During the last few weeks and days of 2017 I felt like an excited kid anticipating my birthday and all the cake and presents I was going to eat. The sheer elation I felt about the new year coming was positively electric. It’s not like 2017 was a bad year for me, it was at times extremely emotionally draining and at key points I was filled with self-doubt and anxiety regarding my career and future prospects, but aside from that there was a whole lot of good going on. Lots of excellent family, friends and happy mama moments, enjoying the simple things and taking things slow during the last half of my maternity leave, while on vacation and during gatherings with friends.
I haven’t set any New Years resolutions in a long time. Half a decade? A decade? Probably the latter. I’ve always felt like resolutions were set for the benefit of what you should feel like doing rather than what you want to do or how you want to feel.
With a lot of help from a lot of people and books, I dug deep in 2017. Lots of self-reflection and I got super into stream of consciousness journalling and that revealed a lot of subconscious beliefs that have been holding me back. I feel like 2017 was the year that I’ve done the groundwork to set myself up for an awesome 2018. Insert gardening metaphor here!
Going forward, I wanted to set 3 intentions. They grew to 4. Oh well! Then I read about people doing the word of the year. One screamed out at me. Since setting my intentions I’ve seen some bloggers do 18 intentions for 2018. Cute, but totally not for me. I don’t know if it’s the teacher in me, but I feel like I can’t focus on that many things and I would be setting myself up for failure.
Having said all of that, here they are!
Word of the year: thrive
A lot of my life the past year and a half has been keenly focused on first time motherhood survival, figuring out what on earth I am doing and finding some sort of flow to family life. Now that things have calmed down a bit (well, as much as they can be with a crazy little munchkin of a toddler running around!), I feel like I can turn more of my efforts and attention towards me and helping myself.
Intention 1: Trust yourself
This is big for me. Huge. That self-doubt and anxiety I mentioned? The root of a lot of it is not trusting myself. Listening to my gut, the little voice in my head, my guiding light trying to tell me what works the best for me and us as a family. Crazy as it sounds, I’ve been using John McClane from Die Hard a positive role model of this. McClane listens to his gut and ignores the naysayers who doubt what he knows to be true. They’re wrong, he’s right. He saves the day. Be more John McClane!
I have ignored my own trust in myself in the past to my peril. Not anymore. It’s not easy to improve, but for me, it’s totally worth focusing on.
Intention 2: Get creative
Getting creative is a multi-faceted intention for me. It got into my head when I discovered my ancient iPod when trying to find a pair of shoes and I synced it to our bluetooth speakers. Music, beautiful music, how have I forgotten about you? Ever since the munchkin learned how to turn off the amp from which we used to listen to the radio all day, every day, we had stopped listening to music. Rediscovering music felt like being the first person to create fire! From there, I later got out my long neglected acoustic guitar and strummed it here and there. Bambino loves playing with it and is surprisingly gentle. And we have a harmonica! I got it as a teenager (?) and completely forgot it made the move over to the UK. All 3 of us love messing around on it. I have daydreams of one day being able to wail on it like Bob Dylan. Or that dude from Blues Traveler.
Other aspects of creativity that I am exploring this year are writing more (something I’ve always loved doing), coloring (I see you there Rick & Morty adult coloring book I got from The Brit for Christmas!), crafts like sewing (finally learning how to this year — will report back!) and baking. I’m sure other creative pursuits will come barging in once the flood gates have opened too.
Intention 3: Connect
A big one and a tricky one for me because it’s all about connecting but disconnecting.
Being a Californian girl in Britland, I’m thousands of miles from many of my nearest and dearest. Facebook and Whatsapp are a godsend and a life line for me to keep in touch with my family and best friends. But I’ve become aware that I’m not spending my time online wisely anymore and am ignoring the real life in pursuit of bs on the internets. So part of this is making an effort to put.down.the.phone and laptop after 9.
Another realization I had about a month ago is that I hadn’t spoken to a good friend on Whatsapp since my birthday. She sent me a message and I never even sent one back. I was floored when I realized this. Part of this intention is holding myself accountable to messaging close friends at least once a month, if not once a fortnight to check in and connect.
Connecting with The Brit is another big one. As parents, it’s so hard to make time for just the two of you, but now that the little one is sleeping more and we have a chunk of us time in the evenings, I’m determined I will be spending less of it staring into my phone and more time connecting with him so we have the chance to spend quality time together and have actual grown up conversations (well, as grown up as we can be with our hilariously immature sense of humor).
Intention 4: Let go
Part of me thinks that this is really a sub-section of Trust yourself, but I feel like there are points in my life where I am so monumentally terrible at this that I need it as a separate intention just as an extra reminder. I’ll tell you, negative self-talk and habits come up to the surface very easily for me and I find it tricky at times to give myself a break and show myself love. What helps me to let go? (Gratitude) Journalling, chatting with a friend or my husband, walking, baths with podcasts, meditation and music.
Something that I’ve found helpful so far is to treat myself a bit like a child. I mean, if my kid messes up, I don’t harp on and on about it non-stop for hours like I do to myself inside my head. I mention it, maybe model ideal behavior and let it go. As a result, I’m trying to do this with myself. I find the easiest way to help me let go of something is try to turn it around and find the positive. I have started telling myself “I’m proud of you because…”.
For example, I had the slim possibility of Indefinite Leave to Remain (aka no more visa funsies ever ever again in my future) dangled in front of me like a golden carrot by my solicitor. However, due to the legal wording, I maybe wouldn’t get it just yet and there would likely be more appeals and lawyers in the future if I went down that route. I’ve been down that route before. I know what it’s like.
I decided not to go for the shiny shiny and I chose to wait. I listened to my gut, because I had dealt with having to deal with the bureaucracy that occurs when you’re denied a visa on a technicality in the past and didn’t want to put myself through that immense stress again. After that meeting, to help me let go of the “what ifs” of the chance I just passed up, I told myself “I’m proud of you for listening to your gut and waiting. You chose the less exciting but more expensive route which will cause you less stress. You can take your time and slowly build up your bundle in a leisurely way rather than the stress of having a very big impending deadline with so much to do so soon.”
Intentions, resolutions or just word of the year, choose what’s right for you
Whatever speaks to you and feels authentic to you, that’s what will help you achieve what you want in the end. If you’re trying to break old habits or establish new ones, read read read Gretchen Rubin’s The 4 Tendencies and the rest of her work. If you’re wanting to focus on eating more healthily or saving money, I can recommend Meal planning to save your sanity.
Good luck and you do you!