Friday, January 1, 2016

Farewell to another year.

2015 was the year of mama/daughter selfies

It was also the year of couch snuggles

These year-end recaps and goal-setting posts are my absolute favorite to write and read over. It always feel like dropping an anchor, tying a ribbon around a tree, putting something in a time capsule. I go back to all my previous New Years posts for an honest look into where I was at the time, and where I thought I was going.  So many things turned out as expected, so many didn't, and new scenarios came about that I would have never dared to dream of. This is one day every year where I feel like my past and my future coexist, where everything coalesces into one and I can see my whole life, start to finish, clearly spread out before me. It's empowering and humbling all at once.  So let's dive in!

2015's word was mindfulness, and really, I couldn't have picked a better mantra to get me through a very hectic year. Between the 5am alarms, the long work hours, only seeing my husband for an hour a night during the week, the mind-numbing drudgery of our rigid daily routine, and the haze of pregnancy... well.... if I hadn't made a conscious effort to be mindful, I probably wouldn't remember much of anything.  This year could have easily passed me by and left some negative feelings in it's wake.  Instead I revisited this post often, to remind myself to stop and really feel every moment.  And 2015 had some great ones.


We made the most of our weekends, attending lots of local events and getting out to the coast a few times. We took full advantage of only having one child who is at a perfect age for sleepovers with her grandparents, and went on more dates together. We were kinder to each other than ever before. We spent every possible moment snuggled on the couch together. I traveled for work a few times, reliving a little of my long-lost family-less freedom, and then experienced the relief and peace of coming home to them again. I marveled every day at my daughter:  so tiny, still able to curl up in a neat little ball on my lap, yet so fierce with her blossoming independence.  I breathed her in deeply, and allowed time to stop every time she reached up to hug my belly and kiss her little sister.

the sweetest

It was a weird year in so many ways.  Overall, hard.  Harder than any year has every been before, mostly because of the time restrictions and increased domestic load that I feel eroding my personal freedom. I feel worn down, thinking back on the year as a whole. But when I think back on individual moments, I can't recall any that were particularly difficult or dramatic. All I remember are moments of joy.  Really, I can't ask for more than that.

I did set some goals for 2015, but not many.  They were:

1. Participate in a Toastmasters speech competition.  I did this in the spring!  I won the club contest and took second place at the Area level. I don't think I'll do it again, but it was fun to get back into competition for a minute.

2. Join a professional organization.  Done!

3. Celebrate my 30th birthday in the best shape of my life.  Body image is funny.  At the time I didn't feel like I succeeded at this.  I couldn't see how far I'd come, only how far I needed to go. But now?  I look back on pictures of myself from the spring, and I was absolutely in amazing shape. I have never been so muscular or lean, and I ran a PR in the half marathon in March.  Looking back I'm proud of the work I put in, despite the challenges.  My body never ceases to amaze me.


Now here we are, about to cross the threshold into 2016.  This will be a hard year to predict and plan for, because a new baby shakes up the family dynamics in ways you don't always expect.  I was having trouble coming up with my guiding theme for the coming year, but an endorphin-fueled epiphany at the gym this morning made everything suddenly clear.

I am technically two people right now, so I feel comfortable embracing two mantras for this year.  They are CONFIDENCE and GRACE.

The confidence to run down the road or walk into the gym with my enormous pregnant belly and take care of my fitness, to push myself and gain strength despite external judgements or personal doubts.

The grace to accept that my belly will grow, my fitness will wain, my weight will climb, and near the end my body will be working primarily for my new daughter and not for me.

The confidence to have another natural, unmedicated, out-of-hospital birth. To believe in my body's abilities and banish all fear and doubt, to trust myself and my support system to bring my daughter safely into the world.

The grace to prepare myself for whatever may happen. Birth is unpredictable, and our best-laid plans must sometimes be laid aside. I will leave my ego out of it - the "what if"s will not undermine my confidence or alter my plans, but if my plans must change, I will roll with it and focus on the bigger picture.

