Happy New Year!
It’s that time of year again where many celebrate, indulge, reflect, and sometimes announce grand gestures of changes in behavior for the year ahead. Over the years I also have made my share of lists, goals, resolutions, and gestures. Although this year, I’m defining it differently than I have in the past. For me, this year I am merely making a pact with myself to get back to my routine.
A few mornings ago I was on my yoga mat, back in class after having to take several months off after thyroid surgery and radiation. It felt so good to be back but at the same time, I felt so uncomfortable that if I were closer to the door, I may have considered slipping out when everyone was in their downward facing dog. I’m out of shape, I could feel every ache and pain I’ve ever had in my body as I moved including my sprained ankle from 6 months ago and it didn’t feel good at all. As we moved my instructor was sharing how the new year often brings new opportunities but offered the thought that this could also be a time to return to an old routine that perhaps you had to step away from. As sweat was dripping from my nose and my heart was pounding, it all started to feel familiar again. It felt easier, my muscles started to loosen up, I felt peace, comfort, excitement and fear all of which lead my mind to wonder “What other routines I may be ready to return to? What else could I open myself up to to consider in order to get back to ME?”
It’s a routine that started off as just a simple, fun little ritual about 25 years ago where I would sit and review my goals from the year and then identify new aspirations and it wasn’t until this week, 25 years later, that I realized how valuable this routine really was to me. Getting the shiny new notebook, pen and planner, then heading to a bookstore or coffee shop to sit and write and reflect was an activity that I forgot how much I absolutely loved.
There’s an excitement that comes from touching a crisp, clean, blank sheet of paper, maybe in a nice cute new journal or notebook that until you write the first word, represents nothing but promise, hopes, desires and goals. For me, it was a blank slate and there were many a New Years Day that I sat with my crisp new blank pages, even a new sharpie pen and allowed my mind to wander to things I wanted to do, places I wanted to go, things I wanted to achieve.
For me, my 20’s represented a time when it was easy to imagine the life I wanted, my definition of “being a grown-up” – marriage, a house, children, travel , career aspirations because they hadn’t happened yet. Goals at that time in life are centered around those milestones which, if that’s what you desire, can be very exciting to dream about.
Then in my 30’s, all of the things I identified as goals were coming to fruition; the job, being married, having the big house, trips, and eventually 2 beautiful, healthy daughters. It was all happening at once and as a result, somewhere along the way, I stopped reflecting on my life when the new year rang in because I was too busy being in the thick of it to stop and reflect about it. Days and months slipped by and I let the years come and go without even a passing thought. All I was trying to do in my 30’s was keep up with it all. Sure, I was happy and grateful for where my life was, I even threw in a few goals here and there like finally running that marathon, but during this time, I got away from really carving out that time for myself to sit and walk through my routine of reflection, and thinking of what’s ahead for me.
As a result I think I got lost.
Like going on a road trip without mapping out how to get there, I stopped looking at my GPS of my life in my 30’s and got lost. Looking back, perhaps one of the reasons I got lost was because I let my routine slip away from me. I read an article recently that said “If you’re feeling lost right now, be grateful because that’s exactly where you’re supposed to be; it’s part of the journey.”
My journey has led me into my 40’s and a HUGE period of change so far. Starting with my 40th birthday and a trip to Vegas with my high school girlfriends while my ex moved out. I thought back then that it was surely a sign of good things to come for me as I entered into my 40’s as a single mom which was followed by me losing my job in 2012. I’ve been so very fortunate because in the midst of all of this, I’ve also had some wonderful things happen as well. Finding love again and marrying a wonderful man and being able to be more present for my daughters as they’re growing up – have been my anchor for me during these times of change in my life. But through it all, I recently realized I still hadn’t returned to my routine of writing and reflecting.
If I had to pinpoint the reason I still haven’t been engaging in my routine that I once cherished, I would say it was because I was afraid. I was afraid about the future and still trying to process the pain of what had occurred in my past so I just chose to ignore it.
The most recent blow came in the form of my cancer diagnosis. During this tough time these past few months, I received the gift of time. I had more down time than I can ever recall, and it was during this time that I’ve been able to think about these past years, and more importantly what’s on the horizon for me. I finally let it all come in again, the good and the bad, the fear and excitement of what the future holds. Hence, my pact with myself; returning to my routines while I ask myself 25 years later “What do I want to be when I grow up?”and then the sheer excitement as I get out my shiny new journal and pen to begin to figure it all out.