I used to be pretty dependable about making resolutions, sometimes small, sometimes grand, usually relating to diet or exercise like every other chocolate loving woman in this country. And then the last few years I dropped off and didn't really do the resolution thing. I think because I was pretty happy with life. I felt like there wasn't anything huge I wanted to change, and if I did want to change I was okay doing it incrementally, instead of trying for anything dramatic and sudden.
I'm not sure why but this year I'm feeling more into the idea of resolutions. It may be because 2016 was pretty much about one thing and one thing only, preparing for a baby, having a baby, and learning how to navigate life with a baby. I've never had a year nwith such single minded focus, where everything else not named Ryland receded to the background. The last few months of pregnancy and first few months of infancy take pretty much 99% of your mental energy. The remaning 1% is either reserved for what you're going to eat for dinner or what TV show you're going to binge next.
And that's good. I'm glad I was able to dedicate so much of last year to all things baby. But in the process, I do feel like I let some things go that used to be important to me. And for the next year, I know that the majority of my time and thoughts will still revolve around a tiny human being, but I think it might be closer to 85% of my brain power. That will leave a WHOPPING 15% for so much else.
I think I also feel a little more inspired thanks to a book I just finished reading, The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines (yes the Fixer Upper people). Now roll your eyes if you will. I know many people out there think that the farmhouse style is SO OVERDONE (I don't care I still love it) and her designs are all identical. I know many don't get them or their appeal or how big they've gotten. But I love them. I think they're great. And I love them even more after reading their book. (And yes, I know there has been some "controversy" lately that they are anti gay and their church is anti gay. I really hope that's not true. They have actually responded to those allegations with a message that they are tolerant of and loving toward all people and all walks of life. I really really believe that, and if somethings happens that proves that wrong, I will of course change my tune, because I ain't got no room in my life for hate or bigotry or people who spout it, no matter how cute their kitchen designs are.)
But I digress. The book was really sweet and inspiring. What most inspired me was Jo Jo's (yes I'm calling her Jo Jo, we are basically BFFs) words about how much as a young mom she tried to be perfect. She wanted the house to be perfect and clean all the time. She wanted to throw elaborate parties for her kids. But she talks about having a pretty big Oprah aha moment about how spending so much time and effort making things perfect was robbing her of time with her kids. Life isn't perfect. It's messy. Life with kids is ESPECIALLY messy. But we live in this Pinterest and social media world where everyone posts the best milliseconds of their lives, when everything looks nice. I know I do it as well, and I hate contributing to this everything must be perfect idea. There's so much insane pressure on new moms in 2017. Especially with these crazy aggro social media moms who post INSANE pictures of their kids rooms or birthday parties or playime that make everyone else feel like they are failures if they don't make all of their baby food from scratch or stage Montessori level "games" for their babies mental stimulation. I have literally felt stress over not doing those monthly baby pictures where you pose your kid in the same chair with a sticker that says the month on it. I should not feel STRESS over something like that. I think that's cute and all when I see other people do it, but it is not mandatory for all moms. Our parents didn't take sticker of the month pictures of us and we all turned out okay right?
It's exhausting. But Jo talks about trying to let go of that pressure, to just be human and live in the moment with your kids. Because you only get one shot at their childhood.
My long winded point is, this coming year my resolutions are all related to focusing on what's important to me, letting go of what isn't, and to stop caring so much about what a good mom looks like on FB or Instagram and just be present for my daughter as myself, warts and all. I want to be less materialistic, less caught up in the West End bubble I've found myself in lately. I want to spend more time and energy doing good things for other people, both strangers and those that I love dearly . So in no particular order, in 2017 my resolutions are to:
1. Stop stressing so much about cleaning and organizing and having a "perfect" home. Learn to be okay with (a little) mess. Dog hair is inevitable with a golden retriever. I cannot fight it every day if I want to have time for anything else.
2. Stop stressing about being a "perfect" mom. Stop looking on social media for examples and look to my own life and the real human people (who I actually see in person) in it. Stop contributing to the problem, by putting only unrealistic images on social media. Post things that are messy or imperfect. Show life as it is.
3. Find nice things to do for people, family and strangers. Be kind to everyone. Put only love into the world, because to quote the song, what the world REALLY needs now (and will desperately need for the next 4 years I fear) is so much love. Focus on service. Finds ways to volunteer my time.
4. Spend money on experiences instead of things. I have more stuff than I could ever want. Things get thrown away. Clothes go out of style. The memories of vacations or concerts or shows are with you forever.
5. WRITE. Okay so I saved this one for last but it's a big one. And it also, unfortunately, means that my blogging rate may go down quite a bit. Right now if I have a free bit of time and want to write, I tend to spend that time writing for this blog. And I love that, and needed it so much the last almost year as I navigated the new experiences of being a mom. I needed to vent and rant and rave and obsesses and embrace all of these crazy moments. I needed to share. But what I haven't done, in quite some time, is write fiction, which is where my heart has always really been. I think because it has felt pretentious and irrelevent, to creatively write. I got a degree in this kind of writing once upon a time, but then came unemployment and then nursing school and then actual nursing and then a family. Things have gotten in the way, and except for little bursts here and there I haven't written fiction with any kind of seriousness or effort. But in 2017, in the spirit of tossing off what doesn't matter and focusing on what really does, I want to write fiction. It may be crap. No one may ever see it. But I need that creative outlet. It's important to me. And so while I do still plan to check in here and write about life as a new mom, it may be a little infrequent. At least for a little while. I promise I won't go away forever :)
So there it is folks. Nothing huge. Nothing dramatic. Nothing related to diet or exercise (I mean that's always a given once January rolls around but I thought I'd try to go outside the box a little).
This is a little corny, but there's a quote by Thoreau that I have always loved. I will even venture to say it has guided me. I'll never forget when I went to Thailand to teach ESL, when I was in the Richmond airport leaving I was so terrified, scared out of my mind. What in the world was I thinking? I didn't know anyone in Thailand. I didn't speak the language. And here I was leaving behind friends and family to go to this country to do something I had never done before. The only way I kept moving was by repeating in my head, again and again, a (paraphrased) version of this quote:
“I learned this, at least, by my experiment; that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours..”
I'm so grateful for my life right now. But there are times I've lost sight of this idea, become a little too passive. If one thing in my life has been great (like my family, which it has) then I've been okay to let other things slip, like my creative side or part of my life I want to dedicate to service. And after a year of living life only for baby I want to get my head out of the sand a little in 2017. Because, as Mr. Thoreau would agree, you can either let life happen to you or you can create the life you want.
And well, I've always been creative ;)