2018 is going to be my year of SELF.
I like a new year. For me, a new year is about a fresh start, a clean state and an opportunity to re-set the clock and to shed the weight of last year’s problems, worries and anxieties. That’s not to say that last year’s problems magically disappear at the stroke of midnight on new year’s eve but for some reason the beginning of a new year enables me to look at yesterday’s problems with a fresh and a more courageous perspective.
I’ve never really thought myself much of a superstitious person, but I confess that I do like years with even, rather than odd, numbers. 2010, 2012, 2014 etc are good years, 2013, 2015 and 2017 are less good. The uneven numbers are a little upsettingly for me. Yes, I know, I am a bit weird, but we are all allowed our little eccentricities aren’t we?
This little eccentricity isn’t entirely whimsical. 2015 was a monumentally tough year for me. I separated from my partner, the father of my then five month old baby, returned to work full time when Cygnet was 7 months’ old, moved house and embarked upon what was initially a very tempestuous and challenging co-parenting relationship. It was anxious, exhausted and emotionally battered and bruised. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Big Ben chimed the dawn of 2016. 2016 was my year of new beginnings, and actually from a sorting my emotional s**t out perspective 2016 was a very good year.
2017 was another challenging year. A person very dear to me went through a very tough time. I wrote a personal note to this special person here on this blog. I guess 2017 was the first time that mental health, or rather mental health issues, arrived on my radar. Seeing a special person struggle with their mental health enabled me to understand my own mental health better. This sounds selfish and narcissistic but travelling along the mental health journey of my special person enabled me to make a bit more sense of 2015 and the dark places that I personally went to and the anxiety that I felt during that year. Every cloud has a silver lining and I guess the silver lining of 2017 is that I now understand a lot more about what I need to do to preserve my own mental health. You’ll be pleased to hear that my special person is also doing great now and 2018 promises to be a great year for her too.
If you’ve read my new year’s blog posts for the last couple of years you’ll know that I like to chose a word or a theme that I would like to sum up the year ahead. 2016’s word was CONSOLIDATION. After the turmoil and change of 2015, I explicitly wanted a year where I would just take stock of what had happened and come to terms with it. I didn’t want any new relationships, jobs, living arrangements etc etc. I absolutely couldn’t cope with any more dramatic life changes. My word for 2017 was EXPANSION although I am not sure how expansive it really was.
2018 is going to be about SELF. Now that sounds really selfish. It isn’t meant to be. This year, I am going to focus on making conscious decisions, ensuring that the decisions that I make are the best ones, are considered and adhere to my values. A year of SELF is about taking the time to reflect, creating the space to think and about being the best person I can be, my best self.
About three months ago, when Cygnet started pre-school, I started running again. My initial goal was to get fit and to lose a bit of weight. Over the last couple of years, I had relied on stress to keep me slim. I lose weight and often don’t eat properly when stressed. Although, in the second half of 2017, it was great that I was less stressed, I did feel that I was starting to get wobbly and flabby.
I don’t think that my running regime over the last three months has enabled me to lose much weight, or indeed to tone, but an unexpected side benefit has been that it has created time and space for me to think. I think it is the journalist and mental health campaigner Bryony Gordon who says “if in doubt run it out”, well I think she’s right. That time spent running enables me to reflect and digest my thoughts. In 2018 I am making a commitment to run 365km. I won’t be running a kilometre a day, but to achieve this goal I will need to run 1-2 times a week for the whole year. It will force me to create the space and time to think. I am also doing a bit of yoga in my sitting room, which I find really grounding and I absolutely love.
New year’s resolutions or goals should be about making a commitment to doing things that you love, that give you pleasure and that make you feel proud of yourself. In 2016, I made a commitment to go to the theatre once a month. I kept that resolution and carried it through to 2017. I intend to go to the theatre once a month in 2018 too. In fact if I go to the theatre once a month for the rest of my life, I will die a very happy and cultured woman. In 2017, I made and kept a commitment to read at least one book a month. It doesn’t sound much, and during my pre-child days the idea of only reading one book a month would have horrified me, but as a new mother working full time I found that I wasn’t reading at all. Reading a book a month in 2017 enabled me to create the time and space to relax, to zone out and depending on the book to sail off into a dream world.
I have just finished Elena Ferrante’s The Lost Daughter – she’s brilliant. I am half way through John Green’s Turtles All the Way Down and I am looking forward to reading The Most of Nora Ephron.
This year’s stretch goal, and it is always good to have a fun one, is to go to New York. I have never been, I have always dreamt of going. This year, when Cygnet is holidaying with his father I intend to go.
Does anyone fancy coming with me?
Happy New Year.