We took down the Christmas tree, vacuumed up Frazier Fir needles that we’ll undoubtedly be finding until next year, and reclaimed some of our living space. As a kid, I used to watch my mom do this (but with a big, fat Blue Spruce that had to be tied to the beams in the living room) and I’d fight back tears. The excitement got packed away carefully into see-through plastic boxes in the attic, and everything just looked so empty and boring: AKA what I now view as “clean and organized.”
Grown-up life, and keeping up with H and S, my four-year-old twin daughters, leaves much less time for being sad about tossing our beloved tree (whose dead, dried-out branches tried to reclaim most of our ornaments) on the front lawn. And urgent displays in the retail world are already sweeping us up into the excitement of the Next Big Thing. Winter Clearances, Valentine’s Day, and the one thing I won’t be taking part in this year: tackling our New Year’s resolutions head-on. For 2013, my resolution is to take a year off from making new resolutions.
For the last few years, I’ve seen January 1st as a time to restructure my life. To finally lose that last ten to fifteen pounds I’ve been fighting with since the girls were born. To spend more time reading and writing, pushing along my dreams of becoming a Real Writer. To finally put together the girls’ scrapbooks in which they haven’t even been officially born yet. To organize the whole house and make efficient use of every bit of space, one room at a time.
And every year, I start out whole-heartedly, throwing myself at the new, improved version of me. Then I get lost in the day-to-day like I always do, wondering what’s wrong with me and why I feel like I’m always moving and nothing ever feels DONE.
I’ve finally realized that neither my life nor my personality (have I mentioned I’m a Libra and a perfectionist?) is well-suited for focusing on one goal. I’ve been multi-tasking for as long as I can remember, even before becoming a mom, and it can be tiring and mind-boggling, yes, but mostly, it works for me. It’s what I know. The more I try to focus on ONE thing, the others fall through the cracks, and I end up feeling worse instead of better. Yes, I need to lose that weight. Yes, I should be writing more. Reading more. Outlining the next steps in my career. Moving things along. But sometimes, it needs to be okay to just be still. To slow down and take inventory. To live in the moment, especially when it comes to enjoying time with my husband and daughters.
These days, what I find myself craving – way more than productivity and results – is balance, and the breathing room I need to find it. In a way that’s healthy for me and that works for my family, and for what my life ACTUALLY looks like, instead of the Superwoman-infused version my guilt tells me I should be mastering instead.
This isn’t to say I won’t plan or set goals; I wouldn’t be able to function without a to-do list, or six. I’m a planner at heart, through and through, and have lists for everything. On my Apple Calendar. In Things for my iPhone, iPad and MacBook. What needs to be done this week, and next. What to pack in the kids’ overnight bags. I even have a spreadsheet to budget for our next trip to Disney.
So while I won’t be starting every morning at the gym or writing ten pages before I get out of bed, this year I already know I have one accomplishment to celebrate: I think I finally know myself well enough to take a break when I need it instead of piling it on, without feeling like a slacker.
Well – maybe you should ask me about that in a few days 😉