There are some great words floating out there at the start of this new year. There are gobs of words about what you can do. How will you get better in 2016 -- how will you do more, be more efficient, become more beautiful, get stronger, be more organized, maximize your time? What are your resolves?
Some of the questions inspire.
Many of the questions don't.
Yesterday, for the first time in twelve days (oh! the twelve days of Christmas!) my house emptied and quieted.
We'd already put away the Christmas decorations. School and routine were waiting for us in the morning. And the expectant questions of the new year settled around me in the sudden quiet.
How would I tackle this new year? What changes would I make? Should I made? Here was a pause to evaluate, to consider how to do better.
Instead of feeling energized and excited, I felt increasingly paralyzed. There are so many possibilities and so many areas for improvement.
This morning, at a table piled with journal, calendar, laptop, where I sat clearing my head and heart, I read Glennon's latest blog post on Momastery. And you know what she said? She said she doesn't want to be a better mom or a better self this year and chase some imaginary "more fabulous version" of herself. Instead, she just wants to keep on being herself and have new eyes to SEE.
She has an amazing way of stripping things down to true.
"Self-improvement," she said, "is just another hiding place."
Of course this is only partly true, because improving self is possible and matters, though I'd prefer to call it growing. Growth improves us. And it's different than effort. It's different than performance. It's different than trying ceaselessly or doing the dance to please all the people around us.
And of course, it's not just about letting growth happen to us, the way a tree does. There's work. Great victories take great work. And great work takes some discipline.
For years I bucked against that word, discipline. It sounded like a legalistic dirty word, laden with rules and requirements.
But then, only in the last few years, I began to do things that required discipline: I ran, and found the only way I could hit my mileage was by mapping out runs for the week. I sat with God and found the only way I could do that was to clear a space to sit down and be quiet.
Disciplines, I was shocked to discover, created freedom, just like I'd heard about. They are a way we "improve."
But, self-improvement, all the wild goal setting and resolves to do and be, can be a way to hide. When we throw up all sorts of posters and pictures of whom we want to be and are going to be, they can cover who we actually are.
Sometimes those ideals sound a lot better. The menus I plan for the week, can sound (and are) much more glamorous than the fried eggs on toast dinner comes down to some nights.
But I love fried eggs on toast, and they are our dinner.
It would be great to hit the gym at 6AM every morning. But for me, I am going to be in my bed or sitting on the floor of Maeve's room at 6AM holding her and playing peek-a-boo with her feet like I did this morning, because she just needed a little time.
So as my head spins with possibilities and newly named hopes, I'm going to think about Glennon's words and ask for eyes to see all that already is.