To be perfectly honest, I usually think of the first two months of any new year as "ramp-up" time. I have learned that the dark, wet days of January and early February where I live are just no good for starting something new. Plus I’m usually still trying to clean up and decompress after the holidays. And that was true even in a pandemic year. Less family gatherings, but the logistics were still stressful. PLUS, we moved house! Also during a pandemic!
BUT, as the days get longer and warmer, and the ground is less likely to be a giant mud puddle, and frankly I’m less likely to accidentally step into a puddle of water on my floor tromped in from various household members and pets, I start thinking about what I can do to renew myself and come out of my winter hermitage. Plus lately I’ve just been thinking about how I can take better care of myself and do more things that make ME happy. And I’m using "take care of myself" broadly. I don’t mean eat healthier, although I should probably do that too. I just mean be things for me rather than anyone else. Not work, not my kids, not my husband, or even renters. Just me.
I started working on a list of things that would make me SOOOO happy. And they’re very…. eclectic. In fact many might find them odd. But that’s another thing I’m trying to do is own my unique interests and embrace what makes ME happy.
And yes, I realize that happiness is fleeting, that is the journey not the destination that truly makes us happy. But as much as I hate the term "fill my bucket" it’s very apt in describing something that we all need to do to sustain ourselves and not become shells of former humans.
So, with that aside…
Bucket List of Happiness:
1. Create beasties again. I used to make cute fabric monsters, and had great ambitions to return to ceramics. I think I need to renew that ambition.
2. Be on an episode of Sesame Street, or interview a Muppet. A true joy of mine during the pandemic has been watching Vanity Fair interviews with Sesame Street characters, and outtakes of guest stars on Sesame Street. I want in! Why can’t I dream big?!
3. More photography. I LOVE taking photos. And looking at historical photos. Seriously, I briefly considered doing my Master’s thesis on historical visual culture a la photographs. Glad I didn’t, but that’s how much it fascinates me. Capturing a moment in time. A feeling. A story. In one frame. If you dare argue it’s not an art I will smite you down!!!
4. Crafting in general. I enjoy making things with my hands, and I really want to start a new hobby, it’s more that I have SO many projects I just want to finish. Which leads me to…
5. TIME! TO! MYSELF! I have come to accept I need A LOT of quiet/down time. On the introvert/extrovert scale, I land somewhere in the hermit zone, which is surprising to many folks. I used to get enough quiet time before kids because my husband and I had different work schedules, so I’d have at least a couple of quiet hours to myself after work before he got home. Post kids…. not so much. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been able to use the bathroom by myself, when it wasn’t also 3:00 am. I did sort of have my commute, at least? Except for the stress of traffic and anxiety of needing to get home by a certain time to get the kids out of daycare or pay extra. But then COVID-19 hit. And I had no time. NONE. To myself. NONE! Walks were a small escape, but in the city you’re never really alone. Even in the park I had to worry about my safety. And not theoretically, I was verbally assaulted at least twice by homeless people in the park or my neighborhood. Since we moved to Bellingham, I’ve been slowly able to go on walks in places that are truly quiet and alone. But honestly I just need to embrace my need to d e c o m p r e s s. By myself. Crafting or other artistic endeavours are a good way for me to give myself quiet time while still feeling like I’m being "productive." Or creative. Or both.
6. Eating bizarre food. I mean, not that bizarre. Sushi. Odd ramen dishes. Ethiopian food. That sort of thing. I enjoy new culinary experiences. And frankly the ambiance of the restaurant makes a difference too. My great aunt would take us to the BEST French and Italian bistros in her neighborhood in San Francisco, and trying new things like squid ink pasta is just the right amount of adventure for me. 🙂
7. Travel. When that’s a thing again. It doesn’t have to be too far, really. We took the kids out to Wenatchee and Leavenworth during Covid and it was. THE BEST!
8. Physical exertion, my own way. I am sort of picky about this. I want to either go on a long hike (I’m trying to pick up trail running again since it’s basically just a faster hike), or hit/kick something. I like kickboxing, like a lot! I’m sure I look like a doofus doing it, but I don’t care. And that is the true sign of something you love! (I think).
9. Affirmations. I’m a sucker for a gold star. I am learning that I can technically just give them to myself. If I gave myself a gold star sticker on the chore list, I’m not joking I’d probably feel better about washing dishes.
10. Gardening. This is something I already do, but it’s a delicate balance of not wanting to take on too much work vs. wanting to see things grow. I am pretty deliberately not planting a vegetable garden in the plot of dirt at our new place (I’ll bet you a nickel there are two tomato plants in there by May), but I did plant a tree in a spot that desperately needed some natural restoration (ssshhhh!)
That’s a good place to stop for now. I hope that by writing these out and sharing these with the world I can hold myself accountable to actually doing them.
How do you hold yourself accountable for your own happiness, self care, whatever you like to call it? Let me know in the comments below.