I’m not making New Year’s resolutions for 2016. Resolutions tend to get broken, and end up in little shattered piles of self-hatred by the end of January. Instead, I’m setting intentions for the new year, and I urge all of you to do the same.
Intentions are no less accountable than resolutions, but more forgiving. If I “break” a resolution, it remains broken. That’s what society tells us, that if we’ve eaten that cookie or skipped the gym or had a drink before the end of January, our resolution is irreparable. By contrast, my intentions allow for human error. Intentions urge me to become a better version of myself while forgiving myself for being a fallible, imperfect human.
In the Japanese art of Kintsugi, broken pottery is mended with gold lacquer, creating something beautiful out of the imperfect pieces. This year, I want to think of myself as a kintsugi vase. I’m cracked in places I used to think were beyond repair, and I have failings and struggles that keep me awake at night, keep me apologizing to my loved ones, keep me in a roiling vat of self-hatred far too often. That’s not only self-destructive, but creates a cycle of failure. I’m an introspective person. Always have been (ask my teenage diaries about that) and I’ve realized I respond so much better to positive reinforcement than negative. Problem is, our society is built upon negativity. Take a look at the TV commercials, radio ads and Internet pop-ups. They’re all about body shaming, financial shame, punishing diets to make us better, because we’re not good enough in this country, never good enough for anyone to love until they do and then quick! Better change for them. Not me, America. Not anymore.
This year, I’m going to paint those cracks in gold and emerge stronger and even more beautiful in spirit and soul. I’m going to place these intentions in this public space to hold myself accountable, but also to give myself somewhere to look when I forget what I’ve decided. Because we all do that, don’t we? We mean to be better, to help our fragile baby bird selves to fly, but we fall out of the nest and forget to get back up. Or we get up, but blame ourselves for our broken wings, and so buoyed down by the innumerable weight of shame, we can’t get back up again. Not nearly as high. Instead, I’m placing this here so I can come back when I fall (and I will fall, friends. That’s what humans do). So I can come back and look and say, “You’re worth more than this, friend. You’re worth trying for.”
I intend to start this year by hitting the reset button on my health. For January, I’m following the lead of a friend of mine who did a “dry January” last year, in his words, “To make sure I can.” I think we all drink too much during the holiday season, but I’ve found myself swilling my social anxiety far too often. Instead of a thread of conversation, I pick up a glass. Isn’t it easier to avoid answering awkward questions if your mouth is full? For the month of January, I’m going to replace alcohol with water and see how much better I feel. I’m going to sit with myself and my feelings and ask the questions I’ve been drowning. Because we all relate better to one another when we take down that hazy curtain. Let’s see what happens when I let it drop for 30 days.
I intend to do more yoga and meditation. I discovered yoga last year, if we’re being honest, but haven’t committed to it as fully as I can. Yoga helps me stretch out my body and my spirit, asking my mind to connect to my spine, my stomach, my soul. It’s also great exercise for my often aching body, my often aching spirit. Before the holidays, I tried a few studios around the area but fell off the proverbial wagon when the holly got too jolly. Even if it’s just once or twice a week, this aspiring yogi is going to get her om on.
I intend to eat more green things. My diet is mostly whole grains, lean protein and more often than it should be, chicken wings and french fries. Typically, I start the day well with oatmeal, a slice of toast with cheese and an egg or yogurt and granola then sliiiiip down the health scale to end it with beer and pizza. This year, I’m making a concerted effort to eat more plants, starting by (what else?) pinning some yummy green recipes and stocking up the ol’ frigidair. Green-eaters: Share your recipes with me!
I intend to write more. I’m a writer. That’s in my blood, it’s in my bones. As a far more pretentious high school Lizz wrote (yes peanut gallery, that’s possible), “Ink runs through my veins.” This year, I’m going to write with intention, write the swirling plot lines and character sketches my brain screams desperately at me, all day long. I’ve already started a running “notes” document on my phone, so I can scribble those suckers down at whim. It’s not much, but it’s a start.
I intend to be kinder, to myself and my loved ones. When I get stressed, when my fibro flares and I’m in pain, when I’m hormonal and feeling icky, I get mean. And that’s not me, guys. That leads to that same cycle of apologies and shame, of not feeling like myself and not acting like myself, taking it out on those around me and beating myself up about it. That’s not how I want to live my life, and it’s not fair to those who are only trying to support me. This year, the cycle stops. It starts with accountability. Sitting with my feelings in my body, and acknowledging them to myself. It starts with honesty, to myself and others, about how I feel and what I need. It starts with knowing my triggers and obeying the signals my body, my mind sends. Because if I don’t, the house of cards falls down and I’m the one who’s buried. We don’t deserve that, readers. No one does.
I read a tweet today that said, “This is the year I stop saying ‘someday’ and start saying ‘now.'” I think that’s an excellent intention not just for New Year, but for every day. Let’s live the now, this year. Let’s live for our best selves. This is our year. All of us.