Although the idea of fear setting is panic inducing in of itself.
Let me get this out of the way first thing—New Year’s is not my favorite. It strikes me as a poor holiday at best, probably because I’m of the age that should I wish to go get superbly drunk, I’ll just do that, regardless of the date on the calendar. I also can’t say I’ve ever had a great New Year’s celebration. In my experience it’s always been too much fun that I’ve paid dearly for, or a complete letdown. I’m over it.
So I don’t make a big deal when the ball drops, is what I’m saying.
Still it’s the season for setting goals and I do think it’s important to think ahead sometimes. Sometimes even, thinking ahead requires you to reflect back. Which I’m happy to do, since I have almost no complaints about my 2015. Highlights of my year included:
- I wrapped my first year at The Theme Foundry, and I’m pleased to report that my job continues to become more interesting and more challenging (which I like).
- I moved to Ecovillage.
- I finally got my own damn motorcycle license after it became grimly apparent I’m just not old lady material.
- I started figure skating lessons with my kids, and attempted the fresh meat trials of the local derby team (more on that later)—all culminating in a debilitating knee injury.
And in-between, dance parties with my littles, potlucks with neighbors, broken hearts and bad romance, lots of books, red wine, and whiskey, knitting and frogging my nights away. You know, the usual. And this is not to say that last year wasn’t without my bumbling mistakes, falling down, falling outs, messing up completely and crawling my way back to square one—I think maybe I’ve just developed a knack for failing with some semblance of grace.
My songs of 2015 (it’s a tie. Sorry/not sorry):
It’s been a mellow, growing year, but I’ve learned a lot. Mostly about my capacity for change and challenge and community. I see only good things ahead on all fronts.
But now for 2016 I’ve decided to make some very specific goals on a monthly basis and challenge myself to take them on—for reals, I mean. I’ve even put them on the dang home page, so I can’t avoid them. This January I will:
1. Obtain a cello.
I’ve decided to learn how to play cello. It’s an idea that’s been poking me in the back of my head since I picked up Sullivan’s viola for his school music lessons in the fall. I played violin and double bass for eight years between fifth grade and high school graduation—and I was good. I played all-state orchestra, won scholarships to prestigious music camps, and consistently scored well in solo and ensemble competitions. I always wanted to play cello, but my school orchestra desperately needed me on bass. There’s no reason I can’t do it now. I found an article on learning cello as an adult and I’m going to follow his plan. I am cautiously optimistic that with my background in strings and the fact that I’ve kept up with some form of musical activity (guitar and ukulele) over the last ermpteen years, I won’t suck a lot. But I’m prepared to suck either way. My challenge will be to find an etude I like and play it (passably) by the end of the year.
2. Blog eight times in January.
I’m doing this now, right? One down, seven to go! Also, I’m not going to blog on anything. I’m going to blog on everything. I’m just going to firetruckin’ blog.
3. Physical therapy eight times in January.
Ok, remember that debilitating knee injury I hinted at above? It’s a torn meniscus and possibly a ruptured/partially ruptured ACL. In any case, I’m not going to be skating with the derby team in 2016. That’s hard for me. There’s a whole ‘nother blog-post-in-the-works how hard it is. To be able to skate in derby position again (and be strong enough to play!), I need to follow the doc’s advice, which means coming in twice a week for exercise and conditioning—and then actually committing to the practice of healing at home.
This really isn’t a goal—it has to be done. My challenge will be feeling over-confident that I’m healing just fine and then doing something silly (like snowboarding) and messing it up worse. January has to be for healing.
4. Finish that #@!% First Note shawl.
Wanting more of a challenge than my hook-ed twigs can offer, I picked up a pair of pointy sticks and some lace weight alpaca yarn from my LYS. This is a new skillset for me and this particular pattern has been vexing me for about a week now. I’m going to nail it this month.
I can add to these goals, of course any time, and want to start thinking ahead to what I’d like to do in February. Maybe my January intentions don’t seem very lofty, but I want to be realistic and not stress out. I’ve also re-committed to writing my morning pages every day (a practice I believe firmly in) and taking a photo-a-day at 8:08 p.m. Let’s see just how many of those are shot from my couch, laptop irradiating my ovaries, right?
