With all of the noise that's been going on out in the world as of late, I've been feeling pretty quiet over here. It's kind of like when you're at a party and there are so many people chattering that it just seems sensible to have a quiet conversation off to the side. (Maybe I'm not much fun at parties?) I do have a few fun things that I've been doing so far in 2017, though. But a few things before I get to those.
I've been thinking a lot lately about our society's obsession with self-improvement, and all of the pressure we put on ourselves every day. I am always in favour of fresh starts, new beginnings, and taking on new challenges. Any day at all. And a year is an undeniably tidy, manageable, and comprehendable amount of time within which to set goals. No doubt about it. Without setting goals, I've found, life just continues along and things don't change. At the same time, I don't think that we need to be on a perpetual path of self-improvement and constantly feeling the weight of these things that we've set up for ourselves to do, or the weight of them if we don't meet them and "fail".
I think that there are a few keys to goal setting in a healthy way, to avoid them becoming obsessions or rigid things that make us stressed and unhappy. First of course, is having grace with ourselves, when we inevitably make mistakes. We're only human, even you. (And me - I am writing this to myself as much as anyone.) That grace can sometimes look like having the flexibility to roll with life and what it brings, which brings peace. Rather than seeing life as a linear series of improvements upon ourselves with a perfect end "product" in mind, seeing it as the messy, beautiful, tangled web that it is, with us circling back to learn the same lessons over and again, detours around paths we thought we would take, coming up against the same struggles over and over - together it forms the beautiful, messy substance of our lives. There's nothing neat and tidy about it, despite what our culture would have us believe.
That said, here's what I've been up to so far this year:
I started Yoga Revolution with Adriene but was derailed for awhile by some pain I was experiencing; I've been to physiotherapy and am back into it after a little hiatus. She has hundreds of free videos on YouTube, of all lengths - if you're totally new to yoga, she has a 20 minute practice for complete beginners.
I'm definitely reading more so far this year. As I mentioned at the end of last year, I love to read. I have an account on Goodreads where in the past I would sometimes remember to input a book when I finished it, but more often than not, I would just move on to the next one and seldom give that one another thought. I saw on Tsh's Instagram that she drew a little bookshelf with blank book spines, and I thought that was perfect - exactly the simple, visible way to be reminded of the books I'd read that I needed. I made one and hung it just above my dresser, where I see it at least twice a day. I have absolutely thought more about the books post-reading, which was certainly part of the point, and it turns out that I am super motivated to fill in those little blank spines, which I wouldn't have thought.
I'm also trying to watch more documentaries this year, specifically about people / places / issues that aren't familiar and comfortable to me. There's always the temptation to just sink into a cozy fictional story, and there's definitely a place for that (hello, Cabot Cove!). But I usually leave a documentary feeling like I know a bit more about the world, and even if they're about a difficult subject, it's always well worth the discomfort to understand more about the world. What Happened, Miss Simone was one that I watched last week, and it was so very well done. It's about Nina Simone, a black pianist and singer from the southern US, born in the 1930's - I had heard some of her music before, but didn't know anything about her life or her activism. It showed up in my recommended titles on Netflix - timely for sure, as it ties her life in with the broader picture of the civil rights movement of the 60's. And her voice! Her music and video from performances is pieced throughout the documentary - I could listen to her all day. Definitely worth watching!
All of this said, I hope that 2017 has been good to you so far, and most of all, that you're being good to yourself! (If you're struggling through this whole winter business, there are some nice things you can do for yourself over here. And a few more ideas over here.)