post is different from my usual posts. It’s more of a reflection as I gaze forward, backward, and inward, and examine how I’m living and feeling right now in this moment. My goal with this type of deeper sharing is to encourage you to reflect in the same way — and write it down. Actually verbalize your observations and reflection, even if it’s just for yourself. You’d be surprised at how helpful it can be to put things into perspective as your direct your energy into new goals for 2016.
A Year — or Decade — In Review
So, 2016 is here — I’ve officially been out of college for over a decade and out of grad school for just shy of 5 years. That’s bananas! Adulthood, womanhood, professional career, home-ownership, marriage, dog-parenting, gardening, owning a vacation vehicle — these are all external markers of where I am right at this moment. I’m someone who’s doing things.
But what does that really mean? Is a list of interests and accomplishments really what life is about? Do these things represent who I really am at my core? Does what I “do” define me?
I don’t think so. Not totally anyway.
I’ve realized that the big, gigantic life events that can be all-consuming (like being in school, planning a wedding, and buying a house) are all checked off the list — a list I didn’t consciously realize I was keeping. When I went back to Texas for the holidays, I realized that, while my career is going through some pretty exciting transitions at the moment, I really didn’t have that much of an update for my family and friends. I don’t want to be one of those people who’s always talking about work, so I tend to hold back on that — especially with friends that I rarely see — because I’d rather talk about something more substantial/personal/interesting. At the moment, there’s nothing exciting on its face to share with people I only see once or twice a year. And I’ve realized something about that.
It’s ok that I don’t have a big update. I don’t need to prepare talking points about my life’s accomplishments to have something valuable to contribute. Yes, my personal insights are based on experience, but they’re also rooted in introspection and self-discovery.
I think there are some folks waiting for Loren and me to decide that we’re having a baby. And to be honest, I don’t think that’s going to happen. That topic always comes up at one point or another when I go back to Texas (or when I’m around friends with kids), and because I’ve been ambivalent for so long, I allow (and even invite) the conversation at times, because I feel the need to hash out my trepidation. But I’ve pretty-much covered it at this point. There’s not much new to discuss on that point either. And I’ve realized something about that.
That’s ok too.
I’m not going to use this space to explain why Loren and I don’t want to have kids. If you’d actually like to hear about that, let me know in the comments and I’ll do a follow-up. But for now, I’ll assume that you know all the major reasons a couple might decide not to have kids. We pretty much hit all of those. I will say though that I really like being around other people’s kids, and I would like to make more time in my life to be able to do that.
New Year’s Resolutions
I resolve this year to recognize more quickly when I get caught up in doing doing doing.
I resolve this year to master the art of stillness.
I resolve this year to listen when creativity calls me.
Last year, my New Year’s Resolution was to start a mindful meditation practice. To be frank, I didn’t succeed in creating a daily practice. I did succeed in awakening my senses and becoming a more deliberate person, but the practice itself didn’t stick, and some of the habits I was hoping to break at the dawn of 2015 are even more entrenched at the dawn of 2016, namely the constant need for stimulation. There will be moments in time when I look up and realize that I’ve either been reading a screen, listening to a podcast, or sleeping for days and days without any sort of break in the noise. No silence. No room to empty my brain and make space for something spontaneous. And I realize that I need silence — stillness.
I actually wrote a song about this very thing when I was in college. Well, it’s about a lot of things, but the main point was that I’d learned to access myself — my truth at the time — in silence. And I’ve realized that I need to learn that skill again. That’s where creativity lives. I’m reading Liz Gilbert’s Big Magic right now, and it’s all about accessing your creativity in the face of fear. She defines bravery not as the absence of fear, but courage in the face of fear. Not an original idea, but resonant nonetheless.
I’ve never considered myself a fearful person when it comes to expressing creativity, but I can honestly say that I was absolutely the most brave (read:fearful but did it anyway) I ever was musically in deciding to add this song to the album I was recording. It’s a pretty big departure in style from anything else I ever wrote in all the years that I wrote music, but it was so true to who I was when I wrote it. It was one of those songs that flowed out and kept going and going — I was channeling something — but I was pretty nervous about adding it to my otherwise folky- girl-with-guitar-style album. In case you want a glimpse of me from a previous life, here it is:
It might seem vainglorious to be inspired by my own art, but to be perfectly honest, I really feel like there’s an element of who I was back then that’s gotten lost, and I’d really like to find it again. So I’m fine with using my own art as a jumping off point, or a place to get back to in my quest for being open and still.
So yeah, I don’t really know where this post was headed when I started it, but this is where it ended up. With a song written by a 20-something version of myself from 13+ years ago and some resolve to find a piece of that person inside of who I am today. And to do that with some silence and contemplation. As I mentioned earlier, my career is going through some major shifts, so I think these resolutions are my preemptive strike against burnout. And my sincere appeal to the creative energy around me to come in and set up shop the way it used to when I was younger. 2016 is going to be the year of making space for the creative.
February is almost over, what have your NYR’s been about so far? Are you thinking of revising them? Do you have a plan? Have you considered where creativity might fit into your year? I’d love to know. Please share in the comments below!
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