In the spirit of the New Year, here is my New Year, New You post. I envy those folks who don’t have to develop resolutions or restart a year. I’ve never been one of those people. I need a restart each year to develop new habits and wipe the slate clean. I’m an ENF(sometimes J)P. I am a highly sensitive person (see this TED talk to understand how I work). I live, breathe, and ABSORB all the feelings around me, which these days can be very toxic. I have a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old. I am the Executive Director of a non-profit. I totally get how some folks can dictate how they work within these constructs, I am the kind of folk that lets ALL of everything I mentioned above dictate how I work within it.
2018 was equally hard and good. I had to stretch myself personally and professionally. I had to learn some really hard lessons. I had to acknowledge areas of weakness. I found a strength I had lost. I accepted failures and celebrated wins. I have given myself (and others) space and grace. I have learned a whole hell of a lot, but through all of that learning and stretching and growing, I put myself absolutely last. That’s just the truth. And I did so because I couldn’t see that it was happening and once I did, it felt like it was too late.
This is the part of my blog where the people that love me the most give me that side eye and say, “Why are you writing about this so publicly?” You see, I am surrounded by immensely private people who also happen to be introverts. That ain’t me. That’s why our relationships work.
I think that in the world of Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, emails – we are living in a world that almost celebrates less physical/emotional connections with people even though we are most connected than ever. So, I think it is important to make sure folks see my personal and professional journey just how it has been. In the middle of incredible victories (my kids are awesome, my family is working, I am proud of the work I do every single day and the impact it makes), I have also gained 40 pounds (truth), been sick for the last 7 weeks, and haven’t exercised or practiced any sort of self care. I’ve pushed my body too hard in all the wrong ways and I think it is finally waving the white flag.
Enter the new year. Because I’ve been riding the roller coaster mentioned above, I often need something like a new year to help me get back on track. We will see plenty of jokes online about everybody and their mama at the gym, millions of new downloads for weight watchers, and resolutions that may or may not be broken on day 2. Like I said, the world is made up of those folks who can keep a routine, eat 5 chips instead of the entire bag, and create a life of consistency. But the world needs all of us passionate, inconsistent, and highly sensitive people too and we need a restart every now and then. I’m deciding to do it despite how many people I surround myself who don’t need to do it and how many jokes I may see on the internets.
In my daily life, my online calendar looks like a train wreck. Everyone has access to it – my family and colleagues. They use it as a guide to schedule my days and so over the break, I realized that my calendar isn’t mine at all. When I look at it, I see what I’m supposed to accomplish – not what I want to accomplish. There are work meetings (one-on-one, staff, Board, and other), pajama, picture, and field trip days for the 3-year-old, math tests, after school activities and pick-ups for the 7-year-old. There are doctor and dentist appointments. There are grant deadlines, reminders, and reports that are due. It’s overwhelming, honestly, and this year I’m going to try something different: I’m going to keep a personal calendar (not online) and I’m going to be the only one with access to it.
Each day I’m going to put in one thing I want to accomplish for myself. Listen, I’m not an idiot. I know that more than one thing each day would overwhelm me and I’d probably head to the potato chip bag or take a bath in cheese dip by the time the first day was over. Sure, I’d love to wake up tomorrow and drink two glasses of room temperature water with lemon to cleanse my colon, take my probiotic, head out for my hour-long hike with my new puppy that knows how to walk on a leash, meditate for 10 minutes, stretch, shave my legs (miracle), remember to put on under-eye anti-wrinkle cream, magically and PEACEFULLY get the kids fed and ready without any distractions, take the time to meaningfully blow dry my hair and actually use product, casually browse my closet knowing anything I pick will fit perfectly while breathing in the diffused essential oils I carefully thought about using for the day.
Are you still reading this? Oh, good.
Let’s keep going because this is fun.
I’d start my work day avoiding emails and Facebook and only focusing on inspirational quotes while following a detailed routine of checking off my to do list and deadlines while avoiding any and all distractions, eat the healthy lunch I packed, take a walk during the day to refocus, leave work with plenty of time to pick up the kids, meditate and sing joyful songs while stuck in traffic on 65, eat dinner together slowly and without any disagreements even though there are vegetables on the plate, go over how thankful we are, speed through first grade homework because it is so easy, scoff at the mention of screen time and instead play charades or a board game or put together a puzzle, read four books each to the kids, put the kids to bed with enough time to put cream on my crusty heels (yes, I said that), put the tea kettle on (I’ve always wanted to say that) and steep some relaxing chamomile tea, spend time going over the day with my husband as I sip on the tea and physically feel my heels getting softer as we talk, read one chapter of my new Michelle Obama book, and go to bed around 8 pm so I can rise at 5 am and do it all over again.
But we all know that if I managed to at least conquer ONE of those things, I’d already be winning based on my life in 2018. Therefore, I’m sticking with ONE thing. If I do more, great. If I only do one thing…I’m a winner.
In addition to living that life above (ha), here are a few things that are important for me to do in a month:
Listening a podcast (yes, one)
Reading a chapter (yes, one chapter and with my new reading glasses because I’m 41)
Exercising (twice a week and I realize that isn’t ideal, but it’s better than my current situation which is flat ZERO times a week)
Consciously eating meals and recording them (this means recording what I’m eating even if it means simply writing down VAT OF CHEESE DIP or BAG OF POTATO CHIPS so that I can be more accountable and then decide how to conquer it, but first I have to write it down)
Writing (I’m doing it now, but would really like to do it more often because I miss it desperately)
Slowing Down (Taking time before, during or after the work day to just be still for a second. For those of you who know me well, this is going to be a challenge. Breaks aren’t my specialty and especially ones that require me to be still. But, I want to try.)
Friends (I don’t see my friends as often I should and I want to fix that)
Doing things I like (Roller Skating, Karaoke. Dancing. Time with friends. Dates with my husband. Fries and Old Fashioneds at 5 Point Oyster House. Turkey Sandwich at the Garage Café. Grocery Store Shopping (it’s true – I dig it), more Dancing, hiking, writing, cooking, walking, and spending spontaneous time with my family – not the structured, gotta get homework and dinner done kind of time. Talking on the phone with friends I don’t get to see as often. Once I get healthier, I’d like to box again – but only with bags because I don’t believe in hitting people.)
So, here’s to 2019. It will be one of the busiest years of my life. I know this because of some work that is ahead of me. Centering myself before it starts is something I’m committed to doing. I hope I have your support as I get started. I hope this helps you do the same if you’ve been looking for some inspiration. Don’t you worry about what other people think or how long you stay committed. Sometimes the most important thing is to recognize and start. I hope that we all find ways to disconnect from the things that aren’t real and connect to the things that are.