I read Mark Manson’s 7 Strange Questions That Help You Find Your Life Purpose this week (thank you, Facebook) and subsequently had an epiphany last night.
I’ve been feeling off balance since Isaac was born — this whole “caretaker to an infant” thing really threw me for a loop. Brock euphemistically calls it a period of “adjustment” but I tend to use words like “trauma,” “denial” and “nightmare.” The sleep deprivation didn’t help.
I’ve felt very un-Heather-like and have been struggling to remember what “Heather-like” looks like, or to redefine it now that there’s a 1 year old boy in the picture.
At first I thought I needed a project, like learning Latin or working toward a new career: I thought I needed to change my life in order to be happy.
But, after some quality thinking time last night, the questions in Manson’s post helped me realize that I’m accidentally living my ideal life.
In fact, I even have a journal entry from 2012 where I described my ideal future, followed by some “more realistic” plan Bs, and that ideal future is exactly what I’m living these days: I’m a full-time mom, I’m at home, I have a role to play in the farm work, and I have a fair amount of flexibility with my day that lets me play in the kitchen, write, read, go on adventures, visit friends, and so on.
So I’ve decided to live these next 12 months with intention.
Eerily, I have a postcard from my twenties that reads: “Begin each day as if it were on purpose.” This is the first time I’ve really understood what that means.
So what does my Year of Purposeful Living look like?
1. I will keep a daily journal of at least a few words per entry. (Not an online blog. This post is the exception. I don’t need to share my year publicly.) That way I get to write every day.
2. I recently discovered the BC-funded miracle that is Strong Start, where Isaac and I can drop in to a room full of toys, other children, parents, and a knowledgeable Early Childhood Educator who can coach me on parenting skills. We need to keep going to this whenever possible, and find other opportunities to play together outside our home. I’m currently reading a great book called The Philosophical Baby, by Alison Gopnik. I’ll continue to read parenting books and actively seek parenting advice from the pro mamas I know. The more I understand parenting strategies and childhood development, the better I understand Isaac and how I can be a great mom to him.
3. Brock and I will have weekly dates without Isaac, to remember how much we enjoy each other.
4. I’ll let myself spend more time in the kitchen, cooking and baking. Also, I love making jam and salsa, drying apples, etc., and yet I don’t take advantage of having my very own vegetable farm by making a point of doing these things every fall, to preserve food for the winter season. 2015 will be different.
5. I’ll make time to visit with friends and family. (I’m already booked for a visit home, thanks to mom’s Air Miles.)
6. This is the big one — this is when Brock knew I was serious: I’m going to cancel my Netflix subscription. Netflix saved me when I was healing from tendonitis and then brain-dead from breastfeeding every three hours, but it has served its purpose and I will start using my downtime more intentionally. Specifically, I’ll write in my journal, listen to parenting TED Talks while washing dishes, play music and dance with Isaac, go for walks with friends, and seek out great books and read them.
I feel more control of my life and happier than I have in months. If you’re hungry for your own epiphany, try reading Manson’s post yourself. Let me know what happens.