This is the time of year that we all start to look back and reflect. Although we know that time is continuous, it is hard not to feel like one door is closing and a new, bright, shiny door is opening. I have been thinking about 2017 over the past few weeks, trying to recall what I have accomplished, where I have grown, what made me smile and how I spent my time.
The single, over-powering memory that crowds my thoughts is the hours upon hours of studying. I completed six MBA courses in 2017…and it was hard. It took most of my free time, and the focus and dedication it required, stole some of my happiness. While I am proud of my accomplishment, a particular sadness hovers over the fact that school is my most vibrant and lasting memory of the entire year.
I woke up this morning and began to look back at my pictures, blogs and FB statuses in order to see where else I spent my time. I saw pictures and blogs from early 2017 when we were worried that Jera, my then 4-year old, may have cancer due to an asymmetric enlarged tonsil. It brought back the memories of her tonsillectomy and waiting for test results that followed. I thought about how grateful we were when those results came back cancer-free. I am thankful to have a healthy and vibrant 5-year old today.
I saw Facebook status updates on my mother-in-law’s surgery to remove her second brain tumor. I thought about the journey she has been on, and our journey with her, as she has dealt so bravely with renal cell carcinoma (and when I say dealt so bravely, I mean kicked a**). Pardon my language, but it is what it is. I think about her recent test results that showed no new tumors and how truly thankful we are to have her in our lives every day.
I thought about losing my grandfather, Linus Knebel, and in doing so, watching my father lose his father. I thought about how brave my grandpa was the last time I saw him and how strong my dad was in letting him go to be with God. And in thinking of these milestones, I thought about how grateful I am for my own parents. How truly blessed I am to have them in my life, in my children’s lives, every single day.
I saw pictures of happier times too. Jera’s preschool graduation, which feels like a lifetime ago, but was only months ago in reality. My son, Jace’s, first day of third grade and Jera’s first day of Kindergarten. I saw our family vacation to Kentucky and all of the joy we felt being cooped up in a cabin together. I saw a trip to California to see my sister-in-law’s new home. I saw pictures of taking my children to Disneyland, venturing to Santa Monica Pier and swimming in the ocean, traveling down to Laguna Beach and watching Jace jump into the waves. I saw three great friends fly into LAX to meet me (in Christmas sweaters IN JULY!) and then make the drive up Highway One to San Francisco. I saw a gum wall in San Luis Obispo, an ultra-windy/hilarious boat ride to Alcatraz, and a breathtaking (figuratively and literally) hike through the Redwood Forest.
As I sit here and recall all of these absolutely amazing moments, I am shocked to feel like they happened to someone else. I am sad to think that the memory that sticks with me is the struggle to balance, the exhaustion, the feeling that I haven’t been good enough, done well enough. How can that be? How after so many life changing experiences can I be left with only memories of feeling defeated?
I am well aware of my character flaws, perfectionism being one of my worst. I work on this every single day, and every day, it is a battle for me. I have thought a lot about what my New Year’s Resolution could be for 2018. Nothing has stood out to me. Of course, there are plenty of things I could work on, but knowing I’m going back into another MBA course in one week is daunting, and I fear putting additional pressure on myself. In April I will complete the MBA program, and this very challenging goal will have met its end. I am sure I will find myself looking for my new normal and things like a clean house, working out and fitness, social events and all of the items I currently view as luxuries that I do not have, will find their way back into my priority list. But for today I cannot think of those things.
So what can I do for the New Year? How can I ensure that I don’t come to the end of 2018 and only recall the struggle? The answer is both ridiculously simple and impossible. I must work to be happy. I had a lot of happy moments in 2017. I am so thankful for this year and all of the blessings that I was given, but I don’t remember this as a happy year. For my New Year’s resolution, I will focus on my happiness. I will find time to do the little things that make me happy. It sounds selfish. It is an absolute truth that in order to make others happy, you must first make yourself happy. To be the mother, daughter, father, son, sister, brother and friend that we were designed to be, we have to find our heart’s happiness.
Do you do that? Do you find time for yourself? Do you find time to do something that YOU enjoy, on your own. Not for your family, for your husband or partner, not for your children, church, not for your employer, pet, parents, in-laws, friends, neighbors. There is so little time and we often feel guilty about what that means to those we love. So we focus on giving what little time we have left to others, which is fantastic, BUT we must give to ourselves first.
We must give to ourselves first.
For me, happiness is writing. Writing is what makes me happy now in my life and it is just for me. Whether it be in my blog, or my newly started journal (throwback to junior-high Melissa and I’m loving it!), I will take time, whether it be five minutes in the morning before the crazy day starts, or an hour on New Years Day while my family buzzes along without me (they’re really all okay, I swear…to my amazement they don’t even miss me when I take an hour to myself).
I hope for this New Year’s resolution, you do something just for you. Take a moment and think about what makes you feel really good. Not about the reaction or approval of those around you, not even of the result…but think about what you do for yourself that leaves you feeling calmer, happier, more fulfilled. Got it? Okay, now can you put a little bit of that thing into every single day? Do you think you can do that? I hope you’ll consider it. I hope you’ll commit to it. Most of all, I hope you’ll take time to love and care for yourself in the New Year. You deserve it.
What do you do for yourself that leaves you feeling calmer, happier, more fulfilled…
Happy New Year to all of my readers, friends and family. Thank you for taking time out of your day today to share with me. Much love.