I have always been emotional when it’s time to say good-bye to another year. After much analysis I still cannot pinpoint the reason why I cry as we countdown 10,9,8? More times then I care to remember I have sucked back my tears- somewhat embarrassed. Is it the gratitude I feel for being in a room with those I love? Is it because it means another year of getting older (like my grandfather used to remind us – another day closer to the end – morbid but…)? Is it happy tears for having simply survived another crazy year? Is it gratitude for my health? Is it a sense of relief or sadness because the holidays are over? Maybe I cry because I fear for the future? The pressure of what is perceived as a clean slate going into a new year is too stressful? Expectations? Disappointment? Do you cry on New Year’s Eve and if so, why?
The past few days my inbox has been inundated with promises of a better me. Sign up for this – join us for that – be a better you starting in 2019. Is there something wrong with me? At least that is the vibe I am getting from my inbox! Part of me used to get giddy with excitement telling myself that the new year on the horizon meant the opportunity to be more like “this” and be less of “that” and get “better” at this and “learn” to “master” that (define your this and that). Does change make us better? With every new year do we have to change? Are we not enough?
I remember the beginning of 2018 so clearly because I had a goal. I started training for the Ironman 70.3 – that was my focus. As of January 1stI would make it a priority to swim, bike and run. I did all I had to do to accomplish my goal but inside it didn’t make me feel better at “this” or that I “mastered that” – in essence it didn’t fulfill me in the ways I had hoped. I was proud of myself for finishing the 70.3 but it didn’t make me feel anymore or less then I was before. It was a goal I set forth in an attempt to make myself better. Better at what? At triathlon I guess. I thought the triathlon would ignite a new flame for competition and personal growth. Instead it did the opposite – it made this “wanna be triathlete” realize that she wasn’t a triathlete at all. I spent half the year moving in a direction I thought I was meant to go in – bringing me closer to being a true triathlete. Not all was lost! Although I set out to become one thing – a true triathlete – it taught me more about other parts of myself.
I know for a lot of people the New Year is that promise of a fresh start. I simply want to say that any time of year you can make a fresh start. There is nothing magical about the calendar showing January 1, XXXX (unless it’s your birthday). If you are looking for a real change or to improve your life’s situation then the most important thing is not a date on the calendar but rather being prepared. I recommend doing the research, mapping out how you will go about obtaining your goals, get the support you need (family, friends or specialists) and set your intent. Otherwise, merely buying into what someone is selling for the new year will not work.
Often January 1 starts off with a hangover either from an epic party from the night before or worse, a pity party because life isn’t going the way I had planned. When you break it down holiday consumerism has two parts: for Christmas we buy for our loved ones and new years we buy for ourselves. A marketing ploy to help us buy into the idea that we can become better people. I went shopping on December 28thand realized they are still playing Christmas music. Why? Because it makes people want to buy. It’s still the holiday season right?!
This year I will take the same approach to the New Year’s as I did Christmas. Instead of buying into what promises to make me skinnier, richer and more peaceful. I remind myself that although 2018 was not perfect I did grow. Instead of trying to make myself something I am not I will continue to focus on the best parts of the life I already have. I will continue to focus on family, growing my business and striving to take S.Au.S. next level. Every day I will get up and do the best I can and some days that will mean merely getting out of bed and others it will be trying to contain myself from exploding with new projects/ideas. Does that make me enough? Damn right it does! That goes for everyone – we are all enough! It’s time to stop beating ourselves up. It’s time to be kinder and gentler with ourselves. None of that can be bought. Instead spend quiet time practicing positive self talk.
All my life I have gravitated to the “self help” section of a book store. For along time I truly believed that reading psychology books would reveal the secrets of how to be the very best human being I can be. I have been in therapy since the age of 23. So imagine the pressure that came with every new year – for me, in my head, it was another chance to clean the slate and start anew. Finally, this would be the year that I would get things right. I have worked on myself because for so long I thought I was flawed. In too many ways I was being reminded that I wasn’t enough. After years of listening, observing and internalizing the truth – I know better. There will be times in our lives when we are richer or poorer, skinnier or plump, happy or sad, active or inactive, social and anti…whatever we are going through it will never make us less. We will all go through things that make us doubt ourselves and the best way to survive that is love for ourselves and asking for help when we need it. It isextremely difficult to go through the hard times alone and sad to celebrate our successes when we have no one to share them with. I am not saying don’t try new things. Absolutley, YES go for it – life is all about trying new things. What I am saying is don’t buy into what is being sold to you. Instead start with stating your intentions for yourself…not what’s on trend in the media.
This year learn to take care of yourself - gently, consistently and on your own timeline. Forget the new food fads because they are just that. After endless research on food I agree with the concept of portion control and eating the food most natural to the source (organic if possible and nothing processed). That means you can eat the cheese but merely as a treat and not the whole meal. You eat therefore you have to move. Then I learned that eating right and moving are not the only important factors to a healthy life – stress release and sleep are just as important. We know what we should be doing but all this marketing and new fad bullshit has us confused. It’s simple if you stick to the plan: eat 3 meals and 2 snacks a day (composed of real food – vegetarian or not), drink lots of water (if you consume coffee then drink more water), exercise (which means move 20-30 minutes 5 days a week – come on that is 2 whole days you don’t have to move), aim to get 8 hours of sleep a night (some people work on more and some less but 8 hours is optimal) and find stress relieving activities (walk in nature, swim, read, meditate, write or simply be still – no computer screens). I am not an expert but after investing 45 years into the idea of a better me – the new year’s me – this is what I know for sure.
After all these years I have come to see that January 1st as just another day and like every morning when I wake up and put my two feet on the floor I whisper “thank you for this new day”.