Champagne and sparkles twirling into the glorious night or a quiet eve in front of the crackling fire log channel, watching movies or playing games with the kids, or the anti-normative stance of going to bed at 11:30 because you don’t believe in the whole drama of it all, the consumerism, or confetti makes you nauseous, or you are SINGLE and don’t want to find yourself at 11:59 in a cold sweat making side eyes at that bartender who poured your bubbly just a finger fuller than you’re pretty sure is the legal standard, obviously an invitation to lock lips after the crowd screams out 3,2,1 Happy New Year! But then what if you are mistaken and the bartender rejects you? And what are you doing anyhow planning a ceremonial make out sesh with some random who on any other night of the year would evoke in you no more than the modest appreciation of a drink well poured?!
And while you are prevaricating over your predicament, BAM there it is, dropped like a ball and a whistled by a thousand tooting blowers —the BIG BLANK SLATE. The next chapter of your life organized into a calendar year awaiting direction, for you to reach for a Crayola and colour inside the lines or outside the lines. To do something for the love of Mary.
A highlight reel of the year gone by begins to play and well, let’s just say it’s not a Stephen Spielberg production. The things that come up for us which evoke in us the desire to change, to renew, to overcome are usually those things we feel the most POWERLESS over. We haven’t managed to accomplish them, or solve them or pull them off. They are problems with sticking power. Hurdles, mountains, veritable Everests, beseeching us not just to lose a few pounds, but to BOOT CAMP it out, to become a fat shredding muscle building machine. To FIND those extra minutes in the day, possibly by giving up showering and the low REM hours of sleep between three and five am in order to sell that side hustle, go after that dream, do it the Canadian American way—try harder, believe harder, or be better at being, well, better. We need to become Herculean with our efforts, because all of the general well wishing and hoping for a break has yet to get us the acclaim, the meaning, the relationship or the body of our dreams. It has yet to break habits and create order, to sell sales, or solve world hunger by which I mean cook dinners that include the right ratio of vegetables to MacDonald’s take out, again (can I get a side salad with that please).
The THING is for many of us the blank slate evokes a FIGHT response.
We don’t want to be thinking about what went wrong since the beginning of time, or what remained beige, undreamed, unfulfilled and unremarkable all last year, and the year before that one, and the year before that one. UGHH. And thinking about how to do it bigger badder and better makes us segue into ALL THE WAYS we have tried and come up a day late and a toonie short. We should have worked harder, set the alarm for earlier, stuck to our guns, exerted sheer force over our hunger or lack of organization, or invisible LUCK. We should have taken different chances, played different numbers or turned left instead of right, and outsmarted the bad guys and the future. We should have known.
And now we have to add to all of this WEIGHT, the promise of a new decade. If not now, when? We don’t want to be left in the dust while everyone else is achieving their way to gloriously greener grass. The ball is dropping from way on high and we are standing right under it.
Well all of this dropping the ball on our years of ball dropping is a few rails of coke and sequins short of my kind of party. By coke I mean diet cola, obviously, no judgment for those Wolf of Wallstreet players out there. So while we are all shopping for Spanx and binge eating Ferrero Rocher before the Hunger Games Home Edition 2020, I am suggesting a slightly less painful walk down memory lane.
What if we made a list of EVERYTHING WE DID DO; everything that was hard, and everything that was joyful and gave ourselves some credit for THAT?
Did we get up in the morning, every damned day, or at least in the afternoon? Because I am going to bet there were days of getting up where nobody wanted to throw back those covers and do the thing and we did it anyhow. For love. To feed a person we cared about. Including ourselves. For duty or survival or propriety, or even out of the lack of a better path illuminating itself in gold haloed light. We still did it.
Did we handle all of the stuff that running a day in the life required of us? Not perfectly or against some arbitrary standard of how Cameron Diaz or Ryan Gosling might look returning the lamp to Ikea, or planking for three seconds before collapsing in a heap, or stress eating ice cream from the carton, but did we just do it however we could manage to do it without an entire production team and movie set to make us feel glam or cute or embedded in an inevitable happy ending?
Did we take care of anyone; ourselves, our loved ones? Our employer bless her, him, or it?
Did we handle some unexpected shit that went down?
Did we do some things to make ourselves feel good? To nurture ourselves? To indulge ourselves?
Did we cope and do some things to help ourselves cope?
Were we emotionally brave? Did we make a choice that was hard? Did we struggle to see things a better way?
