A daily focus for a whole new year
Cockatoos in flight ... a beautiful sight. Photo: Justin McManus
Last December, I wrote a column about New Year resolutions. Ten things I promised myself I wouldn't do in 2012. I wouldn't focus on my weight or feel guilty; I wouldn't read bad books nor indeed buy any more books; I wouldn't waste time or get my priorities mixed up, nor surround myself with people who drained me; nor would I miss a moment of my children's lives or be afraid to take risks
How did I do? OK in some respects. By focusing on my health my weight has dropped and I haven't had a sniffle for ages. I've read some great books and put others down after a single chapter. My friendship group may be smaller but I've gone for quality. And I've been there for many great, great moments in my children's lives whether it be a goal at hockey or an academic award at school. Joy.
Others, not well. Guilt still pervades but I'm learning to live with it better. Damn iBooks too. Quite enjoying that. Priorities? Still a juggle. Risks? I haven't sky-dived or swum with sharks but perhaps it's the little things that are the riskiest and, if I'm honest, sometimes I still back down.
Resolution No. 10 was ''I will not make any more resolutions. Ever.'' So I'm not going to here for it was something else I wrote midway through the year-old column that holds the most resonance now.
''I will commit myself to whatever I'm doing at that particular time and live in the moment more.''
There's a philosophy for 2013.
Rather than worry about what the future might hold I'm going to grab hold of the present. For the future will be here soon enough, whatever future that may turn out to be. I've come to realise of late the future is something well out of my control so why worry about it.
This realisation is still a big struggle in many respects, one I'm dealing with on a daily basis. Your mind gets clouded by the different paths your life may take. Is she, isn't she, will they, won't they, can I, can't I? Rather than worry, take a moment and look at the path you're on there and then. And appreciate it.
A bit literal, I know, but just the other morning I was on a path, going for a light run, trying to clear my mind and ignore the pain in my knees. A flock of cockatoos took off simultaneously, 50 or so of them, squawking as they rose like a giant white sheet, twisting and turning in the breeze. It was beautiful. And I noticed. Not only noticed but took it in, stopping to watch, listen, feel what was happening. And it let me catch my breath too.
If I'm honest, these moments are few and far between. There are still things to be done. As I pulled out the ironing last week, I thought there were a myriad of things I'd rather be doing, and I got a bit cross. But I turned on the cricket and watched that and even at one point as I ironed the collar of my husband's shirt, I ran my hand across where it would have touched his neck and thought nice thoughts.
A bit soppy I know, but that's what happened. Can living in the moment make you somewhat sentimental? Is sentimental even the right word? I'm not sure. But I don't care. If noticing stuff can make you feel good about things, is that a bad thing? Not this year. Not ever again.
Sure, there'll always be things that get in the way of the moment. Life needs planning to some degree. Working out how you're going to pay bills, get dinner on the table, raise your children to be respectable adults. You do have to think about the future. But is the trick not to worry about it?
I quite like the idea of living day by day. It would make things much simpler in a lot of respects. Today I will smile more. Laugh more. Tell someone I love them, appreciate what they do. Today I will read a chapter of a good book. Sounds a little like making resolutions really, doesn't it?
So do we need resolutions? But daily ones, rather than yearly ones? Rather than say this year I will get healthy should we be saying today I will go for a walk, or dance with my children until we're sweaty. Tomorrow, who knows. Rather than say this year I won't feel guilty should we focus on current tasks, whether they be work projects or reading to your children before bedtime, which is never really a task. Should we realise that not everything will get done today, realise that some things may never get done. The important things will. The things you choose to make a priority.
That's not to say 2013 will be a year where I shrug off goals. There are lots of things planned for the year ahead already. Lots of things I'd like to achieve. But if I get caught up in my goal of say, being a better mother, and focus too much on the big picture, will I be losing sight of the opportunities to be a better mother in the moment? Spend the next couple of days working out what will be important for you in 2013, thinking about what you did well this past year, what could be improved, what you could let go. Realise you'll always face obstacles . But resolve the year ahead will be one with less worry and more focus on the present.
And we'll see you this time next year to see how it's all gone.
Happy New Year!