Hello! It’s the last day of 2019, and it seemed an auspicious day to begin to write in this space again. I thought about writing this post about loss; 2019 has been a year or a good deal of loss for a lot of people, including people I know and love. But thinking about the bleakness of such a post made me reconsider. This post, instead, is about balance.
I haven’t had a lot of balance in the last year, and I know I’m not alone. Part of the problem, I think, is the general existential malaise a lot of us feel here in the states right now–the sense of powerless in the face of awfulness, when our voices don’t seem to change much of anything and we don’t know what else to do.I stopped writing here because of that feeling. When we concurrently face immediate loss in our lives, we are already at an emotional deficit–we come at it from a place of exhaustion–and it all gets to be a lot.
We lost a longtime friend. One of our dear friends lost her mom. My grandmother’s been moved to a nursing home, something she hates and faces as a new event almost every day because of dementia. There’s a lot to mourn there, outside of the bigger national stuff.
Good things did happen in 2019, however, and if they happened for you, too, you need to hold onto those things and the strength they give you as we head into 2020. They can help you leap to still greater heights, or they can help sustain you in hard or challenging times.
I was awarded the highest teaching honor at my university.
We hit a major money goal.
I wrote A LOT of book pages. I don’t know how good they are but they exist.
I advocated for myself at work and got what I needed.
I landed a huge client and my revenue this year is substantially more than last.
I hope you can take some time to build your own highlight reel as we head into the new year so as to find your own balance amid a lot of challenges, or to understand where you might pick up challenges amidst your good fortune.
Maggie Banks over at Northern Expenditure (who gets points already for naming her blog after one of my favorite shows while growing up) had a great idea when she turned 30 in 2016: a fill-the-bucket list. As she put it,
“Life is full of opportunities, changes, and unpredictability and it’s all about experiences and filling your bucket so that by the end of your life, your bucket is full. Instead of making a list of things you would like to see happen in your life, a fill-the-bucket list focuses on the opportunities you have had and the things you’ve taken a chance and done.”
Genius. While I think I’ll still work on drafting a list of the changes I’d like to work on as I enter my 4th decade, Maggie’s idea shifts the focus and promotes gratitude for what is and has been. Here’s a first few bucket-filling things
I got a PhD.
As you know, this wasn’t an easy process, but few things showed me how tenacious I am or could be like finishing that sucker when about half of my cohort decided it wasn’t for them and left altogether.
I biked down a volcano in Hawaii.
We started by watching the sun rise at the top, and then rode the switchbacks down. Sure, I took a header as we came to a stop, but as someone who’s only sort of physically adventurous, this was both exciting, terrifying, and ultimately beyond amazing.
Just recently I started taking kickboxing/self-defense classes.
It’s so much fun. I hate doing cardio in most forms but this? I really like it. I hope I stick with it.
As a 3a of sorts, I once took a bellydancing class. I was in my mid-20s and it was me with a bunch of much older ladies from my Boston neighborhood. It was a hoot and I had no idea until then of the ways one could move their torso muscles.
We spent a week in Italy in 2008.
What was particularly special about this was that a) it was our first trip to Europe and b) my uncle lived there. Not only did that make the trip less pricey but it also meant we got to stay in a village and meet all these people and be part of their community, ever so briefly. That was almost as good as seeing Roman ruins.
I think this is a good start. 40’s now around the corner.
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