2014 was PATIENCE
2015 was RISK
2016 was BOUNDARIES
New Years is my favorite holiday.
It used to be Christmas. As a Gift Giver (an identity pulled from the 5 Love Languages), I adore the act of choosing the ideal gift for a loved one. Wrapping the package for perfect presentation. Watching them, as un-creepily as possible, take in the moment of expectation and surprise as they unwrap their present. The hugs. The smiles. The warm fuzzies of successfully expressing my affection and care and their successful receipt of it.
There’s great other stuff about Christmas, too. Lights on houses, spiked eggnog, and huge celebrations enjoying fantastic food and beverages with fantastic people. And the Christmas movies. My god, I do love Christmas movies. An annual tradition that began in college, I used to marathon them every day throughout season. Starting with Home for the Holidays on Thanksgiving and ending with The Nativity Storyon the 25th, I partook in a new film or special each night.
Yet for all the good about Christmas, as I aged I found myself less in the holiday spirit. Maybe it was in part because of my divorce in 2013. Or maybe the years of dissatisfaction that led up to it. Perhaps the holiday magic faded when I became more burdened by work deadlines and adult expectations. Maybe as I became less showy I required a less ornate holiday — though as a Leo I will always require a splash of glitz.
Maybe I just changed.
Or shifted, to be more precise.
I do think it’s the latter. For as much as I’ve always loved Christmas, I have also always been an Evolver. I love learning. I love lists and journals and reflection. I ingest self-help books and documentary films and the wisdom compactly nuggetted inside a quote. Reviewing and analyzing and recollecting. Daydreaming about how one year from today I will be nowhere near the same woman who I am now; she will know me but I do not know her. Not yet. She will be more mature and more flawed and practically new — the anticipation of that adaptation is thrilling.
These things fuel me in a way that a well-chosen present does not; they excite to a deeper level of my soul.
And even though they’re no longer en vogue, I adore New Year’s Resolutions. The act of looking back over the past year, reminiscing on the changes I anticipated and the ones that I could never have expected, the big days and the tiny moments that pop in my memory. Re-reading diary entries. Identifying my Top 5 Best and Worst Days (a habit that dates back to my longstanding affection of Rob Gordon). I archive playlists and pictures and create space for new, clean versions.
And I choose a word. Amongst many mini goals and resolutions, I select a single guiding light to help mold and inform the upcoming solar cycle.
2014 was PATIENCE.
My heart was shattered and I was picking up its pieces with bare hands. These were dark days, the ones following my divorce, and I wanted so much to be on the other side. But the only way there was through it so I reminded myself, again and again and again, to pace myself and grant grace at every opportunity. Having patience challenged me in unique ways and I was thrilled to find myself at the cusp of 2015 with an abundance of it. Waiting in lines, dealing with frustrating coworkers, allowing scars their time to heal — I endure more, have higher resilience, and my blood is now (or rather, finally) slow to boil.
2015 was RISK.
The year before I allowed myself to steep. And from the stillness I discovered that I was ready to emerge from my cocoon. I felt prepared for the first time in my life to make the hard choices, to voice the bold opinions, to take the leap of faith. I dated more and constantly pushed myself (sometimes forcibly) to dive when I preferred to remain safely in the shallows. For the first time I visited a country where I didn’t speak the language. I was deeply unhappy in a job that undervalued me… so I up and quit it. Something I’d never done, not even in college when it’s more acceptable to make rash choices that could leave you penniless. But the great reward on the horizon — a career investigating sexual misconduct on college campuses — had taken root in my soul and I knew that I couldn’t be static and achieve my dream. It was terrifying and though I was only technically unemployed for five stressful days, that decision stands as one of the proudest achievements of my life.
2016 was BOUNDARIES.
Intended to both build walls and dismantle them, 2016 was less about me as an island and more about my engagement with the world around me. Especially when it comes to men and love and relationships, I had (and still have) a difficult time allowing someone in. But once they breach my shorelines, I have an even harder time holding people accountable. I’m horrendously non-confrontational (perhaps a kickback of the patience I had gained years before) and find that it’s easier to swallow my problems than to share them with others; that just ends up making everyone unhappy. When I feel dissatisfaction in a situation, I tend to just quietly readjust my attitude. Unfortunately, never holding people accountable is in fact more toxic to a relationship than engaging in mild conflict. I ended a relationship that had turned counterproductive, I chose to live within the means of my salary, I gave in to a man whom I had been holding at arms reach. I challenged physical boundaries when I relocated from precious Colorado for a job and adventure in Alabama.
There were many runners up:
ENOUGH — as in I have enough, I am enough
CREATE — as in making something out of nothing
ADAPT — as in shift and evolve and flow with the tides
UNFUCKWITHABLE — as in being unable to fuck with
In the end, however, this year I decided to EMBRACE.
I will strive to open my arms to making new friends, finding a home in a new city with it’s own complex culture. To cuddle the man who has revolutionized my concept of love and caring over the course of a few months. To give all my flaws (both personal and physical) a big ol’ bear hug. To enfold myself into the changes and challenges which my whole being screams will be disastrous (I’m looking at you, Trump). To stop shying away from the scary stuff. To lean, evermore, into the discomfort.
My mantras for the year (altered slightly from Elizabeth Gilbert):
Embrace the glorious mess that is life
And for days when EMBRACING is purely about acceptance:
It is what it is