In my newsletter, Grace Notes, I mentioned what joy, and grounding, I found in working through Laura Tremaine’s 10 Questions for the End of the Year. I loved it so much I bought a new Leuchtturm1917 Journal specifically for that purpose. I’ve continued to work on my 2019 pages through this month of January, and in addition to the beautiful clarity the practice is giving me, I think it will be great to look back over my life this way, year-to-year.
One question Laura suggested–which is new to me, I have to say–is to consider not just what you want to change as you move toward a fresh, new, clean slate calendar, but what you did in the past year that actually worked well for you?
I love thinking through this, walking back through the intentions I had that came to fruition, realizing there were good things that in one way or another enhanced my life. I love realizing even tiny, tiny changes held good, solid weight.
I thought it would be fun to share my list, and I’d love to hear your thoughts and suggestions. (Alas, on Laura’s list of questions is also, inevitably, WHAT BEHAVIORS DO YOU WANT TO CHANGE?)
So here we go. Things that worked well for me in 2019.
- Getting up early. My very best days begin in the dark quiet, when I am calm and rested and not rushing to get this or that done. My head is clearer, my heart is warmed and open. I am at my best in this time–the hour (or hours) just before sunrise–like I’m waiting to receive the gift of a new day. I am fortunate that many of these mornings I wake up in the western North Carolina mountains where the sunrises are a tremendous gift, a beautiful meeting of holy and earth. But even here in my little bedroom studio in our new downtown South Carolina home–where right now day is just beginning to dawn and my only indication of sunrise is the soft light beginning to slip through the blinds–it is my favorite time of day.
- Writing first. I am working on two novels right now, and there is the blog and the newsletter, and there are the various and sundry other projects that come up now and again. The earlier I start, the faster it goes. And always, always, the better the work.
- Making myself (personal life)* step forward from Enneagram 9-ness. Those of us who identify as Enneagram 9s know we are the worst when it comes to stating a clear preference. And the truth is–for me, anyway–much of the time it really doesn’t matter. What I see is potential all around! And I would truly be delightfully happy with any of the presented options. But then. But then come the times when it does matter, when my opinion is valid and needed. And in 2019–late in the year, actually–I made the decision to work harder at speaking up, at forming an opinion and stating it and trusting that those who love me and those whom I love will hear it, and welcome it, and value it. I’m still working on this, yet I have to say I find it to be one of the most courageous things I’ve done this year. (*For some reason I don’t seem to struggle with this in my professional life. I think–at least I hope–it is my Enneagram 9 inclination toward Enneagram 3 in health and growth that steps up. Enneagram people: I’d love your thoughts about this.)
- Fruit in my water to increase my intake. How lucky today’s young people are that they’ve grown up drinking water. To them it is second nature, but not to me. So I started adding sliced blueberries or strawberries or kiwi, and somehow that fakes me out just enough to think I am eating something wonderful rather than drinking plain ol’ Plain Old Water. This year, thanks to this silly trick, I have been a much more hydrated human.
- Fung Shui. After a spring trip to San Diego, and some sweet personal coaching from a sweet San Diego friend, I cleaned up and rearranged my mountain studio with an eye toward enhancing my writing life and my odds of landing a literary agent and book deal. While neither the agent nor the deal has exactly manifested yet, the flow of energy in that space improved dramatically and immediately I could tell a difference. I mean, it was palpable, friends.
- Short workouts, daily. As an option for a workout when we’re in the mountains (where there is neither gym nor pilates nor yoga studio for miles), I started the 3 Week Yoga Retreat program. Tim already had a subscription to Beach Body on Demand, which meant I could access Yoga Retreat for free. I love it so much–the instructors are wonderful, it’s easy to follow, and I find it hard to wimp out when the voice in my head reminds, “It’s 30 minutes. Surely you have 30 minutes.” I have found I am much more consistent with a short workout, and the consistency has really mattered physically. I take the same approach with the treadmill–shorter, more often = more consistency. (I think we get Beach Body on Demand for $99 a year and that includes access all its programs, which we can access wherever we are. It’s a real deal, and I love having workouts available via a television, iPad or iPhone. And I use all three. )
- Sleeping on my back. Or what I should say: Trying to sleep on my back. My beloved massage therapist has identified a “pulling to the left” of a part of my spine, maybe caused by some long ago shoulder surgery, definitely exacerbated by head-turned-stomach-sleep. Which is neither here nor there but to say a curving spine can be quite a grand motivator. And then I learned all about the damage done to our faces from stomach-sleep as we age, the squishing and wrinkling and bunching up of skin. And that did it for me, except that I HATE sleeping on my back, did I say that? And I’m not very good at it, but I am trying. HEAR ME FACE AND SPINE??? I am trying.
- A standing desk. This bad boy works so well for me. I stay energized, my back feels better, it’s easy to just step away and walk a few steps if I want to think through something. Love, love, love. (Standing desks can be expensive, and I already had a desk so I bought this riser and am delighted with it. I do think it is vital that you have a good pad to stand on. I bought this one.) One of the best changes I’ve ever made in my life.
There is more, I’m sure there is more, but for now that is plenty to consider.