Almost every year I set a New Year's resolution or two. I'm a resolution kind of person because I'm a linear thinker and a goal setter. I like to set myself SMART goals- smart, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. I'm not into setting lofty goals and creating expectations for myself that I can't meet, which in turn makes me feel like a loser who can't follow through on anything. Yet, I'm going to push myself a bit because I like the challenge and the feeling I get from accomplishing a goal. I'm that person who wants to do what I say and say what I do. I want to be accountable and try to hold myself accountable.
In the past few years, my goals have always included something related to running and running a marathon was one of my greatest accomplished resolutions. During each week of training, I'd write the number of miles I'd completed on my kitchen window. There, splashed in primary colors, (those kid window makers are excellent for adults, too) was my resolution in writing: 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18....26! I left the 26 on the window for about six months after the race, so that every day I was reminded of "what I could do if I set my mind to it."
Whether it's running, drinking more water, or reading more books, my resolutions have always been tangible and not too serious. Remember, I want my goals to be measurable and attainable and that tough stuff, the stuff of the heart and head, are often really hard and very nebulous.
I wasn't actually planning on having any resolutions this year because 2016 was fast and furious and I've had very little time to think about goals. Or my goals have been things like, 1) put on underwear right side in each morning 2) drive the car with window washer 3) remember who is picking up the kids each day 4) try not to fall asleep with glasses on.
Yet, these just seem like unrealistic goals for a full-time working mom who commutes, manages a messy house, organizes disorganized kids and a husband. (He never takes my glasses off when I fall asleep on the couch. Instead he takes photos of them slightly askew on my face, also with a pile of cats upon me.
My goal was going to be not to have a goal; to roam freely and directionless through 2017 without any pressure or personal expectations. This was to be my goal, my un-goal, until the holidays happened.
2016 was full of obligations and booked calendars. Between vacations, work commitments and kid activities, we didn't have one unscheduled weekend for more than 7 months of the past year. I truly felt as though I had hit autopilot and I put my head down and moved forward. Luckily, as fate would have it, the insanity of the year came to a very abrupt halt in early December and we had multiple weekends with no commitments, no obligations, and with a little R&R came clarity of mind.
I spent 10 days straight with Andy and the girls. Folded in was a month-long visit from Andy's parents and a Marietta family trip to Massachusetts. In fifteen years, my in-laws had never been to my home, and since they are my family, I felt strongly compelled to show them my roots.
We rented a beautiful, historic house down the road from my parents' home and gathered there to exchange gifts and celebrate the New Year. The house is nestled in the woods atop a hill. It had snowed the day before we arrived and the girls and I got the best view of the stars each evening while we sledded as the sun went down. On New Year's morning, we awoke to a blanket of snow on the ground and the sun shining above. I bundled up, snapped on my snow shoes and headed out on a trail behind the house. I could hear my own heart beat as I marched along. I stopped and took photos, I listened to the sound of the melting snow falling off the trees onto the ground. I breathed deeply. I took turn after turn deeper into the woods. I stopped and smelled the crisp air. I had nowhere else to be at that moment. No one was looking for me. No one needed me. I needed nothing but to be in that moment. There, in the snowy woods of Western Massachusetts, layered up in winter gear, I shed the anxiety I've been carrying with me for so long that I didn't even know what it was like to be without it.
With my family not too far from me, the most important people- my people- safe and happy and healthy, and a chance to let go of so much thinking and worrying and planning, I felt a sense of peace I've never felt before.
This is my New Year's Resolution. I'd like to find that place more often. Maybe it's through meditation. Maybe it's through more "down time". Maybe it's through changing my perspective or taking a step back. However I can, whenever I can, I just want to be more at peace with myself.