The things that really make us happy are the gifts only we can give to ourselves.
There are plenty of material things I wouldn't mind getting for Christmas this year. Most of them have to do household repairs I can't afford to fix on the regular. But truthfully, the things I want in life aren't really things. I say this to my husband every year, but I think with each passing one, I might mean it a little more.
Yes, I'd love for pipes in my basement not to be leaking. A wardrobe update would be peachy. I'd never turn down some yoga pants disguised as real pants, and I will surely never complain about coffee and baked goods. But no material thing will really shape my life or add happiness to it in any real way, and I learn that more all the time. I already have everything I need. Because what really needs updating, only I can give to myself and to my family.
Here's what I really want this year for Christmas:
The longer I have children, the easier it becomes to grow distant from friends, family, and even my husband, who I am next to day in and day out. In the coming year, I want to strive to connect to the people who are in my life for the long haul. Real connection takes time and dedication, and while those things are not always of the essence, they are worth finding.
The other day, a waitress brought the wrong sandwich for my daughter's lunch after we'd already been waiting a while for our food. "Oh well," my 5-year-old replied. "More time to work on my coloring!" So she did, quite happily, while munching on apples from my plate until her food arrived. I loved her glass-is-half-full mentality, and it made me want to model that kind of positivity more than I strive to do already. Letting more things run off my back, even tough stuff, will show my kids the power of a positive attitude (and hopefully, they will keep showing that to me).
3. Disengaging from pointless matters
Focusing on what other people are doing wrong is a draining practice, but we're so accustomed to doing it in today's world. Not just speaking negatively about the people in our lives specifically, but we even knock celebrities or people we don't know. I don't want to read articles bashing others, their bodies, their lives, and their choices. It's a waste of time, and I simply don't have room for it in my life. Negative people, conversations, social media engagement—I just don't need it.
On the flip side, standing up for the things that are truly important to me isn't something I want to let slide. Being kind is always important, but being a crowdpleaser is not condusive to personal fulfillment. I want to say what I mean and mean what I say, even if things get sticky sometimes. I don't want to live my life afraid of negative reactions because confrontation is a necessary part of life. When it comes to grandparents, teachers, fellow parents, friends, my kids, and my partner, I vow to be more open and honest.
5. Less distraction
From checking my phone a thousand times a day to watching too much TV in the evenings, I want to feel less distracted in a big way. I'm constantly telling myself I don't have enough time, but if I got rid of distractions, time would literally appear right in front of me. It's time to turn off the phone, put away the laptop, and be present in whatever I'm doing.
Certain moments in my life stop me in my tracks. Some days I don't want to stop hugging my kids. On these days, it doesn't matter what we're doing. We can be cuddling in the basement having a movie marathon or running errands. I don't know where the gratitude comes from, but at times, it just overflows. I want to spend more time nurturing that feeling and existing in it more often.
7. Less self-doubt
I want to abandon self-doubt. I don't want to let fear of not being good enough dictate my life or any part of it. I want to let go of that nagging feeling that what I do, how I feel, or how I look isn't good enough. In this life, we have to be brave.
Like all parents, every day that I lay my head down to rest, there is so much to worry about. I could stay awake all night counting my worries about my kids, my marriage, finances, whatever, and I have. Life is not without worry, but I want to instill more trust in the world around me. With one story of tragedy after the next on the news and on our social media feeds daily, it isn't easy. It's hard to hold onto trust and simply believe that everything will turn out okay. But we simply have to try.
Too often, I let those tiny moments of anger get the best of me. The house is falling to pieces; the kids aren't listening; no one is putting their shoes on, cleaning up after themselves, or getting to bed on time. It's so easy to snap in an instant, but as quick as I snap, I regret it 10 times quicker. Every time. Deep breaths. Counting to 10. Whatever it takes, but I want to be more patient by a landslide.
10. Hard work and dedication
This year, I want to put my heart and soul into the things that continue to be important to me. I want to roll up my sleeves and dig in on all fronts—with my kids, my husband, and my work. I want to put the effort in, because when I do, it feels good and everything just works. This is my life, and it is what I make it.