Like every year, 2016 brought new struggles and new joys. My very, very lowest struggles came along with unexpected breakthroughs which made them, eventually, surmountable. My new adventures had dark clouds and silver linings. For me, this is nothing new, and I want to remember always that to every thing there is a season (note, "a season," not "an eternity"). I don't want to belittle anyone else's 2016, I know some very terrible things happened this year, but terrible things happen every year. Great things do, too.
One of the best things of 2016 for me was going to couples counseling for the first time. It didn't look hardly anything like Caleb or I expected, and there were some serious shocks and twists and highs and lows. Honestly, couples counseling didn't last as long as I thought or hoped it would, but it made a good change in our relationship that further unfolded as the weeks and conflicts and resolutions rolled on. I am so thankful we both were brave enough to ask for help, professional help, in making our marriage better. It's working.
The one thing I hope to change for next year isn't much of a change, but a stronger pursuit. More fervor. More passion for what matters and more discernment about what does, in fact, matter. It's just this past year that's brought the importance, gravity, and consequence (the mattering, if you will) of self care to the forefront of my mind (or to any part of my mind, really). It's brought in a wild change to my lifestyle, and I've done things I never would have predicted. I donated what I think I can honestly say was about half of the clothes I own and besides jeans and underwear, I've only purchased secondhand clothes since the spring. Another big leap forward was saying "no" to a special family holiday gathering. I'd realized that the large amount travel I'd been doing had been a great toll on my body and that I needed a break from so many large people-oriented events and I needed to take care of the house before hosting the day after the family gathering. So I said no. (It's a scary thing to say no to your mother-in-law about such things. Thank God for my understanding mother-in-law.)
I hope that I continue to stand up for myself, to tend to my body, to speak well of myself in my own thoughts, to say no when I don't want to do something, to say yes when I should, and to nurture the parts of me that require extra attention.
Parts of me that require extra attention right now and parts that are in progress, with methods of self care listed below:
- my spiritual life
- reading invigorating books that inspire more love and affection for Yahweh, consistent attendance at church and Bible studies, daily and thoughtful and honest prayer, discussion with intimate friends (this last one is a goal for me and isn't in practice yet)
- my physical strength and bodily health
- daily yoga (but also grace for myself when I really can't), regular chiropractor & massage appointments, maybe finding a dance class to join, a daily regimen of vitamins and (ugh) flossing, daily sunscreen and continued skincare
- my emotional strength and agility
- regular individual counseling, reading and journaling about regulating my own emotions and expressing them differently, fortifying my acceptance of my feelings for what they are and rooting out secondary feelings of shame associated with feeling, identifying my inner critic and shutting her up with better things worth saying and hearing
- my peripheral activities (I have no idea what to call this section, but basically I want to cut out the things that don't serve me in all other areas and instead clutter my life)
- maintain a minimal wardrobe filled only with clothing I enjoy, don't go to events I don't want to go to or that I don't have time/space for, devote less time and energy to social media (because it never invests as much into me... it's a very one-sided relationship), do invest into real-life relationships (e.g. letters! phone calls! friend dates! etc.!), read more dangit, go dancing more dangit, invite people to my home and other events more dangit
If you've come to any new conclusions or have resolutions for yourself, I'd love to hear. If you have any encouragement for me, I'd also love to hear that, because I know this journey isn't going to be easy. I mean, look at that list of methods! I'm already nervous I'm not going to make it through Yoga with Adriene's Revolution: 31 days of Yoga (it just started today). If you're feeling any of these things above and want to join me, be my partner and let's do it together. You and me. Let me know where we're matching up, and also what you'd like encouragement in, and let's do this year.