[Bear with us, this is yet another post, unrelated to video production. ;) ]
This year is all about simplicity and serenity.
Looking forward to 2017, I resolve to quit my habit of multitasking. The humble success Charles F. Feeney, advises "you can only wear one pair of pants at a time."
New Year’s resolutions are valuable as self-care reminders, of course. Yet, their imprint on the new year tends to be transient.
Therefore, when considering self-care, especially around the new year, I say - 1) Forget hard and fast objectives. 2) Focus on general themes.
[That way, there is no space for self-pity or self-critique, if, say, you didn’t meet your goal - finish War and Peace by January 31st.]
If 2017 is to be about simplicity and serenity, then 2016 was about lightness. What does "lightness" mean? Well, three pages into my 2016 daily planner, I stumbled upon this quote:
There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk on lightly. Lightly my darling… Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly..even though you feel so deeply.
Here, Aldous Huxley gets to precisely what I mean by “lightness.” Though to be honest, I wrote those words down on January 3rd, 2016, and then totally forgot about them until this blog post.
But, I guess that was enough. As far as “doing everything lightly" in 2016, I think I nailed it.
How is that? Well, I resolved to take myself less seriously and to enjoy myself a little bit more.
In the same journal entry as the Huxley quote, the following resolution is written,
“Be kind and ebullient. Ask for help. Ask for assistance. Reach out. Mark deadlines. Meet deadlines. Write films. Finish films.”
Now, let me break that down into a list.
[If 2016 taught me anything, it’s that the Internet loves lists. Or, at least, a cross-examination of the internet articles I clicked and read versus the ones I neglected or glossed over in 2016 indicates that I love lists. (Check it out. I really like this New Year's Resolution list by my good friend Bryan Howe over at LinkedIn.)]
1. Goal: "Be kind and ebullient." => Lesson: Listen to your body. Learn what excites you!
A few too many late nights, tailgates, or bar crawls, of course, takes it toll. But, I am not here to admonish anyone for excesses.
I am more interested in guiding everyone’s attention to the small moments that our bodies speak to us. We all experience different emotional highs and lows. We feel consternation, bliss, tension, excitement, anger, or weariness. Listen to those moments. Take note. What resonates in those small moments?
As for me, on December 3, 2016, I wrote in my journal, “hanging out takes it out of me. Does anyone want to chill at 10:00 in the morning?”
A few years ago, this would have been dreadfully embarrassing to admit. This year, I celebrate my honesty. In 2016, I learned, I love matinee movies, and 8:00 pm is “late night.” Yes! Indeed! Because I listened to my body, 2016 boasted many more moments of exuberance than moments of exhaustion.
Exercise: Think about this past holiday season. Did your body feel at all tense? What was the most relaxing part of the season? Reflect. Are there lessons about personal maintenance to glean, there?
2. Goal: "Ask for help. Ask for assistance. Reach out." => Lesson: Personal boundaries are awesome!
It is my experience that by learning to listen to ourselves, we all move closer to fulfillment. For me, fulfillment means setting boundaries. No one can do everything, all the time. Moreover, I don’t think anyone has any desire to do everything, all the time. Hence, the cultural idiom, “netflix and chill.”
Setting boundaries can be difficult. Limitations never seem desirable at first. We all have a tendency to over analyze any situation, be it professional or social:
I don't want to edit this interview. But! If don't "cut up" and edit this interview, it will never get done.
If going out after 8:00pm does not excite me, should I stop going out at night? If I stop going out at night, will my friends still like me? When will I ever see them?
Exercise: Return to point 1. Listen to your body, if you don’t feel like doing something, you don’t have to do it. Setting boundaries is basically, if you don't feel excited to do something, you are not the person to do it. Once you realize that much, ask for help. Are people excited to help you? No.
Keep asking. You'll find someone. Trust me.
3. Goal: "Mark deadlines. Meet deadlines." => Lesson: Be kind to yourself.
At the end of 2016, I found myself spiraling into a flurry of self-critique. Now, I am not anxiety prone, but too many appointments and project deadlines makes Julia, well, a flustered girl. The following thought track ran all day long, “ugh…Why can’t I get anything done?…I started that three weeks ago. How come it’s still now finished?… I am so inefficient…I am so easily distracted…”
Until I realized - “Wait! wow, I am mean…I mean…I am really mean to myself.”
Personally, I have thought much less said any of the things to or about anyone else. So, it follows that I don’t have to say these things to myself either. Actually, I can say nice things to myself.
Exercise: If you catch yourself in a bout of self-loathing...Say exactly the opposite. "I am so easily distracted!" turns into, “I have great concentration. I am a focused person. My capacity to complete tasks is exactly as fast as I want it to be.”
For a proper 101 crash course on proper emotional first-aid, listen to Ted Radio Hour's podcast on Emotions. Now, get some sleep and keep muttering those sweet nothings to yourself!
4. Goal: Write films. Finish films. => Lesson: Remember to enjoy yourself
2016 taught me many lessons, the most important being - remember to enjoy yourself. Yes, I did finish War and Peace in addition to some other great projects. ;-)
Exercise: smile to yourself.
Heads up! Weenta and I are excited to get into the nitty-gritty of filmmaking from this blog forward.
Julia Elizabeth Evans