Continuing the weekly arguments that 2016 was not all bad, I’ve created a series of posts designed to exonerate the year. This is the third installment in that series.
A year ago this week I was plugging away at life with new year fervor. I was doing the work. I published the first set of self-portraits. I cranked out my planks. I brought meaningful insights to book club, I took project photos, I practiced Pilates and power yoga. And I was running, running, running. I was diligent in 2016.
Then we got a snow day. Snow days generally mean I get to spend an entire day writing, so I did. Danielle asked me how I wanted to feel when I go to bed at night. Among my answers I wrote soothed—body and mind. Well, that doesn’t just happen, ya know. If that’s how I wanted to feel then I would have to do something to facilitate that feeling. I’d need to identify the things that soothe and make them happen before bed. That’s when I began to develop The Method. The Method is a series night-time soothing rituals that prime me for sleep and keep me out of the clutches of insomnia. These include early dinner, no exercise after 7 pm, no screens after 9 pm (especially phone), soften lighting progressively two hours before bed, add scent, no noise, no stimulation, no chores, no problem-solving, set everything to Do Not Disturb, wash up, read, sleep. I valued self-care in 2016.
A year ago this week I was chewing on the issue of leadership. I’m classified as ENFJ, the classic Protagonist. The Leader. The Director. Among the charismatic 2% of the population, along with Oprah and President Obama. Yup. This I knew. This I embraced. But a year ago this week I asked myself when it might be okay not to lead. I made a list of all the leadership positions I’d held over the years and asked, “Wasn’t that enough?” I asked if it wouldn’t be okay to say No so I could be an artist for a while. I confessed:
I prompted growth in 2016.
A year ago this week I created self-portraits, honing my budding craft of amateur double exposures. I developed new skills in 2016.
A year ago this week I struggled HARD with negativity in Facebook groups. I didn’t want a new set of rules to make everyone behave; I just wanted out. I was tempted to bail. But I hung in there, trying so hard to make it work. That’s one of my signature moves. I hang on to dead or dying relationships trying to will them back to life. I always stay too long, grinding it out long after I should have left. I drag out the inevitable, trying to figure out a way to save it, manage it, rejuvenate it. In this case I mean my relationship to Facebook was dying and not my friendships.
I’d hang in with Facebook another handful of months using my participation in these groups as an excuse. Jenny Lawson mentioned that at one time Facebook was wonderful (I think she said awesome) and that it wouldn’t take much to make it wonderful again. I didn’t want to give up five minutes before that happened. I didn’t know at the time that my earnest hopes would go unsatisfied and I’d eventually opt out in the interest of wellness. I was optimistic in 2016.
Many bad things happened in 2016, yes. But no, it was not all bad. It was a practice.
— Abbey Bat Watthour
(out baby bathwater)