“Blue Monday” and Being Present

Aside

Apparently today is the most depressing day of the year, or “Blue Monday” as I’ve heard it referred to. I can only guess that it’s due to the holidays ending, and the bleak prospect of winter ahead…

We don’t have much for holiday traditions, but there is one constant. The day after Christmas, my sister and her kids come up for the week. It’s stressful, it’s chaotic, and often makes one want to run away. The kids aren’t bad. But, then you have both of my brothers and their kids here, and suddenly there are eight kids running and screaming and playing games.

This year was a little different. I had anticipated getting a lot of work done. It was a pretty crazy fall for me, and I expected my time off to be fruitful in that I would finally have time to get to some projects. As it turned out, I started living my resolution before I had even made it.

I found myself not spending a whole lot of time hanging out in my room. Instead, I was spending a lot of time hanging out with my nieces – something I always plan to do, but just never happens due to the madness. One night while my siblings and parents were hanging out and playing games, I was sitting with my eight-year-old niece, reading an American Girl mystery book with her.

Another night, I had a wonderful heart-to-heart with my ten-year-old niece. Then, I proceeded to give her and her four-year-old cousin my Lush conditioner to use, which I don’t normally do. They likely wasted a lot, but whatever, their hair smelled like strawberries and vanilla after. I even had the bonus of having to wash the four-year-old’s hair again once I started combing it and realized that she had not rinsed the back of her head at all.

Of course, there was the big night. We were having a sleepover and the girls really wanted to have a beauty salon. When I’m not around and they visit my parents on break, they always use my room as the “salon”, and so that’s where we went. I expected it to take, like, a half-hour, tops. We were in there for two hours, at least. My nieces paired off and painted their own/one another’s nails, and I pained my youngest niece’s. Then, I let two of the girls paint my toenails:

Yes, they are different colors.

Yes, they are different colors.

They also convinced me to do their make-up (after their parent’s permission). I gave them eye shadow and some blush, and I had given them each a mini lip gloss for Christmas, so they used those.

And you know what? It was so much fun. I wasn’t feeling anxious or annoyed like I have found myself feeling sometimes in the past. I didn’t get that overwhelming feeling of needing to be doing other things, no desire to working on something else. I was living in the present moment, and thoroughly enjoying each moment of time I spent with those girls. When I was younger, I was very aware and proud of the influence I knew I had my nieces. As I grow up, and they grow up, it’s just such an amazing thing to witness our relationship grow along with us. I can’t wait to be a part of their lives more and more, and help them along the way. Being an Aunt is such an incredible thing.

But I would have missed out completely if I hadn’t been living in the moment. And that is something I strive to do more and more this year, and for many more years to come.

Did You Make a Resolution?

Everywhere I’ve looked this week, I’ve seen something about New Year Resolutions. I’ve seen a lot of people striving to do intense workouts everyday, or a few times a week. Smoothies for breakfast. No more junk food. It goes on and on.

I don’t believe in these kind of resolutions. We beat ourselves up over failure enough over the course of the year, and we really don’t need to beat ourselves up over anything else. I haven’t made a list of resolutions in years, but yesterday I sat down and wrote a list out in my journal. However, I took care in my resolutions.

I did not include any timed goals, i.e. “do yoga for 30 minutes every day”. Nor did I make any definite plans in my resolutions. I’ve been hoping for years to be able to make it to SXSW and Newport Folk Festival. I hope to do one or both this year, but I will not commit it down as a resolution, because I do not know at this point what will be going on in my life, therefore I cannot make that commitment.

Most resolutions aim too high. Habits many times cannot be completely broken in a year’s time. Incorporating something new into our lifestyles takes time, dedication, and practice. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

Instead, I included things like “be more open to music” to combat my sometimes close-mindedness to new artists because of what I hear in the mainstream media. Instead of “write a novel” (every year I want to do NaNoWriMo, and every year I find I just don’t have the time), I wrote “start a novel”. Starting a novel is much more attainable. If I had “write a novel” down, I would feel stressed out all year. Instead, I’ll comb through my notebook of ideas, pick one out, and start it – no pressure. If it doesn’t take, well, at least I started to work on something.

All of my resolutions were made because I want this year of my evolution to be a great one. Instead of creating more stress, I want to find better ways to manage it. When next year comes around, I hope to be able to look back on this list and smile, because I was able to work on all of my goals – but not finish them, because change should be a constant opportunity to learn and grow.