2015 has been a year of some pretty good highs in a general state of low, if I may be so blunt. While staying on the grind I visited my friend in Copenhagen at the beginning of the year, went to Paris for a weekend in spring for the Studio Ghibli exhibit, worked on some pretty nice exhibitions when I was interning, visited the beach numerous times spontaneously, finished my thesis and graduated, saw Sufjan Stevens perform live (and dozed off for a couple of magical seconds there), had a wonderful trip to Vilnius…and pretty much stayed employed throughout the year. I know I can feel proud, but I sort of don’t really?
I’ve been thinking quite a bit about what I’d like to change in the coming year. 2015 just wasn’t really my year I guess. Here are my three resolutions to make 2016 more my kind of year.
1. READING (MORE)
I think this has been on my resolutions for over 3 or 4 years now. It has not been going so well. So this year I think I will have this big master-plan (you know, that grand scheme that will somehow have to work) where I will force myself to read (and finish) 1 book each month.
I have this horrid tendency of buying books that intrigue me and then read the first couple of chapters and I will find a new book that intrigues me, read a couple of chapters and then I find another hobby and won’t look at a book for weeks, where the cycle starts again. I have been an avid reader in some point of my life, it’s not this point… but I like it to be this point again. Reading relaxes me like no other thing – and you do not need a electric device for it (which is great). Reading greatly influences my writing (which I find so comical to see in past posts where I just finished an Austen masterpiece and everything sounds like Caroline Bingley). Not only the wording of my sentences are influenced though, also the quantity improves. And I want 2016 to be a year where I document my life a little bit better. But more on that on my second resolution.
For now I have just taken a look at my bookcase, and I have resolved that I will start January by finishing ‘Goodbye Tsugumi’ – a book that I started this past summer but never got around reading even though I really enjoyed Banana Yoshimoto’s writing. February will probably feature ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ by Elizabeth Gilbert because I bought it way back when, saw the movie and kind of forgot about it. But since I promised myself not to buy another book of hers before finishing the one I have, I should read it now – finally. In March I will go for ‘Nineteen Eightyfour’ by George Orwell (yeah, scold me for not heaving finished this before, I know!). I figure this one does not need any explanation.
I know I will not stick to a scheme that I just put together in a day or two and finish weeks or even months in advance. So I will put down a little list of books that right now I will want to finish in 2016. I will update my reading journey monthly (!) so I will probably try and scheme things just 2 or 3 months in advance, or maybe just monthly…we’ll see.
A few books on my list are: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway, In Order To Live by Yeonmi Park, Think Like a Freak by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, Wind/Pinball by Haruki Murakami…Putting this list together is mostly a little ploy of the cheeky self that knows that I will stumble upon a book that I will want to buy and then probably will want to read, so there is still room for more.
2. DOCUMENT LIFE BETTER
Sure I have been blogging this past year, and I find that I was on a pretty good start, and had a pretty decent ending. But HOW HAVE I NOT FINISHED UPLOADING MY PICTURES FROM JAPAN FROM LAST YEAR!? (sure, there’s not much left, but that’s no excuse!)
So this is a little nudge to my future self (and the self reading and writing this, oh dammit Louise: how?!) to really step up my game in documenting life and thoughts better and blogging more frequently. I love looking back on my former self through blog form, but this past year seems like a bit of a fail as it somehow seems I haven’t been up to much. And sure, that is kind of true because all I have been doing was trying to graduate by writing and finishing (and breaking down on) my thesis. Then finishing my job at the bookshop this last summer. Then finding a new job, and then trying to really earn some damned money to pay the bills.
Sure I have plenty of reasons how I have not finished my Japan trip on here yet. How I haven’t been travelling the world like I’d liked to. But life costs a lot of money and effort right now and I think maybe I should cut myself some slack on these things. But I really like blogging and reading/looking back on things. So this is my second little resolution.
3. BE IN THE PRESENT
Because, really…it is a present to be able to live in the here and now, healthily etc. Like I was moaning about on resolution no. 2: I’ve been working bloomin’ hard last year. At a certain time I had my internship 4 days a week, my part-time job 2 days a week and thesis-writing 1 day a week. This meant little to no time off, and I guess I got a little burnt-out somewhere along the way. The past couple of years I think might have molded myself to be a little more of a pessimistic person. And as much as I’d like to simply refuse that, I think it’s finally better to not ignore it- but to work on it. So in the last weeks of 2015 I have tried and started to be a little more… relaxed about things. A little more gentle towards myself and maybe the people around me as well. I guess you could call it a bit more compassionate towards myself, as this helps a lot with dealing with other people too. And mostly, to be more in the present.
A couple of months ago I read this really nice book by Brené Brown (I think it’s called ‘The Gifts of Imperfection’) that told me about having compassion for yourself, and how this is not at all selfish. I think another thing that stuck with my is the fact that this is not a one-time choice. It is a process, it’s a journey of a lifetime.
“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as
spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities
is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and
belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulner-
able. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness
will we discover the infinite power of our light”
And now you might wonder, why Louise? What does this have to do with being in the present? – In my brain the answer to that is quite simple, actually. The explanation a little less simple, so let me try. I think that if we learn accept ourselves and our imperfections and learn having compassion with ourselves we become more at ease with ourselves which will contribute to the relationships we have with people. If we accept these things, we will be less inclined to think need all the things consumerism tells us we need if we want to feel better. If we accept ourselves, we will be less likely to regret so many things that happened in the past. We will look forward to the future with enthusiasm instead of dread – because quite simply… we have ourselves, our friends, our family (all of whom we have compassion with!). I’m wholly speaking for myself here, though. But I guess if we dare to embrace ourselves, imperfections and all, we also can cut ourselves some slack and give ourselves some time to relax, read a book, enjoy dinner with friends and whatnot. I think/hope that being more in the present, and maybe living more consciously, will help me have a better year. And if I stick to this resolution, maybe a better life? But let’s not get too overboard, babysteps right!?
I’d like to hear about you. How was your year? What are your resolutions? What are your recommendations for me? (Bookwise, lifewise, whatever). Please do tell me all, and be honest! – I also really want to wish you a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a bloody brilliant 2016. Let’s make it a good one!