The last year was not an easy year for me, personally. As the year wore on, it became increasingly harder even in the face of my never-dying optimism. And towards the very end, it became clear that my positivity or ability to not stay knocked down for too long was not going to make any difference; that I’d just have to accept that heartbreak was going to be my lot this year and make my peace with it. True enough, by December I was pretty much ready to hide and never be seen again. If not for my kids, and some of my friends, I’d have never made it to this side of the new year.
And that’s when I started to think. This coming year was going to be about me and my people. That includes my kids and those that mean the most to me. It wasn’t going to be about success, even though I will do everything to make sure success courts me unfailingly this year. It wasn’t going to be about finding love. Even though it’s hard being single on some days, it’s way better than the bad marriages I see all around me. It wasn’t going to be about making sure things outside me — like money, weight, travel — were my goals. I never make resolutions. Because I never stick to them. But this new year, I decided to make some. Not only to make some but also to stick to them. I wrote them down so that every time I went through my journal I would be reminded of the things I had decided to do at the beginning of the year, and then recheck at the end of the year if I actually stuck to them.
My resolutions? Here they are.
Be a better person around my children: I keep seeing myself — and a whole lot of other people — keep our best versions for strangers; polite, patient, understanding and generous. But when it comes to their family, and especially the kids, we are our worst selves. We lose our temper, indulge our moods without restraint, take their time for granted and almost always smile more at our phone than at them. I want to change that. I don’t just want to be a better parent, I want to be a better person to my kids. Talk with them more, understand them better, give them the best version of myself. The best parenting advice I got was many years ago from one of my best friends: Treat your kids like you have guests over and watching you. Heh.
Make individual connect with all my friends: Social media kills the warm connect that friendships of our 20s had. Where you made the effort and time to send a greeting card after writing a thoughtful message for someone’s birthday. Where you sent food over if they lived in the same city. Where you packed presents on birthdays and other occasions and posted them well in advance. Where you remembered anniversaries, and what their kids did and how old their parents were. I plan to write letters, emails, make phone calls and be deeply grateful for my friends.
Ignore social media: That’s it. I don’t need to elaborate on this, right? I’ve deleted my Facebook entirely after downloading all data. I will moderate my Twitter and Whatsapp usage. I will make time for the other things in my life. Because I notice my constant posture is of being bent over, thumbs on the ready and missing life and the world that’s going on around me. I find myself scrolling through the details and lives of people who I honestly will feel moderately about if they didn’t exist.
Do only the things that are good for me: For me, that means regular therapy, eat the things I like in moderation, get exercise, cut out people who can’t keep promises or don’t know how to be kind, work harder at work and do things I love. The minute I have an intuition of something not being good for me, I want to be able to stop it, to step back and ask myself if this is good for me.
I know a resolutions article is the most obvious thing one could write in the start of the new year. But you know what? Resolutions are about YOU. About making yourself a better person. About the journey to becoming a better person. So why not? So why shouldn’t we focus on us. Why shouldn’t you focus on you?
Let me leave you with a poem that makes all sense of a new year, no matter which year it is. This year was tough for me, and tough for many people I know. I hope this year, full of careful, precarious hope will be kinder and sweeter for all of us. Happy 2017, lovelies.
Burning the Old Year
Letters swallow themselves in seconds.
Notes friends tied to the doorknob,
transparent scarlet paper,
sizzle like moth wings,
marry the air.
So much of any year is flammable,
lists of vegetables, partial poems.
Orange swirling flame of days,
so little is a stone.
Where there was something and suddenly isn’t,
an absence shouts, celebrates, leaves a space.
I begin again with the smallest numbers.
Quick dance, shuffle of losses and leaves,
only the things I didn’t do
crackle after the blazing dies.