I can’t help but be reflective with the New Year. But I don’t want to say all the things I’m hoping to do differently this year. I don’t need a list of ways to improve myself, my home, my marriage, my body. But the changing of the calendar does lend itself to that inclination. I recently listed to a podcast where the host suggested instead of resolutions, we decide to be irresolute- to be steadfast against the feeling of needing to improve ourselves.
So many of us know what a set-up for failure it can be- the exercise goals, the looking at ourselves critically and deciding what we want to change, the bad habits we want to break. He maintained that these resolutions we make come from a place of essentially, self-hatred- not accepting who we are with grace and love. Not believing we are enough and fully loved just as we are. And while I dont think there’s anything wrong with goals or wanting change, I think he’s onto something. It is so easy to hop on the bandwagon of endless self-improvement. As if we are one green smoothie away from health, or one technique away from a more fulfilling life, (or more superficially one organized closet away from a perfect home). There’s nothing wrong with adding better practices and rituals to our lives, eliminating habits and stuff that we know are hurting us. But perhaps the benefit or success we experience comes down to motive. Are we resolving to run more because we love our body and want to keep it healthy and strong and full of endorphins? Or because we hate our body and want to whip it into submission, diminish ourselves so that we can conform to some external standard? See the difference?
What if we approached this year with gratitude for what is, instead of focusing on what isn’t? What if we learned how to be more present in each moment, to feel our breath flowing in and out of our bodies, to put down our phones for a hot minute and make eye contact with every human being we interact with? I spent several months last year in physical therapy just learning how to breathe correctly. Imagine that- Our modern lives have caused us to forget how to breath correctly, deeply into our bellies, filling up our ribcages completely. What if we trained our eyes to see the beauty in the sink full of dishes caught in the light, the collage of Legos littering the floor, the inevitable mess when our child cooks with us? What if we learned to sit in silence with ourselves, tuning in to how it feels to live in our bodies, and listening to that as we move throughout our days? I’m guessing things would change naturally. We would change. Our relationships would change. Our habits would change as we become more mindful of what we need in each moment instead of numbing ourselves.
The changing of the year to me feels like a countdown, one step closer to my oldest leaving for college. So I am feeling not only time moving forward, but time running out. I have limited time to spend with her here at home. Limited nights left to watch Call The Midwife together or go out to brunch or a walk on the waterfront together. I have limited time to create memories and have conversations and capture moments of her with my camera. But the truth is, time is always limited for all of us. It always runs out. And we never realize it until it’s too late. We never know how much time we have and we aren’t promised anything.
Recently I posted a Facebook Live conversation about legacy, and how photographs can be a part of that legacy we pass on to our children. I asked the question
“If photographs we have are some of the more valuable parts of the legacy we’ve inherited, why do we not prioritize getting photos of our family made?” A friend of mine who had recently lost her brother wisely said “because we think we always have more time.”
It’s true. We do. We think time is a renewable resource and money is limited. But we have it backwards. Time is a completely non-renewable resource, and money is a completely renewable resource. And the photos we have and make only become more valuable with time. Look at pictures of yourself as a child, or your child as a baby and see what I mean.
So that brings me back to resolutions (or irresolutions). I’m not making a list this year of the things I feel bad about and want to change. Instead I’ve been listening and reading and processing about a word of the year, a theme that I feel compelled to lean into and follow. That word for me, I think, is PLAY. I need more play in my life- doing things for the sole purpose of enjoyment and delight, not to accomplish anything, to further my goals, or be efficient. Just play.
And can I tell you how much fun it is to play? We know how to do this instinctively as kids, and yet we grow-up and think that play is a waste of time. We could be doing something better, more productive, more important. YOU GUYS, PLAY IS THE WORK OF CREATIVITY. So I’m saying yes to going for a bike ride with my 15-year old on a free afternoon. No destination in my mind, no purpose, per se, other than the enjoyment of riding our bikes and feeling the cool air rush past our faces, our legs burning from climbing the hills of Tacoma. I’m saying yes to downhill skiing with my family, which I previously scoffed at because snow is very cold, but it is SO FUN, and sharing the experience with my kids makes it even better. And guess what, the only thing you accomplish downhill skiing is getting from the top of the hill to the bottom of the hill, hopefully yelling WHEEEE the whole time.
So, friend- how ’bout you? Do you have resolutions? How do you feel about them? Do you have a word of the year? Would you like to have a playdate with me?
Here are a few images from 2017 and the beautiful Sham of The Perfect project. I love that this Collective keeps bringing me back to seeing the beauty in the real and imperfect, helping me have eyes to see what really matters (hint: it’s not your outfit or whether you lose those 10 pounds. It’s the love, baby.)
PS- I am currently booking Love Your Life documentary family sessions for spring and summer, so contact me if you want to schedule a creative playdate!