Friday, January 1, 2016


I love making New Year's Resolutions, but because I'm human, I am truly terrible at keeping them. They're a perennial (literally) favourite of mine! And, not to brag, but a lot of the resolutions I've set for myself over the past few years have come to pass, even if they were sort of by accident. I've made my peace with my body (or at least I had; we'll just have to see what a post-baby incarnation looks like and what kind of spirit work it requires), which means I no longer "need" to lose x-number of pounds. I've accepted my Coke Zero habit, mostly don't eat junk food, and I quit smoking ages ago.

But that doesn't mean there aren't things in my life that wouldn't benefit from some changes. Resolutions, adjustments, goals, habits to break or create, things I need to examine or challenge, and all the other work that goes into the improvement of a human being. In the spirit of the new year, here are some of my 2016 goals:

1. Set a monthly intention. A friend of mine does this, and I think it's pure genius. Whether it's practicing more gratitude, getting outside more often, working on a relationship that needs some TLC, or some other goal, holding it in my mind for a month seems doable. I'm a person who, every so often, will "make a five year plan": this is literally just a half-baked spreadsheet with columns like FINANCE and LOVE and I'm stumped on how to fill out the cells. I do much better with short-term goals, like giving up sugar or social media for a month, and I often find that these experiments act as a window into my priorities. Like, giving up sugar was horrible, because it tapped into the obsessive, punitive part of my brain. Better to just have a bit of chocolate and be cool with it, you know? Anyway, a monthly intention may just be enough focus in a year which I'm sure will have its share of hairiness.

2. Stop taking everything so damn personally. I am...not very good at this. From other people's weddings to celebrity bodies, it can be a real challenge to remember that these things are not happening at me, and I don't need to react to them as though I've been personally wronged. This happens literally all the time, from the mundane (I didn't win an Instagram giveaway! I am bad at Instagram and am also a loser!) to the meaningful (before I was married, unchecked jealousy over other people's engagements left me feeling like I'd been doused in lye). Being able to celebrate people's milestones and accomplishments is the mark of a healthy soul, and it's something I need to cultivate in myself before I shrivel up into a husk. I've been working on this for years already, so this is more of a reminder to, you know, keep at it!

As a corollary, if my husband happens to have a grumpy face when he's talking to me, he might not be grumpy at me (although he definitely might be: I have been known to push a button or two). I want to be able to hear past an angry tone, an interruption, or a misspoken word, and not weaponize it and turn it back onto the person. I want to be able to hear the message without getting all bent out of shape about the delivery. Personal criticism is vital for growth (prune the dead branches, etc), but it doesn't always come in an embossed envelope, delivered by singing baby angels.

3. Stop swearing (in conversation). I love salty language. I've peppered my speech with forbidden words since the fifth grade, when I realized that my parents weren't actually in class with me and couldn't do much about it (my big transgression? Telling a classmate to shut up, which, along with hate, stupid, and dumb, was definitely Not Allowed in my house). I swear like a sailor with my friends and my therapists, and I love it. It's fun! But, if I'm being perfectly honest, swearing is also sort of déclassé and aggressive. I hate that I'm more likely to drop an f-bomb when I'm angry, or when I'm trying to come across as cool or tough. Removing rough language from my speech doesn't mean I don't feel angry, or want to seem cool or tough; it just means I don't have a convenient crutch to lean on to convey those thigs. And I can definitely keep using the whole dictionary, including the R-rated entries, in my writing. Sometimes, a sister just needs to write fuuuuuck, you know?

2016 is going be a nutty year for a lot of different reasons. We're transitioning from a two-person family to welcoming a third. My parents and siblings are in flux right now, and "home" is undergoing a radical redefinition. I have creative projects simmering in my brain, but they've not yet come to full boil. And, as the year passes, time will stretch and slow like it always does. The days will be long and the weeks short, and vice versa. "One day at a time" is such a cliche, but even cliches have their usefulness.

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