And so here we are again, at the end of another year, contemplating all that has transpired in the past 365 days, and imagining all that lies ahead in the next.
I’ve been off work since last Thursday, and it’s been absolutely wonderful to have a stretch of unplanned, and unstructured days. I have slept long and hard and rolled lazily into each morning.
To be honest, had I not scheduled time off from work, (which I only did because I recently realized that I had more PTO in my account than I was allowed to carry over,) the first couple of days would have been sick days anyway. My entire upper body was slammed by a cold virus the day after Christmas. I spent most of Thursday and Friday laying on the couch, coughing, sniffling, aching and drifting in and out of sleep. By Saturday, it wasn’t so hard to resist the daily urge to make and tackle a to-do list. And as miserable as the cold has been, I’m not even all that upset about it. It has given me a much-needed chance to unwind and to free my brain from the tangles of worry and stress that so easily take up residence there lately.
For at least the past year, I seem to be on some sort of self-inflicted race with no chance of ever gaining ground. And particularly for the past three months, since I started my new position at work, my thoughts are frequently held hostage by my job. I don’t know what it is all of a sudden, this belief that I’m falling short and sure to fail, but it’s not like me. True, I’ve always had a lack of self-confidence in varying degrees but in recent years and until just a few months ago, its been only what I’d call a healthy level of insecurity. Just enough to keep me from getting an inflated ego. 🙂
I’m sure this all-encompassing frantic feeling is due to a combination of the events of this past year. There have been some big changes and big struggles, and I’ve let it all take me hostage. There have been times I’ve stepped back, looked at myself on the whole, and wondered where the real me has gone. I’ve felt like a tightly wound spring, hopelessly fighting the inevitable snap. And too often, the only thing I’ve felt is a sense of sheer weariness. Too many days and too many events have only been boxes to be checked so that I can move on to the next required thing. I realize that I’ve often not been living in the moment, but going through the motions of each thing while my brain focuses on what lies ahead, never fully existing in or appreciating any single thing. And that’s just not who or what I want to be.
The past few days have been a reprieve, a chance to untie all the knots inside me, and appropriately, an opportunity to contemplate where I’ve been and how I want to move forward in the coming year. I realize, not for the first time in my life, that falling into the trap I’ve been in is so easy if I’m not paying attention. I tell myself I’m making the right sacrifices, being the best wife, family member, friend, or coworker only if I take care of everyone else first. And only when I’m ready to break do I remember that I can’t be the best anything for anyone if I don’t carve out some time to take care of myself as well.
Too often lately, I do all the things that I think just have to be done, and then collapse, exhausted on the couch for maybe an hour of t.v. before bed, during which I most often fall asleep anyway. The past few days, I’ve remembered how much I love to read, how much I love to write, to do something … anything creative. And I’ve realized how much I have let those things go this past year. I do like to work. I thrive on routine. I’m happy when I manage to keep a clean house, cook a good meal, and take care of those around me. And I love the sense of accomplishment I feel as a result. But I’ve done those things lately at the expense of myself. I need to remember to recharge, refuel, and rejuvenate now and then.
My goals for the coming year include reading more books, writing more words here, more singing along to the music, more silliness and laughter, more dancing in the kitchen … and maybe a belief that the dust cloth doesn’t have to be used every single week. 🙂
I’m grateful for the lessons learned in 2018. May they make me stronger, wiser and more compassionate in the coming year.