2019 was like any other year, in that it was crazy. Every year is crazy, because life is crazy. In 2019, my craziness involved going to get trained at the Aspen Institute’s AmEx Leadership Academy (hooray), then getting laid off the next week (sad face), traveling to Ireland (hooray) and coming up with plans for the next step (whoa). It also involved travel to and with family and friends. I got to run a half marathon in another country, and my son got to play with my friend’s son as the sun was setting over the Grand Tetons. Crazy.
My unifying theme for 2019 was #myyearoftwelve. Each month I wanted to do something new in the following categories: scone-baking, album-listening, mindful traveling, trail-running, date-nighting, healthy living, and bouquet-arranging.
This was, perhaps, a bit too ambitious – even in a year that didn’t involve a significant life change. Well, two significant life changes… did I tell you I turned 40 in 2019? That’s right; I was born just a few months after Jimmy Carter was attacked by a bunny.
That said, I’d like to reflect a bit on what was meaningful from My Year of Twelve.
- Make ambitious goals. You may not meet them, but you are a far more interesting person if you at least shoot for them. My husband and I didn’t get to twelve albums this year, but we at least had something more to talk about than work or our child’s sleep schedule.
- Involve your family in your goals. If you are trying to bake scones quickly, don’t ask your child to help. If you are trying to bake scones meaningfully, ask your child to help. My son and I made scones with one of my dearest friends in Ireland as part of an AirBnB activity deal offered by a local baker. It was messy, and there were distractions – at one point I found him playing with plastic garbage he found in the baker’s living room – but asking him to come with me is something that I will never regret.
- Create beauty and share it. I’m pretty sure I did meet the goal of making 12 flower arrangements this year. Were they perfect by any florists’ standards? No. But they were a reminder that the earth is bountiful and that we can appreciate the bounty and the beauty if we stop and take a moment. On my personal social media accounts, my flower photos were one of the most popular things. I like to think that my friends looked at those photos, to a mindful breath, and felt a little happier in that moment.
- Practicing mindful travel is an essential tool for professionals. People understand being “on the road” as fascinating / exciting / badass (if you only know about it from movies) or grueling / lonely / exhausting (if you’ve actually done it, sans mindfulness.) I understand that it is often all of the above. What I have found is that practicing mindfulness during travel – whether that means mindfully breathing while waiting in lines or mindfully skipping out on the socializing and getting to bed early – makes it far more likely that I appreciate the positives of travel *and* the positives of being at home. By planning for mindful moments (getting a massage) and also allowing myself to experience them when they came up unexpectedly (enjoying a 4 AM cappuccino with the night bartender when I was jet-lagged in Las Vegas), I felt so much better about travel than I had in previous years. And when I came home, I was energized rather than depleted, and so happy to see my family.
- Write things down. I mean physically. Somehow, physically writing things down makes it seem like more of a commitment than simply typing it electronically. You can do both, but physically writing things down allows you to a) hang it somewhere in your house where people can see (to enforce accountability and spark conversation) and b) cross things out when you have completed them.
- Balance is key to living out your values and being well. I look over the categories in My Year of Twelve and realize that I was prioritizing what I consider to be some of my core values – the values that help me to lead a fulfilled life. These values help me live what I would consider a balanced – or RenaissanceLista – life: health/wellness, learning, creativity, and connection. Aligning your actions – what you do, how you spend your time and energy – with your values allows you to live a balanced life.
So in 2020, I invite you to explore what it is that makes you feel fulfilled, how those actions reflect your values, and how living out those values helps you live a RenaissanceLista life.