Looking forward: Simplify

The word I’ve chosen for 2015 is simplify. I want this year to be the one in which I figure out exactly what I need to do, and do nothing else. I want to fill my calendar with fewer commitments and enjoy more spontaneous social and relaxation time. I want to deepen the friendships I have. I want to think carefully about what my work life will look like at the end of my one-year postdoc contract in July. I want to prioritize family. I want to move into a smaller, cheaper place. Inspired by my friend Sarah, I want to take the first part of this year to get rid of all.the.stuff we don’t use, from kitchen to furniture to craft supplies. I want to spend less time mindlessly and more time mindfully.

It’s already begun. I spent an enforced last three days in bed with a nasty cold virus, and it’s a wonder how much of my hectic life I didn’t miss (and didn’t miss me). I’ve also started a Facebook diet where I check it once a day (or less) and deleted the app from my phone. I am being really careful about not committing to too much in the evenings, so that Hubs and I can spend that time together. But I am already feeling the pull to do more, have more, buy more, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

What is your word for 2015?

Looking Back: Peace

My word for 2014 was peace. I’m not sure what I had in mind when I picked it, and I don’t know if I can say that I “achieved” it over the past twelve months, but I definitely feel as though I live more of my life in a peaceful state than I did a year ago. What helped me get here?

YOGA. In March 2014, I started a 200 hour yoga teacher training program at my studio in North Carolina. Leading up to the training, everyone who had done it before told me it would change my life. I politely nodded to these folks, but didn’t expect the transformation that has manifested itself in every aspect of my life. Thanks to a daily asana (physical poses) practice, my body is healthy and strong, and my physical self-image is the most peaceful its ever been. But more than that, learning ancient yogic philosophy (some of which really resonates and some of which doesn’t), combined with growing awareness of and love for my physical body and a daily practice of devotion through breathing, chanting, and asana, has lowered the level of emotional reactivity on which I typically function and led to much more equanimity and peace in my daily existence. Drop (and break the dishes of) two quiches in the parking garage stairwell on the way to an office brunch? Oh well, better stop at Dunkin Donuts to have something else to bring. Possibility of a move to various far away locations based on spouse’s job? Just wait and see. These are just two (fairly trivial) examples of how I feel greater peace in my life. As a highly sensitive person, the level of emotional reactivity with which I have functioned throughout my life has been exhausting. I am so relieved that these yoga tools came into my life in 2014 in such a big way.

TIME. I blogged about our emotional move in October, and the peace that I now feel in our current home is certainly due to time. Having more distance in time from other challenges (my parents’ 2013 divorce, graduate school, rough spots in own my marriage) continues to be something that I can rely on to bring greater peace into my life. Not doing so well with something? In time it will be over; time will pass and the hurt will be less immediate and, almost certainly, less intense.

RELATIONSHIPS. Some relationships have been less peaceful this year, it’s true. But the vast majority of the people with whom I choose to interact, the contacts local and non-local that I keep, are a huge part of feeling peace in my life. Whenever an unsettling event happens, or work is shitty, or I need some perspective, I have it in the form of dear family and chosen family for whom I can reach. My deepest relationships always offer me peace in the midst of whatever other stuff is happening. I am so grateful for all of these people.