For as long as I can remember, I have loved the days between Christmas and New Years a tiny bit more than any others.
Even though Christmas Day is undoubtedly my absolute favorite day of the year (the family is gathered, baked-goods and gifts abound, a fragrant Spruce covered in twinkling lights and useless yet adorable baubles in the living room– what isn’t there to love?) Yet there is something almost magical about the handful of otherwise ordinary days post-25th. The excitement and jubilation of Christmas has passed, and with it go the stress and pressures which inevitably build up in the weeks preceding it. New Years is still on the horizon, plenty of time to make plans and clean up the general chaos that piles of gifts bring about. These precious days are almost like an extension of the year in a way, like you’ve been given a little extra time before the ball drops on the new year to relax, revel, and then get your act together.
Today I scoured our bathroom. (Small house, only one bathroom, kinda great.) I mean the full-on intense, get out all the cleaning supplies, scrubbers, and tons of washrags and sterilize that room from ceiling to floor kinda scour. Ahhhhh, it is so beautifully satisfying to have an inarguably cleansed bathroom. I come from a lineage that tends to lean a bit towards “OCD cleanliness”— not full-on clinical OCD, but just this side of it. Truth be told I would be cleaning my bathroom like that every day if I had the time.
But that’s the difficult bit: Time.
More time. I want more time. But the thing is, “more time” is an impossible answer to an impossible equation. “More time” is not an option. The planet Earth isn’t gonna change its speed of rotation just for you, Tara Tona, so guess what? YOU need to s l o w d o w n. Stop trying to force 20 hours worth of work into a 16 hour day. Ohhhhh, but it’s so hard.
Where I think the biggest problem lies in time management is this: Degree of ambition. For example, if one desires to start and run multiple companies AND be an artist AND a writer AND a mother, and also make time for exercise, eating, sleeping, basic socializing, maybe reading a book or watching a film, self-education, travel, AND remain a semi-sane individual, then time management might end up being a problem. And honestly that level of ambition is probably going to make you a crazy person. I know this because this is my life.
I can put my finger right on top of the problem and see what needs to be done to change things, but the thing is that I can’t change. I don’t mean to say it isn’t possible, I mean that I have finally come to realize that this is something about myself that is totally innate, and I actually don’t want to change it. Because I deeply, crazily, absurdly, unrelentingly LOVE doing all of these things, and can’t imagine my life without each of them in there. So I have decided to accept the fact that Excessive Ambitiousness is my wooden leg, and I will hobble on through life proudly with it. Proudly! If not a bit cranky and tired at times.
So, this brings me to thoughts about New Year’s Resolutions. I know, a lot of people don’t get excited about them and think they are silly. But not me. I love NYRs. They are fun to invent and can be whatever you want them to be! They can be playful or strict, reasonable or absurd, grande or simple. And even though I know I won’t try to change my Excessive Ambitiousness with any ol’ resolution this year, there are plenty of other things I can and need to work on. That’s for sure.
The term Resolution is defined as the following: “A firm decision to do or not to do something” Ok, good enough. But I actually like the term “Goals” so much more. A Resolution feels like something a bit vague, like “I resolve to eat less peanut butter cups this year”. Really? How many less? Lame. But a Goal, now we’re getting somewhere. A goal is something you can really hang your coat on, and I like that.
So I suppose my love of NYR’s is actually a love for goal-making. Now that that’s cleared up, let’s move on to the LIST. Is there anything quite as thrilling as a list? Ah! The structure, the orderliness, the possibility of doing all those things! I’ve decided to make a reasonably short list this year, only 5 items. (Not including the myriad things that are on my mental lists which grow ever-longer by the day, of course. But those don’t really count. At least not here.)
My NYG’s (New Year’s Goals):
1. Take the month of January to deep-clean and reorganize the house from top to bottom.
I sometimes frequent this great website called Apartment Therapy, when I need inspiration for home decor or just want to drool over others’ creative abodes. Every January they do this thing called the January Cure, which is essentially a group project of “21 do-able assignments throughout January toward a cleaner, more organized and more peaceful home.” You sign up to get on the mailing list and they tell you what thing to do each step of the way. I’m usually not into this kind of group assignment follow-along thing, but I find the structure of this to be immensely helpful in getting to parts of the house that one tends to avoid throughout the year. I’m pretty stoked about it.
I know that Marie Kondo’s magical tidyness is taking the world by storm, but her approach is a bit too extreme for me. I’m a sentimentalist and find joy in most of the items in my home. Plus I already did a massive sort-and-cleanse when we moved into our tiny house last year. So I will forgo the Kondo in exchange for the Cure.
2. Make a list of all the projects I am/want to be working on throughout the year.
I have done this for many years, but each year I get a little bit closer to an actually achievable list. This year I accomplished more things that I set out to do than probably any previous year, so it’s a good sign that I’m moving in the right direction. Just have to put a damper on that Shmambition.
3. Finish what I start.
This ties in with number 2. Even though I did good this year with completing the projects I started, I have to remember to not get overly confident. Because I have an awfully long history of starting projects and not finishing them. Ugh. Note to self: You can do it!
4. Only use good pens. Get rid of all the crappy ones.
Because having a container half-full of crappy pens is just a bummer. So I will recycle the lousy ones and replace them with decent ones, maybe even fancy ones, without feeling guilt. It must be done.
5. Cultivate brazenness in writing.
Ugh and Oyyyy… This is the hardest one for me, and also feels like the most important. I love to write. I hate to write. I get a very icky feeling in my stomach when I write something for this blog because it means I actually have to publish it and that means someone might read it. Yikes. (therefore I have at least 50 written-but-unpublished stories for the blog.) I don’t think I’ve ever dealt well with judgement (always afraid someone will misunderstand me– end of the world!) and I get the feeling that most of my thoughts, ideas, beliefs, etc. tend to not be anywhere near the mainstream, either right or left. Which very often leaves me feeling marooned on an island of my own mental making, which is a recipe for a seriously unhealthy mind state. The only way (or at least the best way) I see off that island is to put it out there, these things in my head. I’m so sick of talking about it, so this, THIS is the year I aim to DO it.
Oh my goodness… I’m listening to Stereolab Radio on Pandora as I write this, and the song that just came on is “Close to Me” by The Cure. I can’t explain how this song makes me feel, except to say utterly happy. I grew up with this album playing in our house all through my youth. Seemingly every weekend it was on. It’s pretty great what nostalgia can do… all of a sudden I feel very at peace with everything. Relaxed. There are so many worries and things to attend to each day. My husband and I are running our own business together and it’s challenging. My daughter is 2 1/2 and amazing but also busy as a bumble bee. I’m nearly 5 months pregnant. So much is happening in our life right now I can hardly keep up. But in an instant I can return to my 9-year-old self (9 was my favorite age), and recall how joyous it was to just be alive. No lists, no goals, no life-altering decisions to make, just music, and games, and day-dreaming. And school, which was only a minor inconvenience. Point is this: No matter how much we change and develop in our life, we can always return to some moment of pure simplistic happiness when the right song comes on. And that’s better than a hundred New Year’s Resolutions.
But I’m still gonna work on that list.
Photo at top by me, taken Feb. 2007