The first few months of 2016 were not really the epic start to a new year that I had planned. I had a whole list of I want’s relating to my life, relationships, and work. But things came up that I didn’t plan for, and it seemed like time was flying by way too fast to tackle any of my resolutions or plans. And with each day that passed I felt more and more discouraged.
I knew I wasn’t happy with my life as is in a lot of areas, and I knew where I wanted to end up, eventually—but I just couldn’t seem to get moving down that road. I was stuck. Then, last month, I read this blog post that just seemed to really address everything I’d been struggling with. It made me realize that if I wanted to make changes and become that happy future me that I was envisioning, I first needed to change how I went about making those changes.
You’ve heard the phrase “old ways won’t open new doors”, and that’s true. I was weighed down with so many old things: habits, thought patterns, plans, self-perceptions. They had failed me a hundred times before and were failing me yet again, yet I was clinging to them because they were familiar and easy…and lacked any real commitment, other than a commitment to second-guessing myself. I felt paralyzed.
I had to let go of who I was yesterday, complete with all her bad habits and flaws (or the perception thereof), before I could start working on a new me. No more excuses for my bad habits. No more negative self-talk or endless “what if”s. No more “plan B” because of the mistakes I made once upon a time. No more apologizing for who I am because I was once a girl who sought approval. Those old remains were holding me back from making the changes I needed, and once I laid them to rest so many decisions and changes I’d agonized about suddenly felt so simple.
I won’t lie and say that I don’t still have days where I struggle. I have to hit the “reset” button on a daily basis and examine what my body and spirit are telling me that day. And I won’t say that it isn’t frightening to chart a course that’s neither easy nor guaranteed. Saying firmly “this does not work for me” can be hard when it’s something that you think should or could work for you, especially if other people are chiming in on that chorus.
But I think it’s even scarier to settle for something you don’t really want just because it’s easy. Life is so short. I’m not willing to live it looking back.
(Original photo by Caleb Wright via Unsplash)
March is usually the time when I start thinking about spring cleaning. It’s time to whisk away the dust bunnies, repot house plants, and generally freshen up the whole house. This spring I’m trying to get past the physical side of spring cleaning and do a little mental and emotional spring cleaning, too.
I got really bogged down this winter with negative thoughts and useless habits. The start of spring, full of light and fresh air, seems like a perfect time to make a change! I’ve found that my spirit is happiest when I’m giving plenty of time to creating art and reading books and taking time out to visit nature, rather than cooping myself up with technology and too much “busywork”. I read somewhere that we take way too much pride in being “busy” and not in taking care of ourselves, and I’m guilty of it. I tend to put everyone and everything else first and not take time out for what my soul needs the most.
So for spring, I’m cleaning all that away and and making a to-do list that includes lots of time in the garden, lots of time to read, and lots of naps with the cats. I think my body and spirit alike will be happier for it.
What’s on your “spring cleaning” list?
This month I’m thinking a lot about disappointment—best laid plans and all that, the realization that you’ve set out on a path with a specific destination in mind, but things haven’t turned out as you planned. The past six months I’ve made a lot of plans and gotten off to a lot of false starts, which have generated a lot of disappointment, but also a lot of lessons and rewards.
Part of the reason I quit blogging on the regular was because I decided it was time for a career change. I spent a lot of time looking for other jobs and ended up taking a second job for a couple of months in the hopes that it might turn into a full-time gig and let me leave my current job. Long story short, that didn’t happen, which was initially a bit of a letdown, but in the end it was for the best. I ended up getting some perks at my current job that I definitely wouldn’t have received had I switched to a different job. Now that I’ve fishtailed about a bit with my job hunt and have settled down to stay at this job (for now), my schedule has opened up a bit and I have more time to write, which is my real passion anyway.
I’ve learned time and again over the past several months that even though it can be rough to not get what you want, it’s sometimes for the best. And even though it can be frustrating to be nearing another birthday and have no clearer picture of where my path will go in the next few years, I’m realizing that that is absolutely okay. I may not know what the next six months or the next two years will hold—a new job? travel? school? new writing gigs?—but this no longer bothers me. An unwritten future is freeing; anything can happen. And for all that it may be uncertain, it certainly isn’t boring.
(Photo by Lee Miller via Unsplash)
Everyone is making New Year’s resolutions this month—stop smoking, lose weight, etc. etc.—and of course that has me thinking about my own goals. What do I want to accomplish this year that I didn’t do in 2015? What do I want to change? What would I like to happen in my life to alter my destiny this year, as opposed to the path I followed last year?
I wont lie, I set a lot of goals for myself each year that probably seem pretty simple—eat healthier foods, exercise more often, blog more often, read more books, etc. I don’t think of these goals as the acknowledgement of a previous year’s failure. Rather, I see the New Year as an excellent opportunity to realign with myself and get back on track with the things that are important to me.
This year, I’m also setting some larger goals. I would like a major job change, or at the very least to move closer toward writing at least part-time as a “real” job so I can move away from my current full-time job. And I’m striving to practice daily happiness, rather than be bogged down by the negative things in life. After struggling with depression for much of last year, embracing life with job and optimism is a major goal for me.
One thing that has undone me time and again as I’ve previously made goals for myself is that little inner voice that sows seeds of doubt and worry. As I move into 2016 I continue to think of this quote from Nelson Mandela: “One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen.” I believe good things are in store for me in 2016, and I am determined to greet them with a positive attitude and an ambitious mindset, not a store of negativity and self-doubt.
What are your goals for 2016? Do you make New Year’s resolutions or not?
Happy November everyone! It seems like October really flew by, and now it’s already time to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
This time of the year, everyone is talking about “the holiday spirit” and tossing around words like “thankfulness” and “joy”—but how much are we really focusing on those attitudes on a daily basis? And why is it so hard for us to focus on gratitude and maintaining a positive attitude once Thanksgiving is past? I know I personally have a tendency to zero in on tiny little things that irritate or upset me and then stew over them endlessly. And yet, when you focus on the positive, you’re bound to be happier (it’s science, people!). People who are more grateful also tend to feel better physically and have better relationships with those around them. Who doesn’t want that?
It also seems like this time of year highlights a sharp contrast between the “haves” and “have-nots”, and I don’t just mean the people who are well-to-do financially and those who are poorer or even homeless. A lot of people spend the holidays without the love of friends and family, or face a long gloomy winter that highlights mental or physical health problems. I know I have a TON to be grateful for in my everyday life—a warm home, a loving family, shelves full of books to read—and even though I see almost daily reminders of people who are hungry, hurting, or friendless, it’s so easy to start taking all of those blessings for granted.
So this month, I’m kicking off a gratitude challenge on Instagram. Each day I’ll post something I’m grateful for that day with the hashtag #gratefullifeNov. I’d love it if any of you want to follow along! If you don’t have Insta, you could do this on Twitter or Facebook, too. There is no daily prompt, just snap a pic of something you’re thankful for and share the story behind it. (Maybe it’s a mug of hot tea on a rainy day or a surprise card in the mail—it could be anything!) And be sure to tag me so I can see all your posts!
I think taking note of all the little things I have to be grateful for will make me happier overall, and if you join in I hope it will help you have a happier November as well. <3