Saturday, February 25, 2017

44. Birthdays Mean Fresh Starts

I woke up this morning on my birthday to the sound of my three cats throwing themselves against my closed bedroom door until it popped open. Strangely enough, it was 8:30am, the exact time I made my debut on planet earth. Usually they let me sleep in on Saturdays and it was like the cats knew today was my day or something. In reality, they probably just wanted their breakfast kibble but their early morning demands did get me out of bed so I could do some writing and reflecting.

This year has been tough in a lot of ways, none of which really merit discussing in a public forum (let's do coffee), but I am feeling really hopeful for the year to come. You know when you hit a certain point and you realize you need to make a change? I'm at a point in my life where that is the case. No, I'm not doing anything drastic so don't go to panic or extremes. I just want to make subtle changes to live a happier life. One of those changes is having more balance and making time for the things that fill my proverbial cup. I've been running on empty for most of the past year, and, well, I can't anymore.

I'm not trying to be a victim when I say that, either. I take full responsibility for overloading myself with responsibilities and roles. It's something I've always done and it always has the same result: complete and total burnout. This behavior started as a defense mechanism--a way to make myself "competitive" in an environment that overwhelmed me. I think I'm finally in a place where I can let go of that compulsion to "do all the things." I'm in a placed where I can "let go and let God."

So this had me asking myself some questions. What "fills my cup?" What helps me feel like my life has meaning and purpose? What makes me feel relaxed, connected, and at peace? My answers aren't anything unique or outside the realm of what most people need. I need to write, read, pray. I need to spend time with the people I love. I need coffee, chocolate, and cheese (my edible trifecta). I need to garden, and nurture the natural world. I need to love my pets and take my dog for long walks. I need to read juicy books. I need to be a good student, and great teacher. I need rest.

So here on my birthday, my plans for the coming year are to trim back my activities so more of my life centers on the activities listed above. Some questions I plan to ask myself before automatically saying "yes" to new projects include:

1. Do I have the time needed to do this project well, or will I be scrambling?
2. Does this project line up with my values and feel meaningful?
3. Will there be an immediate return on investment either for myself or my community that will keep me motivated?
4. Will taking this on negatively affect my health?
5. Am I saying "yes" because the project excites me or am I saying "yes" out of fear?
6. What will I be giving up in order to take on this project? Is giving that up worth it?
7. Is it possible to wait to do this project later on in my life or is it a "once in a lifetime" opportunity?

What other questions should I add to this list? I'm hopeful that things will get better. One day at a time, right?