New Year’s resolutions and I don’t mix. Maybe it’s the Show Me State still coursing through me, but I’m of the stubborn mindset that if something is important to you, you’ll just do it and quit yapping about how you’re going to do it in the future. I also get irritated when people make a big deal out of the numbers in a date as if the calendar isn’t pretty modern. Nothing magical happens for me when the year changes, especially since watching the ball drop on TV got weird. I guess if there was a Scrooge for New Year’s, I’d play them easily (hopefully in the Muppets version of course)
However, I have had strong urges to make some changes coincidentally a couple weeks before the end of this year. The desire also lines up with the winter solstice, when the North Pole is at its farthest tilt from the sun. For someone who cycles with the moon, I’m a little more inclined to think that could be the cause, but honestly I’m sure it’s not that either. It’s most likely that I haven’t had more than a handful of quiet days since July.
The jam-packed calendar is getting to me. For someone who typically loves a full schedule, that’s saying something. I do it to myself. I love my home, but I like getting outside of it more. I’ve always been a joiner, a volunteer, the first to sign up or RSVP, and I love figuring out the perfect way to “fix” a free evening or weekend.
After 35 years of that (I’m sure I was scheduling my own playdates in the hospital nursery) it’s catching up with me. I’ve found that there are important things I just can’t schedule and the things I can schedule are taking away from those important things. Long baths, early evening jogs, morning yoga, cooking whatever I’m in the mood for, hiking somewhere new, painting my nails, doing something crafty or artsy, listening to music and just that, writing rambling blog posts (wink), or just staring at the weather, these are the things I need actual free time for. Not shoved in between hosting dinners, volunteering, and showing up for everything and anything. Penciling those things in takes all the joy out them for me anyway.
Like going for a jog, for instance. It’s something I love doing, but it just doesn’t happen unless I find myself with the time for it spontaneously. A resolutioner (one who makes resolutions, obviously) would suggest I work it into my weak resemblance of a routine at some completely undoable time, like the morning, afternoon, or evening. The only time in my life I could reliably jog at the same time every day was that one time I was taking a semester break (*cough* academic suspension) in college, was single, had no kids, didn’t have a lot of friends, and was working a regular schedule that left me with plenty of energy at 3:00pm. Other than that, life just happens all over the place and I like to be in the flow of it too much for a strict routine to work for me. Regular jogging resolution denied.
It turns out that just because I have an open slot on the schedule, doesn’t mean I have the time or energy to have it filled. It’s not the first lesson in capacity versus capability I’ve learned the hard way. Preparing for my first backpack camping trip I figured out what all I would take based only on what my hiking backpack could hold, not what I personally could carry. If I could shove it in or clip it on, it came with. I’m not kidding when I say I brought a full-sized cast iron skillet, an axe, a 12″ flashlight, and one of those lanterns that uses a battery so big you have to go to a hardware store to replace it. It didn’t even occur to me that there is a different kind of camping gear for when you aren’t parking at your campsite, let alone hiking 2 miles on some of the craziest trails I’ve ever been on. Now it’s occurring to me that there are probably different looking calendars for different seasons in life
This season I need some space in my calendar. I think I need three days a week where I have nothing planned I HAVE to do. Three days where whatever I want to have happen can. It doesn’t mean I can’t go to some random festival in the park or show up to help someone move. It also doesn’t mean I’m not doing things like laundry and paying bills, I still have to adult. It does mean, however, that I make no promises to anyone, including myself. No one has to be contacted to cancel, no tickets resold, no disappointing myself because it was on the schedule for the last month in my favorite color with detailed notes and shared with my husband’s calendar. If I’m sitting around wanting something to do, I’ll be able to prioritize some down time or self-care before a ski-jumping competition or kite festival if they’re not in my view. Somehow, I have to make a shift in my approach to my time to make this happen
A New Year’s resolution does me no good. I don’t want to resolve to DO anything. I want to resolve to NOT do as much. I need a No Year’s resolution damn it. I’m saying no to booking every fun looking event, even if they’re free and I’m free. I’m saying no to hosting an impromptu dinner party my one free night that week. I’m saying no to the birthday party of a friend’s friend when the book I’ve reserved at the library for the third time is expiring yet again.
It’s not the no’s to other people I’m worried about, it’s the no’s to myself. Luckily the solid chunk of change I’ve spent on therapy copays this year is paying off and I know that the people around me will love me just the same. I’m enough because of who I am, not what I do. They know that, and technically I know that, but now I have to prove that I am in the know. I want my friends and family to be able to ask for favors or send me invites knowing that if I say yes, it’s because I not only want to, but that I’m not over-exerting myself. It breaks my heart to think they might be holding off on any of that because they can’t trust me to take care of myself first.
I wouldn’t blame them, I didn’t know I couldn’t trust myself either. Saying yes does make me happy, but the moderation piece has been missing, so it’s not healthy anymore. It’s daunting to think about saying no to myself when all I’ve done is say yes, but not half as scary as it is to think about my new bath bomb sitting around unused for another month and that library hold expiring again. Or you know, being increasingly stressed out, exhausted, and depressed.
What I’m trying to say is, if the thought of adding another expectation or three to your plate after the holidays with this resolutions business sounds like torture, join me! Make a No Year’s Resolution. What have you been itching to say no to? What’s the worst that could happen if you did? What’s the best that could happen is the better question to answer.
Also, say no to starting next week. Start now. You don’t need some arbitrary date setters from long ago (but not that long ago) to tell you when you get to make a change. To me, that makes it more meaningful and maybe It’ll be more successful!
I’m still a yes person and always will be. I just need to be a fewer yeses person for a bit. At least until my kid gets of age to start joining things herself or I have to go back to work for some reason and those three blank days look very privileged. She’s not even two and has been asking to throw parties, giving me the guest list and all, so I have a feeling I need to get in this unscheduled time while I can. Saying no to myself is probably nothing compared to saying no to her
Thanks to everyone who read my stuff this first year of The WorkWoman and my contributing posts at Twin Cities Mom Collective! Have a happy and healthy year!