I love New Year’s. All of it: the revelry, the debauchery, the reflection on the past year, the meditation on life, the start of something new.
So, in an attempt to run open-armed into 2016, I’m self-indulgently looking back, or, as my husband likes to call it, “navel gazing.”
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” – Ernest Hemingway
This Year’s Goals
In 2015 I aspired to have a monthly intention that I explored and to create 52 things in the year. Just looking at that sentence, on reflection, gives me heart palpitations. Clearly I was very ambitious. But, I did manage to spend six months throughout the year focusing on making some aspect of my life better. And, when I did, I reaped the benefits.
Investigate the Power of Solitude: In January, I took advantage of the downtime from teaching to create quiet for myself. By limiting my use of electronic devices and doing things like reading books and working on our house, I came out of the month with a sense of calm and clarity that was refreshing.
Get Healthier: In February, I focused on all of the “get healthy and lose weight” goals that are the staple of New Year resolutions. It was a colossal failure. I managed to get on my yoga mat a few more times, cut back on alcohol and increase veggies, but I came nowhere near the goals I set for myself. The one thing that did stick was having a date night with my husband one night a week. That habit stuck for most of the year until his work schedule got crazy in November.
Aim Higher (Professionally): In March – and really from March through August – I focused on getting the youth theater company I was starting off the ground. 2015 was a big year in that regard. I managed to pull together some great artists and put up a terrific show over the summer that involved 16 teens from around Dallas. We got a grant from the city for it, sold more tickets than I’d imagined we would, and got some great reviews. 2015 will go down as one of the most rewarding, successful and exhausting years of my career.
Create a Love Fest (or Nurture My Marriage): In April, I focused on being a more patient wife. We were in the throws of being newly married and navigating shared finances and new expectations for one another. Neither of us is good at conflict. But with an effort on both our parts to better communicate with one another, this year has brought a new calm and appreciation for our love. Which is good since we’re expecting a little one!
Practice Living in Balance: In October, after a hectic six months teaching and getting Cry Havoc off the ground, I was physically and emotionally exhausted. In August, after our first show closed, I spent several weeks in bed and then moving lethargically around the house. I’d been sustaining myself on adrenaline, cigarettes and too many adult beverages to count. So, I’d taken August and September to kick the bad habits (which I tend to pick up in times of stress). By October, I was ready for a real cleanse (goodbye sugar, dairy and gluten!). I was also lined up to direct The Legend of Sleepy Hollow at Eastfield College and knew I needed to steer clear of my go-to stress relievers. By focusing on eating right, getting a solid 8 hours of sleep each night, unplugging from electronics and keeping date nights with my husband, I managed to stay sane. I also managed to find myself pregnant! More on that below.
Pursue a Passion: I started out in November participating in NaNoWriMo and fully expected to get a good chunk of a novel written. Life had other plans for me. I started the writing process and then, in the first week of November, I was suddenly struck down by what I was convinced was the flu. Or the plague. Really, it was a toss-up. The illness persisted and then I did the math. A pregnancy test (actually three just to be safe) confirmed that I was not dying, but merely pregnant. Morning sickness stole the rest of November, and the novel has been pushed to the back burner.
Books I Read
I read more books in 2015 than the previous two or three years combined. My choices were all over the map.
Books That I Read Because I Felt I Had To: The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, Two is Enough: A Couple’s Guide to Living Childless by Choiceby Laura S. Scott, Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler
The One Book I Really Hated: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Books I’m Embarrassed to Say I read: Unlucky 13 by James Patterson, Divergent by Veronica Roth, Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Books I Was Mostly Neutral About: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight
Books I Really Loved: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Nevermore by Neil Gaiman, Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Pointby Malcolm Gladwell, Intimacy Idiot by Isaac Oliver
What’s It All Mean and What Happens Now?
My interest in having monthly intentions was inspired by the book The Happiness Project. The structure and having a monthly focus really worked for me – I made great strides toward many of the things I wanted to improve upon when New Year’s rolled around this time last year. So, I plan to follow that structure again this year. This time, I hope to be more consistent which will become especially challenging when the baby arrives later this year.
And, speaking of baby: One of the big questions I had entering 2015 was whether or not we were going to try to conceive. When one marries at 39, there’s not a tremendous amount of time to figure that one out. And, we were honestly all over the map (hence some of my book choices). Ultimately, we decided to leave it to fate. In August, after getting through The (out)Siders Project and abandoning the bad habits that came with doing something stressful, we had my IUD taken out. Two months later while we were still actively debating the pros and cons of having a child, I got pregnant. Brett was playing the Headless Horseman in the show I was directing at Eastfield and the holy conception happened during that time frame. So, we can always tell our daughter that mommy got knocked up by a ghoul.
My one big takeaway from the year was the importance of taking time for myself, of saying “no” sometimes and of staying healthy and balanced. We all know these things, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in the shoulds and coulds of life. Since we’re bringing a child into this crazy, crazy world, it’s even more important to me that I keep striving to find balance and joy. So, here’s to 2016!