I am not someone who chooses a word for my year, although I respect the thought that many give to this and I learn from their choices. I did have some plans/goals/intentions for my new year and most of them revolved around health-daily yoga, less sugar, etc. On January 1, 2017, I worked a day shift at the hospital and walked out into sunshine-a rare thing because this time of the year it is usually dark when I leave work. So I decided to start my year with a walk on the beach. I am so lucky to live within driving distance of Long Island Sound. I love the late afternoon light. It is truly the golden hour.
In 2016, I made a resolution to have unplugged Sundays. What this meant for me was that I did not sign up to work any shifts at the hospital on a Sunday and I tried to stay off social media. The work part of this was actually a big shift for me. For almost ten years, I have worked 6-7 days a week which was a financial necessity. This has been challenging and so making the commitment to keep this day free was a huge positive shift. Working Sundays kept me away from regular church going which I missed and in 2016 I was able to return to this which truly fed my soul-for me it is my weekly re-set button. I had thought that my unplugged Sundays would enable me to sew more, read more and do more of the things that I enjoy, and it did. But what I didn’t appreciate until I was actually living these days and documenting them (I posted a weekly picture on instagram with the hashtag #myunpluggedsundays) is how much keeping the day totally unscheduled and unplanned and having time to just think and be spontaneous would be healing for me and would inspire new ideas. This was probably the best part of keeping this commitment to myself. This and having weekly early morning quiet time to read.
2017 started off so beautifully. I was still pondering my resolutions and had jotted down some ideas. I wanted to take time each day for yoga since I have neglected my physical body amid work and other priorities. So after my beach walk I came home and did Day 1 of Yoga with Adrienne’s Yoga Revolution series. I did about half of her 30 Days of Yoga earlier in the year and loved it. We had a nice family dinner with my husband and the three children who were home for the holidays and I went to bed feeling excited for a day off on January 2nd and the time and space to start the new year right. And then life happened as it so often does. I got up and went for a short walk and started to feel worse and worse and went home, went straight to bed and stayed there for 2 days with fever, chills, sweats, nausea. My daughter was sick as well.
I had to laugh. Whenever I try to strongly impose my will on life, life pushes back and reminds me that I am not in charge. A bit of a spiritual re-adjustment. But interestingly what this next week of not avoiding sugar, (all we could do was drink ginger ale), not doing yoga (ha!) and not doing all those things on my to do list (take down the tree, finish some sewing projects, write my new years resolutions) did for me is to give me time to think. And what I thought about is that the best thing that my 2016 unplugged Sunday project did for me is to help me see that creating space in my life for thinking, creating, following my spontaneous idea in the moment-whether it be to take a walk, cook a nice dinner, sew up an unplanned project-was way more valuable than I had realized. The phrase “create space” is something that many yoga teachers I have studied with use and in 2016, I learned that it is something that I need to be intentional about because I reap tremendous benefits when I do it. In 2016, I got some ideas for writing pieces, one of which is going to be published next month, that came to me as I went on a spontaneous walk after church. I made connections about relationships, my own life’s goals, ways I want to grow. Life is so full of great ideas, images, content that is coming at us from all directions. I love it all. I love the books I read, the bloggers I follow, the photographs and amazing projects and ideas I see on instagram and the great conversations I have at work and at home but I know now that I also need quiet. I need space to think. Even when I don’t think I do. So in 2017, my resolution will be to Create Space for myself in a systematic way by scheduling it into my week. These are some ideas I am going to try out to make this happen.
I am going to continue to keep Sundays unplugged from work, media and plans whenever possible. In 2016, I did this for about 6 months straight and then work got busy and I ended up going in most Sundays to catch up on paperwork. Part of the challenge to keeping Sundays unplugged for me is to be more time efficient during the week so that all the paperwork gets done and I don’t have to go in on a Sunday. This also applies to other chores, errands etc. I try to get them done on the weekdays so I don’t have to do them on Sunday. I have found that this is really worth doing. I should mention that this blogger who I follow religiously recently talked about the concept of a monthly think day on her podcast. I think many of us are trying to figure this out.
I am going to try to have a Quiet Hour each evening before I go to bed to read, write, think. I have trouble sleeping and I have found that if I get into a big conversation with a family member as I am getting tired, it works against my ability to fall asleep. I also am going to try to keep that hour free from media. I also plan to read this book to see if I can gain some insights into improving my focus. It was recommended by this book whisperer who I have written about so many times before and whose podcast I listen to religiously.
I am going to try to do yoga daily and do some form of physical activity outdoors most days. I need to get outside and I need to make that a priority.
I am going to try to find time to write a couple of times a week. What that looks like for me could be blog posts, handwritten letters to people who live far away from me, maybe another piece for publication. When my children were little and we spent summers in Maine, I started a weekly letter writing night. I was inspired by a book I read. It might have been this one by Elizabeth Berg but I am not sure. Each Tuesday evening after dinner, each child wrote one letter to a family member and one letter to a friend and could write more if they chose. I made it fun by buying a bunch of postcards and other pretty stationary which I kept in a box. This was before email was a big thing and in any event we were intentionally screen-free all summer. They could walk the stamped mail over to our big mailbox at the end of the driveway and were very happy when they got mail back. It was one of the things I did as a parent that I am so glad I did, along with family dinners, quiet reading before bed and nature walks/hikes. So much of the time you are a parent to young children, you are trying so hard to do all the things right and it isn’t for years in many cases that you can look back and think about what really made a difference. Letter writing night was definitely one of those for me.
Other goals/intentions: to finish some unfinished sewing projects, to write another piece for possible publication, to eat more healthfully, to read books recommended to me by my daughters, to make zucchini noodles (!) with the spiralizer my daughter got me for Christmas.
Things I am excited for in 2017: trips already planned (tickets purchased!) to see my daughter and son who live in other states, a planned long weekend away with my husband for the first time since we were married almost nine years ago (omg), a planned road trip to see my brother this spring, sewing, reading, life.
I love a new beginning and today, on January 7th, as I watch beautiful snow fall on a rare Saturday when I am not at work, I am full of hope. What are you excited for in 2017?