Monday, December 20, 2010
Going into the New Year in 2010, I realized two things: A) I was too damn busy, and B) among the things I was busy with, I had lost the ability to discern those that I actually wanted to do, and those I felt like I had to do. So for 2010, I made my word "balance," and in between January through March, the following three things happened:
1) I cut out all of my freelance writing projects,
2) I started going to the Austin Zen Center,
3) I traded my stressful cubicle job for a glorious work-from-home job.
That's basically what happened, anyway.
* * *
In March, one of my freelance jobs fired me after I turned in yet another late assignment. When I realized how much happier I was without the weekly burden of writing for them, I wrote all of my other editors with a cordial, "I quit!" note. And boom: 15-20 hours/week of my life back.
But before that happened, I was pulling out the hairs on the back of my neck, because that is what I do when I get stressed out. I got out of the shower one January morning and felt scabs along my hairline at the base of my neck. I thought, "maybe there's a better way." So I searched for 'zen' in the podcasts part of my iPhone, found Zencast, downloaded a billion, found Austin Zen Center, and started going.
And before that happened, at the end of 2009, I announced to Ross: "I'm sorry, it seems you have married a bitch." Because that is what I was becoming. I had gone from the laid-back kids' yoga teacher he asked out several years ago, to a constantly on-edge corporate suit. In my spare moments, I fantasized about writing a tell-all memoir about this one very famous, very horrendous client. To vent, I started writing lots of fake, unsent emails that began with the salutation "Dear Asshole," detailing all the atrocities they had committed against me. It was a gross time. Correction: a gross me. I started looking for a new job.
And almost immediately after the new year began, in 2010, I got one. Working less hours. Working from home. I am fifty times happier.
This extended rundown of events is my way of saying: The New Year's Word works, people. There's an alternative to the New Year's Resolution, which all too often ends in disappointment and dashed hopes. To me, the New Year's Word is looser, yet has an ability to focus all your actions to a single rallying point. And thus, is more effective.
At least, it was for me. I realize how dangerously close to Law of Attraction territory this blog post is. Maybe we're there already. All I know is, once I decided that "balance" would be my word-slash-mantra for 2010, I no longer felt guilty about saying no to stuff, about directly cutting out stuff, about doing less. Without my special New Year's Word, I might have felt lazy and rather un-American about not striving to do as much as I possibly could; with it, I felt 100% justified.
* * *
I was talking to Ross in the car yesterday about what 2011's words might be. Here's what I've come up with so far:
1. Flexibility. I have a tendency to visualize in my head how I want the day, or even the next 15 minutes to go, and when it doesn't work out that way, I get a little peeved. I think this is probably an only child thing. For example, yesterday, Ross and I were on our way somewhere, and I asked, "can we stop by Natural Grocer so I can get that special drink I like?" I had already visualized us stopping by Natural Grocer you see, selecting my special drink, and enjoying it on the car ride. When he said,"no, we're late," I got all silent and indignant and passive-aggressive. And then when he asked, "is that ok?" I said, "it is fine" in a way that meant, "NO, NOT FINE, I WANT MY SPECIAL DRINK."
I do this kind of thing all the time. So perhaps 2011 will be Year of Flexibility, yes?
2. Openness. I began to worry that "flexibility" was slightly negative in its connotation, and that "openness" would be more all-inclusive. Open to the possibility that I won't always get my special drink, open to new experiences, open to whatever. I'm not completely sold, but it's a contender.
3. Experimentation. Eh, I know how that sounds. That's not how I mean it. I guess this is another way of saying, "Trying New Things!" except the things I want to try aren't entirely new. I want to experiment with more offline writing, I want to take more dance classes but specifically aerial dance classes, I want to save up my money and maybe, maybe get another tattoo. I just have one now, and kind of love it.
What will your New Year's Word be? If I have convinced you, that is, to abandon ye olde New Year's Resolution. If you do have a resolution though, go ahead and share. No judging, I promise.