Smart kids get good grades. Good grades get you into good colleges. Going to a good college gets you a good job when you graduate. Getting a good job gets you a good career. Getting a good career gets you a good life.
Sound familiar? We’re pretty much all taught to think this way in the US. And if you’re a bright kid, you’ve probably internalized this mentality and formed your life plan around it. You set goals constantly, have a straight and narrow path that is both comforting and stress-inducing to follow. You know exactly how to get what you want from life.
So we’re a few weeks into 2019. Life is getting back to its normal routine, and if you’re like me, you’re finding that some of the changes that you wanted to make were easier imagined when you were in the dream-like state that comes around the holidays. There’s something about the brightness of December coupled with the mixture of uncertainty and optimism from the New Year that makes us feel a little unstoppable. Our hearts are warmed by the December holidays, and we see ourselves looking over this edge into a landscape of possibilities.
But even an exciting edge is still an edge. There’s fear there, when you’re standing at a precipice. When you visit the Grand Canyon, you’re in awe of what lies before you, but you’re also a little afraid. That’s kind of what I think happens to us when we make New Year’s resolutions.
Happy New Year everyone!
This month’s goal is related to something that we all do: talk to ourselves. I don’t care if you don’t like to admit it, we all talk to ourselves. And sometimes we don’t say the nicest things. Often, we say things to ourselves that we’d never say about other people. So why is it ok for me to tear myself down when I’d never do that to someone I love?
How you talk to (and about) yourself is a great barometer for how much self-love you’re in need of. I’m not someone who constantly insults myself and has trouble saying anything positive, but I know that the things I say when no one else is around could use some tuning. And I’ll bet that once I really start paying attention to what I’m telling myself that I’ll realize I say worse things than I thought.
Sometimes I’m kind of shocked when I reflect back to high school and remember how many friends I had. While I always had just a couple of really close friends, I had a good 10 or so friends who I spent time with regularly. What? Who was I?
It was great for that time in my life, but that’s not really what would work for me now. Truthfully, I prefer to have very few very close friends than a lot of friends who I’m not quite as close to. And now that we’ve all gone to college, graduated, and settled, my friend group has become just that. Here’s the thing–even though I have a few absolutely fantastic close friends, none of them live in the same state as me. Bummer. We keep in contact regularly, but I don’t think any of them would argue if I were to say that it’s important for all of us to have friends where we are as well.
I think it’s safe to say that everyone knows what it’s like to have a gut feeling about something. But have you ever thought about where it comes from? How do we just know something? Is it instinctual? Is it something we’ve previously learned that we have just mostly blocked from memory? Or is it something else?
I consider myself an intuitive person. And if you want to know me at all, you should know that my intuition is an essential part of who I am and how I live my life.
My goal for November was to practice gratitude.
Once again, I feel that I’m standing in front of a learning experience I didn’t expect to have. What I learned this November is that you don’t need to make a measurable change in order for you to see the change. I’m someone who is constantly striving for self-improvement, always looking for goals to set myself, and often belittling my own accomplishments.
This November, I’d say that I achieved my goal. I made gratitude a part of my everyday life. But I still feel like I didn’t make an “improvement.” Why? Because I didn’t learn some new skill or some other demonstrable factor. I’m having one of those moments where I wish I could step outside of myself and say, “Christine–you realize that because of your goal, your entire mood changed last month, right?” Yes. I realize that. And I’m, well, grateful for that. But I feel as though I didn’t accomplish much.
The holidays are wonderful in so many ways, but for every wonderful thing, the holidays also present an opportunity for stress. There’s the pressure of giving time and presents to loved ones, additional activities in your busy schedule, and perhaps some financial strain.
For me, the Christmas season has always brought on a double-edged sword of holiday cheer—I want to make the most of the season and do as many fun things as possible, but that can sometimes end up becoming a bit overwhelming. Then, if I slow down too much, I feel regret on December 26th. It’s hard to not give too much of yourself to others and the season without also missing some opportunities for joy. But you also don’t want to run yourself down and ignore your own needs.
In order to find balance, I’ve written this guide for ways you can prioritize self-care during the holidays.
It’s December 2013, and I’m sitting on the futon in my college apartment. My end-of-semester assignments are looming, and junior year is kicking my butt a little bit. I have a car, a bit of money to spare in my tiny student bank account, and something makes me say to myself, “I want to learn how to crochet.” So I drive to Walmart and buy one skein of Lion Brand Hometown USA and a hook.
So my crochet hobby didn’t exactly start in the most sentimental way. I didn’t learn from a maternal figure on a comfy couch with the smell of cookies baking in the next room. I learned from a YouTube video in an old apartment, all the while feeling guilt for all the schoolwork I wasn’t doing.
But it was this less-than-sentimental beginning that makes me want to share my story. Having this creative hobby changed my life.
When I graduated from college in 2015, I remember that one of my first thoughts was I’ll never have a summer break again. When you’ve been a student for nearly the first 22 years of your life, transitioning to working full-time year-round can be kind of daunting. Why is it that all the things that add up to the challenge of adulting only manage to reveal themselves as they require head-on confrontation? Three years into post-grad living, I’m learning that that’s life. It just keeps on coming. Then you think, Alright. Here we go. Another challenge to surmount. And then you do it.
But what happens when you get tired?