Happy New Year! And, not a moment too soon. It has been quiet over here on the blog. At the outset of 2017, I thought I would start with a blog on preparing for the new year. I don’t generally write personal blog posts, but it seems fitting as 2016 was fraught with a lot of change and emotions for my patients, my personal life, America, and the world at large.
My posts from around the web
While I didn’t write much here, I did write two special blog posts for other organizations this past fall. I was working too much in clinical practice, teaching, research, and service work. It didn’t leave much time for writing many posts for my own blog. The first was for a great company that developed a Basal Body Temperature Tracking app and device called Kindara. Their device, Wink, is pretty awesome in that it is SUPER quiet, will take your temperature, and then sync it to their BBT app. Pretty ingenious. They asked me to write a post on how acupuncture regulates menstrual cycles.
I wrote a second post about how acupuncture can support IVF for an important new web resource. FertilityIQ helps you make informed choices when choosing a fertility doctor. By engaging the ‘hive mind,’ users can learn about other users’ experiences and satisfaction with clinics, doctors, and staff. It is a brilliant platform. FertilityIQ offers the patient perspective and provides patient-centered insight to help you find the right doctor for you. The site is also a hub for evidence-based information, written by experts in the field. Right now, it is free to use.
Themes for 2016 – How’d I do?
But, let’s get back to transitioning from 2016 to 2017. I started thinking about resolutions. Last year, I chose five themes instead of resolutions: have more fun, create more, cook more, write more, and move more. If I’m being completely honest, I think I over did it with the 2016 themes. They slipped in and out of focus throughout the year. One theme became dominant, while the others fell out of favor. In the interest of feedback and growth, here is how I would grade them and improve.
- HAVE MORE FUN. The one I most adhered to was to have more fun. I went to more performances and art shows. My husband and I traveled more. I visited places I never thought I would ever set foot.
Comments: I would change nothing here. I highly recommend having more fun to everyone. I was more spontaneous. It was transformative.
- CREATE MORE. In addition to my clinical and academic work, I created some special courses for acupuncturists and health coaches. I enjoyed creating these products, but the advent of creating more content manifested itself as basically more work in an already overfull schedule.
Comments: A better balance between work and relaxation would have made these projects easier to create and implement. Managing time is important to successfully creating more.
- COOK MORE. I started out the year with a solid attempt to cook more. I made a few delicious and not-so-delicious dishes. I also found what I already knew to be true but didn’t want to accept: I don’t experience deep joy in cooking. It just feels like work. It’s ok, though. I’m married to a lovely fella who really enjoys cooking. On our third date, he busted out his “move,” roasting me a swoon-worthy chicken at my apartment. His food is infused with passion and love. No need to fix what isn’t broken.
Comments: While I reflexively gave myself an “F,” on first pass, I changed it to a “C.” While I did fail to meet this goal in a traditional sense, I think there is another area for appreciation. Here is an area I know I am not particularly drawn to, but I tried to force myself to like it. I also know this is a part of my relationship that brings my partner a lot of joy. I accept that I don’t love or have to cook. Why force it? There’s no love lost.
- WRITE MORE. As evidenced by the paucity of posts in 2016, I didn’t write much here. I just wrote for others. I also worked on some academic papers, but didn’t publish any in 2016.
Comments: Here, there was overlap with the “Create More” theme. While I am quite fond of writing, it can sometimes feel more like work than fun. By focusing on creating live online content, it took considerable time away from my writing. I accept that. It was a fair trade for this year.
- MOVE MORE. A well intentioned annual goal.
Comments: Moving more used to be a challenge due to persistent fatigue. While I definitely moved more this year, and had more energy, this is an area where I can focus more. I love riding my bike, but I don’t love riding my bike in the rain. I’m what they call a fair-weather bicyclist. So, I’m thinking about getting one of these. More movement still needed.
The truth is, it is okay that I didn’t meet all of those themes. Upon reflection, it’s abundantly clear that I overshot with the sheer abundance of them. My intention in sharing this is to offer you an alternative for yourself, too.
Learning from my overenthusiasm from 2016, for 2017, I am changing tacts and choosing one theme instead. But which one?? As I started looking at the coming year and the commitments I had already made, it’s clear it will be another very busy year with work, study, and teaching. The workload will be similar to last year. I have to be honest here: I waffled a bit. Should I rest? Should I focus on self-care? Do I need to say ‘no’ more? Should I revisit one of the less successful themes of 2016? (obviously, cooking was never even in the running). I seriously considered continuing my “Fun” theme. To help balance the work, why not keep having fun? Go to fun places. See more shows. Enjoy more art. Read more books. Listen to new music. Lounge on the couch with my puppy. Having fun forces me to rest. Having fun makes me not work. Having fun ensures my spark for life, and the ability to do my work endures. Fun allows me the space to process whatever is going on around me – the sad, chaotic, or unknown. Fun empowers love, levity, resilience, and compassion. Having fun is self-care.
I thought I had settled there, but as I talked about it with friends, I began to reconsider. I keep thinking about the old airplane briefing gem, “please place the mask on yourself before assisting others.”
My 2017 Theme
What if I focused on self-care, instead? Fun, as noted above, clearly falls under this theme, but so also does moving, rest, nourishment, and writing. The struggle between working too much and not enough has plagued me throughout my adolescent and adult life. After joining the military at age 17, I have always worked too much. (Truth be told, I am writing this post when I’m supposed to be on vacation.) It is really hard to unlearn that. Working too much, being overly busy, these are not badges of success. I want to be the best I can be. Self-care is vital to achieving that goal. So, for 2017, I will continually ask myself, am I supporting my self-care by choosing to do “X”?
What is your theme for 2017?
Photo by Andrew Knechel.