Saturday, May 5, 2018

2018 Intentions

At the very end of 2017, I thought about what I wanted for this year. I went about this differently than I normally do- I usually review the year, then think about 10-15 amazing things that I want to add in, come up with ambitious plans about how to get better at the things that are messy/floundering/failing, and then create a shiny road map, a couple of Pinterest boards, and ultimately crumble within two months.

Last year, however, things were such a disaster at the end of the year that I was too stunned to do any of my scheming. I was over scheduled with a new job and classes and was late on most things (like seriously everything). I had stopped taking my medications a few months earlier, with pretty bad results. I was unhappy at home and plastering a smile on at work. One night I started crying and I couldn't stop. I wrote this blog post. It was one of the scariest times in my adult life. 

I went on a trip to Florida, a death in the family forcing me to fly down early with just one of my kids. This maybe saved me? I had such a tenuous grasp on my sanity that for the first time in my life, I literally could not do more than get through the next moment. I remember packing snacks to keep my son quiet during the funeral we were attending, using every ounce of my concentration to find a ziploc bag and fill it with Goldfish crackers. It was the kind of thing I did at home mindlessly, while also making dinner, checking Instagram, scanning the Book Riot Slack channel to snatch up an article idea, planning out my next discussion board post, and reminding a kid to hang up their backpack. It was something my hands could do without any permission from my brain. But on this day, in my mom's kitchen in Florida, it was a singular task. Snacks in bag, make sure you have wipes, find his shoes, find your shoes. For the first time ever, I was ready on time. 

I see the trip to Florida (I trip I was dreading, because trips are messy and tiring and I was already so messy and so tired and I just kept thinking, HOW WILL I SURVIVE THIS because even in serious crisis I am dramatic) as a reset button. That time where my only, seriously ONLY responsibility was getting my son and I dressed for whatever was happening next will always be precious to me. We were joined by my husband and other son a few days later, and I had calmed enough to enjoy them, to enjoy our family, to feel prepared for the rush and excitement of Disney at Christmas. The drive home was not awful (no amount of personal growth will let me cherish getting from FL to MA in two days), but on our actual return there was another shock. Walking back into our house was like walking back into the nightmare I had just slipped away from. Everything looked as frantic as I had felt in the days leading up to the emergency get away to Florida. Piles, unvacuumed carpets, mouldering birthday cake, a shedding Christmas tree. Homemaking was never my strongest skill, but I knew something needed to change. It was a second rude awakening. 

All of the above was on my mind when I tweeted out the intentions I shared above. This was not a declaration made after a ton of reflection- I did not comb through all of 2017's posts and carefully select the way forward. I went from the gut, something I am just learning to listen to and trust. I wrote one and then another until I realized that those feelings truly summed up exactly what I hoped this year would be. At nearly halfway through 2018, I find myself referencing these ideas ALL THE TIME. Some of them are already highly developed: we've completely redone the living room and everyone in the family has routine jobs with the end goal of feeling comfortable and happy when we walk in the front door, which is the last thing I felt in January. I changed medicines and found a therapist I really like. I only took one library class this semester, one that does not require me to rack up observation hours, and is actually just reviewing children's/YA books. I love it. I am reading with the boys and spending a bit more time with Ben. I need to do a better job of carving out time for pleasure writing and I need to do a better job of prioritizing exercise, but I'm getting there. I'm balancing. 

2017 knocked me off my axis, and being aware of that is harder than ignoring it. I could keep my head down and keep adding things to my plate, telling myself not to be dramatic and using a whole host of different things to keep myself numb, and I could maybe get a whole other year in before I had another breakdown. But instead, I've been using 2018 to examine, and question things. To take situations down to the studs and rebuild them. It's hard and messy, but it way that has results, so the mess doesn't feel like a complete waste. I'm figuring out what is important to me and what I can live without. It's so weird but I am ending up so happy. 

Nothing is perfect and I definitely still have my moments, but I am more able to put them in perspective than I was six months ago. I'm getting through 2018 very deliberately, mostly using eight off-the-cuff tweets to guide me, and so far, so good.


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