2018 was a year of transitions—of getting used to life with a baby and about halfway through, finally starting to feel like myself again more often than not. I decided last December that my word for 2018 would be “cozy,” and it really was—lots of time spent at home, under blankets, nursing, napping, cooking, cuddling, not really working. The year before that it was “simplify,” which I did not do—I wrote two cookbooks, got pregnant, and became a Pure Barre instructor.
In February I had an interview with a writer who was working on a piece about me for my alma mater’s magazine (an honor that truly touched me) and I explained that I was looking forward to spending the year slowing down and enjoying time with our new daughter. He laughed, and joked that taking care of a newborn usually isn’t considered much of a break. He was right, but there was something about having one thing and one thing only—taking care of this baby—to do that felt really refreshing.
When I was in grad school I worked at a coffee shop 7 days a week but usually for only 4 hours at a time. One day I woke up completely exhausted and had to call in sick—I was so confused about why I felt so burned out when I wasn’t even working full-time. Fast forward five years and blogging, recipe development + cookbook writing, part-time Pure Barre, being pregnant, and moving across the bay had me completely wiped out. I took about a week before Sophie was born to just do nothing and I almost felt panicked about it, like I was letting something slip through my fingers (I really think social media can do that).
I’m not saying I’m some very important, incredibly busy person who can’t stop succeeding for even a minute—I’m saying I can sometimes be bad at managing my time, and for a while I said yes to everything. I was anxious and homesick and wanted to work but wanted a baby and I got caught up in the glorification of “the hustle” that our culture seems so hung up on still today, and it kind of did a number on me. I pieced together freelance work and part-time jobs in the name of flexibility and then clung to it even when it was time to let go.
And then I did let go—and couldn’t seem to grab on again. After saying yes to everything suddenly it felt like I was constantly saying no.
This year I’m not focusing so much on saying no more often, but saying yes to better things. Working smarter, not harder. Valuing my time at home with Sophie and realizing that none of it means I don’t also value other successes or goals I want to achieve. I once listened to an interview with Regina Spektor after she had a baby and she talked about how motherhood made her work better—that she prioritized her free time and creativity and really made the most of it. This was years ago and it stuck with me—I bookmarked it in the back of my brain for the future. I was no Regina Spektor but maybe I could also do it all! But there are so many afternoons where I find myself scrolling through Instagram on my phone, or falling into a YouTube vortex during Sophie’s afternoon nap.
In everything I do, I want to ask myself first “does this serve a purpose?” Does it help me reach a goal? Does it make me happy? Does it serve my family or someone I care about? Do I come out on the other side burned out or resentful? Will it make me a better mom, wife, friend, writer, person? I want to live a life full of choices and work that makes me happier, healthier, more kind, more skilled, more thoughtful.
So here’s to a 2019 of purpose. Focus. Mindfulness. Gratitude. Less wasted time, fewer moments spent staring at my phone—no more trying to do two things at once. More days being fully present, and every day doing my best to make the most of everything I do.
Happy New Year, everyone. I hope 2019 brings you only good things.
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