Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year


This blog began with a New Year’s resolution. So I feel an obligation to update my plans for the year. But the funny thing is that I don’t feel that same energy to pursue a goal or a theme over the year. I don’t know if it’s some kind of exhaustion catching up with me or an awareness that my intentions don’t always matter that much. We spent a number of days over the holidays with the kids watching way more tv than we’d prefer and adults reading or cooking. Maybe it started with the ice storm that kept us indoors for a couple of days, although we had power pretty much the whole time. Or maybe we just really needed a massive injection of down time.

I feel like I spent the second half of last year focused really intensively on a number of goals at the same time as I worked full time. At times I felt very exhausted and powered through – I submitted two grant applications for a photography project in early December and taught a photography workshop one evening every second week from September to December. And we designed and built a chicken coop and started caring for actual, real-life chickens and they're still alive and even laying eggs.

Last year, my goal was to connect more with people and I kicked off the year with a New Year’s Day drop-in gathering. When my husband lost his job in April and I started working full-time, I basically lost the tenuous friendships I’d been pursuing. They were with people in the homeschooling community or with other at-home parentswho generally get together during weekdays. I suppose I could have seen them on weekends, but the energy required to organize those kinds of things seemed beyond me. I have made an effort to connect with my colleagues during working hours, but I don’t have the energy to extend those connections much outside of work hours.

All that to say that I didn’t make the progress I wanted to on my goal last year, so I’m tempted to continue pursuing it this year. But I’m also not that excited by the prospect. I think my lack of progress is largely due to the current circumstances of my life (full-time day job, still-nursing toddler with food intolerances that make gatherings over food or around/after bedtimes difficult, extremely introverted husband, my own needs for alone time and making photographs… I’m sure the list goes on.) And maybe I just need to relax a bit and just sink into the things that life throws at me.

When I reflect on the last six months of 2013, I really feel like I was striving the whole time and refusing to let anything go to make space for the full-time work. But I think I’m ready to let some of my personal goals go, with the knowledge that over the next couple of years my husband and I have plans to work towards another lifestyle.

I think my New Year’s Eve this year may have been the best I’ve had in my life, and it came when I relinquished any expectations of a good time and yet retained a desire to mark the occasion in some way. So after we got the kids to bed, my husband and I just hung out. No screens, no smart phones, no Internet (well, not until after midnight when I resumed my binge watching of Once Upon A Time). We didn’t even listen to music. Usually we try to live stream some kind of faraway celebration so that I can be sure we celebrate at just the right moment, but this year I just didn’t care about getting that moment right.

Instead, we talked about The Future, something that does not come naturally to my husband. We talked about the kinds of things that give our lives meaning and the kind of life we want to shape in the future. It was rather amazing.

And my little nursing toddler toddled in around 11:45 pm asking for milk, just as we were wrapping up the big conversation, and he was still on the boob when we noticed the clock said 12:05, and that seemed just right too. Maybe what I need to learn is a little more surrendering and a little less goal orientation. I'll still keep moving towards my overarching goals, but none of the big ones is likely to be reached in 2014. And I think I'll just keep moving forward as seems right in the moment and see what opportunities unfold as I go.


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