5 Ways to Begin the New Year Inadequately On Purpose

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:

photo 2 (74)

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?

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
21 comments
  1. Joining! Thanks for reminding me it doesn’t have to be perfect!

  2. I’m in. Both the resolutions and the ice cream. My only big resolution for this coming year, is to try and find me again.

    Not the wife. Not the mother. Not the student. Not the business owner. Not the Lupus sufferer.

    But that me, that disappeared 24 years ago when I became a mother, wife, student, patient, business owner and general yes I can do that person.

    Not at all sure how I am going to do that, but one day at a time.

    Happy new year to all. Ice Cream for all.

  3. Thank you… Because I was just lying here thinking about how I suck at this new years thing, and my poor family. No cool things going on here, I mean, at all. In fact we’re all a little gloomy. And I realized I hate all of the messages of, not enough, and how I need to change. (I do also appreciate some of the traditions that people have). But you’ve put my heart on paper again. Thank you for helping me through tonight! Praying your feeling better very soon!!

  4. You inspire me. Mainly because I believe our minds run on the same wave length (migraines and all! Feel better lady

  5. Love this! Love you! Thank you!

  6. Huh. I got out of bed this afternoon from a migraine. I am so sorry it decided to visit you. I pray you will move through it quickly and somehow feel God’s comfort, love, and healing as you do.

  7. […] want me.  Me, with my imperfections and humanity.  As another imperfect mama said, “heroic and horrible, and magical and messy, and beautiful and bumbling, with love and […]

  8. most resolutions don’t last until February. You might as well stick to the things you know you can do, and cut out all of the guilt for not doing them.

  9. Yes. 🙂

  10. Whoa! The difference between guilt and longing. Dude, you just blew my mind.
    Migraines suck. I hope yours shrivel up and die. I hope the same for mine.

  11. I love these resolutions! I may even be able to keep a couple of them 😉 Happy New Year!

  12. I stumbled across your blog a few days ago and OH SWEET MERCY at all the joy it has brought! I love, love, love every post I’ve read. 🙂

  13. I’m in. I may succumb to an exceedingly ambitious resolution or two as well, though. Because I can’t help myself. And then I will falter and come back here for a re-read and forgiveness. Happiest of new years to you, Beth!

  14. Wow, Beth, your writings resonate with me in a way that no one else’s ever have. I know you are capturing something essential and life-affirming each time because I catch myself crying and laughing with every post. Yes, EVERY post! The irony of this particular post is that I caught myself wondering if you were doing some of those magical things with your family last night while I was a nervous wreck around my ADHD brood of 4 (ages 8-15) as my husband calmly doled out explosive devices to each of them over and over again. I tried to keep it in, especially when he’d ask what was the matter (which he did repeatedly), but my anxiety was not over until the last explosion was. And amidst the nerve-wracking pops, crackles and sparkles, as my children both bickered and reveled in the danger and exhilaration of the experience, I caught myself yet again berating myself for not living up to some perfect ideal. No one has ever helped me forgive myself more or espoused more of a conscious Christian perspective than I have seen in your writings. Thank you again and may you and your family have a wonderful New Year!

  15. I needed this, so much. 2014 brings another year of “away,” Army style, and I am just not ready for it. I have hopes for the year, of course, but I also have fears about it because we’ve been down this road before. I know it hurts.

    I will definitely join you. Want me to pitch in on the vat of ice cream?

  16. Beautiful! And I vow to be kind, to my kids, my husband, strangers and mostly to my self.

  17. I just posted your link to ‘my’ New Years resolutions on fb. I hope it brings you lots of traffic.

  18. I’m on board…let’s do it!

  19. Thanks for this. Life has given me deep lessons of letting go into beautiful inadequacy. We began 2013 still fighting my husband’s stage four cancer, which we beat, but then we had to go straight into major surgery which has since been a time of pain and complications. I also lost a young and beloved aunt to cancer and was at her side as she passed. We are hoping 2014 will be gentler.

    This was my message to my beloveds: May you and the year ahead be gentle and kind to your body, mind and spirit. May your grief and anger find necessary release. May that weeping soften the hardened earth at your feet. May that softening nurture unexpected new life and delight. May you notice them. When you are weary, remember this from Annie Dillard: “Beauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try and be there.” So, as bedraggled as you and I might be as we enter this new year, if we can but open even one eye and look about a little, there is something to see, something to find, maybe even something, however small and fleeting, to delight.

    Blessings to you and yours, Beth, and thank you for the gift of your well-said honesty.

  20. Sounds good and actually possible in the controlled chaos that is my life… I’m in! Happy New Year.

  21. What a breath of fresh air in the annual new year restart madness. Thanks, Beth.

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