Hello 2017! What a relief it is to see you. There is something magical about a new calendar year. It feels like a fresh start. Like anything is possible. This will be the year to really change things, right?
I love resolutions. I have made many great ones in my nearly 4 decades on this planet. But I can’t think of a single resolution I set on January 1st (or 2nd, or 3rd) that really stuck. Last year I swore that it would be the year I got “really fit, ” instead I get really injured trying. Hell, every year I swear it will be the year I get really fit. The only thing I actually accomplish is swearing. Back in my smoking days there were many New Years I resolved to quit but was back at it by my first happy hour. There have been so many resolutions: eat clean, drink less, run more, read more, lose weight, no sugar. Why did I bother?
The quest for self-improvement is one of the things that make life worth living. Working toward a goal, even if we don’t achieve it, will make us a better, healthier person. Reaching a goal can bring great joy. When I look back – I have tackled many of those things I swore I would as the clock struck midnight. I just didn’t do them on some silly timeline. 13 years ago on May 1st I stopped smoking for the last time. I quit my 4 can a day (often more) Diet Coke habit in December 2009, the moment I found out I was pregnant. Last September I gave up drinking. I eat far less sugar than I used to. Exercise is my go-to stress relieving mechanism. I still swear more than the foulest-mouthed sailor, but I’m not quite ready to cut back on that one.
As I went to set my intentions for 2017, I thought about all of these amazing things I’ve accomplished when the time was right. I remembered how down on myself I was when I “failed” in January or February. Then I took a moment to be mindful of WHY we feel we need to change so much as we say goodbye to another calendar year.
I have a theory: we’re hungover on excess. The excess of the holidays. Cookies and candy at every corner. The overflow of libations. The gifts. The decorations. The wrapping. The ‘magic.” The overindulgence in the name of the holidays. We’re so busy there’s often little time to make it to the gym or get enough sleep.
I was taking to my mom about this. She said when we were kids, Christmas season didn’t kick off until well into December. Now, not only does it begin the day after Thanksgiving but expectations for Halloween have skyrocketed. Decorations go up October 1st. There are costumes, parades, block parties, school parties, house parties, and then Halloween itself. By the time we take those decorations down, it’s Thanksgiving, which for many of us has turned into a big dinner used to kick off Christmas.
Now it’s January and we are tired. We’ve been making magic for months. We’re coming out of a candy and booze filled haze. And we feel like we need to make amends with our mind, soul, and liver.
It’s also the first time since the kids went back to school in September that we’ve had a moment to slow down. No big holidays are on the schedule. We actually have time for ourselves.
I’m willing to bet that if most of us look at the rest of the year when we’re not caught up in the holidays, we lead pretty healthy lives. But since the holiday season is now essentially 3 months long, we’ve forgotten what our everyday lifestyle is like.
This year I am trying something different. Rather than some sweeping resolution to give up chocolate or get as fit as I possibly can be, I’m going to just go back to living the healthy, no candy in the house lifestyle I always do … until Valentines day rolls around.
This year I have a very simple resolution. To be kind. Be kind to my friends. Be kind to my family. Be kind to strangers. And most importantly, be kind to myself.