Like pushing against an inflated balloon

White female holding young boy on boardwalk and beach

I’ve been thinking a lot about something my dear friend Karen said to me recently…that trying to step into this New Year feels like pushing against an inflated balloon. What she’s describing is a slight but pervasive sense of resistance that–two years into the pandemic–we all know impacts every aspect of our lives. Why is it hard to get a handle on a new tone, a “word of the year,” or a fresh direction for 2022? Sure, there’s winter inertia. Sure, there’s politics. But there’s also the balloon.

Personally, my “new year” didn’t begin until I got away for two weeks on a River-Mommy trip to celebrate “one year of Mommy being alive.” I love my family, I love my business, and I love being a writer. But some underlying sense of scarcity, fatigue, and anxiety was infusing my day-to-day and I did not like that. I needed perspective, and with River’s outdoor preschool closed for 5 weeks and our trip to Alaska completely canceled due to storms and Omicron, I tossed the snow boots from our suitcases, grabbed our bathing suits, and pointed the car south. 

Simplifying the equation by taking domestic duties and spousal roles out of my life for two weeks proved to be the reset that I needed. All the things you might expect, proved true: yes, absence makes the heart grow fonder (Love you, Brad!); yes, a different ecosystem triggers fresh perspectives; and yes, it is in fact possible to hard boil eggs in a hotel room microwave.

But more than all that, by simplifying the equation, I found SPACE to shake off that underlying sense of scarcity, fatigue, and anxiety and breathe into self-reflection. One of the key messages I received from this space is that less is more.

Simplifying the equation of my day-to-day afforded me space to self reflect. A core message I received from that time is that “less is more.” Another way of thinking about this is that even though I’m a type-A Capricorn, I actually feel better and experience joy more often when I “try to be B-.” Not an A-student. Not even a B-student. But B minus. Oh baby, is that music to my ears! (See, I just did it! “Music to my ears” is a cliche. Totally B-minus. And guess what? The sky didn’t fall. [See, I did it again! And I feel GREAT!])

It’s also music to my husband’s ears, believe it or not, because when I expect less of myself I expect less of others. I find that I have less to say, fewer questions, fewer concerns, and the “urgency” of domestic details that seemed pressing in the past, are largely things that can just SLIDE in 2022. Likewise, with my child, my sense of presence and availability are much more easeful because I’ve let myself “be B-” in other areas, which means closing the door of worry on one area of my life, and skipping down the hall toward what my heart most desires…namely, to be a present, stable, playful, aware mother.

At the desk, this means waking up before sunrise every morning and writing at least 300 B- words, Monday through Friday. In the past, that kind of pressure or “daily goal” would not work for me. Right now, winter 2022, it’s all the magic I need. Three hundred words? Eeek! But 300 B- words? Here I come! (Obviously, having a cat in your lap while you write helps. Daisy Rose is warm and my office is cold. She’s also mesmerized by the moving cursor.)

Hit Reply Questions

Here are this month’s provocations. As always, I relish your replies and love writing back. Contact me now and fill me in:

  • How might you simplify your equation in day-to-day life, or at your writing desk?
  • Do you feel like 2022 is pushing against an inflated balloon? How so or how not?
  • What does “trying to be B-” look like for you? Where might you begin?

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