I began 2017 with trepidation, as I said in my New Year Ahead post on January 1st. In some ways I met the goal of that post: to grow my heart. In other ways I could have done better. I do know that I reach December of 2017 feeling worn out and battered, which was discouraging. Politics and the world at large felt like impending doom all year, but on the home front everyone was doing better. We weren’t “all better” but everyone was growing which was a nice improvement over the shrinking several of my children did for a couple of years. Unfortunately growth is always a thing of fits, starts, and backward steps. We hit a harder patch in November/ December, which had me counting down toward the day when 2017 was over. The week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve was a gift that granted me a measure of calm, clarity, and perspective.
2017 is complete. The beautiful things about it are safe in treasured memory that can’t be damaged by anything in times to come. The things that were hard about it, I can mine for lessons, then let go. Which leaves me looking forward.
I have things to build this year. Most of my Christmas gifts were power tools and related paraphernalia. We have some home renovation that needs to be done. I’ll be doing some of it myself. These physical renovations are an external manifestation of emotional and family dynamic renovations. We have changed who we are, and we are still changing, it is time to alter our living spaces to match. And changing our living spaces assists us in the work of re-defining who we are and how we see our lives.
Yesterday I wrote a post about the end of 2017 and someone asked “I thought this year had been better for you.” It was and it wasn’t. But most of the reasons it wasn’t have to do with my anxieties and my emotional reactions (or over reactions) to events that occur. Additionally, I think I let the weariness of November/ December color the year too much. After all, it was a year that included all the brightness and joy that was my trip to Europe. And I finally delivered all the Planet Mercenary packages, I have to remind myself the magnitude of that success, because my brain is more inclined to focus on how afraid I was during every step. Afraid I’d do things wrong. Afraid the shipping funds would run out. Afraid that it wouldn’t get done in time. And then there was all the anxiety related to national events… Viewing 2017 through that haze of anxiety colors everything.
I make my life harder than it has to be, because of the quantity of energy I spend on being afraid of (and preparing for) things that haven’t happened and might never happen.
Of all the things in my life that need to be fixed, that is the largest one. I want to build a life with less anxiety in it. To do that I have to change habits of thinking. I have to change my physical spaces. I have to get rid of the detritus of past selves which aren’t letting me clearly see what is needful in my life right now. Attempting to reduce my anxiety is a project that will spawn a hundred projects, some new, some already ongoing. I’ve cleared away the memories contained in the blog books. I’m now clearing the happier moments of those years by creating matching family photo books. (When I’m stressed, I write words to sort it. The happy moments are more likely to get recorded in photographs. There are hundreds of tiny, happy moments even in the hardest of years.) I’ve already been sorting and discarding old stored things from my house.
I’m not going to try to do a massive grand renovation. I’m going to do a hundred small construction projects. I’m not going to “hit the ground running” or plan to go fast. I’m going to make small, consistent, persistent changes. I’m going to change my surroundings to remind me of those changes and to reinforce them. I will spend this year building: physically, creatively, socially, and in my community. It is time to roll up sleeves and get to work.