I have followed photographer/speaker/author Karen Walrond at www.chookooloonks.com for several years and I love her photography and the tone of her writing. She is very soothing. She also provides links to her favorite songs on her playlist, which has introduced me to some fun new (to me) musicians. In December, she is offering a guided journal type writing course called Advent of Light and since i was looking for a way to focus some time on writing, I signed up. I’m already behind, because life is busy, but thought I’d take a few minutes to pound out a few words from Day 1’s prompt: Reflection.
This year has been interesting. It hasn’t been bad, but in reflecting on 2017, my general feeling is “meh.” This is mostly my own doing—I turned 40 this year and was so burnt out by April from all the going and running and doing that I do in my day-to-day living that I decided I was going to put the skids on everything I could. I was exhausted from all the driving, all the striving, and all the things I had committed to. I had failed in some long-time goals earlier in the year and was discouraged and frazzled. I took some time to consider the goals I had been chasing and realized that it was time to let them go…to accept that I wasn’t going to accomplish them and admit that I didn’t really want to anymore. I spent a good part of the front end of the year struggling with the shame of feeling like a failure and a quitter, but also knowing that as I was working on those goals I had discovered that I really didn’t want them bad enough to continue. I expressed my feelings to my husband, who told me “Sometimes you have to visit a lot of ports to find your harbor.” Or something to that effect. I don’t quite remember exactly how he put it—but basically, he meant that sometimes we don’t know what we really want (or don’t want) until we’ve tried a bunch of things. This thought gave me a lot of peace, and I was able to let go of my negative feelings. I had some loose ends I needed to tie up, but I kept putting them off, because I didn’t want to let people down or admit that I wanted to be done. But, I finally did it, and I feel at peace.
After that, I decided I was going to spend my 40th year having an anti-mid-life crisis. I was not going to go get a crazy new hair-do or take up a fascinating new hobby, or go on a diet, or start doing yoga or whatever. I gave myself permission to just dink around and not commit to anything I didn’t HAVE to. I gave myself permission to be a slug.
In some ways, this has been very nice. I’ve done a lot more reading than I have in the past. I’ve spent a little more time at home than I did before, which has enabled me to spend more time with my younger kids and getting to know them—not just to do all the homeschooling stuff. It’s been fun. I have spent more time with my husband—which his awesome, because I really, really like being with him.
In other ways, though, being a slug has made me, well, sluggish. I have put on 10 pounds and felt myself get flabbier and less strong. I have spent a lot of time laying around, scrolling Facebook. A general feeling of apathy has settled over me. I’m tired all the time and feel a bit directionless. Turns out having goals keeps me active and focused, and not having goals turns me into a sleepy butterball. I saw a tee shirt recently that said “My patronus is a sloth.” I think that sums up 2017 for me.
The good news is, I’ve had about enough of that. I’m bored, a little lonely, and antsy—all good signs that I’m ready to get up off my couch and get back into life. It WAS nice to dial life back to doing the bare minimum—I needed the rest. I think I just rested a little too hard and a little too long. I’m intense like that—all or nothing, baby!
Well, maybe not all or nothing. I’ve learned from this year that too much of a good thing is too much of a good thing. It’s great to chase after goals, but not to the point of exhaustion and burn out. It’s also great to take a break and rest easy, but not to the point of complete inertia.
I’m not really one to do New Year’s Resolutions, but I am definitely paying more attention to what I’m doing every day, and asking myself if it’s the right thing to do for my long term health and sanity, and then acting accordingly. I read a book recently that talked about when you don’t have everything figured out, but need to keep moving, you should just do the next right thing. I like that. It’s a good philosophy that I’d like to carry over into 2018!