5 Ways to Begin the New Year Inadequately On Purpose

Dec 31 2013

I headed to bed with a migraine this afternoon, and I want you to know this is a perfectly acceptable way to end the old year and ring in the new. 

This is the time of year I feel bombarded with the message that my life is inadequate and I must fix it all right now. It’s the New Year! Time to turn over a new leaf! No time like the present! GET ON IT, STAT!

To be clear, I’m not opposed to turning over new leaves. I think leaf-turning makes profound sense at the New Year and beyond.

It’s just that I don’t feel the need for all new leaves right this minute. Nor do I think that just because some of my leaves are worn and comfortable and a little patchy in places means they need to be exchanged for shiny new leaves just yet. Leaf-growing, after all, is a process that takes energy and sunlight and nourishment and water, but it also takes the things I’m less inclined to see as growth: becoming crackly and brittle, falling to the earth, waiting in the darknesssitting in the mud, pushing against the dirt and, eventually, straining again toward the light

I just listened to an interview on National Public Radio about starting the new year with a financial fast. Twenty-one days of buying only the absolute necessities. Basic food. Prescriptions. Regular bills. Nothing extra. Reset your financial goals! Feel good about what you have! This is a GREAT idea. 

I’m not doing it.

I just saw an article that details how to gift-wrap activities and crafts for small kids to open every hour on New Year’s Eve to help them pass the time without boredom. Engage with your family! Be present to your littles! This is a GREAT idea.

I’m not doing it.

I just read eleventy hundred ideas for New Year’s resolutions that will help me be a fitter, thinner, richer, more active, organized, involved, patient, magical parent in 2014. They are GREAT ideas.

I’m not doing any of them. 

Here’s what I AM going to do in the New Year:

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1. I hereby vow in the New Year to do my best. Except on the days when I have no best to give, and then I will do my mediocre. Except on the days when I have no mediocre, and then I vow to give myself a break for being human. To forgive myself, make amends if needed and move on.

2. I vow in the New Year to be healthy, wealthy and wise. Except on the days I desperately brave the sticky underside of the couch cushions to scrounge for enough change to buy the biggest possible vat of ice cream.

3. I vow in the New Year to be present and involved with my children and my husband. Except when I need to take a break to be present and involved with myself and take a bath with the door locked and a glass of wine and a novel that will rot my brain. 

4. I vow in in the New Year to pay attention to the difference between guilt and longing. To recognize that just because I long for my children does not make me guilty of any self-assessed mama infractions. 

5. And, finally, I vow in the New Year, like I vow every year, to bear witness to the lives of the people who are the life of me. And I vow to do this as a human who is heroic and horrible, and magical and messy, and beautiful and bumbling, with love and laughter and light, and grace and gratitude and grime. Imperfectly. Inadequately. And on purpose.

Won’t you join me?