What I plan to work on this year...
1. Treat myself like my own best friend.
All my life I've looked to other people to fill me, take care of me, make sure I'm happy and content. After a lifetime of failures in that department (and who can expect anything but failure with an outlook like that), I realize, finally, that it's up to me. No one can choose happiness or contentment for me, no one can be all things to me, no one can even know what I need but me.
So what does befriending myself look like? I guess it's a series of vows:
Be careful what I say to and about myself. Be careful of the stories I tell myself—and tell about myself.
Recently I realized that when I look in the mirror, I think how old does that woman look? How far will the gray go? I used to have a figure, now I'm afraid I'm becoming a shape. I used to be much prettier. Those are terrible things to say to your best friend.
Don’t save the good stuff.
Here's the deal, I have china and fancy dishes, beautiful tablecloths, blankets, clothes, jewelry, all waiting in closets and cupboards for "someday". Like I'm waiting for life to suddenly be worth having a party over--someday. Ridiculous. Also, when I pass over, there will be no one in my life who will want these things. My stepkids and grandkids aren't the fancy-things types, and I have no one to pass these things on to. Why let shoppers at Goodwill use these things somewhere down the road instead of enjoying them now?
Don’t put off pleasure.
Did it really take me this many decades to allow myself to wear my favorite sweater anytime I want to because it's my favorite? Did it really take this long to realize putting on pajamas at 6:30pm is perfectly reasonable? Did it really take this long to realize I could read on Sunday afternoon if I wanted to? Well, yes, yes it did.
Smile more.Have you ever noticed that when you smile, you look about 10 years younger and 100% happier Yeah, me too. This year, more smiling.
2. Organize my laundry room.
It's a simple thing, but it's been needing to be done almost since we moved in nearly five years ago. I only spend an hour a week there, if that, so things slide. I finally realized that since I love doing laundry I deserve having a space to enjoy doing it in.
3. Send out at least one batch of poems.
I read Elizabeth Gilbert's Big Magic last year, and it really energized me to engage in the world as a creative person again. By now I guess I've not written poetry for as many years as I wrote poetry, and that makes me sad and guilty. Think of all the poems I missed out on. Even if I don't pick up the pen again to write some this year (though I sincerely hope I do), I plan to send some older poems out to literary journals.
4. Begin a 5-year Q&A diary and an Initial Your Thoughts journal.
I've tried keeping a diary off and on (mostly off) throughout my entire life. I finally accepted several years ago that I'm just not the diary-keeping type. It stresses me out, which I'm pretty sure is the opposite of what it's supposed to do for a person. When my father passed in September, though, I realized how much of a life we live and let drop off the table of consciousness. How I wish I had some of his jokes written down, or his "unimportant" one-liners. So I'm going back to journaling, but this time with a new approach. I won't write unless the spirit moves me, and I won't write more than a couple succinct lines, just enough to get down what I want to get down. My whole adult life I've scribbled wonderful thoughts down on Post-its and miscellaneous slips of paper, and I have no idea where they end up--that's the stuff that's going into my journal. Plus, lists, lots of lists. I'll call this journal "Initial Your Thoughts," which is the name I had always wanted to give a book of writing prompts I hoped to publish.
Also, I stumbled upon a 5-year diary on Amazon one day what gives you a thought-provoking question to answer each day. That's my kind of journal. I'll be fascinated to see how my answers change over the years.
5. Follow through. Connect.
At my father's funeral, I was so touched by a conversation I had with my Aunt Carol in which she recounted one of her favorite stories about my dad in his later years. She also wrote that story down and included it in a long letter she sent to my mother, bothers, and me. That one gesture meant so much to me. More than anything else that happened those first few weeks after the funeral, that was the one that touched me most.
And that made me think. How often to I pass up giving the ones I love those kind of moments because I'm too tired, overwhelmed, depressed, selfish, or just lethargic? I come from a family that doesn't talk about much but the weather, cake recipes, and sports. I've always hungered for stronger, deeper connections, like the one my aunt gave me at my dad's funeral. I have that with my husband, of course, but beyond that, the world often feels like a wasteland of want and need and not enough water. I want to learn to be the water.
6. Lighten up on "the kids".I have a (step)son, daughter-in-law, and grandson living in the same city as me and a (step)daughter, two granddaughters, a grandson, and four great-grandsons in Nebraska and Colorado. (Maybe I'll explain how this all happened someday....) Their lives are often filled with chaos and drama that makes being close to them difficult. It's hard to find the right balance between being a mom and being a friend when your kids are your age. It's hard to see them make decisions that will have devastating impacts on their lives and the lives of their children. It's hard when they don't call at Christmas, remember your birthday, or tell you they appreciate what you've done for them.
But it's really easy to judge them, to wish they'd change. It's easy to think that faulting their behavior is a loving thing, because you're only doing it because you love them and want them to be happy and healthy.
I've noticed recently how often my mind goes to negative thoughts about my kids, and I know it doesn't do any of us any good. It makes me feel awful, and it malpractices their best efforts. So this year, I'm going to try to think less about what I see as lacking in their lives and think more about how much they mean to me. I'm going to try to stop voicing the negative things when they come to me, and I'm going to practice turning those thoughts over to their True Parent.
7. Take more pictures.Each December, I create a calendar for my daughter-in-law and my husband's ex-wife and fill it with photos I've taken throughout the year. And each year the pool of photos to choose from gets smaller and smaller. This year was the worst selection ever. Considering how cheap it is to take digital photos, and considering how much I love having them, and considering how much I need them for my calendar project, you'd think I could get some taken from time to time. This year, I want to be more intentional about getting photos taken, perhaps doing a photo shoot with grandson Bo this winter.
Link up with your own list here: The Broke and the Bookish.