As I thought about this blog post, the one to round out 2021, I took a look at my photo gallery. It was illuminating, refreshing, and realigning to see all that had occurred over the past twelve months. And as I pondered these hundreds (or thousands) of photos, I decided to focus on four things which I have learned along the way and now been reminded to practice better: acknowledge successes, adjust your sails, advocate for self, and allocate time for organization.
Taking this trip down memory lane reminded me to acknowledge and appreciate the successes I have experienced not just this past year but throughout my whole life. I was so happy to see my two best successes: spending time with my family and friends and meeting my goals.
At the beginning of the year, I started a goal project (instead of making resolutions) which helped me to accomplish the packing up of our home in the city and finish some of my writing projects. It was a lot of fun and took the sting out of all those necessary have-tos. I’m not normally a competitive person, but I always enjoy beating my own record on anything – most especially, knocking out projects or crossing things off my to-do lists.
How about you? What were you successful about this past year? Is there a way you gauged, or can gauge, what you accomplished? Did you keep a diary? Take photos like I have? Or perhaps you wrote notes on a calendar as I did up until, oh, around August? If you don’t have a process, it may be worth finding a way that works for you.
I recently started a new system using a spiral notebook. I date the page and list all the things I want or need to accomplish that week. When I accomplish a task, I place a checkmark by the item, line it out, and write the date at the end of it. This way, if later I want or need to see when I tackled a particular item, I’ll have the date – and maybe even some notes. Once, I get to the end of the week, I start a new page, date it, and carry over any unfinished items that I still want to get done. If an item has lost importance during the week, I just don’t carry it over.
Adjust Your Sails
I used to be a perfectionist, so not carrying over a line item to the following week would really mess with my brain. I have learned a lot over my life though. One is that everything is fluid, meaning that nothing stays the same and if I decide something is no longer important, that’s okay. And so, if later I change my mind and want to add the item back again, then I can do that, too.
There is nothing anywhere that says we have to be so rigid that flexibility is not a part of our name. The best thing I learned in my mid-marriage (earlier, I wish) is that flexibility was my best friend. Really, how many of us have remained so set in our ways, or stubborn, that we lost precious time with the person we love, with a friend, with a favorite activity, or with our favorite anything?
When we learn to adjust our sails, we gain a freedom in ourselves we didn’t know existed. Giving ourselves permission to change our minds is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. Sure, having goals and sticking to a plan is important. Without a plan, or goals to achieve that plan, we cannot succeed at things which are important to us. But by being flexible, we can adjust our sails and be more successful than first anticipated – or let go of something which isn’t as positive for us after all.
Advocate For Self
When we become flexible, we also advocate for ourselves better. Flexibility allows us to choose what is good for us. We can determine how to care for ourselves in ways that promote good health – mentally, emotionally, and physically. We can thereby be available to others’ needs. This doesn’t mean not setting boundaries in our care for others, but instead gaining confidence in learning to nurture ourselves.
Back in October, my doctor ordered a bi-annual bone scan. As usual, the nurse called with the results that I have osteopenia. This is true; I have had a very mild case for years in my left hip. The nurse then went on to tell me what kind of fitness to do and not to. After a bit, I interrupted her to ask how serious the osteopenia was now, as the instructions seemed to be quite drastic: no jumping jacks, no powerwalking, no burpees, no planks, no walking in place unless it was lightly…and on and on. She was determined I not fracture a bone with an unnecessary fall from overdoing my exercise routines.
As it turns out, after an email to my doctor and several phone calls, the information I was given is their standard care for every patient with osteopenia. The doctor apologized and reassured me the osteopenia in my hip had not worsened from my last bone scan nor had it affected the rest of my bones. She also stated that I could do any exercise I felt was safe for me. I felt validated for having questioned what didn’t sound right at first. It was a relief to learn the osteopenia had not progressed, and I could return to my usual and enjoyable workouts.
When we advocate for self and take time to assess our needs, we do ourselves a favor. It is important to always ask what is best for ourselves. Do we need rest? Do we need more fitness? Do we need more time with others or more time on our own? Advocating for self is crucial as, usually, no one else does it for us.
Allocate Time for Organization
One area of selfcare that was overlooked in my life for a long while was my filing system (yes, this is considered an important part of self-care). To get my filing under control, I spent one day per week, for the past two months, organizing and filing my personal and my business paperwork. It only stands to reason that if it took my files time to become a mess, it will take time to get them sorted out.
I have said this many times before, and I will continue to say it: Life has a way of dictating our time. But, truly, it is up to us to decide how we spend any of our time. If we need to spend it on organization, then it is okay to allot time for it. Just pick a system or plan to use, then take time to get it done. This is definitely one thing we can be stubborn about.
A Few Last Words for 2021
It is a great feeling to look back over the past year and see how much hubs and I accomplished in 2021. We packed up a house, sold it, started building a guest cottage, moved almost all of our household goods ourselves and retired from our long-time jobs. This is thanks to our realtor, our son, one of hubs’ brothers, and the Good Lord for protecting us in our many trips from city to country and back again.
And as we say goodbye to 2021 and welcome in 2022, we have added a new puppy to our little family.
Now tell me, what are some of your accomplishments for the 2021 year? I hope you were able to get some or all of your goals completed. And if not, that’s okay. Everything in its own time. Sometimes, our task is to spend time in nature or with family, not doing a whole lot of things. Another one of my favorite sayings is: people before things.
As we look over the past year in retrospect, may we all see the good in each other. May we acknowledge our successes – big or small, adjust our sails, advocate for self, and allocate time for organization – or whatever is needed in our busy lives.
And, as my momma used to say every new year’s eve when I was a kid: Out with the old and in with the new! May our new year be better than the last in all the ways that count….