I like the fresh-start feel of the Gregorian new year. Like a number of folks I know, I see the time between Halloween/Samhain and January 1 as a sort of hibernation/reflecting/rooting time. I don’t go out much, I spend a lot of time doing things that either don’t require much thought (this year it’s been knitting and shelving the last few boxes of my books) or are aimed at reflection (this year, I lengthened my meditation most mornings, and got a lot better about writing in my journal and doing my Morning Pages).
Yes, January 1 is an arbitrary date (and in fact, inaccurate to the Roman calendar we base many of our months upon!), but the culture surrounding me is all about the fresh start at this time, and it’s much more pleasant to ride the wave of “yayyy! Let’s do good things and be awesome!” rather than shrug it off.
I’ve given up New Years Resolutions, though. They’re incredibly difficult to keep (and if you go to a gym regularly you know exactly what I mean) and therefore not super effective in the long run.
Instead, I’ve taken up the practice of inviting in qualities I want for the year ahead. The ones I chose for 2013 were Enchantment, Balm, Intention, Flourishing, and Mindfulness.
Holy Crap 2013 Was Crazy
2013 was a big year — I went through every single one of my possessions (including the last few “ugh I don’t want to unpack anymore!” boxes left over from two or three previous moves) and culled, and Nate and I moved up to Portland. We adopted a pair of kittens, Zephyr was diagnosed with lymphoma, and I had to adjust to working entirely from home (I’m still trying to get back in the habit of drinking 2L of water a day. It was easy at the office, somehow, and it’s really difficult at home).
I went from “oh sweet, CA paycheck on an OR budget, cakewalk!” to “holy shit why do I not have any money?” and had to figure out what was going on (it turns out that living in beervana leads to spending way too much money on beer. Also, lymphoma is really expensive).
More importantly, though: I did two things I never, ever thought I would do. I moved out of the Bay Area for serious (not like in college where I still had a bedroom in my parents’ place), and I sold my car.
The Bay is where I grew up. I used to say that the only other place I could see myself living was England — appropriate since the climate here is fairly similar a lot of the time. But after a few years of working in Silicon Valley and dealing with commuting, cubes, and all that bullshit, I couldn’t take it. I was so stressed out. Moving up here felt like letting out a big breath I didn’t realize I’d been holding. When I went back down to the Bay Area for Thanksgiving, it just drove the point home — my driving is really different, for one thing. Also, the enormous lowering of my baseline stress levels has had actual physical effects – one of my friends told me I looked younger. A lot of people asked if I’ve lost weight (I’ve noticed that when something stressful but good happens, once I adjust to it people start asking me if I’ve lost weight. Heh).
Selling my car freaked me out more than I expected. I’d owned it for a decade, and commuted in it for years. It was like an extra room from my apartment or something. But I needed the money and here in Portland I don’t really need a car, so I found a really sweet college kid to buy her and said goodbye. (I’m glad we connected, she’s his first car and he was super excited and said he’d take good care of her.)
I did a way better job taking care of myself in 2013 — I started taking weekly Days of Rest, where I’d set aside a whole day and not do anything stressful — good or bad stress. No video games, no computer stuff, nada. Reading, knitting, listening to podcasts or music, that kind of thing. It has helped enormously — for one thing, I am only just now starting to come down with a cold, whereas past years I’ve caught at least one cold, or (usually) two by now.
The Book Roadie has been on semi-hiatus because of the move, but I’ve been getting back into production mode. I made my first wholesale sale to a local shop, and have been making big plans for 2014.
Let Me Sum Up
Overall, I think I did pretty well bringing in those five qualities I wanted. Kittens are profoundly engaging and make you see everything in a different way, if only in the “shit, can the kittens get at this delicate thing? I will move it!” way (Enchantment). My health has improved and stress level has decreased (Flourishing and Balm). I’m doing more meditation (Mindfulness) and have been working really hard on unpacking — I’m almost done, which is exciting (Focus).
For 2014, I picked a single word: Recognition. I mean it in several senses, though:
- Recognizing situations, both internal and external, for what they are
- Recognizing the tools I have for dealing with said situations (e.g. I’m really good at noticing I’m having anxiety but not as great at remembering what to do about it)
- Being recognized for my hard work, both in my day job and with The Book Roadie
Self-knowledge, prosperity, health, etc. Lots of stuff tied up in that. I have a lot of ideas on how to go about drawing in Recognition, but the biggest one is remembering that I already know a shitload of things. I have a lot of metaphorical and literal tools. Rather than chasing after new knowledge, I want to work on integrating and using the knowledge I already have. I want to recognize the situation, recognize the tools I need to use, and then act.
I imagine this will be frustrating at times (using existing tools and not chasing new ones means not signing up for new classes or studying new things), but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward to meeting. I feel like I’ve taken a step off the hamster wheel I often make of my life, and am sitting down and organizing what I already have rather than running running running to get new stuff. The moment between stimulus and response is far more visible to me than it used to be — I can recognize it, even if I don’t spot it quickly enough to act (I lost my temper a few days ago, and I could feel the exact moment I hopped back on that damn wheel and started to spin). That sort of recognition is vital to being able to meet the world from a place of being centered rather than always leaning forward trying to grasp things that look like they’d be good/fun/whatever.
2014 feels full of promise! I’ll leave you with a toast T. Thorn Coyle taught me:
Love! Health! Knowledge! Prosperity! And Great Sex!
Here’s to a fabulous year. What are you all looking at as we change our calendars?