Last night was low key, just hubs, the kids, the dog, and I, warm and snug in the house, watching the snow fall, and more than 2 million people on television in New York’s Times Square. Hubs and I spent the early evening watching our new binge favorite, and are one episode away from being caught up on it: Penny Dreadful (spoiler: Rose Tyler is still excessively pissed off about being left on a beach in an alternate universe. If you get that joke, hello fellow Whovian!), and we had yummy snacks, champagne, and “kid wine”, as my youngest calls it. Welch’s sparkling grape juice, to be exact.
As we watched the frenzy build, and folks joyously count down from 10 to 0 and scream “Happy New Year!”, kiss, cry, toast, and generally be excited, happy, enthused, etc., my youngest turns to me and asks “Mom, why is new year’s such a big deal?”, which took me by surprise. I took a moment, thought about it and gave him my thought on why.
To me, New Year’s is a symbolic new beginning, the slate is wiped clean, with the turning of the page to a blank calendar, waiting for all of the events and appointments to be filled in as the days, weeks, and months roll by, I see possibilities. I see the chance to start a fresh chapter in my life, and fill the pages with the story I want to write.
Some folks may think that is a little deep for a 10 year old, to that, I say: you have never met my 10 year old. I secretly think he’s a 40 year old who got trapped into the body of a 10 year old during a freak storm (think Freaky Friday), but then he makes a fart joke, or can’t figure out how to take out the trash and I think he’s normal. He appreciated that explanation, and actually seemed satisfied with it, so that’s a great start.
Every year I read about, overhear, and discuss resolutions with people, and I will say this: I don’t make them. To me, resolutions are an absolute, a line in the sand, and once your toe goes over that metaphorical line, there is a mental “Eh, fuck it”, and that resolution gets binned. No thanks, I don’t need to start piling up the mental tally marks of failure from day one.
Which is why I make general goals, turn the rudder a bit to the right and start heading in the direction I want my life to go. I have that power, I have that ability, and though I know not every day is going to take me closer to where I want to be, I know that keeping that goal in sight will keep me moving in an overall forward motion.
This year, my goals are fairly simple, and I think attainable:
- Be grateful. Look for the good, the positive, and find happiness in every day, no matter how tiny it may seem.
- Look after my health. A walk around the property, a hike though the gorgeous scenery here in Maine.
- Be more present for the family. Start doing my PT so oldest and I can jog together, start family game night, movie night, pile on the grass and talk night.
- Bird more! I live in a state that gives me the opportunity to see a bunch of lifers, if I would just go get them.
- Do more. Take the family out and explore!
If I start with number one, the rest will fall into place, so I have decided to set up a “Happy/thankful/smile” jar on the kitchen counter with a pile of small slips of colored paper. Everyone in the family is encouraged to participate! Had something make you smile today? Write it up, toss it in! You are thankful for something or someone today? Write it up, toss it in! The whole point of this is a visual exercise, the more we are happy for, the more slips of paper that go in, the more we will look for things to share. Anonymously, or not. The even bigger picture here is that if we are looking for things to put in the jar, we are actively choosing to seek happiness. I think that’s a worthwhile endeavor, don’t you?
I know many folks are dreading what 2017 has to bring, for very valid reasons. I am one of those people. I know there is only so much I can do with some of these situations, so I will take deep breaths, toss in my hands where I can, but make sure I spread happy where I can. Hubs and I have started telling the kids “It starts with me”, meaning: if everyone says “Not my problem”, nothing ever gets done. If you take two minutes of your time and pick up the trash on the side of the road, wash up the dishes you didn’t use, smile at a stranger, say hello and mean it, close the lid on the public bin someone left open… you start a small ripple in a big pond. No, it may not change anything, but if you lead by example, choose to do right, you can change your environment, and possibly teach other folks to do the same.
I hope that this bright, beautiful first day on the clean slate of 2017 brings you hope, happiness, humanity, humility, humor, whichever adjective you need to make it through and take one baby step towards steering the ship of your life in the direction you want and need it to go.
We’ve got this.