I’ve dubbed 2019 to be The Year of Tessa. I’m 27, I work three different jobs, and I live with my parents (bless them). Why would this of all years be The Year of Tessa? I’ll explain.
For the first time in as long as I can remember, I’m in a position where I’m able to make clear decisions only for myself. I’ve climbed out of the deep trenches of grief and found a new version of myself, one who follows her gut, who thinks critically, and who seeks truth. I try hard to treat myself with a level of gentleness that allows honesty, compassion, and growth. I know both what/who I want to have and what/who I want to be, and I intend to do everything in my power to get there. The Year of Tessa is the first step in that direction.
In this, I’ve started making small lifestyle changes that have made a huge difference. These are things that I should have always been doing, but better late than never, right?
- I journal.
This might sound silly, especially coming from a writer, but this is not a habit I’ve always had. I’ve never been a fan of journaling. Every time I tried to pick up the habit in the past, I always felt like I was wasting my time or trying too hard. This time around, I’ve learned that the trick to journaling is to remove pressure. My journal is simply a vessel for my own growth. It doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t even have to make sense. But it has to be consistent and it has to be honest.
This daily habit is something that I now really look forward to. It’s given me a space to breathe and reflect, to get to know and befriend every part of myself. When I can see my greatest fears and insecurities written down right in front of me, I’m able to look at them objectively and develop ways to combat them, which feels nothing short of empowering.
- I read more books.
This goes hand-in-hand with journaling. As far as reading goes, I bounce between books. Some people say not to do this, but I see it like this: When I’m on a long road trip, I can listen to music for a while, but at some point I grow tired of it and switch to a podcast, and vice versa.
Reading works the same way for me. Right now I’m reading Anne of Green Gables and Pema Chodron’s The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving Kindness. Soon I’ll be adding in Where the Line Bleeds by Jesmyn Ward for a book club. Reading any of these for even just 20 minutes before bed or right when I wake up pries open my sleepy brain and allows me to write down some thoughts in my journal. Or like I did on the morning after Mary Oliver died, I simply write down and reflect on someone else’s words.
- I keep my room (mostly) clean.
This is something I really have to work at. I’m naturally disheveled and not super bothered by mess, so letting clutter grow in my own space is easy. But something I learn time and time again is that when my external space looks organized, my internal space feels organized. That is to say, when my bed is made, my closet is organized, and there are no clothes draped over my chair or covering the floor, I feel much more calm and focused. Marie Kondo might be on to something…
- I unsubscribed from all clothing company email lists.
This is an important one. This is part of the reason I’m in the credit card debt situation that I’m in now. (Well, that and plane tickets, but that’s a conversation I’m not willing to have with myself yet. It’s cool everything’s fine it’s fine.) In my efforts to be a conscious consumer, buying anything new feels wrong, especially from companies that I know use and abuse cheap labor. But like any normal person, when I read, “50% OFF STORE WIDE TODAY ONLY,” I’m overcome with a temporary desire for things that I don’t need nor do I really want. Simply removing the temptation has been hugely effective and calming.
Fighting the lies that we need more stuff takes real mental effort some days, but I promise it’s so worth it.
- I established a skin care routine.
I think this is what I’m truly proudest of. My skin has always been fine but not great, and with no longer being on the pill, my skin gets rull funky for about a week every month. Not cool. SO, here’s what I, the skincare/beauty idiot, do for my skin:
– I wash my face every morning and evening with a basic, oil-free scrub.
– I moisturize with a good oil-free moisturizer. I used to use whatever lotion was under my cabinet, including aloe meant for sunburns and cocoa butter meant for really dry winter skin. Ha. Using the right moisturizer is a game-changer.
– On Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday nights, I use the blueberry and acai facial scrub from Trader Joe’s. Just typing that out made me roll my eyes at myself, but it has actually changed my skin. The antioxidant-rich scrub has righted many of my wrongs. It’s life-giving. My skin feels softer and looks brighter. Plus, it smells like a smoothie, so fighting off the urge to eat it is a fun challenge in itself. And at five-ish dollars, it’s a cheap way to treat my skin with love.
That’s all I can think of/care to write about now. About a month into The Year of Tessa is teaching me that it really takes very little to bring myself a lot of joy. To see these things as gifts rather than chores is to open up a world of kindness and compassion for myself that I can turn around and use for others.
So if you think about it, The Year of Tessa is for everyone. You’re welcome.