I’m not one for resolutions, but I am always one for reflection. And since it’s my birthday, I’m thinking a lot about life and what I’ve learned over the last year. I have a lot to be thankful for, not the least of which is to be healthy, able to support myself, and that while I work in settings which increase my risk of exposure, I’ve been diligent about wearing protective equipment and have been lucky to remain healthy so far. I’m also incredibly lucky to have received my first round of vaccine.

What’s struck me this year, more than others, is how I often have good intentions, but struggle with following through. I always have a good reason for that, be it with from being too busy, or too tired, or both. Sometimes it’s easier to kick that can down the road than to actually take the time to face what it is you need to face. And what 2020 made me face, in new clarity, is how thinly I’m spread.

It’s one thing to have a busy calendar, and quite another to have full days followed by equally full evenings. I’d work all day, come home and cook, or come home and change and run to the gym, and then home and cook. I’ve become a fan of having intentional time to do things like work out and take care of oneself, but the sudden forced reset made me realize that, much like my closet, having no breathing room in my schedule meant no time to really even relax and feel like myself.

This has been a gradual realization and I’ve found myself wanting to simplify how I live. Pare down my possessions to include primarily those things I use and love. Reduce the number of services I use which fragment how I use the internet and keep track of things I want to keep track of. In the fall, I took a step by stopping using Goodreads to track what I’m reading and instead use a page on my own website for that exact purpose. I have a variety of interests and think about all sorts of things, and a personal blog is a great way to reflect that in the online space. And it has the benefit of being unique, and doesn’t hand any easily mined data to anyone if it’s just me writing some text or posting a photo.

As I enter this next year of life, I want to be more intentional with the time I have. Not to schedule it as much as possible as I was previously, but to actively say no to things so that I can say yes to unstructured time. More time to listen to music and let my mind wander. More time to write or doodle. Reduce the things in my life so I can have some space to stretch out when I want, both mentally and physically.

I want to spend more time sleeping, more time visiting with friends and family, with intentional messages, emails, or coffee visits (preferably offline, but online since that’s our current reality).

Last weekend, I spent the entire afternoon on Sunday taking out the contents of one closet with the goal of moving a second bookcase inside since I have some new furniture for the space. I was astounded at the sight before me, everything in stacks or boxes, much of which I only ever see when I do this sort of thing. Upon trying to put the second bookcase in with the first, I discovered that my measurements did not account for the baseboards, and I was just under ¾ of an inch shy of being able to combine the two like I’d hoped. I scrapped that plan and put everything back, and it’s now just a bit more organized than it was before.

My life for the past few years has been like this closet project, trying to fit just a half hour more in, every single day, for so long that I’d forgotten what it felt like when I had a bit of breathing room. I hope to continue on this path toward simpler living, and look forward to new lessons learned in the year ahead.