Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I’m having a particularly hard time this year reorganizing after the holidays. Maybe it’s because we left on Christmas day for a soccer tournament at Disney World and I spent a week in a cramped hotel room with my husband and three teenage boys, shuttling between soccer fields and theme parks.
Or maybe it’s because Darcy, our Australian exchange student, leaves in less than three weeks and we still have Manhattan to see this weekend (I’m in yet another hotel room as I finalize this post), skiing in West Virginia the following weekend, a White House tour and half a dozen sites in Washington, D.C., still on our to-do list.
So who knows when the Christmas tree will be taken down? And who knows when I’ll get around to making a list of New Year’s resolutions? I’m still trying to get back to where I was a couple of months ago, when I was at the height of my wellness game–writing regularly, meditating every morning, and exercising most days of the week.
I can’t remember when I last made an entry in my morning routine spreadsheet. It’s been forever since I pulled tasks from my Bowl of Rooms, and, after a week without meditating when we were snuggled up in that Orlando hotel room, I’m back at ground zero with my mindfulness practice.
Every one of the habits I had honed for my well being in 2012 atrophied to some extent over the holidays. But I’m not going to beat myself up about it, since I’ve been busy doing something else. That would be LIVING…quite intensely, as a matter of fact, and on a deadline.
A couple of weeks ago Darcy told me that he had calculated his per day cost for the two-and-a-half month exchange program (factoring in airline flights and other expenses). It came out to around $100 per day. He has a keen sense of the value of that money, since he worked for seven months to save it up.
“Every day when I wake up,” he said, “I think about how I’m going to make it a $100 day. And I’m not going to spend my $100 day being unhappy.”
Did I mention that this kid is only 15 years old? Most adults never learn the value of a single day unless they are faced with a medical crisis of some kind. Even fewer understand that happiness is a choice.
That conversation gives just a glimpse into what Darcy has brought to the table since his arrival. It’s been a period of deep learning for the family, in ways that probably won’t be fully appreciated for a long time to come.
I need to chew on the experience a while longer before writing about it more fully. What I can say at this point is that sometimes life throws you an opportunity that trumps everything else. You need to grab it by the horns, even if it means you’re bumped off your meditation routine or writing schedule for a few weeks.
I’m learning that I don’t need to be so dogmatic about my habits, that I’m not “failing” if I stray from the norm temporarily. Right now, contributing to the fulfillment of $100 days is what I’m supposed to be doing, at least for the next couple of weeks. Maybe this is an anti-New Year’s resolution message, but I’ll balance it by committing to being gentle with myself.
The bigger question is how do we learn to value each day with the clarity of a self-motivated exchange student? How do we embrace the fact that it’s fully within our control to live our lives with intent and intensity, so that we never have to look back and feel like we wasted our time here?
How, in short, do we keep ourselves on course to live the best life we can, making the most of every single day, feeling empowered enough to choose the path that leads to happiness?
I hope you’ll stay along for the ride in 2013 as I continue to explore these and related questions. Thank you all so much for your support, encouragement and engagement!
Wishing you health, harmony, and happiness in the coming year, which I hope will be packed with $100 days!