Today has been quiet, not in a literal way since I live in a home filled with boys, but in a figurative way. After months of being swept up in the cadence of a busy life, I’ve gently reminded myself of the importance of protecting quiet time, time that is free of obligation, when I can let myself wander from task to task without pressure or any particular plan, a day spent at home in the company of my family when we all do whatever we feel like doing. These are the days that make me most happy. These are days that help me maintain calm.
Instead of setting any resolutions for myself this year, I decided to choose one word to sum up who I want to be and how I want to live. I’ve never done this before, but I noticed that so many did last year, and after my post late in 2011 when I wrote about focussing on moments of quiet, taking long deep breaths and maintaining perspective, it seemed clear that this would be a good exercise for me—a mantra by which to frame my life over the coming months.
It didn’t take me long to realize that my word would have to be calm. In fact, it kind of just came to me. I’d discussed the feeling that I was losing control of my life again with my therapist and with my yoga instructor, and how I wanted to nip it in the bud before it became a problem. It’s the very thing I value most in my life, and the thing that often seems the most elusive. I write often enough about how busy my life is, how easy it spins out of control, because as simply as I try to keep it, working full-time while raising a family is no easy feat. It’s busy. At times it feels like there is too much. I realized that if I wanted to live it, than I should just do it—make it a priority, make it my word.
So calm it is. A simple word. A good way to live.
The reality of living it fits so comfortably and perfectly that I wish I had thought of it sooner. Over the last week I’ve reminded myself of it often. I’ve sat in meetings at work and reigned in my thoughts by saying it to silently to myself. I’ve returned to yoga to intentionally set aside time to let it grow. I take deep breaths when my children’s energy boils over and remind myself to keep my cool. I’ve turned off the radio when I drive just to allow myself space to think. Baby steps toward change, but steps forward nonetheless.
For many, many months I’ve been singly focused on looking inward, assessing, reorganizing, evaluating, and forgiving myself. And I’ve changed. It may not be outwardly obvious, but I feel it deep within myself. I am not the person I was two years ago. I am profoundly different. The way I think, the way I feel, my dreams and my hopes, they’ve re-calibrated. The shift, for me, has been as palpable as stepping from a pair of heals into a new pair of comfortable running shoes.
Several weeks ago I wrote about my struggle with the notion of getting out of my own way. Within the space of a few days two people whom I admire and trust had gently suggested it to me. The idea of it was weighed on me, and if I’m being honest, it still does. I think that is because it’s important that I figure it out, that it’s time to actually do it. I’ve realized that for me it means acknowledging the pesky voices in my head that hold me captive and undermine my confidence but trusting myself enough to set them aside and move beyond them.
So I’ve realized that the next step is to begin to live this change, infuse all parts of my life with it, weave it into the fabric of who I am on the outside. This is the year I’ll begin to do that. And this word, this intention will provide the platform from which I’ll find the strength to do it.