Maybe ten years ago, my friend Cowboy Dave told me, “My last New Years resolution was to not make any more resolutions. It’s the only resolution I’ve ever kept.” And you know, something does happen maybe six to eight weeks in. We run out of steam. Winter is cold and gross and for most of us, keeping up the momentum is just exhausting because all the deadlines and emails and meetings that were stalled around Christmas come land-sliding back in and our journals and vision boards and good intentions slowly but surely get replaced by our standby vices.
Eventually, I too, gave up making resolutions, but I still felt sort of empty about moving into a new year. I really feel that it’s still an opportunity to make small but significant changes in my life that are sustainable. But I also realize that targeting one or two specific items is self-defeating. All of a sudden I am just thinking about that thing and not the other areas of my life that also need watering and when setbacks show up, as they do, my foundation hasn't been fortified in the appropriate areas.
So, being a writer, I decided to go instead with a New Year’s slogan. A word or phrase that would guide my year and I treat NYE as a pilot evening for the new word and orient all my activities around it! And so far, this slogan thing is no joke. I have learned to choose with caution! And even then, be careful what you wish for.
Two years ago, I asked for “depth.” Unfortunately, I spent that NYE sick in bed with the first wave of what would alter the course of my life in terms of physical and mental health. I didn’t just get depth. I was excavated in 2014. It was the worst/best word I could have ever selected. Probably the most visible result was that I lost a hundred pounds mostly due to a persistent set of maladies for the next year, which I’m well on the rebound from but can’t deny I have been irrevocably changed by that year and still have to monitor and pay attention to my body in ways I never had to before. In the process of healing, which you can read about here, I started to learn more about mindfulness meditation and also began seeing a therapist. The better I became physically, I realized that there were clear psychological indicators in my personal life that were having a negative effect on my health. Much of that was stress brought on by issues in my marriage compounded with new demands from work and school. I slowly, painfully began the process of disengaging whatever literally felt like it was eating me alive. Including being one half of a married couple. I’ve written about that here. And my path to living single again here.
For 2015, I chose the word “jouissance,” which is French for joy to the point of ecstasy, or more pointedly, orgasm. I had been sad and isolated and didn’t realize it for so long, I wanted to create new memories, forge more meaningful relationships, and have joyous experiences. Next thing I know, I’m running around as den mother to a grip of young artists, directing music videos and now a film, and doing all I could to fill my life with laughter. I reared my head in 2015 and tried all the new things this year. I went to a reptile expo. A gem and rock expo. And even an outdoors expo. I wandered the woods and rooftops and county fairs with my cubs. I said “yes,” and “why not” a lot more to people, to piercings, to kittens, to late night shows, to even being in front of the camera, which if you know me, you know I prefer much more be on the other end. I let a spectrum of folks into my cloistered cozy hobbit hole life and cooked them dinner and we’ve laughed and watched movies or, depending on the time of day, the rainbows thrown around the room from the prism in my window. I cracked open my exoskeleton and let the world flood me with sensation, including, quite unexpectedly, a surprising bout of what Kahlil Gibran calls love's threshing-floor. I’ve lived more freely and frankly, more recklessly in 2015 than I have maybe in ten years. And it’s been one glorious borealis-hued streak of a year. Days and nights of playing as hard, for once, as I work.
And now, 2016, I realize I’m on the cusp of giving until I give out again. I don’t feel bad about it, just like I could use some time to recharge. So, this year’s slogan started out as a simple wish for more effective self-care, but I gotta tell ya. The sexier the slogan, the more resonant it becomes in my life. I was having sister time with a good friend of mine a couple of weeks ago and she blurted out at one point “Treat yourself!” Ahhhh. There it was. I love that phrase. I love every implication it points to. And I am thinking about it in terms of not necessarily splurging materialistically, but metaphysically on myself. I want 2016 to be a year of long, luxurious, candlelit, unfettered bubble-baths. And massages. And mud masks. And a day a week to sleep in. I am even giddily planning my first vacation in five years and! Bonus! My first solo vacation ever to a little secluded beach to write and look for mainland mermaids.
But it also means I’m looking forward to a lot more time spent spoiling my muse (both my artistic and academic muse because this dissertation won’t write itself). But whatever "treat yourself" entails. I love the idea of a slogan because it is inclusive and guides my decisions for the new year, adapting to whatever circumstances I find myself. I want to opt for the decision that will afford me the ability to luxuriate. For instance, I would love to treat myself to a new car next year that I actually pick out not just for its work-horse potential, so that means I’m going to have to take a look at my finances with fresh eyes. Which I’ve been meaning and meaning to do, but nothing is so motivating as the idea of, if I get it all figured out just right, I’ll be able to finally afford that new whip! I also want to travel more and see more live music next year. So this means looking at my schedule and intentionally working in time to take little weekend trips next year to places I’ve never been, like the mysterious land of Chattanooga I’ve heard so much about.
And finally, peace of mind. I REALLY want to treat myself to peace of mind. It’s so easy to get bogged down in the carousel of meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting after meeting (cue DJ Khaled #anotherone). In addition to work-related commitments, I tend to take on a lot of collaborations and projects I “can’t” say no to because they’re such great ideas. And of course, every year, I end up having accomplished so much but with very little energy left over to enjoy it. Speaking of DJ Khaled, I really love his videos and memes floating around. I have to admit, his mantra is really very catchy and does feel supportive. So much so, I had these made and laminated for myself and a few friends of mine to keep at home or in the car—wherever its needed most.
So, what does “treat yourself” mean for my New Years Eve this year as my test run? It means a SERIOUS blanket fort. It means fairy lights. It means dining alone on dark chocolate covered strawberries and champagne in my footie pajamas and sliding across the hardwood with the kittens and making the last 11:11 wish of 2015 surrounded by all my rocks and rainbows and taxidermy and trap music. It means toasting to all y'all's good health wherever you may be as I sign off of all the things until further notice. But in the mean time, whether you make resolutions, intentions, slogans, or opt to pass on all this hippie-dippy mumbo-jumbo altogether, lol, I hope you will be somewhere treating yourself to a gorgeous, light-filled New Year!