Once upon a time my heart and mind would fill with this budding hope right around the turn of the New Year. Ritualistic and methodical, I would carefully pull out a beautiful leather journal with crisp new pages intentionally weathered, imitating a wise whimsy allure I always fell victim to. My fingers would tingle with excitement and anticipation as I open my superficially antique blank book, and grip my pen with purpose as I scribbled a list of ways my life will transform this next year. Go big or go home right?
And my perfectionism would repeatedly scold my messy words and handwriting, as I re-wrote the list over and over again, cutting out ugly pages of mistakes innocuously woven and bounded to my special old book of unwritten futures.
In the list I would carefully lay out about 20 to 30 specific ways I could make my life better, and how I would basically be a completely different person the next year. Wow. Sounds exhausting right?! And each year I broke nearly every resolution within a week or two. Eventually I let go of many bad habits of my youth, and re-energized myself with positive hobbies, but not once on January first.
So this year I once again sat down with another fancy leather journal, and I thought about where I have been and where I want to go from here. In usual fashion, no less than twenty goals soared through my mind at lightening speed…
Cook more… write everyday… run everyday… learn to write fiction… be more organized, clean/pick up house everyday… pursue a new career… complete an ultrabeast—or do I want to attempt the trifecta, or a triathlon, or maybe a half or marathon instead? …never fight with my husband …get the garage organized …get yard in shape… You get the gist!
And then I wrote, “Appreciate and enjoy my family.”
Right then I hastily tore up my list engraved onto the expensive crisp, thick page from my fancy journal (I will always love a pretentious journal). Crumpling up the list into my tightly wound hand, I slowly released the ball of trash from my clenched fist. That stupid list gave me excruciating anxiety–It always does. My heart quickens as I remember all the unfinished house projects and perpetual lack of time. And let’s be real, I am going to fight with my husband sometimes and my house will NEVER EVER EVER be project complete or perfectly organized. I will always have three, NOT one, “everything” drawers—it is just who I am. (And apparently who my kids are too because they treat our entire house like their giant everything drawer!)
So I started a new list, where I acknowledged and gave credence to how far we had come over the last year as a family, and how I had evolved as a person, woman and mother. I spend most days finding my faults and shortcomings, why does NYE have to be another slam down, maybe I should find the internal space to recognize growth instead? Maybe we all should?
However, I left one goal, or rather mantra to hold true to this year: Love and appreciate my family. Goals and aspirations are wonderful, but when we live inside them we can’t see what is right in front of us sometimes.
I am not knocking New Year’s resolutions. It can be a great time to really examine your life and glance yonder into the direction this new year can take hold. Adding health, light, and love to your life is ALWAYS a great addition, no matter what the time of year! But the New Year is also about letting go.
It is January 2nd, and you couldn’t bring yourself to get outside to workout because you were freezing; you already ate a forbidden food on your diet; your house looks like a tornado somehow, and you accidentally snapped at someone you really care about. You ALREADY broke a resolution so time to throw in the towel, this year won’t be any different…
Don’t do that. Just work towards goals that are really important to you, but don’t beat yourself up for the days you fall short. Truth is some days you will work towards some goals, and other days different ones, just don’t forget to enjoy the moments in-between. The end will never justify the means if you find the ride of life unenjoyable.
January 1st is not a magical day where you are suddenly a completely different human, and hopefully you like yourself enough to not want to be. Take your strengths and build on them while slowly chipping away at the parts of you that are not congruent to the life you want to live.
So this year I will look ahead with positive curiosity, open to new adventures. I will reflect and smile at the searcher that wound up here in this beautiful life. But most importantly, I will turnaround and realize staring right in front of me is already the answer to my deepest prayers, and I will remember to cherish and honor this love first.