I am a big fan of New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I find those to be very optimistic and hopeful days, a time to reflect on what you've accomplished and what you've learned, and a chance to set new goals for your life. For the past few years I have been working on setting specific goals and taking intentional action to make my goals become my reality. It's a struggle because I'm changing a lifetime of habits, but I can tell you, it's real and it works.
This year, 2012, I declare to "take care of me." It sounds so silly, but seriously, it's not silly at all. I'm a single working-outside-the-home mom who has put her children first, most of the time, for the past nine years. As a result, I am tired, overweight, uninspired and unmotivated. Prior to my "divorced" status, those adjectives would not have been used to describe me; I was motivated, productive, creative, and alive. These days, those "negative" judge-y words are the first words that come to my mind. Don't get me wrong: I have always been one of those people who believes, sincerely, that when you choose to have children, you choose to set aside your own personal desires in favor of the wants and needs of your children ... for a very long time. I still feel that way, and I have no regrets and no resentment that I chose to try to live by that belief. But here's the thing ... at some point, there is room in one's day to practice some self care. My children are in first and fourth grade. They are not babies and they do not need me to do everything for them. In fact, I would be doing them a disservice if I continued to do everything for them. They need to learn to care for themselves in a basic way ... make some simple meals, take care of personal hygiene, get their school work done, etc. Believe me, they will continue to allow me to do everything if I take the bait ... but I'm trying to raise good citizens.
Here's my problem: I took the put-the-kids-first idea too far. I didn't just put them first, I completely ignored my self. I stopped considering how I look or feel or what I want for myself. Before I knew it, nine years went by. So this year, with the help of my coach, I have declared that I will "take care of me." So what does that mean and how am I going to do this? Let me 'splain.
I am tired, so one of the first things I have done is to make sleep, rest and relaxation a priority. I have pledged to get 7 hours of sleep each night. It sounds simple, but since I have not had "regular" 7 hour stretches of sleep in about ten years, it's significant. I turn off the TV at 11:00 and sleep until 6:00. During the week. On school/work nights. It's a start.
I am overweight. Seriously overweight. I have re-pledged my commitment to Weight Watchers - a fabulous program if you follow it - and I am walking on my lunch hour. I'm fortunate that so far my weight has not created other health issues, but that is only temporary, I'm sure. So, this is the year where I will lose the weight I have slowly and gradually gained over the past 15 years. I may not lose it all, but I will lose at least half of it. I pledge.
I have stopped caring about my appearance. I use "I'm too tired" or 'I don't have time" as my excuses, but the truth is, I got lazy. So in 2012 I am going to rediscover a great haircut, makeup, good skin care habits, and clothes that accentuate the positive and eliminate (to the extent possible) the negative. By the summer I will be back in the habit of "getting ready" before I leave the house, as opposed to my I'm-clean-and-my-clothes-are-clean-so-what-more-do-you-want attitude. I pledge.
My home environment is disheveled and disorganized. I've never been a neat freak, but I usually kept a pretty clean house. Not so for the past few years. I have developed a very strong aversion to cleaning. My house is not rat- or bug-infested by any stretch of the imagination, and we are not candidates for Hoarders: Buried Alive, BUT my house is regularly a mess and regularly in a state of disarray. I've had enough, so it's time to clear out and clean out.
It's a year of "new" for me ... new attitude, new appearance, new environment. What about you?? What does this year hold in store for you?