Happy New Year

This time of year always has me thinking more about where I’m at, have been and want to be. Usually I’m happy to think back with gratitude for the good and be philosophical about the bad, and have no trouble being optimistic and enthusiastic about the future. This time, however, I struggled to be positive as the year crawled to an end, and so I’ve been trying to put my finger on why.

Looking back, I can’t point to any particular big bad thing that happened last year. There were annoyances, frustrations and ongoing worries. There were successes and moments of joy, too. But all in all, I rated it 4 out of 10. As I’ve been saying to friends, 2018 has been a little bit shit. Not terrible, not great either.

So I examined all the different parts of my life and concluded that most of my anxiety concerns the future. Some of the activities that used to give me joy no longer do or are becoming too physically challenging. Our health and fitness needs more attention. I worry about my elderly parents. I’m concerned about our friends. I fear for the planet.

My priorities shifted. Health move to the top because my back doesn’t have to get much worse than normal before it affects everything. Work and family are next, thankfully not yet conflicting. General domestic and financial chores, house and garden maintenance follow. Only when I’m satisfied these things are in order do I think of art and hobbies. It’s not that I don’t recognise that art and hobbies are good for my mental health, they just shouldn’t come at the cost of work, family and generally having my shit together.

Fortunately, once the new year arrived my mood lifted. Without seasonal obligations creating such a mental load and time suck, I’m finding time to be creative again (more about that in the next post). These words popped into my head a few days into the year:

“Don’t expect everything that gave you joy in the past to do so in the future.”

Gosh, I can apply that to so many things. Work, hobbies, friends… And thinking about how some things may be heading out of my life, I wondered what was coming in. It stirred up favourite saying of mine:

“There are enough unwanted challenges in life, so it’s nice to add a few wanted ones.”

So I considered what new challenges I could set myself for 2019. I decided on two things: to try arranging a pool party for every warm weekend, and to start going to workshops at a local artist society/association. The first idea pretty much flopped on the first weekend thanks to what I call the New Rude. (In this case, people accepting invites then either not turning up, or telling you at the last moment that they’ve got something else/better planned now). Oh well, maybe challenge #2 will prove more successful. I’ll have to wait until the new term starts to find out.