A kinder, gentler New Year

Last year when it came time for the New Year’s wrap-up/resolution column I was not in a great place. I was grouchy, grading papers and feeling weary of new motherhood. It was so bad that I neglected to greet the New Year, became an emotional knot and subsequently bemoaned my discontent in my column. Not this time.

At the end of 2013, my son wasn’t cognizant of the world in the way that he is now. Our relationship was still very primal and we were negotiating our place with each other. I felt a bit guilty about not celebrating last year with him, but I had to be forgiving of my situation. Being a new mom is tough.

While struggling to understand myself as a mother, I didn’t realize how the coming year would change my son, or myself, nor did I realize that my struggle to fit into motherhood has made me stronger. I know I’m a stronger mother now than last year.

This year, I celebrated the New Year with my husband and son. We had music, kisses and poppers with streamers. I cuddled The Kid and told him “Happy New Year.” His response was squeals of delight and running between his parents giving us “huggins.”  I wasn’t going to let another New Year pass without acknowledgement.

Like most people, I approach the New Year wondering not only what will happen ahead but also who I will be in this new twelve months. Despite my own criticisms of the New Year’s resolution, I know why the tradition exists. We mark our moments by the calendar from the time we’re born. Each birthday is another chance to do something great, a day to contemplate the places we’ve been. The beginning of each year does the very same thing. We reflect and look for ways to make our lives and ourselves better. 

I think we should strive for self-actualization all the time. Growth is important. Considering that change is one of life’s few guarantees; it’s best when we accept and maybe plan a bit for it. In our growth, it’s good to stop and take inventory of what we want for ourselves. My growth in 2015 involves reaching some minor targets.

The first thing I wanted from the New Year, I got: a night in with a happy toddler and my dear husband. Following that, my New Year goals are manageable. They aren’t outrageous or ones that put me up against my own stubbornness or the ease at which most resolutions are broken. My goals for this year are extensions of things that I began in 2014 or before.

On the most basic level, I want to rid myself of things that are unnecessary and to bring something new and enriching into my life. First thing to go, I hope, are my car payments. I’m so close and it’s been nearly 10 years and 2 cars since I’ve driven a completely payment-free vehicle. I’m ready and my pockets will enjoy the break.

As a writer, I took inventory of myself last year and decided to expand beyond my column and writings for LEO. I wrote about having a conversation with my husband and his helping me to realize that I’d been fighting the universe by not writing. I’d turned my back on the most reliable gift I have.

I’m not sure what magic happens when you speak your dreams to the world but new writing opportunities happened and keep happening. I’ll still be writing for LEO, no worries, but I have chances. My goal to boost the writing work for this year is to finish a certification in web design, which comes in handy when I’m commissioned to write web content.

Of course, I want the usual healthy and happy stuff. I need to get back to yoga, eat better, remember to eat and take my vitamins. More than anything, I want the year to teach me something, make me better and give me a chance. I don’t want to start with unreal expectations but I’m growing in my belief that what we speak into our lives matters and what we do in response is just as important. 
I think that’s my challenge for you, Dear Reader. Don’t be unrealistic with yourself this year. Don’t set yourself up for failure, misery and another year expecting to lose. Do one small thing and make it something that adds to who you already are. I’d venture to guess that whatever you are is pretty good.