And just like that 2013 has come to an end. The year was a significant one for me personally. A quick look back at what happened, and what it all means is always a good way to start a new year. I’ve picked three things to focus on, so here goes.
1. Engaged and Married
I wasn’t going to include engaged in this bit, and just refer to the marriage, however this would be leaving out an intense six month period. In February, he proposed in the middle of the bush. We drank champagne by the waters’ edge, watching it cascade down the rocks. Joy, love, and excitement at the deepening of us filled me to bursting. It was a special day, and an incredible time getting used to the idea that someone loved me that much and I loved them that much back.
We celebrated. A lot. And we soon decided a swift wedding was a good idea.
Together we planned the actual wedding day, and also began really contemplating a whole l-i-f-e together, well into our old age. We talked about the things we wanted to do together, the kind of lives we want to lead with each other, our priorities, and our love.
And then our wedding day came, and we stood before our family and friends and made that huge commitment and had a fabulous love party. It was sensational, and the following five months of marriage have been too.
2. Content with my work
For the first time in my adult life I have clocked up three years in the same job, at the same work place. As the time has passed, the role has grown into one which is mostly fulfilling, generally rewarding, and I feel lucky to have a special bunch of colleagues who make turning up every day a good thing. It helps that I believe deeply in the work of helping to empower people living in extreme poverty to improve their lives. I also worked out that by the end of 2013, I have spoken to around 30,000 Australians about poverty and its solutions since I started the job. Unbelievable.
3. Learning about meaning
This one sounds strange, I know. To explain, I have spent a lot of time reading about the things which help to live a ‘good’/’meaningful’ life. For years now I have accepted that the work/money/stuff cycle is ultimately unfulfilling. But what I have struggled with more is defining, or ‘knowing’ perhaps, what is important to include in living a meaningful life.
After a few years of toying around the edges, I really focused on this in 2013. I’ve consulted books, articles, magazines, links, people, films and more, and have found the following particularly helpful in this: Brain Pickings, Dumbo Feather mag, New Philosopher mag, Lean In (the book), High Sobriety (the book), Jessica Stanley’s Read.Look.Think, in case you want to explore yourself.
And all of this has helped lead me to my theme for 2014: you are what you do every day.
Because I have been very good at making big changes like eating more ethically, not shopping at the duopoly, composting all household food scraps, growing herbs, making mindful purchases, saving well, traveling, loving deeply - all New Years’ Resolutions of the past, but what I falter on is consistently doing the things needed to live a good and meaningful life.
So much of the above requires substituting one thing for another. Vegetables and sustainably-caught seafood for meat. The local grocer over Coles. You get the idea. But less ‘obvious’ is the way to achieve the overall sense of a life well lived.
Throughout 2013, the process of understanding what this is for myself was challenging and rewarding. And here’s what I’ve come up with so far:
- It’s all about people. Love them, listen to them, visit them, connect with them. A life without loved ones is empty, and love takes time - there are no short cuts.
- Work hard in an area that keeps you interested, but not at the expense of people. Work well and get the job done, and always leave enough time for your people every day.
- Sleep - get enough.
- Daydream - idle minds are great idea generators.
- Food - “eat food, not too much, mostly plants”.
- Money - control it before it controls you (thanks Barefoot). Share your wealth with those less fortunate, too.
It’s a work in progress, but I feel better equipped this Jan 1 to live a good/meaningful life than I did last Jan 1.
Now, to do more of that, and consolidate that list.
Image: My niece reaching out to one of her great loves.