It’s been a quiet month over here.
I didn’t start the year intending to take pretty much all of January off. But, to be honest, it began a little bumpy and instead of persevering, I crawled back under the proverbial covers. I feel like I’ve been socked in, under cloud cover. Like those dreary coastal winters I’ve heard about where the sun doesn’t show its face for weeks: drizzly, grey. Colourless. Lifeless.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again… winter is not my best season.
Here, at the end of January, (the second last day of January!) the figurative fog isn’t lifting quite yet, but I know I need to take some deliberate steps toward getting my head out of those clouds. The days are inching toward longer; a few more minutes of daylight each turn around the sun.
Today, the sun is shining and the sky is blue, but for a few hours anyway. The temperature is hovering just above zero before it plummets again tomorrow. Back into the deep-freeze of winter for a few more days, weeks, months. Here, where I live, we are only halfway there.
In 2017 I said yes to self-care.
A full week into the New Year, after the kids had been off school for what seemed like 40th day of forever, I put myself in time-out. Despite being in the forefront of my mind as we hit the ground running in 2018, self-care had been decidedly absent from my agenda and it showed.
And while my current state of “time out” (i.e., hiding) may undermine my credibility a little bit, I think maybe it could also stand as an encouragement to you. Because life happens. We don’t always get things right the first time, or the second time, or even after that.
The reality is that sometimes we just need to take a mulligan. For you non-golfers out there—not that I’m a golfer, I just happen to know the term—a mulligan is a do-over, sometimes allowed after a poor shot, which blessedly doesn’t show up on the scorecard.
Did you get that? It doesn’t show up on the scorecard! That, my friend, is grace. And, if nothing else, I want this to be a place of grace. Mulligans allowed. No penalty.
There is always a clean slate waiting for us to try again. Not just on January 1, or September 1 (my other “New Year”), but on a drab Tuesday in January, after a poor night’s sleep, and yelling at your kids for the umpteenth time about cleaning up after themselves, or balled up socks littering the ground. I don’t even know. It’s all a blur.
While it’s all well and good to have hopes and dreams for something new or different in the New Year, the bottom line is that change is hard. The practical application stuff that needs to follow the dreams actually looks like a lot of hard work.
How to begin?
Where to begin?
And on a day like today, (and yesterday and the day before and the day before that…) when my energy is flagging and I’m feeling like a failure in pretty much all the things, mustering up discipline or stepping out of my comfort zone are about the farthest thing from my mind.
Those bed covers and heating pad look pretty enticing from this vantage point.
So, here’s what I’ve discovered when you’re just having one of those days. I’m hoping that maybe this will resonate with some of you who share the same struggles and fears.
You don’t have to change everything all at once.
The myth of Perfectionism
I recently read an article that described perfectionism as an “all or nothing” mentality. And even though, in my mind, I would claim to be the farthest thing from a perfectionist, (one look at the state of my house will confirm it…) that all-or-nothing mindset hits pretty close to home.
For many years, I routinely sabotaged myself if my circumstances looked like success wouldn’t be the outcome. According to a Psychology Today article, 5 Ways to Make Changes that Stick, perfectionism looks a bit like this:
- “I had one cookie and ruined my diet, so I might as well eat the rest of the plate.”
- “I don’t have time to meditate as long as I want to, so I’m not going do it at all.”
- “I can’t afford a gym membership, so I can’t work out.”
Sabotage anyone? (You can’t see me putting my hand up here… but I am.)
One foot in front of the other
When I first started this little blog in 2014, my tagline was One Foot in Front of the Other… (and, hopefully, not in my mouth) because that is very much indicative of my life’s journey to date. It was then and it still is.
We have no idea what each day will throw at us. And, quite frankly, my best-laid plans don’t always pan out the way I hope or expect. The truth is that life is messy.
I just need to keep my feet moving in a forward direction.
Living my life one step at a time, one day at a time, one decision at a time, one small sustainable change at a time is the only way I’ve managed to get through it to this point.
So, I’m taking a mulligan for January. Thank you for your grace.
And moving forward into 2018, I’ll continue trying to live out the yeses I wrote about in my end-of-the-year post here.
More writing. *hopefully better writing!
Plus, I’m going to add one more small item to my list. (This one became especially clear during the Christmas break when my kids were home every day, all day.) Moms especially, listen up…
I need to get buy-in from my people.
It’s advice I heard on a podcast recently. If I don’t value myself or my time, my people will take their cues from that and they won’t value me or my time either.
At first, I thought maybe it didn’t apply to me because I have a fantastically supportive husband. (He’s on board for all my crazy. Poor guy!)
I’ve spent the majority of the past 14 years in wife-and-mother mode first (by choice), fitting in “my” things when there’s time. (Which is code for not really fitting in my things.) I’m the first to admit that I would drop almost everything for my family if they needed me in some way.
But that’s slowly changing. I realize that I need to communicate that my things are valuable and important too and it’s ok that sometimes my time and attention are focused on those things, instead of putting aside my work in order to meet my family’s needs.
It’s all baby steps over here.
Pulling the covers down. Turning the heating pad off. Getting up and moving my feet. Thankful for new mercies that flow every morning.
Has January been a hide-under-the-covers kind of month for you too?
It’s a real thing.
I’ve written an article about Seasonal Affective Disorder in a gorgeous new magazine coming out this month–iola.
“If you love good design, creativity, reading and music, – iola is for you. If you’ve ever wondered about how to manage all the things: family, meaningful work, creative pursuits and how not to lose your self in the process, – iola is for you. If you have faith in God but at times might describe your relationship with him as complicated and have been hurt on life’s road, – iola is for you.
If your idea of a simple treat is some time out with coffee and a magazine that inspires not invokes envy – iola is for you.”
*Check the button on my sidebar for more information or visit iolamagazine.com to get some pre-publication goodies like phone wallpapers and playlists.
Iola will be available on Amazon.com February 5, 2018, but I’m finalizing Canadian pricing and will hope to have some available here soon. Stay tuned for more details.
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
His mercies are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
If you’ve enjoyed this little musing, it would mean the world to me if you subscribe to receive future blog posts. On the sidebar of my homepage, you’ll find a Subscribe button. Feel free to enter your email and use it!
I’m doing my best at navigating the twists and turns of this life with faith, hope and humour. I’d be so honoured to share the journey with you. Putting one foot in front of the other, and—hopefully—not in my mouth. (I’m not sure you fully appreciate how difficult this is for me.)
Based on my previous track record, I don’t promise that my posts will be consistent, or inconsistent, but I’ll try for amusing. At the very least, I hope you’ll come away feeling a little better about yourself.
Here’s to February and longer, warmer, sunnier days ahead!
Thanks for visiting,