If there is anything I enjoy about January, it's that it invites simplicity. After nearly two months of indulgence and celebrations and full schedules, January comes with its desperate need to be quiet and still. To slow down all that has been moving at rapid pace. I need the calm and slow that comes with the beginning of the year, with winter. And I am recognizing an even deeper need to simplify.
I have this tendency to fill all of me with as much as possible - whether it's stuff or activity or commitment or friends....or brownies. And it leaves little space for the unexpected, whether the unexpected is a gift or a welcome change or a hardship or crisis. Anything "extra" from the normal pace of life going as it is currently planned, sets me over the edge and instantly overwhelms me. And it's terrible because once I've reached capacity and things spill over, I begin to spin and create chaos. I'm not kind to myself or to others and I'm definitely no fun to be around. My December made me see this over-filling that I do. For a long time I used to do it with food, and on occasion I still can. But now it seems as though I do it with many, many other things.
So, I've begun the uncluttering process. I have been purging closets and cabinets and clothing and I'm well aware of how I hold on to things, or even get them in the first place because I think it will fix something that is broken inside of me. And they never do of course. Yet, I am still dreaming of new throw pillows for my living room because maybe that will do the trick.
We made the decision as a family to get rid of cable for awhile. It was becoming a place to check out, I think for all of us, and I realized how much time any or all of us spent in front of it not engaging with each other. Last night, with the absence of the noise coming from the TV, I sat on the couch with my boys and we played and acted silly and read books and giggled and laughed so much that Tommy declared me to be the "funniest girl he's ever known in his entire life." It feels good to eliminate some of the distraction and noise from every day life that was adding to the fullness and leaving room for little else.
For the last four months, we have asked some friends of ours to hold us accountable in the area of our finances. We have been foolish in making choices and spending our money and can't seem to get where we want to be. And though I dreaded asking for help here, it is quickly becoming one of the best choices we have ever made together. Our purchases, whether for groceries or clothes or Christmas presents are becoming more mindful and purposeful. And as a result, I have been less stressed. We are accomplishing things and this one choice of having someone help us here has made me curious what other places we could ask for help. Because it seems that asking for help always provides some kind of clarity to a situation making life more simple.
My afternoons at home, or in the evening after the boys have gone to bed, have looked like warm mugs of coffee and putting puzzles together, which has been strangely calming and therapeutic. Next to being more present with my children, the quiet activity has been soothing for my soul somehow. Apparently there is rest in a good jig-saw puzzle.
Currently, I am thinking about other places that take up space in my life, wondering how they might be simplified. How the simplicity can create the room I'm needing to breathe. In my job, in my body, in my friendships, in my current places of commitment. What places are too full and have no room. Where and how I can ask for help.
Perhaps simplicity will be the theme of my year. I am hoping that I can create some room for the unexpected, so when waves of surprise come in, good or bad, I won't spill over - there will be space to carry it and walk through it all.
On this gray, winter morning, I am hoping that some of the quiet and simpleness of my January carries on throughout the rest of 2015. I think it's exactly what I need.