We came home from a wonderful holiday vacation with the family, and I found myself drowning in material items. It seems each year after Christmas, instead of feeling gratitude for my blessings, I fall back into my usual anxieties. They are often set off by the mundane chores of life (feeding five people a plant based diet is a lot of work) and the “stuff” that haunts me everywhere I turn in my house (consumerism consumes me from both my love of pretty things and my hate of too many things). My initial reaction to these feelings is to kick into high gear. I spent this morning organizing, sorting, purging, cleaning, and rearranging for hours. Disconnected from my kids and husband, but feeling good in my results and the sight of my floors coming into view again. But then I heard it, a memory I’m sure we all heard growing up, a mother fussing, “Guys, I just cleaned this!” And it hit me that I too, would soon find myself going through this same ritual again, like weeks before, and weeks before that.
I’m going to guess that the majority of people reading this do not have that magazine awing home. Even the actual home featured on the cover of Better Homes and Garden only looks like that on the day of the photo shoot. 364 days of the year that person’s kitchen is just as full of dirty dishes and junk mail and kindergarten artwork as the rest of us. So are we all just busting our butts to go in circles? We have set standards around clean homes, organized schedules, coordinated outfits. We post on social media when things look good, not when they look bad. We feed the beast. Even the influencers, authors, and celebrities falsely tell us that perfect lives exist.
Maybe the reason we still haven’t mastered universal happiness is that we we’ve been looking at it all wrong. Don’t get me wrong, I'm inspired and motivated by the F.I.R.E movement, Marie Kondo, and Forks Over Knives, etc (*or insert whatever latest craze you like here*). But as we look at 2020 and everyone is talking about goal setting and dreams, I want to be realistic. We’ve been misled. We’ve been taught that we can control our destiny with hard work and planning, with vision boards and 30 day challenges. These things are not the end all be all. You are. We are. Our minds are.
I feel peace this evening while the house is temporarily tidy and calm and the kids are asleep, but tomorrow morning we will start all over again. Shoes, socks, crumbs, cars, and leaking sippy cups everywhere…meals to fix, dishes to wash, children to dress, places to be, things to do…and up and down we go on the roller coaster of stress. This isn’t the life I envisioned when my husband and I got married. Working long hours with little pay, twins, a child with special needs, three kids under 4, and the worst part, a minivan (we literally signed an agreement that we would never drive one when we were newlyweds…). But who can really say that life turned out the way they planned? So maybe it’s time to stop looking for ways to improve my situation with minimalism, organization, and the latest life hacks. Instead of spending this new year and new decade doubled down on my goals, maybe I finally need to shake hands and call a truce with my chaotic, messy life.
This year, I think I’ll let my control freak tendencies sit in the back seat (okay, maybe I'll let them do a little back seat instructing), but no hands on the wheel. This year I will let life control the wheel, and I will sit back in my seat and enjoy the scenery. 2020 will be the year that just is. None of us have a lot of control over the things that happen our lives, but we can control how we perceive the year, the energy that we carry, and how we treat others. This is the year that we can stop trying to control outcomes.
If you read all the way to the bottom of this post and feel the same way I do, I promise we can do this. Welcome fear and anxiety like a friend. Look at your messes, your failures, or your flaws (you can deal with them later). Embrace them. Thank them. Find gratitude for them. They are yours. They make you you. Don’t let them drag you down. Let them lift you up and make you better. Rise above your troubles and choose to find joy in everything. So just let 2020 be. Let your goals and dreams guide you quietly, like a whisper from the backseat, but let the universe take the wheel and just enjoy the ride.