My word for 2015 was Intentional. Last year, instead of throwing spaghetti at the wall, I made plans, followed through, set things up, and deliberated until a path was clear (which, I must add, is basically diametrically opposed to my natural state of chaos). Ironically, it’s also the year I moved to an intentional community. I know more now about intentions—not the New Agey sort (I’m setting an intention for the Universe, I probably would have said in previous years), but in the practical sense. I did not make big life decisions in heated moments, and mostly it worked out. My life is less about putting out fires now, and instead I focus on the controlled burn.
This year, I don’t know what my word is exactly yet. But I know I want to try to push through my upper limits in so many places. I want to read more (I average 1-2 books/week already), and read more heady material (which might bring my average down). I want to write more, curate and publish more of my body of work. I want to maximize my physical and financial strength and resilience as well. And I want to do it all without giving up booze or coffee. 😉 Is there a word for that?
Meanwhile I have the rest of the weekend to ruminate on my goals some more, maybe setting a few for February (I have my eye on a writing class I’d like to tackle). Tomorrow I’m going to go out and try to obtain that cello.
And in case it wasn’t clear, Happy New Year (anyway). I hope you can also look back on last year, and look ahead to 2016 with compassion (for yourself), maybe a bit of satisfaction, and most of all (because I’m convinced this is key to surviving l-i-f-e) a sense of humor.
Or, What I learned from scheduling a meeting on a Saturday and then subsequently missing one on Sunday
A few months ago I was chatting with a client about my email response times and working hours, which I specify in my welcome kit/agreement/contract-if-you-like are between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Now, before you get the impression I’m only working twenty-hours a week, those are just the hours that I don’t have children in my house. I am often in the position of catching up on writing or working after my kids are in bed, when they’re at their dad’s house, or otherwise preoccupied (I’m a big fan of the laptop on the back porch method of getting-crap-done). And that means sometimes, yes, I do reply to emails on weekends.
My client, who had recently moved from Spain, Siesta culture, was aghast. You should NOT be working weekends. Not even emails, she reprimanded.
Gosh, if only all our clients had such unreasonable demands, right? 😉
Last week was an unusually busy week for me, and I had a client who needed some follow-up support, and Saturday was just the best time for us to have an intense jam session on the phone. My kids were going to be at their father’s, and I wanted to catch up, so I set the meeting. We hopped on our meeting in the morning after breakfast. But by the time we finished, after lunch, I was drained (it was all very good work, don’t get me wrong, but still intense strategy stuff. On a Saturday).
After that, I just felt done in. My kids came home and I turned off my laptop and ignored email for the rest of the weekend. On Sunday morning, I suggested an impromptu trip to the beach to my kiddos, and on that impulse, we piled in the car and headed to Lake Ontario.
Feet in the sand. Check. Spirit restored. Check.
Sunburn and awkward tan lines? Check.
Except I didn’t bother to check my calendar before we left, and we were so far north that I turned my phone off so I wouldn’t get charged for hitting a Canadian data tower. And I completely forgot that I had a business coaching session[1. Ironic.] scheduled for Sunday[2. Ironic x 2.] afternoon. That I had paid for, mind you.
So by the time I re-entered the grid and saw her concerned, “Are you okay??” emails, I felt like a total dolt! Completely. Mortified.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from being the Sassy Sibyl and struggling to make that business take off in a way that is sustainable, both financially and energetically, is that I am not my business. If I were the embodiment of my business, it would make sense for me to have meetings on weekends. It would make sense that the lines would blur between business/working/and life. But my purpose for being alive is not a function of the business I am in. If I believed that, none of it would be worthwhile.
This is an issue of boundaries for me. And I know other creative and heart-centered business owners struggle with it. In America, it’s drilled in our brains to work hard and get lucky. Well, how about work hard and have a heart attack at 55? Or maybe, work hard and miss out on your kids growing up?
None of those options sound appealing. And I don’t want to be out of integrity by forgetting meetings because my mind, body and spirit need to rest. So I’m declaring my weekends sacred and drawing that line in the sand.
With my toes. On a sunny beach.
How do you handle work and life boundaries?