A Year of Magical Thinking

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So I’ve been trying to write this post for months, stopping and starting all the way since September. Despite all the horrible things that are beyond our control no matter what we do, I’m a big believer in trying to be the architect of your own happiness. And when I think of how much can happen in a year, it seems prudent to be aiming for something amazing rather than muddling on through with a vague hope that good things will happen.

You see, I want to be happy. In lots of ways now, I am happy… after a long time of never feeling it for more than a few minutes. There are some photos of me from when I was in my late teens where I am smiling and I have this giddy, wide-eyed, kid in a lolly factory look on my face, like I’m way more euphoric than I should be in the circumstances. I haven’t really talked about this here, but here goes: I guess knowing what the most unbearable lows can feel like has made me grab hold of happy moments so much tighter than somebody who had never known how low they could go. 2016 was dominated by lows for both of us, but every single day now seems brighter than the last. I know 2017 can’t be all perfect because nothing ever is, but I’m going to try my hardest to fit as much wonderful into it as I can.

So, instead of resolutions, these are more like hopes or wishes or goals. Whatever they are, 2017 will see…

Renovating our little house (now known as Rose Cottage – I’m totally getting a name plaque and everything! Laugh it up, Mum) – the whole shebang; new flooring in half the house, restumping, new kitchen, new bathroom, new laundry, some new windows, and finally buying proper grown-up furniture that we have been putting off for almost eight years now. This house will finally be a home, finally a nice place to live.

Getting fit and healthy, like I used to be once upon a time. We ordered a dog stroller so that I can finally go on the long walks I used to love without having to physically carry two little dogs (one who is practically disabled) when they get tired, or leave them at home alone… which causes no end of drama. It’s also a safety thing – we live near a nature reserve and a lot of people like to have their big, scary, aggressive dogs running around off leash while they talk on their phones or whatever. I read in the newspaper a while ago that our district was the worst for dog attacks, and I’m always wary of that after a few near misses. I will feel a thousand times safer if I know I can zip both dogs into the stroller in a couple of seconds and fend off a dog attack on my own, rather than have to protect them too.

Finishing this damn honours thesis. It’s way off track, I still don’t know what to do with it, but I will finish it. I have the perfect shoes planned for my next graduation ceremony, so I have to have that at least.

Going on more dates. Making more time for each other to do adventurous, exciting things. Putting effort into making the simple act of snuggling on the couch under a blanket while watching a movie into something special and memorable.

Pitching my first (and maybe second) novel to a traditional publisher at the Brisbane RWA conference in August. Self-publishing has been fun, but I am really keen to see a physical book with my name (or at least pseudonym) on the cover, as well as to have a working relationship with a real live editor for the first time.

Taking better care of myself. Some of this is routine stuff like going to the dentist more often and getting all my freckles checked, but there are a bunch of other things that have been dragging on for way too long and seriously altering my perception of what ‘normal’ is meant to feel like. I’m sure I will get sick of specialists and feeling like a pincushion, but it is better to know and be able to do something, than to live in denial and fear. But I’m also going to show compassion to myself in other ways, like forcing myself into healthy routines and scheduling time for things that make me feel good, like yoga, gardening, sewing and playing musical instruments.

Going swimming at least once a week (part mermaid, you know the deal).

Making an effort to decorate the house for holidays and special occasions. All our Christmas stuff looks so beautiful right now, I want things to be just as gorgeous for Valentine’s Day, St Patrick’s Day, Easter, Winter Solstice, our birthdays, Halloween and any other excuse I can think of.

Biggest one of all – getting married. We’ve been headed there for a long time, and it will be so wonderful to finally just do it. Nathan’s so excited and it was really cute to get a Christmas card addressed to “my future wife” this year. We finally put some planning into the whole thing and definitely booked the two most major things – non-refundable deposits, so you know we’re serious (ha!). What we have planned is coincidentally very similar to what my parents did back in the day – we never chose this on purpose, it just happened to work out that way, which is strange and kind of nice. We are essentially having two weddings, or rather a marriage and a party – a small private ceremony, with a big all-in party two months later for all our extended family and friends. The plan was originally to do it all on one day, which was causing no end of tears and anxiety. It finally hit us that we would be so worried about the gigantic party we had to host that we wouldn’t actually be fully focused on pledging forever to each other, and isn’t the most important part of the whole day? We feel like geniuses about the way that things have worked out, for how well it suits us and how much more comfortable we will both feel on the days, but we know there will be hurt feelings and disappointment for some… but we really just had to do what was right for us, and hopefully people in time will respect that and still want to celebrate with us after the fact.

Some sort of amazing honeymoon. We were originally planning Tokyo, Okinawa and Taipei, but now Nathan has thrown all sorts of crazy possibilities into the mix, so watch this space. I’ve only ever been to Australia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan and the US, so it’s a little scary, but a lot thrilling to think that we may go to a country or an entire continent that I’ve never seen before.

I want to FINALLY go to the tulip festival. And see the fairy penguins. And the Twelve Apostles.

And finally, for 2017 – I want to host Christmas at our house. I want it to be nice enough to actually do it and the kitchen usable enough to actually cook that much food. I want the front fence to be fixed in such a way that we can eat outside and the puppies can run around freely.

This list is huge. It feels so much bigger than anything I’ve ever achieved in a single year before, and sometimes I think about everything that needs to happen this year and wonder if I’m even capable. Inevitably, something will fall down. It’s a sure thing that something terrible will happen, there will be unforeseen challenges, or plans will get completely derailed. A year is short, but it’s also very long – there’s an awful lot of days in there for something wonderful and unexpected to happen. 2016 was ridiculously hard, but I’m counting on the universe kind of owing us some good times after everything we’ve already gone through. Or maybe I’ll just spend an entire year with all my fingers and toes crossed that luck will be on our side after such a rough ride.

We ate fish and chips, and drank some stupidly expensive (for cheapskates like us) champagne tonight, so here’s our little toast: to magical thinking. Here’s to optimism and gratitude. Here’s to creativity and the pursuit of knowledge. Here’s to bravery, hard work and discipline. Here’s to more cuddles, more kisses, more thank you notes, more wearing lipstick “just because”. Here’s to enjoying the tiny, fleeting moments of unparalleled joy, like watching Posie lift her back leg as a signal for us to pat the soft part of her tummy, or when Rupert rolls his treat-dispensing brain game around the floor and barks at it in frustration. Or how ridiculously happy they were to get their own individual plates of sushi for Christmas Eve. Here’s to no longer delaying happiness when it’s never a sure thing that any of us will be around tomorrow to enjoy it. Here’s to hope, peace, kindness, and most of all, love!

Yes, it really happened. 🙂

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