Who knew going to court and chopping off my hair would feel so invigorating?
I did a few things out of character this holiday season: I said no to activities without guilt. I got deep into planning for next year. I even joined an online holiday-intention-setting program that is way above my standard woo-woo threshold. I haven’t participated in any of the live calls or groups that are the meat of the program, and there has been some involuntary eye rolling at the email content, but despite my bad attitude the program has pushed me to my introspective edge in productive ways.
So here I am, with a nearly completed New Year’s workbook that is so garlanded with glittery #girlboss script fonts that I am embarrassed to work on it in public. I’ve been completing it in stolen moments of solitude, and finding that a deep dive into reflection and planning is scratching some itch that was more serious than I suspected.
What all this work boils down to is a lot of streamlining. Less making new things or grand plans and more purging, leaving behind, reimagining and repurposing what already is.
Here’s what I’m leaving behind in 2018.
My name that wasn’t my name
I changed my name this year. Quietly, without fanfare, I reclaimed my name after eight years of using my husband’s name.
Changing it eight years ago was something I never thought I’d do, but ended up giving in because wedding planning was just one big exercise in compromise. Caught in the undertow of existential questions piled on top of minutiae—would we raise Jewish children or lapsed Christians, and by the way, tulips or lilies for my great-uncle-once-removed’s buttonier?—I lost all perspective on what mattered to me.
I gave the new name a try for eight years and for eight years whenever someone called me by my husband’s name it felt alien to me. Who was that person?
At last, at long last, I filed the paperwork and showed up at court, desperately hushing a rowdy baby while I waited my turn.
The judge asked, “So you’re keeping the husband and ditching the name?” She said I was the third woman that week she’d seen with the same agenda.
I’m nearly through the process of replacing all my things: ID and credit cards and frequent flier accounts. And it hasn’t felt like a hassle at all, but a return. Looking at the block letters on my fresh new driver’s license and credit cards gives me a simple but resolute sense of peace.
I know who that person is.
Almost all of my hair
I had a haircut scheduled for weeks and weeks and I was literally counting down the days until my appointment. I suspected that calendar entry was so thrilling because it was going to be a moment (ok, hours) when I got to be taken care of, with no small humans grabbing at my body and my attention. And because I was just so over my hair and my bangs and UGH I wanted a fresh start.
Now that I’ve chopped off all my hair, I realized it was more than just a haircut. It felt like a cleansing ritual (another term from my woo-woo program; some people write their regrets from 2018 on little slips of paper and burn them; I sat in a hairdresser’s chair and asked her to make me new again).
I feel lighter, freer, with less hair than I’ve ever had since my bald baby days, and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted. It sounds insane but I think my new cut is helping me launch into a new year with less baggage.
And even though I preemptively spent all the money I plan to save in 2019 on that cut and color, I have zero regrets. I would do it again without a moment’s thought.
No more victim card
One quality of my postpartum depression was that I felt numbingly and depressingly ineffectual. I imagined obstacles everywhere, instead of finding opportunities and creative ways to move forward.
This second postpartum period has been way easier from a mental health perspective, but I have had momentary relapses where I find myself slipping back into those unproductive thought patterns.
It generally passes by the time I get an appointment with my therapist, but I still feel on guard against that way of being. I simply can’t let myself get back to that dark place.
PSA: if you are experiencing any kind of depression, postpartum or otherwise, it is normal and it is not your fault. You deserve to feel better. Please take one step: book an appointment. Call a friend. Speak your truth out loud to someone you trust. Ask for help. <3
I’m going to stop phoning it in
If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed (or not noticed is more likely), that I have been phoning it in on that platform in exceptionally uninspired ways.
All year, it feels like, I’ve fantasized about quitting Instagram. But I can’t, yet, not with the work I do. The platform is a professional requirement for me. But my posts are not showing my brand in the best light and I need to suck it up and do a better job.
I’m leaving that sense of ennui and ineffectualness behind in 2018. I’m pulling up my big girl pants and putting myself on a performance improvement plan, which I’ll share in my next post, about what 2019 holds.