My Lack of Accomplishments From 2016
At the beginning of each shiny new year I do something a lot of people do. I envision some goals. I write them down, neat and pretty in my sparkling, unblemished planner. I use different colored Sharpies. I have the big multi-pack of the fine tip markers that allow all kinds of goal categories, mint green for fitness goals, periwinkle for writing plans - the possibilities are endless. A couple of years in a row I posted my goals on my blog. I used one photograph of an endless ocean and another of me climbing on a ropes course with my goals bulleted out next to each inspiring image. Another year I had a pretty awesome chalkboard wall. That year I got as far as writing the word “goals” in blue and green chalk. Nothing was listed below.
By February I have to bust out the white out pen, the only thing that covers Sharpie written goals. Sometimes I cannot even bear to see the words I wrote just a few short weeks ago, already buried under time, lack of commitment or diminished desire.
In 2016 I had some pretty lofty goals. I would be turning 35 in early 2017 and it has always been a goal of mine to finish the young adult fiction novel that is scattered across various notebooks and word documents. In my younger, more optimistic mind, I was going to be 20 years old, barely out of young adulthood myself, and see my words in print. That turned into 25 years old, then 30 and then in 2016 I was absolutely determined that before age 35 my novel would be written! That novel was only one of several goals.
1. Finish novel
2. Lose last 30 pounds of baby weight
3. Submit writing for other people to read
4. Blog every Wednesday
5. Weekly activities with three year old
1. Are you there Novel? It’s me, Allison
2. I lost 15 pounds! (and gained it back)
3. Here I am!
4. I blogged...most Wednesdays
5. We glued some stuff to paper. Do Paw Patrol marathons count?
As 2016 wound down I looked at my lack of accomplishments and wondered what the hell I actually did with my time. I sat, shoveling away the last of the sugar cookies, watching the ball drop, and began to fully remember the year. The moments overwhelmed me...
My memory flew back to January. My son had just turned three and we were navigating a potential developmental delay and some strong anxiety, something that my husband and I struggled with through many arguments and conversations. There were many late nights up talking, fighting, blaming, researching, reading, trying to figure out what I did wrong, if I did anything wrong, if everything was normal. Evaluations, paperwork, battling everyone’s opinions and the ongoing struggle inside my mind. So much time wondering why he didn’t act like other children his age, if there even is a normal.
The winter trudged on, slowly and painfully. There were many days I slumped in a chair, gazing out the window, willing myself to get up, to go, to just do something. A multitude of tears were shed in my car in some parking lot, at the park, anywhere really, because when I did just go, everything seemed to fall apart. We were fighting sickness that clung on, the eternal cold families pass back and forth to each other in the winter months. We were also despairing over illness that is a permanent fixture in our family, desperately hoping for resolution that never came. There was my own mental struggle... I was lost somewhere inside myself before realizing I had to ask for help out loud. As winter melted into spring I thought we might have some breathing room. Then the water rushed in.
We frantically tried to figure out why water was flooding our basement, during a spring of endless rains and more tears. The Paw Patrol marathons helped entertain my son as we dealt with all the repairs and the back and forth with the insurance company. As the last drop of paint dried and the problem was resolved, another loomed on the horizon. My husband had a job opportunity that felt simultaneously exciting and dreadful as we imagined another big change for our family. Summer burned away in a mass of conversations and confusion as we debated over moving to another state and expecting our child to transition again. Leaves began to fall and gather, drifting down to die on the ground, right there with my 2016 goals.
My goals were concrete, tangible things. But much like the glitter dancing in the air as the ball falls in Times Square, not everything rests and settles so easily. We are moving through our lives each year, and so many things are happening. Countless moments exist in our own unique universe. We are taking it all in, the tragedy and the love and every little piece in between. Moments flitter around me like that glitter. The moments I sat by the edge of a hotel pool in a state I just moved to, crying on the phone with a friend who was dealing with a betrayal. The endless “I love yous” showered on me by my son, who has come so far in a year. The internal debate I faced convincing myself to swallow that first pill to help carve a path for my wellness. The tears and the pain in my family as we clung to memories of those we’ve lost and held tightly to the hearts of those that are still fighting.
Goals are a fantastic thing. They give us something to strive for and a sense of accomplishment if we can check the box and say something is complete. When I actually see one of my goals become reality I feel ecstatic. Yet, we cannot always measure the success of each year with this list of things we did or did not do. Not everything resides in that list. My new goal for 2017 is to remember to sit still for a moment on December 31st, to take a deep breath and close my eyes and let all the moments of the year wash over me. Everything, from the magical to the awful, makes the year what it is and it is a damn incredible achievement to make it through it all.