Hello! Happy New Year!
Yes, we’re almost 3 weeks in. I’ve had a slow start to 2017. It’s been an interesting season. We had a nice, quiet Christmas and then a long winter break following. We had a good mix of lazy days in PJs until noon, working on little projects here and there, and taking a little trip to the coast for a couple of days.
But, I’ve been in a funk.
January used to do this to me every year. I’d go into what my friends called “the cave” where I just stayed home, hunkered down, and survived the season. I spent evening on the couch, watching You’ve Got Mail and Bridget Jones’s Diary, letting phone calls go to the machine (yes, that many years ago), and eating lots of chocolate.
But for the last several years, I’ve become a winter convert. I LOVE this season. I love clearing away the Christmas decorations and starting with a clean slate. I love reflecting on the past year and making plans for the new one. I even love the rain and fog and cold that sometimes come in January. I keep the twinkle lights up, I burn my candles, and I relish that magic starting-over feeling.
But, this year has felt a little less magical.
I can’t exactly put my finger on the cause – just a bunch of different things that have been bothering me. I haven’t been feeling so great, parenting is kicking my tail, and when I looked back at my plans for 2016, I felt like I had accomplished exactly zero of my goals. I began to lose hope about a lot of things.
Husband and I had been talking about our One Little Word for a few weeks. He decided in early December that REINVENT would be his. It sounded good – I could see a lot of ways that this would help me get some things back on track – but it just never settled well. I tried different synonymous words that might be a better fit – RECREATE, REMAKE, RECLAIM, REFORM, RECONSTRUCT, RECOVER.
Nope. Just not right.
I read an article about doing an Annual Review of your life (like you would for your job), noting things that went well the previous year and things that didn’t. The author suggested writing some questions – some What Ifs – to frame what you would like the new year to look like.
My questions looked a little like this:
-What if I set deliberate times to play with each child every day?
-What if I spent 5 minutes alone meditating every morning?
-What if I finally found a daily Bible study to do?
-What if I went back to Pilates?
-What if I tried to connect with everyone I sent a Christmas card to this year? Not just a “Happy Birthday” on Facebook, but if in some way, I really connected with them – a phone call, a letter, meeting for coffee, dinner – something more than just a Christmas card? (This idea came as I was addressing them back in December, and I just can’t shake it. I might fail miserably, but an interesting What If.)
-What if I connect the dots of my experiences and my interests to figure out what’s next in my life?
-What if Husband and I had a getaway every year? (Does NOT have to be big like London! Small and simple is good, too.)
And then my word was clear: CONNECT.
Connect with my children, with myself, with God, with my body, with my friends and family, and my husband. How much different would I feel at the end of the year if I did all of these things?
And then, as tends to happen, the word CONNECT started showing up: in this book that’s been on my nightstand for months that I just picked up, in this book that I read most mornings when I sip my coffee, in this study that arrived a few weeks earlier than expected and at EXACTLY the right time I needed it. And that word just keeps showing up – magazine articles, podcasts, songs on the radio.
And it turns out, the way for me to get out of my January funk was not to go into “the cave” alone but to CONNECT with other people. Just keeping this word in mind has encouraged me to say “Yes!” when I feel like saying “No.” And by doing so, little bits of light break through the darkness, and I regain hope.
So 2017? I’m ready now. Let’s do this.