A New Start
I love the Modern Mrs Darcy (MMD) blog. I discovered it not very long ago, but it quickly parked at the top of my morning must read list. Today's post inspired me. I was typing a comment to the post when I realized that I was writing a dissertation rather than a comment. Immediately, I thought about my blog. The poor thing just sitting there neglected. I think about it often. I write blog posts in my head that never go anywhere. My internal voice clearly broke through and said, “Sheesh you are SO lazy”. Just like that three thoughts clicked into place.
First, some background…
January is a symbol of fresh starts. Many people, including me, make a list of won’t do/will do things for the upcoming year. My lists were always long and detailed. By February most of the list falls to the wayside. By March nothing has changed, no new habits formed, no epiphanies fell from the sky.
Last year, I turned 50. Typically, I don’t care about what age I am. 90% of the time, I don’t remember how old I am without doing the math. I just don’t care: However, 50 sent me into a tailspin. Half of my life was gone; presuming I’m living to 100. Five decades, FIVE, finished. 6-months before my birthday, I was in complete crisis mode. Filled with anxiety, I started to review my life, my mistakes, and my successes. I desperately wanted the success list to be miles longer than the mistakes. Spoiler alert: It wasn't.
I forced myself to dig deep and find some brutal honesty. I’m rarely honest with myself. I excel at pretending, convincing myself that everything is great. If you are not going to take a good, long, and truthful look inside at a milestone like 50, then it’s never going to happen. I spent the rest of 2015 walking on an introspective road through my life.
I did a made a few superficial changes. I had cataracts from prednisone use. Midyear those were removed and for the first time in 46-years I didn’t need glasses on except for reading. Unless you’ve worn glasses your entire life, there is just no way to explain what kind of impact this event had on me. Suffice it say HUGE is understating the impact. Next, I got a major haircut. This may seem like something not worth mentioning, but I wanted long hair for my entire life. It would not grow past my shoulders. For some reason when I reached my 40s my hair took off. It was still impossibly flat and fine, but it grew to the middle of my back. It didn’t look good, but it was long damn it. Sometimes I styled it, but my hair fights curl like it is the plague. SO, for a decade I mostly wore it in a low bun at my neck.
6-months ago I went into Fantastic Sam’s and said, “chop it all off”. I’ve never had a moment of regret. It was liberating. Something that seems so trivial galvanized my decision to reinvent myself. Little changes weren’t enough. I started reading websites like http://tinybuddha.com/, http://zenhabits.net/, and http://soulanatomy.org/I looked at books like The Happiness Project, Start Where You Are, and How to be Happy. I like the research part of planning. That’s the fun part. I like making a plan. This time though, I did take a few more steps. I started working on the The 52-List Project. I started with the lists on the website even though I know she didn’t end up doing 52. I got the book, and I do plan on switching to that after I exhaust the lists on the website. I also decided to cut back about 99% on my alcohol consumption, for reasons too personal to share here.
Then this morning I started my day with the The latest post on (MMD). Right after my internal voice yelled at me for being so lazy, these three thoughts surfaced and demanded attention.
For the last decade I have indeed become lazy. It's a symptom of a larger issue that I am just now starting to explore. While I delve into that larger issue, I’ve decided that my number one thing on the let’s not to do this in 2016 is "put it off until never". I make the plan, I love planning, it’s the actually DOING I suck at. To be successful, I must continue to explore the "larger issue" and define what's going on deep under the surface. In the meantime, I’m going to make small changes over the course of 2016. Small, measurable, attainable goals. Slow and steady. No giving up!
Number two is "stop beating myself to a pulp when I slip". It took ten-years to get in this place and it's going to take longer than five-minutes to get out. Every time I decide to work on something, I beat the crap out of myself at the first slip up. It does not take long until I just give up altogether, hence a decade of failure.
Number three is to give up on the notion of perfection. In my 20s and 30s I strove for perfection. I had to be the perfect wife, mother, homemaker, reader, crafter, "Christian"; the list goes on and on. In my 40s the cracks that come with the illusion of perfection started to show. I started the ten-year slide into the hole I live in today. Every time I've made the decision to start the climb out, I made perfection (the past Bridget) my target. Rather than facing that perfection does not exist, I kept reaching for it. I made the goal to "go back" and become the person I used to be.
Going back is never the answer. Even if it was, I was not really happy back then.
So, forward it is. The theme of 2016 is Happiness.
Step 1 – Read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project
Already using The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal
Commit to the three-no more in 2016 list
Stick with it – no more lazy
No punishment for slip ups – forgiveness is not just for the other guy
Nothing and no one is perfect – my best is good enough
I’m going to start by keeping my thoughts and progress on the blog. I’ll be accountable to me and no one else. Fresh Start, here I come!