*This post is created in collaboration with Vuori and ShopStyle Collective*
Ahhh, the New Year! A time for reflection, new beginnings, and a fresh start. It’s like opening a brand-new notebook with a freshly sharpened pencil, and the anticipation of what lies ahead brings so much excitement, and truthfully, a little anxiety.
This year, more than ever, feels packed with expectation.
Expecting to get back to ‘normal.’
Expecting to return to our ‘old selves.’
Expecting for life to look like it used to.
But what if it doesn’t? Last year certainly taught us that just because the calendar changes doesn’t mean life does. What if this is our new normal, and we’re missing out by waiting around for it to go back?
When it comes to the New Year, I’m not really one for resolutions… there’s something so resolute about them. Resolutions don’t really allow room for error or flexibility. It takes time to break habits, or change patterns and behaviors, and no matter how badly I want to make grand changes, I know I’ll stumble. And with that, comes a feeling of failure.
So in the last few years, I’ve allowed myself the time and space to slow down in January, and reflect on my patterns and behaviors of the previous year, and changes that could make a positive impact on my life, and therefore, those around me.
It usually boils down to one word… and it’s a word that comes barreling towards me and rolls over me like a freight train. (Be careful what you pray for, right?!) Several years ago, that word was RELAX. In every sense of the definition… relax my control, my grip, my expectations, my fears… it goes on and on. I needed to surrender.
The next year INTENTION was so loud in my head I looked around to see if someone was in the room (they weren’t). I was so busy juggling life, being a ‘master multi-tasker,’ that literally nothing got my full attention. That’s a startling and humbling realization. As a wife, mother, daughter, friend, business owner… none of those roles ever really received my full, undivided attention. Not for long anyway.
Last year, rather than a single word becoming clear, the whole dang dictionary came flying at me! But how could it not after the year we’d had?!? Instead of living with intention, I was just trying to keep my head above water. And forget relaxing my grip, I white-knuckled my way through the last two years! Anyone else feel that way?
And here’s the thing… I’m a fixer. I want to jump right in with my opinion, advice, or a solution… whether it’s my kids, my husband, or the world in general.
My intention isn’t because I think I know best, but rather, I hate to see them hurt or struggling. But in the process, I bulldoze over their feelings with my band-aid. Which in the end helps no one, and results in frustration and resentment.
A couple of years ago, Mr. SP and I had several sessions of parenting therapy, and what I learned is more often than not, my kids just want to be heard and have their feelings validated. (Don’t we all?!) They need a safe place to express their storm of thoughts and feelings. And combine being a teenager with living through a pandemic, and that’s a pretty big storm!
So the more I thought on how I wanted to approach relationships, these words kept coming to mind… PAUSE. LISTEN. LOVE.
Rather than an immediate response and reaction when problems and heartache are presented… I learned to pause my own thoughts, and really listen to those of others. And in that pause, there is solace. Comfort. Understanding. Power.
Only after fully and completely listening do I respond, but instead of a ‘fix’, it’s simply love. Validation. Grace.
And you know what?! While last year was hard in a lot of ways, my relationships actually grew stronger by practicing this mantra of pausing and listening! Turns out my silence and acceptance can actually be the ‘solution’ they are looking for!? It still takes work, and oftentimes I don’t get it right, but when I pause and listen, the outcome is always better.
So now let’s get to 2022 and those pesky expectations. I realized I have been waiting to embrace life again, and I’ve lost touch with who I was ‘before.’ Granted much of it was necessary to be safe and a good citizen, but some of it has become a safety blanket.
While meditating over this new year, the phrases ‘live with gusto’ and ‘lambano life’ kept creeping up. Basically, create a life of FUN, REST, and PEACE, not one of WAITING. And if I want those things, I have to be the one to invest in my own happiness!
And what I realized was actually holding me back from that is SPACE. I’ve left no room in my life for the fun, the unexpected, the restful moments.
That’s not to say I schedule every moment of every day, but I don’t consciously leave SPACE for life to take over. I don’t allow SPACE in my heart for the big dreams. I don’t create SPACE for happiness.
I’m so busy pushing forward with my own agenda, that I’m not allowing God the SPACE to work His.
So what does ‘creating SPACE’ look like? That part I’m still figuring out, and likely will for much of the year. But for now, I’ve starting saying ‘no‘ more often to things that aren’t essential, and ‘yes‘ to those that simply bring me joy.
And I’m realizing that even seemingly insignificant things bring that sense of joy, peace, and fun back to my life… like reading, journaling, long walks, lunch with a girlfriend, etc… things that I’ve left little SPACE for in the last few years.
Do you have a word or phrase for 2022? Or are you more of a resolution and goal setter?
This post is created in collaboration with a brand that brings me so much joy… Vuori Clothing! I’m grateful to partner with companies that encourage us to Invest in Happiness, and allow me to dig deeper and share my heart with you. If you haven’t tried their Performance Jogger yet, I can assure you they’ll bring you nothing but joy!
*Photos by the darling and talented Audrie Dollins.