At the grocery store last week, I saw the headline on the new issue of Oprah's magazine: Live Your Best Life. As I loaded groceries on the conveyor belt, I asked myself: "What is a "best life?" What is my "best life?"
The quick and obvious answers are: good health, good relationships, and good finances. We all work on those. But best life strikes me as so much more than that. It is, I think, about filling your soul.
Filling your soul can mean growing and practicing your faith, and that is on my list of New Year's Goals too. But I think it also means taking those hard looks at your life, in its quietest moments, and finding the dissonance. What do you want your life to look like, and what does it actually look like? What parts of your life make you unhappy, and how could they be better? Or even best?
I hope you don't mind my introspection (and I promise this will touch on knitting eventually!). In trying to create my list for 2009, this whole best life concept has been nagging at me, beyond the new job, beyond the need to paint our hallway, beyond whether or not I have the energy to consider training for a cycling century. In 2007, I put down "call the real estate agent" as a New Year's goal, because we were not living our best lives in a small old house that needed a lot of work on a busy street with no privacy. Had I not written down "call the real estate agent," I would not be writing this now in a larger house that is much easier to maintain, a newer house on a less busy street with a blissful acre of land between us and the rest of civilization. A house that is near several wonderful yarn shops, the cat shelter where we found Rainy and where I volunteer, The Loop where I can cycle by The Ocean and breathe in that salt air. That was a huge step toward a best life!
Rainy, living her best life with her Teddy
In 2008, I did a lot of group-oriented things, like volunteer work at the animal shelter, a few animal transports, a ton of meetings, local campaigns in October. Last summer, Chris and I did the GYGIG fundraiser and I ran the Tour de France KAL with Meg. Life got out of balance very fast. I am an introverted person by nature, and doing so many extroverted things at once -- though I believe in the causes and love the work -- was killing me. I had little solitude during these months to daydream, read, knit, draw, or write in my journal or process any of what was going on, and I was miserable.
From this insight, I am going to make my list of goals for 2009. Along with the above-mentioned job and hallway painting, I plan to feed my soul and discover my best life by doing the following:
1. Read my one page a day devotional book and write in my journal every day. Or most days.
2. Continue reading the Artist's Way, and pursue the creative exercises recommended by the author: 1) to do Morning Pages (write three journal pages per day) and 2) to have an Artist's Date, a two-hour-a- week date that you keep for yourself to take a walk, visit a museum or yarn store, do your hobby/craft, listen to music, etc.
3. Read more print books. For last year's goal, I tried audiobooks, and discovered I do prefer print-book-in-the-hand.
4. Plan house and garden projects. In some ways, the house and garden are like giant art projects, deciding what colors to paint the rooms, or what plants to add and replace in the garden.
5. Continue genealogy research. Last year at this time, I began the journey of researching my family history. What an adventure! We discovered past relatives in semi-local cemeteries I didn't know were there. We found living relatives in Switzerland. The detective work helps me to understand a whole history and culture and family in a way I never have before, and is bringing a new richness to my life.
6. Knit to the Next Level. Last year, my knitting goal was to knit sweaters. I did finish Caroline the felted jacket, and the Dream in Color Shrug. I started the TdF KAL sweater, Breton Girl, and also Fantine. I'll finish those this year, but instead of concentrating on a specific type of project, I want to increase my skills.
My best knitting life is to not be dependent on the pattern-as-written, but to make those modifications in size or style that others do for better fit or personal preference (three-quarter sleeves drive me crazy!). I had a little experience doing this with the picot camisole, but it wasn't intentional. I'd like to become more comfortable with substituting yarns and the wonky gauges that result. I've heard that Elizabeth Zimmerman is great for this, and I received her book Knitting without Tears for Christmas. This is more of an ongoing process than a a specific goal I can attain, but if by the end of the year, I can point to one or two projects where I felt confident changing the pattern with a minimum of LYS assistance, I'll consider it a success.
This is a partial list, but some of the most important components for me. What are you doing in 2009, whether it be something big, or something small, to pursue your best life?