My uncle once told me something that has stuck with me. We were talking about Dave Eggers, and he was essentially saying that reading the memoir of someone who’s still in their twenties feels premature and pompous. Like, ah yes, you’ve lived two decades. Let’s write it down and bind that shit.
It’s similar to those teenage years (or 20s?) when you announce your plans and opinions and everyone, say, even just 18 months older says with sage wisdom, “a lot can change in a year or five or ten.” And, of course, a lot does change, but that doesn’t mean that hearing that didn’t drive me crazy.
Anyway, all that to say that this post could get a bit memoir-y and to take it all with a grain salt, ok?
Y’all, 2014 was a good year. One of the best, really. In the past, I’ve sometimes surfed through my year, always anticipating what was coming next and not quite appreciating what was right before me. But this year, something changed. Having Lu, staying home with the girls, and going back to school taught me some lessons, and I want to write them down here.
1) Be the change. At the risk of devolving into quotes and cliches, this one does sum up my first lesson quite well. For a while, I had been feeling like people never change and that our baggage is always the same and we find ourselves facing the same challenges over and over again. And while that might be partially true, I felt so invigorated to find that just as some challenges are stagnant, others are not. If I don’t like something about myself – something I do, say, etc. – I can change it. Ex: I was spending too much time on social media and my phone, so I went on a fast. When I went back to it after a month, I was much less compulsive about it, and since then whenever I feel myself sliding into uncomfortable territory again, I check out for a couple of days.
2) Positive framing. Another change I began to implement was trying to concentrate on and verbalize thanks and strengths, while keeping complaints and criticism to myself. This is an ongoing resolution, and I’m not always successful, but I like it. It makes me happier. Another change I associate with this positive framing is asking people more questions. All too often, I’ve caught myself on some lament or another, complaining and dominating the conversation. I’ve found that this change has led to better interactions with others, ones that don’t leave me feeling like a jaded harpie.
3) You have everything you need. My other resolution has to do with stuff. I’ll probably write a longer post about this in the future, but for now, it’s a learning process. I’m trying to identify the things that aid and improve my lifestyle, while purging the excess that confuses or weighs me down. I started with my wardrobe and since then I’ve gotten rid of carloads of stuff. It feels great to be more conscious of what I possess, what I need and what I want. I love being able to quantify how much I have, rather than just saying, “I dunno… Too much.” The family is onboard too, and there’s plenty more to streamline, but we’ve begun and it feels like one of those philosophies that’s here to stay. Most of the conversations I have with Joshua circle back to this idea of minimalism, and it’s already shaping our choices. In fact, in the order of things that I’ve learned, I think this came first and the time and energy that we’re freed up when I began getting rid of stuff went into the lessons I wrote about above. It’s kind of a beautiful thing, and I’m feeling so grateful for having discovered it.
So that’s it. Those have been my lessons this past year, and I’m proud of them. What about you?