Sunday, January 4, 2009

Just Breathe

I'm not one for resolutions. I used to make them, lots of them, but they were the same ones every year. At some point, I came to terms with the fact that many things are never going to happen--and that it really doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things either way.

But here at the start of a new year is the best possible moment to pause and get one's bearings. This year, more than most, I need to do that.

The old year brought extreme lows and extreme highs, and it knocked the little plan for the rest of my life off track and over a waterfall.

I lost my mother in 2008. She was the last of her generation. Parents, grandparents,aunts and uncles are all gone now. The holidays have been bittersweet, filled with happy memories of them, and sadness that they are no more. It was also the year my older son moved out for good, ending our time as one family under one roof.

Then again, it was the year my first grand-nephews were born, ushering in the next generation.

The future I envisioned for us involved early retirement in a paid-off home, with money and time for hobbies and travel and theater tickets; for volunteer work and classes and socializing. We were on track, too, thanks to decades of hard work and lucky choices made during the stock market boom. But old dreams have a way of working their way to the surface, and we chucked all those city notions for open sky and land of our own.

In 2008, we realized a life-long dream of moving to a house in the country. But the economy went seriously south around the same time we closed, and my husband's company had to cut salaries and eliminate bonuses to stay open. The mortgage was a stretch to begin with, and necessary expenses are running higher than expected. Now, money has become a constant worry and retirement will never be an option.

On the plus side, we still have jobs. In 2008 I gave mine my best effort and landed some plum assignments. I am hoping there will be a raise at the end of the rainbow.

So where do I want to go in 2009. Well, obviously I need to find ways to save and to make more money with the resources at hand. (I know, me and a few hundred thousand other people.)

But even more than that, I need to get out of my own way. Grief, worry, fear, regret, nostalgia, inertia ... all of it has to go. It is so easy to get bound up in thoughts of the past and apprehension about the future, and to miss the opportunities and joys of the moment.

There is a meditative discipline known as mindfulness. I've known about it for years, but I've never been very good at it. It is the habit of being in the here and now, seeing the beauty in the small things and present moments, understanding that this moment is really all there is. It sounds simple, but believe me it isn't. At least, not for me. But I have a feeling it would make all the difference if I could learn to live life this way.

And that's about it. In 2009, I will 1.Make more moolah and 2.Mind my own mind. We'll see how it goes.

Here's wishing all of you a wonderful new year.


Anonymous said...

I am sorry about your husband's company. My husband is going to do some tutoring as my daughter needs help after some unexpected things..Mindfulness is a good technique and I remember from my yoga classes. I really need to get back to doing that...enjoying the moment...

sallyacious said...

That's tough. And scary. I know I'm very likely looking at no job next academic year. Fortunately, my husband's job is the important one, and he's most likely going to keep it. But. I have to contribute somehow, and I don't have many ways of doing that from here. And this whole economic situation may require us to postpone our move to somewhere bigger by up to a year.

MyMaracas said...

Tutoring sounds like a great idea. I could do that too... put that teaching degree to some use. I'd love some pointers from your yoga class. I used to meditate, but never did yoga.

Sally, I'm sorry you're facing a job loss. I know how scary that is. As for postponing a move, sometimes things work out for the best. Had we postponed moving, we'd be much better off financially, that's for sure.

Thank you both for the comments, and for the tea and sympathy. It helps to talk things out, and it's nice when somebody's listening. I appreciate your being there.

gina said...

oh did have some lows this past year. i'm really sorry about your mom. but i admire your outlook and attitued. living one day at a time is key, and when you have a bad day, just pick up and set your sights on tomorrow. :) your mediatation discipline reminds me of a favorite Bible verse, 1 Peter 5:7 - "cast your cares upon Him, for He cares for you."

spookydragonfly said...

Living in the moment would be grand if I, myself, could do that 24/7. As freeing as that sounds, I'm sure it takes much discipline. Our last four years have been tough ones, so I do empathize with you. Let's hope 2009 improves for everyone.

JC said...

That sounds like a good plan. I think when you notice small pleasures you will also notice they are many :-) Best wishes.

spookydragonfly said...

Please stop over to my main blog, I have a little something for you!

lisaschaos said...

It sounds like 2008 was a very full year for your family. I hope 2009 is better. :)