It’s January 1! There is arguably no other day of the year so full of possibility and potential. It’s as if the giant slate of life were erased for just a moment and we’re allowed to change course if we desire.
Do we want to take up a new hobby? Should we go back to school? We know we need to eat better, sleep more, and move our bodies, but are those too cliché to say? We buy a new planner and invest in a great pair of running shoes and suddenly the bleakness of winter gives way to an invigorating and exhilarating array of opportunity and nothing seems too far out of reach.
I woke up feeling this same sense of elation. My babies ran down the steps to greet me and we lingered in bed, snuggling under the flannels a little longer than usual. We watched a mama and papa cardinal scurry around in the backyard and we ate berries while we watched early morning cartoons.
Growing up, I always heard “What you do on the first day of the year is an indication of what you’ll be doing all the rest of it.” So, I endeavored to make today as special and memorable as possible. We had our traditional New Year’s Day meal of black-eyed peas, collard greens, ham, and fried dough. We visited grandparents and great-grandparents and took a brief but beautiful walk around our backyard. I worked a little in the evening and still made it home in time to tuck the kids into bed.
Throughout the day, I tried to think of a few resolutions or goals that I could carry with me into the New Year. These aren’t revolutionary, but I think that’s what makes them so important. They’re do-able and manageable and as a working mother of two toddlers, I need bit-sized ambitions like these at the moment.
From today on, I will do my best to:
1. Cut off the computer by 10:00 p.m.
I’m a night owl. I work on my technical writing at night when the kids go to bed because trying to get any real work done during the day while they’re underfoot is a very stressful joke. So I usually begin my “workday” around 8:00 p.m. This past year, I was lucky if I hit the sack before 2:00 a.m. almost every night.
The result? I wasn’t more productive or successful at work. In fact, my professionalism and work quality dropped and I was finding it difficult to get ahead. I was mentally and physically exhausted and something had to give. So this year, I’m going to try to cut it off at a reasonable hour. For me, this is around 10:00 p.m. If I can carve out just a little bit of time to work during the day, this should be a reachable goal. I can’t wait to put it into practice, mainly because this mama needs her rest!
2. Remember that health is a priority.
Maybe it’s the mother in me that’s caused me to become so physically giving of myself. Every day, I’m crawling under tables to wipe up lunch or bending down to pick up my children and load them in and out of the car. By the time they head to bed, my bones are aching and I’ve got a pounding headache.
To top it all off, our on-the-go lifestyle is fueled by fast food and copious amounts of coffee. It’s a rare week when I haven’t scarfed down a takeout cheeseburger on the way to preschool pickup or asked for a Venti-sized mocha latte. While these perk-me-ups feel great at the time, I often end the day feeling sluggish and generally just gross.
So this year, I’m going to remember that while it’s important to be selfless and giving toward my family, they can’t run if I don’t. I have to make my health a priority so I can be around to guide them toward the very same goal. I’m vowing to learn more about supplements and vitamins that can help offset some of the empty calories I tend to consume. I’m also going to learn how to make healthy meals at home so we can finally kick our paper-bag lunch habit to the curb. In addition, I’m going to go on more walks around our rural community to get my blood flowing, my heart rate up and my muscles moving.
3. Focus on contentment over content.
As a blogger, I spend plenty of time on social media. It’s where I find inspiration and motivation, and if I’m being honest, I just really enjoy gazing at farmhouse chic kitchens whenever I can grab a spare minute.
Yet, I’ve found that when I engage too much on social media, I can often fall prey to its powers of comparison. I suddenly look around my tiny home and realize how decidedly un-farmhouse chic it is. I begin to loathe my paint colors, my wardrobe, and my career. I second-guess just about everything and have a very difficult time finding contentment.
To counter this in 2018, I’m going to begin creating a gratitude list every night to remind me of everything I have to be thankful for. I do this for the month leading up to Thanksgiving every year, and it’s such a nice way to end the day and re-direct my focus. So, why not do it every day? Why allocate our thankfulness to one month out of 12?
I’m going to limit my time on social media and repeat two mantras to myself often: “Her success is not my failure” and “Comparison is the thief of joy.” I’ll lean into my home and my family and my own personal space and look around with appreciation at everything I’ve been blessed with – then wish the same peace for those posting on the accounts that I follow.
It’s dark out and nighttime here on the East Coast, which means that the first day of the year is about to melt into the second. Did I accomplish everything on my to-do list today? Not even close. But I do believe I spent these precious 12 hours doing exactly the type of things I hope to continue into 2018 and beyond. I loved deeply, laughed, and hugged too many times to count.
That will be the first entry on my gratitude list, starting tonight.