Wednesday, December 31, 2014


"Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it." 
-Mary Oliver

This was a year worth celebrating.

I'm celebrating my baby. She's growing and thriving, changing and learning, laughing and loving.

I'm celebrating my marriage. J.J. and I haven't deserted each other quite yet, despite the exponential increase in batshit-craziness, directly correlated to the severe decrease in hours spent sleeping.

I'm celebrating my support system. I maintained connections with my biggest support as a mother (my new moms' group) and am starting to reconnect with pre-baby friends (harder than I anticipated).

And the biggest change worth celebrating: I listened to my heart and my soul, and I left my job to be home with my girl. And (bonus!) I haven't had to sell my home or possessions or body yet to make that work.

Taken during my first week home with her...can't believe how little she was.

What really amazes me is that if you had asked me on New Year's Eve 2013 if I thought ANY of this would happen, I absolutely would have said no. Sure, I assumed Rowan would keep growing and do reasonably well, but it's unbelievable to me that she is who she is these days - a sharp, empathetic, thoughtful, funny, helpful, and sweet toddler. As for J.J. and me, we're weathering one of the most challenging times in a relationship - becoming parents - and we're still standing. I can't say I was always the best version of myself, or that he was of himself, but we're here. Together. And I thought for sure that I'd lose touch with the dozen or so mamas I met through a new mothers' group a few weeks after Rowan was born, mainly because I always had to work on their designated play day - Tuesday. So wrong! We had plenty of Monday and evening gatherings early in the year, and soon enough, I was done with work and able to meet whenever - Tuesdays at the pool, Thursdays at the park, weeknights for pedicures or dinner or book club. Thank goodness, too, because I credit that group with a hefty portion of my sanity.

And, finally, I left my job. The least likely of all the unlikely things that happened in 2014. It's still such a shock to me. I can't pretend I'm not anxious about what the next step is, or when it will happen, or how it will happen...but I can definitely celebrate that I moved on. Against the odds, against my better judgement, against expectations: I moved on.

So I'm celebrating 2014 as a year of (good) surprises, gratitude, changes, and bliss. And if all these crazy-wonderful things happened this year, it's kind of hard to imagine what could happen in 2015. I guess I've learned that anything could happen.

...And, of course, my first instinct is to be cautious and not imagine what amazing things are coming my way. Because doesn't that mean that terrible things could happen, too? Yes. Absolutely. Which brings us to my first and only resolution this year: Let the pessimism go.

Let the pessimism go. Resolve to celebrate.

That's a huge challenge for me. Know why? Because I'm superstitious. Not Michael-Scott-little-stitious:

No, I'm really superstitious. Super-duper-bordering-on-cuckoo-stitious. I'm afraid to celebrate. I'm afraid to be grateful. Because doesn't there have to be a balance? Am I just asking for the other shoe to drop? Haven't I seen horrible things happen to great people? Why would I invite karma to even things out? I think people operate on the spectrum of optimism and pessimism, and that temperament has a lot to do with which way you skew. But my pessimism? It's not serving me well. I find myself sitting on the couch in a fit of nerves because I just know Rowan is going to wake up early from nap and be grouchy all afternoon...when I have the choice to just roll with it, because who knows when or why she'll wake up? Or I find myself slipping down the rabbit hole of worrying about money, even though right now, things are managed. Or - you should have seen the tizzy I worked myself into when I realized my last day of work was Friday the 13th. That felt like a damn SIGN, and not a good one. Yeah...the negativity overwhelms me.

I remember thinking the other day, "What if I just weren't negative about this right now?" I think it had to do with the construction my next-door neighbors are planning - an addition to their house that's supposed to take months. I imagined all the different ways Rowan's naps would be demolished right along with their deck, and I panicked. I posted in my new moms' group on Facebook, asking for advice, and pretty much across the board, my friends said, "Some days it might suck; most days, it'll probably be fine." A light bulb went on. I don't have control over this. Whatever's going to happen will happen. The only thing I have control over is whether I'm negative or positive in my thought patterns.

So that's it. Let the negativity go. I'm familiar with all sorts of little cognitive-behavioral techniques to help me shift gears. The first and foremost one? Recognition. When am I negative? (Hint: all the time.) I'll need to become aware of triggers, of patterns, of barriers to positivity. And then I can start shifting - my internal dialogue, my magical thinking ("If I worry about X, then it won't happen"), my knee-jerk reactions.

The goal isn't to become a shiny, happy optimist (ahh, look, already tempering that positive attitude! lol). Really, though, it's just to release as much of the negativity as I can. It's hard to imagine doing that, but like I said before, think of all the things that happened in 2014 that I wouldn't have predicted. So let's say it could happen...that it will happen. After all, I know the happiness is there. I found it this past year, I felt it this past year. It's there for the taking. So I'm choosing to grab it. And to quote the great Michael Scott once again, "That's what she said."

Happy New Year. Here's to looking up.

(And don't think I don't have a fun little New Year's to-do list for the house - AKA, more resolutions - lurking around. 'Cause you know I do.)

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