Last week, when 2020 was approaching I felt the need to exchange the baton so to speak. I did my 19 for 19 and felt good about rounding out the year in pictures, but there was still something missing. This is it.
For many the closure of one year is a celebration of accomplishments, a look at where ideas and dreams fell flat and a moment of gratitude. For others it means donning a sparkly dress and a glass of bubbly. For others, it means something totally beyond these two ideas. And finally - a reminder that no two people are alike and not all calendars are either. We have the 12 month January-December one, the Chinese calendar which will celebrate New Year on Saturday, Jan, 25 (yes, I looked it up) and then there is the teacher calendar that basically goes from summer to summer. Finally, we have the calendar of the person who is ill. It goes from treatment to treatment. There is no right way (or time) to ring in the New Year and I am glad I procrastinated on this post until this very moment, because yesterday I got clear on a few things.
I always like to have some words to root me for any given year. I create my own definitions for them and like to put them in areas that pop op on the daily. Post it’s, posters, phone covers, ya know.
Last years words looked like this:
Can’s: Can’s are can’ts that are flipped on their head. While an inversion is fun, it’s also immobilizing. When can’ts are flipped on their heads, I can walk (or run) around them and get on with my CANS. Hell Yeahs!: A Hell Yeah! happens in the millisecond when your head and heart agree one way or another. A Hell Yeah! lets me know when I should, or shouldn’t do a thing.
Teamwork:I have someone’s back, someone has mine. We ask the important questions and know - we are on working together. No fixed destination, it’s not about where we’re going. It’s why.
Creativity: Ideas in motion.
Roots: Getting out of my head and into my feet. A reminder that growth happens from the bottom up.
While I still feel a connection to these words and will revisit this list from time to time. I have new words for 2020 and I came up with all of them on my bike ride yesterday. I have travelled a lot in my short life, but if you ask me where my favorite place in the world is, my response will be, “on my bike.” It’s true. Yesterdays ride was 38km up, up, up. It was cold, it was difficult, my legs felt like lead, but I loved every minute of it. Here are my words for 2020, in order of my thought process during the 2.5 hour ride.
Breathless: Both beauty and grit that leaves us gasping for air and grateful to have it.
Up: Just like the movie; seeking the wildest adventure. Or - that gnarly hill.
Aero: The path of least resistance.
Lean: Lean in. Lean on. Lean back. Lean body.
These words light me up very much. I am aware that there’s nothing about community or relationships or authenticity, but I think these words are going to spring me out of a 2019 that I confess was exhausting. While I work on bringing my best energy to the table, my relationships, connections and self can only be improved as well.
This is the first time that I have begun a free write with absolutely no idea what was going to come out. I did take the leap and press the timer and figured that it would take me somewhere. I guess it is that idea of taking the first step, setting yourself into motion and that will, by default, bring you somewhere. Maybe that is what 2019 has been about after all. I haven’t had the same time to plan and think ahead, but I have found myself trying things on and seeing how it goes. A bit scarier than carefully planning the next step and possible pitfalls and outcomes, but without a doubt, lots of learning along the way.
Here are a few places where I took one step that helped shape where I am today, as we forge into a new year and new decade (this is debatable, but I think it is).
I trained for my first big race since 2015. Instead of easing back into running, I was convinced by my father-in-law to start with a half-marathon. Each Monday morning, as I set out for my training runs, I felt a sensation of coming home, coming back to the girl I was when I first started running. I was nervous at the starting line, that I would be slower and that quite possibly I had bitten off more than I could chew. As I crossed the finish line at the end of the race, almost every body part hurt, but it was faster than I could have ever imagined my comeback to be. Fueled by the first race and feeling stronger than I had in years, I committed to a second half-marathon in 2019. All those mornings of crawling out of bed to start with one step and then another paid off. In my second race, I crushed my personal best time. At 41, I was faster than I had ever been.
My husband and I took a 17 day trip, leaving my son in the loving care of his grandparents and nanny. Before I became a mom, I had mom idols that seemed to balance perfectly their lives as a mother and also as themselves. I mentally promised myself that I would be just like that. I would be able to thrive as a loving mom and also as myself, no guilt attached. However, shortly after Oliver was born (probably about 10 minutes) that all changed. I realized that it would be hard to be away from that tiny human, that balance and guilt-free parenting does not exist. However, in June of 2019, I took a step out the door to go on an adventure and to explore the world with my husband, my friends and probably most importantly myself. It was incredible. But, it was a new incredible. I did enjoy every last bite of hummus and reveled in the mornings that I didn’t need to get up to do anything other than attend to my needs. All that happened while missing my son almost viscerally. I don’t think you can ever attain a balance while embarking on the journey of parenting, but maybe the idea of it holds some value.
I applied for school, finally, and am beginning the program on Monday. I have so many emotions about beginning school again. As an educator, I am also a lifelong learner and so the main emotion is giddiness. However, when I think about why it has taken me so long to finally take the leap to begin my next academic pursuit (this has been on my mind for years), it was most certainly fear that was holding me back. I was worried that I wouldn’t chose the right path. The right path to study. The right path to lead me where I want to go (which is also a bit hazy), but there was a moment when I decided that I need to just try it on, take a leap, take the next step. So, here I go back into a space that I love with a hint of the unknown.
I was racking my brain for the person who wrote a quote about doing the next right thing. It is something that I think about a LOT and I will find the right one, just not in this 30 minutes. But I did find one by Michael J. Fox. Here it is and this is the gist, “Do the right thing, then do the next right thing, and that will lead you to the next right thing after that.” I guess it is about having faith that if you know the next step you take is the right one, eventually it will lead you down the path you need. That is what 2019 was about for me. And now I am taking a huge step right into 2020.