It’s the New Year, but I don’t feel any different. Unless you count my new cold.
New years are always strange in that they traditionally start out with a heart full of hope, a head full of optimism and, equally, a decent touch of nostalgia. Conversely, nothing has set this weekend apart from most other weekends in my household, besides the bottle of champagne we shared, or my husband having a three-day weekend, or my oldest daughter being home from school.
I don’t feel different, exactly, but my stuffy nose and slight grumpiness are helping me to appreciate things I normally love and take for granted — like a good workout and breathing through my nose.
I’ve also generally rebelled against the idea of a New Year’s resolution.
There’s something gross about trying to make ourselves into better people only once a year; we mentally cram our already pretty worthwhile selves into some glass-Cinderella-slipper-vision of who we wish we were, rather than taking in the positives of who we already are.
I work on myself throughout the year, regardless of the calendar date.
I work on my temper, and my relationships, and I try to be a kind person who cares for myself and others, because that’s the way I want to live while I’m on this Earth — and while I don’t think that resolutions are necessarily a complete waste of time, I do think they’re overrated.
Still, it’s inspiring to cross the threshold of a new year. It’s invigorating to step out into the cold air and breathe in the sunshine of a brand new moment when everything seems possible and everything seems throwaway, too. We can throw away our bad habits and embrace new, better ones — exercise, eating and sleeping are all familiar resolution ingredients. Moreover, we’re reminded to double-check our routines and rituals.
Our habits make up who we are, but often we pay little attention to our everyday, commonplace activities.
I wake up in the morning and I turn on the gas burner. I start the hot water going in my kettle, and I measure out coffee into my aeropress, and I pour my preferred flavors — with a splash of whole milk — into my favored mug. I eat one of two things for breakfast. I get my oldest daughter ready for school; I nurse the youngest. My husband gets ready for work. I exercise a little and typically write a little bit, too. My days are often similar, with some deviations thrown in — things like my daughter’s gymnastics session or a doctor’s appointment or a different errand add some uniqueness to my average post-coffee afternoons.We should always question our habits while appreciating them, too.
I appreciate that first, smooth sip of coffee, even if I do hungrily take it in as the clock counts down to the school bus arriving at the edge of our driveway. I kiss my husband as he walks out the door, and I maybe eat oatmeal instead of grainy toast with peanut butter. My life is fulfilling because of these comforts of familiarity — of the people I love surrounding me, and good food, and my favorite jeans — yet I’ve found that the most dramatic changes happen when we barely change at all.
They happen when we cut out a glass of wine in the evening, or when we write a page a day and it quickly becomes a book.
And this year I don’t think I’ll entirely throw away the concept of New Year’s resolutions, like I usually do. Instead, I think I’ll take a moment to pay more attention to who I am now, and to where I want to go.
I want to remind myself to slow down and enjoy my coffee. I want to remind myself to hug my husband when he leaves for work in the morning, even if we had a spat beforehand. I want to pay better attention to the pathways that I’m carving — to these grooves that my existing habits are creating — on my heart and in my life.