To say that 2018 was a confusing year only partly describes how I feel about it. I am still processing my dad's death. While I feel like I am coming out of the fog of grief, I still feel all the things one feels when grief is fresh.
I have struggled more this past year with feelings of loss and depression than I have in a long time.
In other areas of life things are better than ever. I was offered two of my favourite church callings in 2018. The first one was Primary teacher of 7 and 8 year olds. This is the age group that is getting baptized; my grandson is in that class. It is a special, terrifying, exhilarating responsibility to teach children, and feels even bigger when it's your own grandkid.
The other calling is teaching 12-13 year old girls in my church's Young Women program. One of the purposes of this program is to help the girls learn how to apply the gospel in their lives to help them make good decisions, be kind to others, and to strengthen their families and communities.
I feel that in some ways I have barely been present in my life. In other ways, I feel like I have been my truest, most authentic self. My relationships with my family are better than ever. I am happy in my marriage. I have stability and security in every aspect.
It is confusing to feel emotionally low and to be the happiest I have ever been at the same time.
I ditched “new years resolutions” years ago and have been focusing instead on one word each year: joy or art or follow through. Looking at my goals in this manner helped me shed the shame of failing at a resolution, and it also allowed me to get a little creative with my goals. I discovered that there’s no pressure when I’m simply focusing on an attribute. For example, the resolution to “lose 10 lbs” feels so overwhelming but if I just focus on being healthier it’s easier. I can focus on being healthier every day. It also helps me intentionally find ways to bring that attribute into my life; often I'll be thinking of how I'm spending my time and figure out that I am actively focusing on those goals but didn't realize it.
It’s a different way of looking at life and goals, and it works better for me than declaring resolutions.
I didn't have a focus word for last year; I didn’t set any intentions, and gave bare-minimum effort in most areas of life. My mind and body are both suffering from the lack of direction and intention. I feel cluttered, physically and spiritually, and depleted emotionally.
So this year I am focusing on "light''. Here is what that means for me:
- Light heartedness: creating and allowing circumstances that bring a light spirit into my heart. I want to create music and pictures; I want to read uplifting books. I want to have more joy and laughter.
- The light of Christ: I want to be a more compassionate, service-minded person, and help others.
- Minimizing clutter and dirt in my home: I want to get rid of “stuff”. I like decorations and I have a few collections of things – tins, yarn, books, etc., but I also have things in my home that do not bring me joy; items that collect dust (literally! I live in the country on a dirt road and there’s more dust and hay and farm-life inside my house than is reasonable!) and serve no purpose for me.
There’s more, but that is what is immediately on my mind. Light-hearted fun and love. With everything I have learned over the past few years, it should be easy – right? I’ll guess we will find out in about a year.