I turned 29 yesterday, yet somehow I’ve been thinking I’m nearly 30 for the last few months. I don’t know why in a society that prioritises youth above almost all else, I’m so excited to turn 30 and I’m relatively bored with my late 20’s. Of course I’m not saying 30 is old, but there’s no arguing there’s a sort of youthful allure to still being a twenty-something.
I feel like the last year of my life is almost split exactly in half with two different chapters. The first part of my year was dark. I finally realised that I have anxiety and it was exacerbated by the 2018 mid-term elections in the States and a feeling of helplessness being so far away and in a foreign country. The second part of the year feels lighter and I credit much of that to the fact that I took some big steps to take care of myself. This spring, I went to counselling once a week. And over the last few months, I’ve been more proactive in taking care of myself and giving myself some sort of structure to work within.
In terms of “where I’m at in life”, from the outside, things look a lot like they did a year ago. I’m at the same job I was at last year. We live in the same house as we did last year. We still don’t have any pets. Things are changing though. And soon! Over the last year, we didn’t exactly explore as much as I hoped we would, but we visited Italy for two weeks and I’ve been back to the States twice. On the inside, however, I have noticed big changes in my heart, in my mind, and in my soul. I absolutely want to take the foundation that I already have and continue to build upon it, by focusing on nine intentions for my next year of life.
PRACTICE MINDFUL CONSUMERISM
Ethical and sustainable. They’re total buzzwords right now, but they have been on my mind quite a bit over the last few months. I’ve tried to trade in my jaunts to H&M for more mindful consumerism, but it’s not an easy process and it’s difficult to overhaul overnight. It’s important to me to support businesses who understand the impact they can have on the world and choose to use it for the betterment of our environment and the communities where they operate. I’m really drawn to companies that offer transparency in their practices and understand that things need to change in terms of environmentalism and how employees—particularly labourers—are treated. And I don’t just mean for things like clothes. I want to practice mindful consumerism throughout all types of my consumerism and really focus on supporting companies who are committed to building a brighter future.
SPEAK UP MORE
I don’t suppose I ever heard any direct messages telling me that my voice wasn’t welcome or that I shouldn’t speak up about things that bother me or make me uncomfortable. But as a woman in this world, there have certainly been a few indirect messages along the way. I’m really trying to step out of my comfort zone and speak up for myself and others. I believe it’s important to call out inappropriate behaviour or comments and I believe it’s important that everyone feels safe and comfortable in their environment, especially at work, which is probably the only place in our adult lives where we don’t get to choose who is around us, and yet is where most of us spend the majority of our waking hours.
TURN “I’M SORRY” INTO “THANK YOU”
When applicable, of course. I’ve noticed, ever since moving to England that I tend to say “sorry” exponentially more often than I did living in the States. I don’t mean just trading in a polite British “sorry?” for the abrasive American “what?!” I mean like I apologise to someone who holds the door for me. What the what?! The best example of this exercise is instead of apologising for being late, thank the person for their patience. It’s a very mindful exercise and I suspect I’ll often end up kicking myself after the fact, since “sorry” seems to just fall out of my mouth these days, but I’m committed to the habit change.
BE CREATIVE EVERY DAY
Last year I wanted to focus on photography every day (and I didn’t), but this year I want to expand that to be more inclusive of my creative desires. There are so many things that interest me, like watercolours, calligraphy, photography, baking, blogging, etc. and I want to do at least something every day. I really wish that I hadn’t convinced my mom to let me quit piano and dance because it would be great to have those skills and that creative outlet now, all these years later. But 10 or 20 years from now, I don’t want to wish that I had been better about practising my creative endeavours so I would be better then.
FOCUS ON PRESENCE
This one is ripped right from the headlines of 28. I’m repurposing it from last year, even though I’ve noticed a tremendous amount of progress. I feel that I do spend less time on Instagram and Facebook, especially the former, but some of that time has been replaced with Twitter. This year, I’d really like to focus more on setting boundaries for myself around my phone. I’ve moved my social media apps off my “home page” and it’s made a huge difference, but I’d like to be better about putting my phone completely away, like at dinner or after a certain time in the evenings. I want to be better about having dinner at our table instead of on our couch. I’d like to make our weekly date nights phone-free evenings (and actually stick to it).
CREATE BOUNDARIES FOR THE NEWS
Speaking of Twitter, I definitely spend too much time reading about politics and the news. I’d say about 75% of my Twitter feed is about politics or current events, though in recent weeks I’ve had more of a push to expand who I follow to include other interests (and to some extent, other points of view). But I’m also subscribed to two daily newsletters (The Skimm and What a Day from Crooked Media), listen to a handful of politics podcasts (Pod Save America, the NPR Politics Podcast, The Skimm), and Luke and I watch Stephen Colbert in the evenings. I’ve all but given up on John Oliver because his show dives too deep on smaller stories that it just adds more anxiety to my already anxious plate. I need to be better about taking a step back. If I need a break, that doesn’t mean when I come back I need to binge all the podcasts I let pile up in my library while I was away. I need to be better about not jumping on Twitter first thing in the morning or scrolling through it in bed in the evenings. I want to stay informed with what’s happening in the world and in my country—or countries, rather. But I don’t need to do that to the detriment of my mental health.
PRIORITISE GOOD SLEEP HABITS
I’ve had some really terrible sleep habits for a near decade now. I’ve mentioned before my habit of falling asleep to the same handful of sitcoms on Netflix and it’s simply not good for me. Even with the brightness all the way down, the noise still wakes me up later in the night sometimes. And I’m fairly certain it’s destroying my antique of a MacBook. (Meaning it’s from 2012/2013.) I’ve been working on my bedtime routine for a while now and most of the changes I’ve implemented have had a really positive impact. I like that Luke and I have a “bedtime” that works for us since we wake up so early for work. But I also want to be better about not using my phone in bed, about waking up at a more uniform time even on my days off, and definitely avoiding TV in bed. I absolutely want to be one of those people who reads in bed every night and, but I’m not going to get there unless I just start reading in bed in the evenings.
SPEND AN HOUR A WEEK ON PERSONAL GROWTH
I mentioned above that I went to therapy once a week earlier this year. At the end of our time together, my counsellor encouraged me to continue to spend that time each week on myself, doing something that made me feel happy or encouraged me to grow. I’ve truly been shit at it, as I haven’t done it once, but this year I really want to prioritise that. I’m not sure what it will look like, but it could be things like taking a course, reading a “self help” book, moving my body, spending time with God, or maybe some of that creative time I mentioned.
CHERISH WHAT I HAVE
Is it a Freudian slip that I actually typed “embrace what I hate” first? Whoops! What I actually mean is that I’ve become quite restless with our house in recent months. We didn’t initially intend to stay in this rental for two years. We were overly optimistic that we would buy a house in 2018. But as we get closer to owning a house, I’ve started to resent a house I once loved. I want to make things the way we want them, but you’re so limited in that in a rental. I’m really excited to own a house, but if I don’t start appreciating what we have already, that’s not going to feel that great either. It’s going to be a long process transforming our home into exactly what we want. It’s not like we have unlimited funds for new furniture or renovations. I want to build into my daily routine a way to actively appreciate what we physically own, where we live, and the life we’ve built together over the last two years.