Did we hurt, cry, laugh, celebrate, feel? Watch Netflix or drink wine or rant to a friend? Go on another first date, or a fiftieth first date?
Did we tell someone we loved them, spread some love into the world in whatever way we were able to?
Did we survive?
Were there acts of kindness? A smile. A moment of compassion. A reluctant hug.
WHAT IF WE DIDN’T COMPARE EVERYTHING WE DID OVER THE COURSE OF A YEAR OF OUR LIVES AND EVERYTHING WE WERE UP AGAINST AND ALL OF THE EFFORT OF LIVING AND LOVING WITH THE IMAGINED GOLD STANDARD VERSION OF OUR OWN EFFORTS, AKA THE BOTTOMLESS PIT OF I COULD DO BETTER?
Because I know you. I know that you shine, but that you are walking around with those Ray Charles glasses on and forgetting that you are a Superhero Mom, or that you are running an actual company, or overseeing a gazillion people with vision and flare, or keeping afloat in a shit market or taking colossal risks, even if they are so quietly heroic no one else sees them. I know that you are overcoming your upbringing and your obstacles and trying to have some integrity. Some of you are literally saving lives, and yet where is your tent pitched? In the great wide prairie of I should have been a better partner I can’t get my ass on the treadmill and for some reason I still bleed when poked with a sharp instrument.
The truth is that our GOALS are typically IDEAS of what will fix our hurty places. Sometimes we don’t need to spend the next 365 days training for the Olympics, we just need to say something loving to our image in the mirror. So before we start entertaining what else to drop onto the EPIC to do list, let’s actually shed some light on what we have done. Really.
I once spent a month starting every list with what I had already done that day and it was an earth shattering eye opening exercise in developing self compassion. Because I was so focused on the areas I felt resistance to that it didn’t matter that I had run ten k, cleaned the house, bossed some errands, showered and spent an hour talking to a friend who needed support. Everything was swept under the battle against that one area of struggle, which was hard in the first place because I judged myself for not wanting to do it, and then defined myself by the failure to do it easily and efficaciously.
Don’t worry though, I am a much nicer Mom to myself now.
So I challenge you, dare you, beseech you and lovingly encourage you to work up to NYE with a visit to what you’ve done already with some whistle blowing and some champagne corking to celebrate YOU. Make a choice to take off the dark fear glasses and shed some love on yourself.
And then, for extra credit, JK, let’s ask what are some things we can do right now, without Hercules, Oprah, Shark Tank or Tony Robbins sprinkled over our oatmeal? Without getting up out of our chair or opening our eyes or changing into exercise tights, although yes you do look sexy in those Richard Simmons inspired terry towel wrist bands with the pink stripes.
We can forgive. Ourselves. The idea that we should be more. All of the expectations we placed on 2019. We can put down the poker and prodder. We can stop kicking ourselves when we are down. The more intense our desire to overcome the more likely we have given our problem power over ourselves and the more likely we are to need an inner fix before an outer fix is going to do squat, or squats (you’re welcome).
It doesn’t mean giving up on our goals. It’s not that we don’t deserve to have it all. It’s just changing the game. Giving ourselves a leg up, instead of throwing the world onto our shoulders and shaming ourselves into beating down the competition.
We can forgive a buddy, or a frenemy. Someone who didn’t show up the way we desperately needed them to. We can feel our feelings but let go of our temptation to defend or retaliate or over protect ourselves.
We can go into the next meeting, or the next date, or the next coffee at Starbucks as if we are engaging a friend who wants nothing more than to have our back.
As for those things that we really deserve? To find love. To feel inspired. To feel good? Well those things we can nurture into being. We can plant seeds and water them. We can appreciate ourselves for everything that we are. We can redefine ourselves as enough and deserving. We can arm ourselves with support and direction and help. We can heal. We can delegate. We can take the pressure off, and shine a light on everything that we are already rocking crushing and killing.
Fear is good for getting us out of the path of a bus. But as a long term motivator, it’s shit as fuck. There you go. I just invented a new curse #2019goalscomplete.
But a year of those little starfish from Aquamarine whispering truth into your ear (that’s ME, I am the STARFISH) and helping you steer your dolphin into the tide until you feel an entire ocean of love wooshing you along, well (now the cold meds are talking friends), that’s a resolution that brings its own resolve.
I’ll drink to TEN YEARS of that bubbly. And I’ll drink to you.
— Love Erin
P.S. Do you or someone you love need help with your 20/20 Vision? I’m booking intensives and gift packages for the new year.
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