It is that time of year. The time when we reflect on the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything in between. And we make plans for a new beginning, a re-birth of sorts. But I try very hard not to wait until this time of year, endeavoring to steal a precious moment here and there to reflect, to plan, to savor.
This year has been an absolutely glorious year for me. Not that it hasn’t had a trying moment or two, but that’s life, is it not? It has been glorious because it has not vanished before my eyes. My life has slowed in the past five years. And it is something I am not only grateful for, but proud of. I have learned to not wish away this precious existence. I have learned to say “no” to the things that steal from me and “yes” to the things that don’t.
This year has taught me something I have struggled to learn – the ability to relax. We are taught to drive and reach for things. To make an everlasting list of goals. To work, work, work, and then, finally, work a little more. I’ve had the same job for almost 18 years. It was never the career I thought I would be in. It just sort of happened. And stuck. And it’s given me so much. And continues to. But I have all these other talents outside of what I do, and so I have tried to find where I was supposed to use them. Because I certainly couldn’t just keep doing what I was doing, right? That isn’t viewed as acceptable. Wouldn’t that be settling? Wouldn’t I be considered lazy? Who’s ever happy with what they do and where they are at?
I have learned so much about myself and life. And even as I have penned the pages of my upcoming book, Happy Balance, I continue to find small and medium and large epiphanies. These discoveries have been hidden in the dusty and sometimes forgotten corners of my existence. And it is because I am no longer afraid of all that I am and all that lives inside of me, that I have been brave enough to walk into those sometimes dark places and find lots of bright and beautiful things.
Everything truly does come down to a balancing act. Of wants and needs and desires and expectations. The goals and destinations don’t have to big ones to matter. They can be small stops along the way. In fact, sometimes it is those small stops that end up meaning more than the big ones, which sometimes leave us feeling a little underwhelmed and disappointed.
For as much as I have searched to find this perfect destination, they all came up a little flat. And I realized, one night as I stood in the doorway of our bedroom closet jabbering away at my wonderful husband, that the reason why it all never seemed perfectly right is because I am perfectly happy with exactly where I am and who I am, and where all of that is leading me. I didn’t need to search anymore. I needed to allow myself to stop searching. The only thing left to do was enjoy.
This isn’t to say I have nothing else to reach for. In fact, this means I have more time to reach and ultimately obtain them. I no longer need to spend countless hours of my life in search of who I am, because I already know that. I am a legal secretary by day and a million other things when I’m not that. I have the distinct fortune of not having to be a starving artist. Art is something I do to fill my heart. Not my bank account. It’s a liberating feeling, being so happy and so accepting of one’s life.
And yet mixed with all this happiness in my own life, in the world there has been so much sadness and turmoil. From politics to far too many celebrity deaths, including the shocking loss of Carrie Fisher just today, there is most definitely a cloud that hangs over so much of the world right now. And I’ve seen many be ready to give up on this year and throw the rest of what remains away. Hoping that with the turn of the clock and flipping of the calendar, a magical world with no pain or loss awaits us.
But I think sometimes we get lost in the deep, dark grief of such things that we forget that our greatest gift is the ability to experience this grief and feel this pain. After all, if we were to cease existing we would cease to feel the spectrum of emotions that defines living. If we weather the storm, we might just be lucky enough to see the beautiful rainbow after. And so with all these deaths, I say let us live in honor of those who may not any longer. Because there might come a time when we wished we hadn’t hoped so desperately for the end of that one day, our last day.
As for resolutions, I’m not really one to make them. I try to be the best I can be each and every day. I try to learn more when I can, and be as kind as possible. If I were to set some sort of resolution, though, this next year it would be to do less of what is expected and more of what is frowned upon. I will work hard, of course, I always will. But I will relax just as hard. I want to see how many entire weekends I can spend in my pajamas without leaving the house. I want to see how many shows and movies I can enjoy that I wouldn’t allow myself to before. I want to make huge dents in that tower of books I’ve been wanting to read for so long. I want to spend as many mornings as I can doing nothing but holding my husband, only breaking to reach for my cup of coffee to sip it and smile. I want to return to work on Mondays and when people ask what I did, I want to smile and say, “Absolutely nothing.”
And, yes, I want to write. But unlike my old self, I’m not taking each and every spare second of my life to spend lost in the words that fill my mind. Instead, I will dedicate one morning each weekend to write. I will cherish this time and look forward to it each week. And on all the other mornings and afternoons and evenings, I will do something that will ultimately make me a better writer and person – I will live. After all, they say the best fiction is based upon real life. But how can you ever hope to write about it if you never allow yourself to experience it.
I wish each and every one of you the happiest of days, not just during the holidays, but every day.
Until next time,