2014 was one of the busiest years on record. I spent almost three months total outside the country. I learned tons about my job and the company I work for. I laid on a few different beaches, and visited the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. I went through a shitty breakup. I went to Disneyland. I acted in three productions, one of which was a super top secret non-rehearsed full-length musical. I put a painful professional chapter behind me once and for all with respect to a bad business arrangement. I staged Evita in my living room with my friends for my birthday (of course I played Eva, don't be silly). I sat on three boards, helped organize a shoe-themed fundraiser, and met my first nephew, the darling Charles Alexander, known as Cal. I saw a dead body (really). I climbed a giant mountain in Wales. I dyed my hair green, and then purple. I sang karaoke in front of my work colleagues. And then, in the last days of the year, I moved house.
As crazy/fun/wondrous as my year was, it was also draining, and kind of disorienting. I was tired all the time, and things that had been fun, suddenly weren't. Due to structural issues and neighbourhood noise, my home no longer felt like a safe place to be. I felt like I didn't sleep - all year. By the time this autumn came around, my workload felt unsurmountable, my free time felt chore-ridden, and I wondered if I would ever not feel exhausted again. I never read anymore - ME! The English major with walls and walls of books lining her home! I felt like being busy was keeping me from - something, I didn't know what - but it wasn't making me happy.
There are a couple of things that I have learned over the past year. The first was that I can't do it all. I really can't - and (surprisingly) I don't want to. My approach over the past few years has been to throw myself into everything I'm asked, head first, and it has not served me well. That's what makes me tired. And tired leads to sick. And sick leads to sad. I have learned that I can have a very little bit of everything, but not the whole lot - and maybe that's OK, to only have a little bit. The second was, it doesn't have to be perfect. I'm still working on that one. The "it" is every aspect of my life really - from the roots of my dyed hair to the Curriecat fur that occasionally sweeps across the floor, to my really really really slow running and my sloppily cooked dinners. It doesn't have to be perfect, but for the things that matter: my work, my art, my health, my friendships - it does have to be the best I can possibly do. And sometimes it has to be the best I can do right at that moment.
And so, the things I am focusing on this year reflect these lessons. The goal is to help me put these ideas into practice every day. Just because I understand what I just said above - that I can't do it all, that "it" doesn't have to be perfect - doesn't mean that I'm comfortable with those truths, or that, when I am lonely, or tired, or insecure, I don't revert to the manic business and accomplishment-collecting that have characterized many years of my life. While some people may say, "This year, I'm going to get out of my comfort zone," my promise is that this year, I will stay IN it. I will not take on everything. I will say no. I will build in time for nothing. I will take the time to think through what I'm doing (there's the mindfulness for you), and make deliberate choices about what I can do, what I'd like to do, and what I'd NOT like to do. I will reflect on the people I surround myself with, and how I'd like to treat them and be treated in return.
In December I made a scary but so-far-wonderful decision about where "home" is, and am having fun creating an environment for myself that is comfortable, relaxing, somewhere I can bring my friends, somewhere I can be be still, and quiet, when I need to be. Somewhere I can sleep. It's not trendy, it's not hip, but it is filled with sunlight, fresh air, calm, and Curriecat, which is all I need, really.
It's not going to be easy, this being easy on myself. It's very very disorienting and uncomfortable at times. To say, "Today I think I will go to work, come home, make dinner, read a book, and go to bed. And that will be enough. That will be OK." To say, "I think I've done everything I can on this work assignment, time to put it away for now. And that's OK." To say, "It's OK to just go for a walk." It's scary, to think that at the end of this year I might not have a laundry list of things to say on Facebook, or Twitter, or this blog, that I've done and been and seen. But I keep telling myself that's OK. I'm OK. And OK is just fine.