Ringing in the New Year: Lucky '13!
I love new years. Sitting here at my desk this morning it feels like the whole world is fresh and new. For better or worse, 2012 is gone and it's taken with it all of it's problems, mistakes, and stresses. It's a beautiful day today. Since it's winter it's still chilly, but the sun is out and the world looks bright, clear, and new. The day, the world, even my life feels so full of hope and fresh promise. I feel this undeniable desire to latch on to this feeling and maintain it for as long as possible.
I usually begin each January by making a list of resolutions and goals for the upcoming year. Last year I went so far as to type up my scribbled handwritten notes and then tape the list on the wall of my attic office. Initially, I read over the list frequently and spent a lot of energy trying to follow through on the goals I'd set for myself. But, inevitably, stuff happened. Life has a way of meddling in our best laid plans, and along the way my well intentioned list was forgotten.
The list is now sitting on my desktop. I took it down this morning as I was gazing out my window with a hot cup of tea in my hand. I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I did accomplish some of my goals. But, I have to admit that I'm also beating myself up a little. When I typed the list I made an effort to select achievable goals. I wanted to challenge myself but I didn't want the challenges to be pie-in-the-sky ones and completely out of reach. As such, I have no excuse. I had 12 full months to work on my list. Sitting here now, it seems crazy that I didn't accomplish more. I've got my nifty red pen in hand but I've only been able to check a few things off.
So, I'm trying to take a step back before I decide whether or not I should make a new list for 2013 or just tape the old 2012 list back on my wall like a piece of failed homework. Maybe I owe myself a "do over."
Last night around the world people did fun things to help celebrate and ring in the new year. Me, I'm a certifiable introvert and not much for crowds. I prefer smaller, quieter celebrations. I also like to stay off of the roads on New Year's Eve. I've heard too many horror stories about drunk drivers and shattered lives. So, yesterday morning I ran a few errands including visiting my local library to borrow a few movies and my grocery store to pick up some munchies. My best friend and I spent yesterday afternoon and evening relaxing in my living room. We watched movies, munched on potato chips, and enjoyed sipping rum and cokes. It was a quiet celebration, but it was also laid back.
One of the movies we watched was "Eat, Pray, Love" starring Julia Roberts. The movie was the perfect choice while we sat there reflecting on the previous year and preparing for the new one. In the movie, the main character is unhappy with her life and her marriage. So, she does something about it. She was fortunate enough to be in a financial situation where she could take a year off from her life. She put everything she owned in storage and then spent the next year visiting other countries, fighting her personal demons, and finding herself along the way.
She divided her time up before she left. She planned to spend 4 months in Italy, 4 months in India, and then spend her last 4 months in Bali. Along each step of her journey, she learned life lessons and met some extraordinary people. The book is called "Eat, Pray, Love" because these three words sum up her experiences in each location. In Italy, she spent a lot of time eating. She learned to forget about the scale and social stigmas in order to enjoy her favorite foods. Through food, she learned to embrace life and live in the moment. In India, she stayed at a religious retreat where she spent much of her time praying, meditating, and trying to discover inner peace. She learned the importance of finding her life balance. Finally, in the last leg of her journey she traveled to Bali to study with a medicine man. While she was there she learned to let go of her old marriage and all of the associated pain and feelings of failure. She learned that it's okay to fall in love and how to continue to maintain her life balance.
Now, I'm not a religious person but, even with the word "pray" in the title, the movie wasn't overly religious. When her guru and other role models talked about praying and meditation it wasn't just about believing in a god or greater being. Instead, the focus was on the individual and their personal life journey. At one point when Julia Robert's character was having difficulty quieting her thoughts during meditation, her friend told her that it really didn't matter who she prayed to. That wasn't the point. The meditation was about quieting your thoughts, forgiving yourself, and moving on with your life. It didn't matter who her guru was or which deities she believed in or prayed to. The point was to find something greater than yourself and see the bigger picture about life.
If you haven't seen it, I'd highly recommend the movie. Personally, I could relate to Julia Robert's character. I know what it feels like to find yourself in a failed marriage or to vow to change your life, but then not know exactly how to go about it. I enjoyed watching her character grow and learn throughout the film.
As I look forward to 2013, which I've dubbed "lucky '13", my goals are simple. Basically, I'm just going to "keep on, keeping on." I'll hold onto last year's list of resolutions and even add a few more, but I'm going to try not to be so hard on myself. It's good to set goals and strive to be a better person, but I shouldn't beat myself up every time I don't live up to own expectations. Life is about the journey, not the destination. I'm going to try harder to live in the moment and appreciate the little things. I'm going to strive to be a better person, one day at a time.