I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. About a lot of things. I think that people often do that around the new year, because it symbolizes a chance to start over again. Erase what was and begin something new.
There are some things that I have learned for sure in the last year. One of them is that you make your own happiness. If I am not happy in my current situation, I have no one to blame but myself. I am where I am in life because of decisions I have made. And despite how busy/overwhelmed/exhausted I feel sometimes, I have to remind myself that these are first world problems. When I feel like I want to quit my job and move south to open up a taco stand on the beach, I need to remind myself to put things into perspective. Overall I am an incredibly lucky woman. I had a wonderful and loving childhood. I've had the opportunity to get an excellent education and I am smart enough to do whatever it is that I want to do (which somewhere along the line I decided was Ophthalmology). I have a house. I have a car. I don't have to worry about paying for groceries or gas money. I don't have to worry about paying my heating bills in the winter. I can go home and see my family over the holidays. I can travel and see the world if I want to. All of these are things that so many people in our world cannot do.
Sometimes I think that websites like facebook really get in the way of living your life. You can spend so much time looking at what other people are doing and experiencing and then comparing that to yourself. It is not healthy. I am definitely guilty.
So, that lead me to my first New Year's Resolution.
No facebook until I go to Puerto Rico
I will admit. This is going to be really hard. I am a huge facebook addict. And it is going to be really hard for me to not go to facebook to see what so and so sent me as a message. But I really think that I need to cleanse myself of facebook. I will go back eventually, because I don't think it is all bad. It is a really good way to stay in touch with people from your past that you usually do not get to talk to. However, I need to focus on my life, this moment, and not for one second wish that I was somewhere else doing something else. Because I am lucky. And my journey is not their journey. Mine is mine alone. And I think that some time disconnected will help with that. My facebook ban starts January 1st and will end when I return from Puerto Rico at the end of February. This is not going to be easy, but if I got as far as this in life I think I can give it up for a few months.
Next. Charlie has been really struggling lately. The two of us have been going through some pretty major and very personal changes, and I think that he is going to quit his job. He's started to look for new jobs pretty hard now (ones that do not require so much travel), but regardless he is probably going to have a conversation with his boss right after the New Year. I know that not everyone out there understands our decision, and that is OK. But we have been talking and reflecting and praying about it a lot, and this is what is best for our family. That being said, he brings in a good chunk of change. We have a good deal of money in savings, and I will still be bringing in a paycheck, but that is a good segway into my second resolution for 2012.
I have talked a big game about living simply for some time. I have a little picture above the little basket that holds my keys that says, "May I live simply that others may simply live", but I am taking this to a whole new level. Gone are the things that I don't need. No more purchases of things that I don't need (I mean, within reason). I already try really hard not to buy stuff that I can make myself, but for next year my first step in living simply is my third resolution.
We have so much crap. Everywhere. And I am tired of it. I'm going to start in the spare bedroom and I am going to work from there. I am once and for all going through our filing cabinet and cleaning out what we don't need. And then I am going to come up with a system for new mail. I am cleaning out every closet, every shoebox, every big ol' plastic bin. Things that we don't need and will never need are leaving. Gone. To those who can use them. We will keep what we need. And we will keep it organized. Because I am tired of my house ending up like a tornado went through it at the end of every week. It really makes my anxiety level go up and there is no need for that. So we are getting rid of what we don't need and organizing what we do.
The next step to living simply:
Repurpose. Refinish. Reuse.
I am going to try really hard to find ways to reuse things in my house. I'm using old jeans as interfacing in my sewing projects. Why buy interfacing? That works just as well. Use mason jars to hold silverware, flowers, etc... Instead of throwing out something or replacing it (like all the hardware in the house) refinish it (with spray paint). Somethings cannot be saved (I will refer you to the end tables and lamps that we took to the Salvation Army today) but what can be should be. Why throw away a plastic zipper bag after you used it once? Unless it has a hole in it, there is no reason why you can't use it again. And again. And again. It will save money, and it also is a key element in living simply and not taking up more of this earth than is rightfully yours.
I think that is enough of living simply for one year. It is a gradual thing.
Lastly, and a lot of what went before is in preparing for this last idea. It's not really a resolution, but a knowing change in attitude. I didn't know if I would write about this or not, mostly because I did not want to create a hullabaloo, but since my Mom and sisters are the only ones that read this anyways, I figured that if you can't be your most vulnerable in front of them, then who?
Almost two years ago now Charlie and I found out we were pregnant. We found out that we were not a few short months afterwards. It has taken us almost two years to really get over that and move forward with our relationship and with our life. It was a big deal. And one of those big deals that you don't even really realize is a big deal until way afterwards.
Anyways, I had been putting off the idea of having kids again. I had a lot of excuses. Work was too busy. He traveled too much. I wanted to travel more. None of our friends had kids and I didn't want to be the only one. Some of my excuses were better than others, but they all covered up one fact. I was scared. Terrified even. I am not someone who fails at things. I have never failed anything that I really put my mind to. But I was really afraid I would fail at this. That I would not be able to get pregnant and stay pregnant long enough to have a healthy and happy baby. Which is really not a realistic fear. There is absolutely nothing that would indicate that is the case. I know all the facts. 20% of all known pregnancies end in miscarriage. The real number is probably much higher as there is no way to track very early miscarriages (before the woman even knows she is pregnant or has missed a period). The vast majority of them do not mean anything and are just due to chromosomal abnormalities that would have rendered the baby unviable. Many women out there have had at least one miscarriage. That does not change the fact that I was really fearing failure.
However failure is a part of life. Everyone's life. From Bill Gates and Michael Jordan down to me. And if you don't put yourself out there and take some risks and make yourself feel a little vulnerable sometimes, then you are maybe never going to fail, but what kind of a life will you really be living?
So, it is time to put aside my fears of failure. Or at least continue on my journey through life in spite of them. Because if I have learned one thing in a lifetime of battling my anxiety and fear, it is that if you stand strong and look your fear square in the face, it is usually not as bad as you might have thought. And it passes. So, I am telling all of you not because I want there to be some big thing (in fact, I really do not want that at all) but so that I can't go back on this. Because once I tell someone I'm going to do it, then I need to.
So with any luck Charlie and I will be looking forward to an addition to our family by the end of 2012. And if not, then that is OK too. Then it will be time to go to the doctor and see if there is a little help that we may need. And if it turns out that we can't have kids of our own, then that is also OK (or at least it will be eventually) because there are lots of kids out there that need loved and we have lots of love to give. Regardless, I will have faced my fear. And if I fail, I will realize that it won't kill me. Or make me less of who I am. It will just be. And it will pass.
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams!
Live the life you've imagined.
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.
- Henry David Thoreau