The confidence to love my postpartum body. To not hide in pictures. To buy clothes that fit regardless of the size. To breastfeed without shame, wherever I may be. To jump back into fitness and training when I can for the good of my body and mind, no matter how slow or jiggly I may feel.

The grace to accept that my body will not belong to me alone this year, and that means certain sacrifices. Breastfeeding means fatigue and carrying extra weight. Sleep deprivation takes a toll on health and sanity. When the little one starts daycare, we will all inevitably be sick for a few months.  It can be hard to love your body when it feels so depleted all the time, but I will do my best.

The confidence to keep trying new things.

The grace to understand that my time will be limited, and my expectations for adventure need to be reasonable.

The confidence to make wise and firm decisions for the good of my family.

The grace to accept the fallout when those decisions don't turn out so well after all.

The confidence AND the grace to nap, deeply and often, whenever the opportunity presents itself.


And with that, I humbly present my personal goals for 2016:

1. To go into childbirth well prepared, physically and mentally.  For me this means reviewing some of the books and videos that helped me last time, possibly taking a refresher childbirth course, and (most importantly) staying in good physical shape throughout pregnancy.  In my mind, the similarities between weight training and birth are astounding.  Both require pushing yourself to the limit, finding a rhythm, reframing the burning, aching, raging sensation racking your body as strength instead of pain, and allowing your mind to become totally subservient to the needs of your body.  Lifting up until I went into labor was the best thing I did for myself last time, and hopefully this time is no different.

2. Become certified in CPR.  Because it's ridiculous that I'm not.

3.  Establish a fitness routine postpartum.  It won't be easy to juggle everything, but I have to find a way.  Working out is how I show myself love, and I can't let that fall by the wayside.  If that means the occasional run at 4am with a headlamp, so be it.  If it means adjusting my work schedule to accommodate a midday trip to the gym, I'll do it. It will definitely mean relying on my husband and support network to hold everything down while I focus on myself a few days a week.  It takes a village, and I am willing to forgo martyrdom and lean on my friends and family to maintain my health.

4. Take Amaliya on monthly (ideally semimonthly) dates.  We have a nice thing going right now where, every other Friday when her dad goes to work, I take her out for breakfast before daycare.  It's special for both of us to spend some time talking together, and I know it will become even more important when she has to share me with a sibling. I want us to nurture our unique bond despite the changes to our family, and I hope that continuing this tradition will help ease any anxiety or jealousy she might feel over such an abrupt change.

5. Tell my husband that I love him every day.  I'm resurrecting this goal from 2012, the last year in which we had a new baby. I met the goal, literally telling him "I love you," at least once every single day.  Granted, some days I whispered it to him after he was asleep because I was mad at him, but I still said it, and I really feel that it made a huge difference.  Growing a family means a lot of stress and big changes to the family dynamic, and can be hard on a marriage.  I'm pretty sure he didn't realize that it was my goal to affirm my love every day (I didn't tell him), but that's okay, because I didn't do it for him. Forcing myself to remember how much I love the man I chose as my partner, no matter how hard things seemed, helped snap everything into perspective during those intense moments of frustration and sleepless despair.

The best daddy in the world, no exaggeration

6.  Learn one new thing.  The most cliched of all resolutions, but there you have it.  I love picking up new skills and knowledge, it's a big part of my identity that I can't let slip away this year.  I have options - a sewing machine that I intend to fix up and learn to use, access to classes at the YMCA, adventurous friends that I can talk into anything.  I'm going to delve into one new thing this year and, though I probably won't master it, at least I'll have dusted off the cobwebs and done something to make myself proud.


And there you have it.  Anchor = dropped.  As amazing and interesting as 2015 has been, I can't wait to experience the joy and challenges that 2016 will bring our way.  Happy New Year to all!

Another year older, another year better!