I have opted for a slow entry into 2017. This year brings so many changes: to my life personally, to our nation’s political landscape, and to the way I want to think about and approach the world.
As I have stated before, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I don’t challenge myself to lose 10 lbs., or set lofty goals for my business. I don’t declare that this will be the year when I finally start putting laundry away right after it’s folded, rather than picking clothes out of the basket for a couple of weeks until it’s time to wash everything again. I don’t make plans to cut out sugar, scale back my coffee drinking, or only allow myself one glass of wine a week (not a chance). The way I see it, resolutions are just a list of things I’ll fail to achieve. Who needs that. I prefer to take a different approach to a new year:
Instead of making resolutions, I prefer to set an intention for the year. A resolution is a directive, something that must be accomplished. An intention is a guide. It informs your decisions, rather than dictating them. It directs your life, but does not control it. A resolution is something to live up to. An intention is just a way to live.
I had trouble settling on an intention for this year. Did I want to continue my efforts to slow down, to let a desire for rest and self-care be my guide in the year ahead? Or did I want to be active, whether that means reestablishing a higher intensity running and workout routine after I recover from giving birth, getting more involved in political movements and organizations, or simply lending my voice and my free time to activities and communities that feel meaningful for me?
There are so many unknowns for me in the year ahead. I have nothing planned. No set vacations that I’m looking forward to or working toward. No major events that are clear and certain in their timelines or outcomes. I am having a baby, sometime in February in all likelihood. I cannot know when it exactly it will happen. I cannot know how it will go. I cannot know what my life will look like in the days, weeks, and months that follow that moment. There is no way for me to predict any outcomes and experiences in my life this year. I simply must wait and see how my life unfolds in the wake of this major change.
It was that realization that finally helped me settle on an intention for 2017: to be present. I just want to be present and available for whatever the year brings my way. I have heard that kids grow fast, and while I know there are moments and experiences I will miss out on in my child’s first year (and all the years to come), I want to be fully engaged in those moments that I do get to be a part of. I want to be present for my husband, to remember and respect that his life is changing too, that our lives are changing together, and that we need to remain open and responsive to each other’s joys and hardships. A couple months ago, we decided that we would pick one evening each week where we can’t use any screens–no tv, no phones, no sitting at the computer, no answering calls, or even just doing a quick check of our email. We shut everything off and spend the evening listening to music and reading, playing games, or just chatting. We just enjoy each other’s company, without distractions, and it’s been pleasant to discover how relaxing it is to just be in the presence of my husband without anything else clouding my mind, or pulling at my attention. I want to foster that feeling and that connection in the year to come.
When I return to work in the spring, I want to be more present for my clients. Working while pregnant has been tough. It’s tiring and I am sore and uncomfortable, and my mind wanders during my sessions to all the things I still need to do to prepare for the baby, and to all the ways my body is achey and worn down. That’s not good. It’s not good for my psyche and it’s not good for my clients–they deserve better. I know that getting back to work may prove very tough. That my mind and body will both wish to be back at home, and I may be thinking about all the little moments I’m missing while I’m away from my kid. But I want to set an intention to be fully present in my work, to engage completely while I am there, and give my clients the kind of attention that is required to do good work.
And I want to be present for the world around me, to not slip too completely into a fog with the arrival of a baby that I entirely stop engaging with and staying informed about what is happening in our country and the world. I may not have as much ability to act, but I can choose to observe and remain informed.
It will be a year of great change, and I want to be fully available for whatever comes my way. I have no plans, no specific goals, nothing to live up to, no great accomplishment that I am striving to achieve. I simply intend to be present in my own life, to engage with whatever the year has to offer me, one day at a time. I am ready.