A few years ago I decided to cut myself some slack and just stop making those doomed resolutions. You can't necessarily decide that you will do X by such and such a time, turn into someone completely different and you're a disgusting failure if you don't. Stuff happens that puts a stop to our own desires sometimes, or circumstances lead us in a different direction altogether. Anyway, that kind of pressure leads to a kind of madness. Certainly a sadness that can run soul deep. I for one don't need that kind of pressure - staying upright is good enough some days.
But there is something about new years, new months, new weeks and even new days, that make us want to try again for something better. How many Monday mornings begin all over the world with another crack at a diet? As ever, the trick is to be kind to ourselves. Want to change? Do it because you want to, not because it's a particular day or date or someone else thinks you should. And don't hate on yourself if you don't get there.
Make those changes without an agenda of built in failure - if you're hungry on Wednesday afternoon, eat something and keep going with your new plan.... don't wait till next Monday to start again, just keep going. Eventually it will pay off. Maybe you won't wake up tomorrow as skinny as a pencil, but eventually that dress you love will fit again.
Who CARES how long it takes? So what if it takes a year to de-clutter your house, instead of Ms Perfect's online plan of decluttering in 3 easy steps one weekend! And if it takes you 6 months instead of 6 weeks to learn a new skill, you will still have that new skill in the end. You still have the right to feel good about it.
The point is that we can make changes that suits us better, to live the life we want to, and in the process of doing it in our own time and at our own pace, we learn something about ourselves, something important. And we may even enjoy the process, grow stronger, connect with our inner being and inner peace. Changes will be more significant, more lasting, deeper seated.
Last year I thought I was going to be able to do various big things with my life that I hadn't been able to do for years, now that my daughter was settled into a new routine, with things of her own to do (she has a disability and suffers also with depression and anxiety so I am on call a lot). However it didn't work out that way, because my son broke his hand in the first week in January and had to come home to live and be looked after. He was pretty much good to go back to work in May when he broke his foot.
Add to that the house being renovated at a pace that wasn't in keeping with my hopes for various reasons, and... yeah, my life wasn't mine, or even vaguely on track, let alone terrific and I wasn't getting anywhere with my hopes. Doesn't mean I didn't get things done, just not quite the ones I had in mind.
And it lasted all year. Honestly, I felt really down for at least half the year, and I could barely function towards the end of the year. I seemed to be on crawl-mode.
But then something happened at the turn of the year... I woke up in 2018 with a renewed feeling of purpose and vigour (and a stomach bug but lets not go there...) and I knew that now felt right for me to move forward again. Maybe the start of a new year is a significant thing after all, and not just another day of spinning in space.
But I'm not going at it like a zealot. I'm just not interested in any kind of punishing routine, lists that must be crossed off, or fear-driven pushiness. Nah, I'm just injecting a little more purpose into some of the things I do, that will make those small steps towards a better life and a better me.
I don't need to be electrically charged to declutter a shelf, I am happy to enjoy the process of taking everything off the shelf, dusting and rearranging things back nicely onto the shelf, with one or two things not going back, because I don't need them after all. Then I can stand back and enjoy the new arrangement, and the things I've kept look that little bit better.
Maybe next time something else won't go back... maybe not. I don't mind, it's all just a process of slow loving, and it feels really good. I can let go with a light heart, knowing that someone else will think this is a treasure they found at the charity shop. How good is that? What a great feeling of freedom! I get closer to being surrounded by things I really love and it isn't frenzied or mean to myself. I can honour the fact that it used to be important without blaming myself for having it. I feel that sometimes decluttering gurus make us feel judged for even wanting "stuff". Bah, it's normal! Humans have been keeping stuff forever.
One of the things I'm decluttering is cook books. I think I've had a bit of a love affair with the endless possibilities in cook books for most of my life. But lately, it feels like I just don't need them any more. Something to do with getting older maybe, and having settled into a cooking style or something... I find I barely even look at the books. But I know there are some good recipes in there - there's at least one excellent recipe in each one!
I am slowly making my way through them, typing out the good recipes and then just letting the book go. I am making my own file of recipes I plan to actually try one day, or have tried and know to be good, and being a damn sight more realistic about what I'm likely to do.
I just don't personally want the weight of them in my life anymore. So instead of beating myself up about the number of books I have, or the size of the stack of free recipe magazines from the supermarket that have accumulated, I have looked on it as an adventure, a hunt for hidden gems. The fact that the books are going is almost incidental, because I have found that I'm focusing on the positive aspect rather than the decluttering experience.
I'm not sure that there will ever be a point in time when I step back and say I'm done. I think it's just an ongoing thing... and that's OK. If everything is done, and there's nothing left to improve or enjoy, no process left un-explored, then isn't life done too? Life is a process, whatever we are doing - getting healthier, renovating, relationships, decluttering, saving for something, getting better, slowing down, growing up. Accepting the process is sometimes the hardest part.
love Heather x
"In the end, only three things matter: how much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you." Buddha