Southern Tradition states that if you eat your black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, it will bring you luck and happiness throughout the year. This southern girl ate her New Year’s Day black eyed peas, in hopes of avoiding a troublesome year. So far, aside from amazing sex and an awesome ski trip, I’m starting to doubt the potency of those beans (and I am referring to the beans -that is not a euphemism...)
Here is a breakdown of my last few weeks. New Years Eve yielded a battle of epic proportions. Only 3 days after my birthday, which had already spiraled me into a mild depression and possible midlife crisis, was followed with a glorious week of intimate relations with my loving hubby (You know, New Years resolutions and all...) Then, I was battling back to back work trips for my husband- one particularly stressful for me (I’m sure you all saw the news). Then I was off on an amazing ski trip to the Italian alps complete with good friends and views of the Matterhorn. After that, I was swept back to reality with my hubby headed to another work trip and I'm stuck at home with 2 sick kids - one with scarlet fever and the other with strep. And that was just my life....
The world events in the months of January and February seem to hold a similar pattern. A near miss war with Iran, Australia literally on fire, and an Impeachment trial. I think several people missed out on their black eyed peas this year! I’m starting to feel like I should have left the magic beans to Jack and just taken my chances. Hopefully things turn around soon, but at this rate, I think I may try the beans again on February 1 and March 1st, just for good measure.
All joking aside though, I find myself to be more and more dissuaded by set backs. I’ve never really been a life planner....or even one of those 5 year projection kind of people. In fact those “where do you see yourself in (x amount) of years” books terrify me. I’m not really sure why, but I know the list-er in me can’t quite commit to a checklist that I may not be able to scratch off.
There are too many "what ifs" and possible deviations to make such a commitment to a “Five year plan,” especially as a military spouse. As a child, I thought life was simple. (Don’t we all). Grow up, graduate high school, get a scholarship, go to college, find the man of your dreams, get married and be one of 20 VP’s in a company that did something interesting.
I find myself looking back on the decisions I made and the life I’ve lived. I think about all of the grand adventures and travels- check. Life experiences-check. Romance and love- double check. Adorable kids that have irreversibly changed me for the better (even when they are a handful)- check. Not a bad life at all! And not many things I would have done differently. BUT have I accomplished anything epic? No. Am I a master at any one thing? Not really. Do I have a job (mom doesn’t count), No. And the biggest question...Am I satisfied with that? No.
I often get so frustrated with myself after the holidays, that I tend to make radical decisions and make epic changes in multiple areas at one time. Which of course is a certain recipe for failure. And then, I am more frustrated with my failure to become a whole new person in a week or two.
So this year, I set out to make realistic incremental goals. To hold myself accountable, I emailed them to my husband. My matter of fact, no BS husband that will hold me to those goals and resolutions even if it kills us both-which is why I did it. I need accountability. If left to my own devices, I will paint furniture, craft, or read all day. While all of these are interesting and acceptable practices, they do nothing to better me as a person, mom, wife or housekeeper. My hobbies are great, but not as an all day, every day practice. I guess in comparison to bon bons and soap operas (which is what my husband thinks I do all day) its a little better, right?
So, I took a moment to really reflect on those things I keep deferring. I broke mine up into 6 major categories and I have made the conscious effort to work on myself this year in all the areas that I routinely struggle with.
Now for reality. It is the middle of February. Based on the month above, how successful do you think I have been at meeting my goals? Let’s just say “NOT VERY.” But I suspect that I am not the only one who made goals this year that have not yet come to fruition. Even my very realistic goals that should be easily successful, have been quite elusive. But rather than berate myself for failing, I am just going to move forward. March 1st may not be a new year, but it is a new month and changes don’t happen overnight. Incremental change is the most successful. Failures happen and we learn from them. We learn about ourselves in them and we shape new ideas through them. I’m not saying you should strive to fail, but I am saying that if you do, embrace it and start again.
What do you want to change? What have you been deferring? It doesn’t have to be monumental. Just personal & honest. The check mark isn’t for mastering the goal, the check mark is for focusing on the task each day. Sometimes it takes a whole year or longer of daily checks to master something. Don’t give up! Even if all it does is teach you a little bit more about yourself. (Yes, I am giving this speech to myself too.) And remember just because it isn’t January 1st, doesn’t mean that you can’t begin now, or tomorrow, or next week. Don’t be discouraged by the set backs you encounter along the way. Just begin. Then take each day as it comes.
Kara Davenport has been a military spouse for 13 years and has lived through 5 deployments, the Defense Language Institute for Chinese, and 7 military moves (including China and Italy). She currently resides in Naples, Italy with her husband and two children where she enjoys her favorite pastimes - traveling, eating, and writing. She loves Dr. Pepper in the morning, and wine in the evening, and Jesus all Day.
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