Personal Quarterly Review
I sat down with a notebook and my hot sweetened coffee. I wanted to resist the new year b.s. and all the goals and new things but I had to succumb. There is something amazing about a new season and a new page. There is something healing and magical about a fresh start that is acknowledged by all. So many people say they are ready for the new year. I've never actually felt that desperate about it until this year. Until I was at the end of 2018 wondering if I'd lose one more thing I love, or endure another sickness and virus for the baby, or have more cramps, or death, or whatever. I tried to push out the thoughts of doomsday and the inner headlines declaring me the victim of a freak accident or losing my whole family in one calendar year, but the fear and anxiety that have built pathways in my brain found their commute.
This first quarter will be about healing and self-care. Letting moving and writing and creative ventures be dreams and not work. Letting things be fun and light. These are my life's lessons. Less serious, more easy.
Things flow without the barricade of stifled thought and I must say I’m enjoying it. I took off the pressure with about three days of telling myself to chill out. To move forward anyways.
It's so easy to forget our blessings and reconfigure them as burdens in our mind. Hence the famous gratitude practices that are all the rage. I do it too - I believe in it! But how fast we are to set aside answered prayer in pursuit of better and more. How many new mascaras do we need to try before going back to the old faithful? How fickle we are. It's our luxury and our curse. Our generation's options are what make us prosperous but also what keep us from finding the depth in life, keeps us skating on top of the lake, dipping slightly into the shallows and thinking they're the deep end. You have to tread water and exhaust every tendon before letting your toe dip down into the true unknown. That murky place of algae and darkness. You'll find solid ground though, yes you will.
That was written on January 11th.
Since then, I’ve worked on writing things in a journal each morning for “me time” (I’ve been using the Start Today Journal), writing out 5 new gratitudes each day, and then 10 desired accomplished goals that never change - an approach at manifesting my dreams.
I’ve liked the practice, and have seen how I want to change my goals often, but don’t. This was a personal test for me, and not failing it feels good.
The one goal I wanted to achieve was mental peace and clarity. I’m disappointed to say that I don’t feel the way I had hoped. However, today I realized the area that I really needed that peace and clarity, so maybe that’s half the battle.
But how are we doing after three months into a new beginning? Each new year brings people to their knees looking for salvation. Have you leaned into it? Have you saved yourself?
In the business world where things are measured by the three-month quarters, we get reviews and sometimes bonuses at this point in the year. We certainly have to look at milestones we’ve hit or missed. In our home lives though - in the experience of actually being a human - are we paying attention?
I must say, the journaling exercise does keep your focus on goals and helps to track the ebbs and flows of what’s working for you and what’s going on in general (the gratitudes make this clear - it’s very cool). However, I lost sight of the some of the tactical approaches I needed to achieve some goals - mostly the one goal I really wanted to focus on: that mental clarity and peace. That’s at the root, and takes the most work, hence me dodging it.
So, we will start again here in the next quarter. To meditate, and outline what’s giving me joy and what’s causing me pain. I believe those things will lead to that clarity.
Finally, after these three months, I heard “my word”. You know, the one word for the year that you focus on. Everyone does this now. I was not playing the game in January - I was still in survival mode.
Alas, my word arrived a few days ago: Gather.
After a few pivotal experiences already taking place this year, I felt the power of gathering. My father’s funeral brought people from all over my hometown (home county really) some of whom hadn’t seen me or my dad in over 12 years. They gathered for us.
I’ve seen the joy a little bundle of my fresh veggies has brought into the lives of neighbors and friends - delighted to taste the difference of home grown.
I yearn to get things and people and ideas together - to package them up, so that we can experience some connection and give honor to the things that are important to us. It feels like a throwback idea, like a lost generation’s everyday. I hear stories of all the women who used to stay at home and watch each other’s kids as one mom ran errands, or of recipe swaps and bridge playing. Stories of families doing weekly game nights and potlucks. What happened to those days? Is that a figment of my childhood imagination? Is that some suburban dream that really ends in all the men getting too drunk and the women being secretly miserable?
It’s hard to tell where societal anecdote vs. reality begins and ends. But I don’t really care - you create your beautiful magnificent reality. Revel in that.
In the end, we only have ourselves to hold accountable for the experiences we have and the stories that are told on our behalf. Both of those things being immensely different.
After three months of this year, I ask myself, “Are you who you want to be? Are you even thinking about it anymore?” and then I start again where I have fallen short, and celebrate where I haven’t.