Ahh, January. Standing in December in the midst of the holiday chaos, January looks so bright and shiny and new. It’s the month that is going to change EVERYTHING. We will set our intentions and create our resolutions. We will go to the gym EVERY.DAMN.DAY. We will go straight from eating all the sugar in the house to eating none at all. In December it all looks completely reasonable and possible. Never mind how many January firsts we’ve experienced before, this year we will meet and exceed all of our own high expectations. And then…enter reality.
We all have our own version of what January looks like. If you’re like me, January has a slightly different flavor each year. In the year 2000, January was when Jerry and I decided enough was enough (aka we were fed up with winter and snow), and made our plan to head to a warmer climate before the end of the year. In September 2000 we made good on that promise as we stuffed our Hyundai Elantra with as many belongings as we could shove in there, and drove off into the sunrise…with San Diego as our final destination, sight unseen by either one of us. In January 2004 I started a new job, which was a big deal. A serial entrepreneur, I had been working at home (at that point for 2 1/2 years) and it was time to make a change. That year we were very focused on cleaning up our finances; in September of 2004 we paid off $17,000 in credit card debt. Early January 2006 brought the news that I was pregnant with my first child; that month we also previewed Bob Dylan’s The Times They are A’Changin’ at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego, before it headed to Broadway. Dylan Robert Theroux was born on September 5, 2006.
Since Jerry started working in life insurance sales that same year, January has meant long workdays, no time off, his busiest month. Through the years, January’s have brought potty training success, vision boards, business launch parties, and business closings. In January 2014 I prepared for my first Gathering of Women: Creating Intentions; hosting that event symbolized a stepping into my future as a health and wellness coach. Last January I started a challenge I had created for myself, what I called my Year of Radical Wellness. I gave up alcohol at midnight on New Year’s Eve. I registered for school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I laid a groundwork for a future that was exciting and worth living. And I lived it.
At midnight on 12/31/15, my Year of Radical Wellness ended. Just like that, another January had begun. Last year I had a very clear focus, I had a plan, and I fulfilled on that plan. This year, things felt different. Things WERE different. Most notably, January has brought a major slowing down, a shift in perspective. For me and for my family, January has represented a rebalancing in many ways. What that looks like and feels like in many ways is that we’ve gone “off track.” After drinking no alcohol for 12 months, drinking even 2 glasses of wine feels like too much. We’ve eaten lots of pizza and not enough veggies (except for that one week Jerry & I went on a kale salad bender…good while it lasted). We’ve had two weeks worth of illness, my kids have missed 5 1/2 days of school, I’ve canceled more plans in the last 3 weeks than I did in the previous 3 months. I’ve been in the middle of quite a few short-term projects for quite a few weeks, yet I’m one of those people who has, many times, sacrificed sleep rather than stop in the middle of a project. I caught up on schoolwork, caught up on sleep, caught up on Empire. I registered domain names, created websites, ordered business cards. I’ve spent more time and energy dwelling in creating the future (thanks to Mike Dooley’s 30 Day Infinite Possibilities Project) than I’ve spent “doing” the tasks in the present. My house is a mess, we haven’t eaten at the dining room table all month, and our second garage bay is filled with bikes and scooters and Cub Scout supplies instead of our Jeep (and it’s starting to snow).
By the end of last week, I started to get uncomfortable. Although I knew that my intention for January was to retreat, withdraw, catch up on school, slow down, work on launching my health coaching business, etc., the reality of what that felt like was a bit disconcerting. Sometimes when our intentions become reality, it can feel uncomfortable. We have to grow into a new reality. To get to that new reality, we have to let go of beliefs and behaviors that are familiar, but that will no longer serve us as we create something different. For someone like myself who is what you may call a Type A personality (just a little bit), someone who is used to being “on track,” that has meant getting comfortable with being “off track.” This isn’t a new theme for me. After graduating from Harvard cum laude in 1998, working an average of 3 jobs at any given time, and sleeping an average of 4-5 hours/night for years, I spent the next two years working ONE job (in a restaurant that didn’t open until 4pm), slowing down, and catching up on sleep. I slept for HOURS and HOURS those two years. I’m sure I thought there was something wrong, but at some point I realized that it was just the laws of physics at play once again. What goes up must come down. I needed some yin to balance my yang.
Fast forward to September 2006. Dylan was breech, and I was scheduled for a c-section on the Tuesday after Labor Day. I packed up my desk the Friday before, enjoyed one last beach-filled, sun-soaked San Diego weekend with friends, and checked into Scripps La Jolla as scheduled. But–I was self-employed as a loan officer, and I had five loans in process when he was born. Jerry had just started at his current company 3 months prior, and for the past few years I had been the primary breadwinner (does anyone else dislike that word?). The future of babies and nursing and diapers was quite foreign to me; working was my comfort zone. I remember calling clients from the hospital while I was on a morphine drip and Dylan was in the NICU with a breathing issue. Yeah.
So here I am, January 2016. 2015 brought MANY changes, and all change, good and bad, requires some adjustment…physical, emotional, psychological. Sometimes that adjustment may look like physical illness in the body, or a pull towards whatever we’ve been depriving ourselves of. We may have emotional breakdowns or explosions. We will likely need time and space to process through the happenings and changes of life. It’s okay and it’s normal, and resisting it just drags things out. So I choose to give in. I give myself permission to be where I am, rather than fight it. I’m taking January 2016 for what it is: I’m not making it wrong or making myself wrong or making my experience wrong. With six days left in January I’m giving being “off track” all I’ve got; from where I stand, that should leave me right on track.
I certainly have a lot of pictures from January, considering I didn’t feel like we did too much…