A few years ago, in the last moments of a sticky Summer evening, I decided that I needed to try something new with my life.
You see I had been spending quite a bit of my time moaning and groaning and grousing about some personal problems I was having.
There had been a lot of change going on in my life, some of it rather major and distressing including a big house move, loss of a parent and a change of community.
But one morning it occurred to me that it was time to do something new. Most years, in those lost timewarp days between Christmas and New Year, I would spend some time planning for the year ahead. That year, instead of making plans, I decided I would set myself a goal relating to how I wanted the next year to be, rather than what I wanted to do. In essence I set myself a theme.
It was going to be my year of saying yes.
What this meant was that I was going to change a little bit of what was going on in my life.
Instead of saying “I can’t,” “It won’t work,” “I know I should, but I really don’t want to,” “I guess you are probably right” “if that’s what you think I should do.” Etc
I was going to start saying
“Yes, if I want to do it I will.” And alongside this
“No, if I don’t want to do it I won’t.”
Somehow, from somewhere I just had this epiphany that this was the best way forward for me.
It became known (in my head alone) as the year of saying yes.
It was awesome.
I had spent a really long time trying to make other people happy. A lot of the time I would do things because I thought that is what the other person wanted me to do. Most of the time they probably really did not care. All of the time it was not really up to them to decide what was right for me anyway.
So I set off on my brand new adventure at a roaring pace.
I already knew that doing new things had a magical way of opening up new opportunities. I also already knew that engaging in pleasant activities is good for the soul and the heart and the head.
I decided to keep track of what I was doing as part of a gratitude journal because I also knew that gratefulness increases happiness and this time around I was determined to say yes to happiness whenever it decided to pay me a visit.
Welcome home happy-Ness. Pull up a chair, pop your feet up and just lounge around until you need to head off again.
And so I did some elaborate-ish things (in my mind anyway). I met new people and I tried new things and I went to places that I once would have left for other people. I reached out and I tried my hand and I danced along and I painted my lips too red and wore bright clothes that made me smile in my toes.
Some people were not very happy for me, they didn’t exactly scowl or growl but they didn’t exactly cheer me on either. But I decided to let them go this time because I was cheering and it sounded rad. Plus I was learning to say “no. Not “no” to what other people wanted, but “no” to putting what other people wanted first.
My year of saying yes then led to the year of “just keep going.”
You know how women these days can have it all? Meaning of course, not that we can have everything, rather that we can have a few very specific things. A job, a family and a pair of skinny jeans and a up-do that makes you look 1.4 years younger.
Well after my year of saying yes, I stumbled swiftly into my year of saying “this is all a little bit too much. And so although one morning I had woken up to the awesome epiphany of the year of saying yes, 12 months later my new theme was this, “the year of just keep going.”
Not very inspiring hey?
But let me whisper a little phrase in your ear that some of you will understand.
That just happened to be year when my youngest child was in kindergarten.
Imma gonna let that sink in.
Remember the kinder year?
All that free time just to yourself, except when you are picking up and dropping off and picking up again. Oh yeah and wiping noses and putting cream on rashes and pouring panadol because no one is sick more than a four year old child in kindergarten. It is good for them, I know. They develop immunity and you develop an eye twitch that goes off everytime someone new in your family starts coughing. Again.
So I was entering my final year as a kinder Mum, at the same time as I was working a two day a week, fairly intense job and still Mumming to my crew. Plus the year of yes had created me some excellent opportunities in my creative life so that I was able to pour every spare waking moment into my website.
So here are some things that my year of yes taught me
- saying yes opens up a lot of new opportunities, so make sure you are saying it to the right things.
- Throw a lot of mud as only some of it will stick.
- Saying no can be hard work.
- Happiness does not determine future happiness.
- Being unhappy is human and fine and it will keep you honest.
- Persistence is important.
- Sadness and happiness are not mutually exclusive.
My year of saying yes was actually one of the saddest years of my life.
I lost a very special, beautiful, important person in my life and I missed her every day and I still think about her most days. This also reminded of the other saddest year of my life when I lost my own Dad and how losing two parents makes you feel a little lonelier because you are a little more lonely when you don’t have your parents by your side.
But being sad is not separate to being happy in a weird way that you have to live to understand.
Somehow there is room in me for both.
So the year of saying yes, which was also the year of second sadness, led to the year of just keep going, which is also the year of making room for both.
In case you are wondering, the year of “having it all” is yet to occur because frankly, I think it is a load of doo doo.
What do you think?
Do you pick a theme for your new year or do you just chose a word?
Have you had a year of just keep on going? And do you think that sadness and happiness are separate or have you learned to make room for big bouts of both of them, like I had to do?