Last week our Christmas decorations came down and the kids keep commenting on how “empty” our living room seems now. I feel you kiddos, it’s festive and magical having everything adorned for the holidays. This year we enjoyed a somewhat slower and quieter holiday season. I still went overboard with cooking and baking (who doesn’t love a variety of Christmas cookies?), but with half of our extended family many miles away we found we weren’t rushing to more than one celebration. By the time New Year’s Eve rolled around I was feeling like we’d mastered the art of lazy, impromptu festivities. Even though it was bitterly cold here in Minnesota, we all bundled up and took a walk on our frozen lake enjoying the bright moonlight and a neighbor’s celebratory fireworks. It’s customary to sing “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve, and it makes sense why it became tradition. As I stood there looking at the sky I felt excited for the many things to come in the new year, but also grateful for the experiences of the previous year, even though many had not been exactly uplifting. The song is also a poem, while it doesn’t exactly translate into English, the title and key phrase “Auld Lang Syne” literally means “old long since” and essentially means “days gone by”.
Isn’t it the truth of life that we’re in a constant state of “days gone by”? Most people are either looking at the past or looking to the future, and even sometimes when we’re focused on this moment we’re acutely aware of its fleeting nature. I’m not one to make a list of resolutions based on arbitrary terms each time the calendar flips back to January. But I do like the idea of setting goals for oneself, and the fresh clean page the new year brings can be the perfect place to start. But really, I don’t need a new calendar to be my excuse to set goals because I believe that we should always be looking for ways to improve. Lately I’ve been looking at my days gone by and seeing how I can use my experiences to adjust my goals. Sometimes life doesn’t work out the way you thought it would, so instead of seeing that goal as no longer attainable or out of reach, adjust your settings and move forward. In the past my biggest failures have come from setting goals that were too rigid or simply not setting goals at all. It’s in our nature as human beings to want to succeed. Having a goal we can reach is one simple way to feeling the elation of achievement. This year I’m aiming for small goals. I’m tempted to add: “Put on Real Pants More Often” to my list, but I think it’s okay to justify my comfort for a while longer, especially considering I’m bridging the halfway point of pregnancy with my fourth child. Because the circumstances of life are often unpredictable, I need goals that can help me feel like I’ve accomplished something of importance but didn’t require a long-distance swim upriver to achieve. Occasionally I feel let down by my own actions. It’s as if something at my core is out of place and I promote a struggle to move forward. Almost as if facing that struggle becomes my achievement rather than whatever I was aiming for originally. I suspect that on a subconscious level it’s my way of protecting myself from the feelings of true failure. If the struggle is standing in my way then I have something outside of myself there to blame for my inabilities. But it’s not fair to myself to take my eyes off my personal goals in favor of a distraction and it’s not fair to my loved ones to be unsteady in my progress of life. I’m not suggesting that I’m only capable of setting small goals because I think it’s the only way for me to achieve something, but rather simply taking small steps toward big achievements. I’m going to breakdown the things I want into smaller parts that can be accomplished even if I allow a distraction to crawl in the way. I need my accomplished goals to add up to me becoming more accepting and less critical, a better teacher and not an enforcer, fluid rather than fixed, and overall more willing to change as needed.
I’m a little sad that the holidays are over. I hope that I was able to create lasting memories for my children. As I get older and see more and more days behind me, I want even more to make each day and each special event as indelible as possible. I think one of the best goals to have going forward is to see each new day as an opportunity to help my family enjoy the all the amazing moments of life.