I don’t know about you, but this is a historically difficult time of year for me. In the week after Christmas, I’ve been prone to experience all kinds of emotional hangover- guilt over the money spent and calories consumed tinged with excitement and fear of the coming year, as I scramble to find something meaningful to do for New Year’s Eve.
I become very reflective, sometimes morbidly so, as I take stock of the preceding year. I regret not having contributed or accomplished more. It doesn’t help that my birthday is January 2nd. I begin to evaluate the overall state of my life and pick at the areas that need improvement; the patterns or tendencies I can’t bear to repeat in the new year. (This has only gotten worse as I’ve gotten older, naturally). And then, like millions of other Americas, I vow to do better in the coming year; I make my handy-dandy New Year’s Resolutions.
This year is different. For one, I’m pretty happy with the state of my life right now as well as everything that’s transpired this past year. Furthermore, I’ve learned that those parts of me that are still broken or hurt or needing work respond better to my loving attention than nagging criticism.
So this week, as I prepare to celebrate both my birthday and the arrival of 2014, I’m going to tweak tradition. Instead of a lackluster list of ‘goals’ that will likely fade into oblivion by January 10th, I’m reframing my new year’s resolutions as promises I’m making to myself.
It occurs to me that when I make someone a promise, usually a family member or close friend, I try in all earnestness to keep it. It’s important to me that my word mean something, that it have depth and weight. I hold onto and safeguard that promise, keeping it in my awareness because I know I’m expected to deliver something meaningful. Is a New Year’s resolution really any different?
I think if I regard my resolutions in this manner- a promise or set of promises I make to a close friend who’s counting on me, trusting in me to do what I say I’m going to do, perhaps they will extend beyond the first week of January. Of course, in order for this to work, I will need to treat myself as I would a close friend.
And though there may have be less regretful reflection this past year, I still struggle with self-care. Because, you see, if I truly regarded myself as a close friend- someone I accept and love and cherish- I would do whatever I could to ease her struggle. And I don’t always do that. I let myself linger in the pain and isolate. Worst of all, I lie to myself:
“You’re not good enough” or “You don’t deserve to be happy”
Bullshit. I’m a radiant, love and light-filled being that belongs to the same source of effortless divinity that encapsulates everyone and everything around me. And I shouldn’t treat myself as anything less than a freakin’ goddess.
But I do- I smoke a few cigarettes, fail to exercise, and tell myself that an occasional soda or energy drink is ok. Yes, it could be worse. I’m not hooked on crack- by the grace of GOD- but it could be better, too.
And I guess that’s how I prefer to look at things these days. Instead of looking for what’s wrong and needs correction in my life, I find ways to make what’s already working even better.
How can I more fully be me? How can I better serve myself and those around me? How can I embody even more love, happiness, and freedom? You get the idea. With that in mind, here are my 2014 promises to myself:
1. I promise to be kind to myself, even when I screw up. I’m getting better with this, but I still need to replace some of that hate-talk with bubble-baths and gratitude lists.
2. I promise to treat my body like the beautiful retainer that she is. What this has come to mean for me is a mostly vegan diet, LOTS of water, and regular meditation. But in the new year, I will do more yoga, start running or biking outdoors, eat even more colorfully (while drastically reducing my sugar intake), and expand my meditation practice.
3. I promise to love others, especially those who are unloveable. This is a tough one for me. But I also recognize that the people who piss me off also have the most to teach me. I will try to remain open to the message even if I can’t stand the delivery.
4. I promise to serve others with dignity and grace. I, like most others, wear a lot of hats and pray daily for the ability to show up in every area of my life. I aspire to give of my time, energy and resources at every opportunity I get.
5. I promise to tread lightly on my environment and make socially-conscious choices. I will continue to recycle and reuse items wherever I can. And I will be prudent about which companies I decide to give my money to, supporting companies with a mindful approach rather than those concerned only with bolstering the bottom line.
6. I promise to relish my solitude, the place where dreams are born. This one’s especially important for me as someone in a long-term relationship who cherishes her me time. Whether it be a quiet moment of reflection in an empty apartment or a new volunteer task I individually devote myself, I can learn a lot and love me a lot more in the process. The best ideas can be found here too!
7. I promise to dedicate myself to any and all soul-level work, whose necessity makes itself know. And it always does. The great thing and the awful thing about being in recovery is everything I come to learn about myself. I get to see the lies and dysfunction- the bitterness and the hurt right up close- and then it’s up to me what I want to do about it.
I will try to remain open to the process. In the new year, I will resist less and release more. I will shine the light of loving awareness on old wounds and I will allow myself to heal.
8. I promise to travel A LOT. The last several years, I have committed myself to traveling as much as possible because I simply love it and lucky for me, so does the man in my life. There’s so many places I still want to see but on my list for this next year: the Pacific Northwest, Indonesia, and Costa Rica.
9. I promise to read more. Somewhere along the way, it came into my mind that it would be good to read one book a week. I’ve done it in small stretches but never for a full year. I think now is my time.
10. I promise to be less critical, of EVERYTHING. I’m one of those perfectionist, expectation-ridden types who expects the utmost of herself and everyone around her. Oh and I’m a complete control freak- not a good combo. This year, I will try to embrace uncertainty and things NOT going according to plan.
11. I promise to enjoy my life, right here and now. Dogs and children have a lot to teach me in this area- their endless supply of curiosity and intrigue; the sense of wonder with which they embrace the everyday, as if they were experiencing it all for the very first time.
I find that I miss the magic when I’m not in the moment. And as my mom likes to remind me, these are the good old days, and I might as well enjoy them while they’re here so that I don’t end up missing them twice.
PEACE, LOVE and RADIANT WELLNESS to you in the new year…xoxo