One of my favorite things about a New Year is a new calendar. I love seeing all the blank pages with their empty squares waiting to be filled. Even though many of those squares will contain mundane things like haircut appointments and rehearsals, there will also be outings with friends and concerts and even a trip or two. There will be, of course, disappointing day - days when I fall short of the expectations I make so eagerly every year as I begin to pencil plans and dreams onto those blank pages. But I am learning to be gentle with myself over those failures, even when they seem monumental. It’s okay, I whisper, much as I would to my little grandson were he to present me with some sadness. I love you no matter what.
As I begin 2014, I am excited, I am eager, I am looking forward to a year I intend to devote to ME. That sounds selfish, doesn’t it? When I was growing up, “selfish” was a dirty word, and the last thing I ever wanted to be. It was a lesson I internalized extremely well. Like many women I spend much of my time tending to the needs of others, and although these are things I do with great love they sometimes take every ounce of my energy, leaving me irritable and unhappy.
But as my friend Deb Smouse reminds me, “When you are living a happy, full, and complete life, you give others a gift. The greatest gift you can give the world is a happy you.” I’m happiest when I have time and space which I can devote to the things that feed my soul. While none of those things are extravagant or expensive, they are invaluable to me in terms of helping me feel fulfilled, energized, confident - happy. They are as simple as sharing morning coffee with my husband, walking my dogs through the quiet streets of our neighborhood, spending time at my keyboards playing with words and music.
As I turn the calendar page on January 1, my life is serene and in order. I am where I want to be, literally and figuratively, after spending the past few years churning in a sea of cluttered physical and emotional space. My head is above that water now, I can breathe freely and turn my attention inward. I can look at the blank pages and empty squares of my life and begin to fill them with what is important to ME. I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to do that.
I want 2014 to be the year I lean with joy into this life I love. The year I write more seriously and more often. The year I publish a book of essays called Life in General, culled from the 2000 blog posts I’ve written in the past seven years. The year I dive into self care routines that nourish my body and spirit. The year I read more thoughtfully and carefully. The year I learn to live more in the real world than the virtual one.
But although I want these things for my little life, I have learned to temper desires such as these to the dictates of reality. I am long past the point of worrying about whether I achieve every item on a list. Sometimes it’s enough to just make the list, to know those aspirations are there like distant stars on the horizon, to fondle and play with as life permits.
I deserve the time and energy to dedicate to my dreams and passions. This is the year I intend to take it.
So let’s turn the page and begin.