Ah…the new year. New Year’s has always been my favorite holiday. I’ve had a few heartbreaking Christmases that knocked Christmas down a few notches for many years (though this Christmas was lovely), and I don’t like turkey so Thanksgiving has never topped my list. However, the dreamer in me collides with the OCD monster in me every New Year’s to create an insanely hopeful, unrealistically ambitious pile of papers consisting of bucket lists, daily schedules, work-out charts, and other naively cruel notes that I believe, every damn year, will make me happy if I can just follow through. Then I spend the next 364 days making excuses, feeling like a failure, and fighting depression (unless I’m in California, and then you can cut the days spent fighting depression by two-thirds…but I’m not in California). Why are we so cruel to ourselves?
Which is why I’m suspicious and tentatively hopeful this time around, because my year is getting off to a very auspicious start, and without making a single list, schedule, or chart, I’m already ridiculously and inexplicably happy. Well, it’s partly explicable: I had myself a beautiful baby boy in November. In spite of the very difficult home birth that looked like a CSI crime scene, the cracked and scabby nipples from nursing, the usual sleepless nights, the copious amounts of spit-up, the 35 extra pounds that don’t seem to be budging, and the whole new dynamic of three kids, I am stupid happy – CALIFORNIA happy even!
Chalk it up to a better hormonal cocktail that my body whipped up all on its own this time around, or to the Ever-Blessed Virgin Mary pleading with her Son to finally DO something with this girl who keeps nagging her for near-constant intercession, or to the fact that, like the sick hippy chick that I am, I’m recycling the placenta in the form of dried out, ground-up powder in gelatin capsules that taste best with grape juice. Whatever it is, it has me skipping through my day like freakin’ Pollyanna on cocaine baking snickerdoodles after watching a marathon of Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
You can see why I might be suspicious. When a stray shoe or an unflushed toilet of turds used to send me on a rampage that took no prisoners, I now find myself peacefully getting up at 4 a.m. to soothingly do bicycle legs with my screaming son to work out some gas (mostly for him). I tolerated my oldest daughter’s off-key, high pitched, repetitive singing at the top of her lungs first thing in the morning until she finally (thank GOD!) ran out of steam. And I flushed the bowl of turds without a word. And somehow, I’ve managed to cook dinner, do some laundry (AND get it put away, which is the real miracle), and start some spring cleaning – all while quitting sugar cold-turkey and without replacing it with vodka.
Whatever’s going on, it seems to be a good thing, though admittedly, the melancholy tortured artist persona is taking quite a blow. Obviously I haven’t changed so much that my suspicion of happiness has completely abandoned me. Happiness like this just isn’t natural, is it?
But it has made me approach this new year differently. Rather than all the formulas and finely tuned schedules where every 15 minutes is maximized for optimal potential happiness quotients, I’m going to stop torturing myself. Be kind to thyself, Elle – which I think is a good idea for everybody, really. To thine own self be kind.
I resolve in 2014 to be kind to my body. I will not skip good and much-needed sleep for a work-out, but I will make time later in the day if I can’t get up. I will not torture myself with work-outs I hate, but I will remember how to play (which burns more calories anyway). Sugar is unkind, but so is Christmas without black forest cookies, so I will be strong…but not absurd. I don’t have to like the extra weight I’m carrying, but I don’t have to be mean to myself to get rid of it either. I will be kind to my body and focus on all the wonderful things it can do in not-so-skinny jeans.
I will be kind to my mind. I will think good thoughts and stop recycling the old ones – if I have to do one of those stupid gratefulness journals, if that’s what it takes, I will do a stupid gratefulness journal. I will stop living on Netflix and Facebook and news about how the whole world is going down in flames, and focus on what is within my power today. And if I want to watch a movie, or check Facebook really quickly and it turns into an hour-long debate about gay marriage or breast-feeding faux or ne pas, then I will be kind and not be a snobby ass to myself. And I will read more. I will read challenging philosophy books, and children’s books, and the Bible, and irreverent blogs. I will carve out time to daydream a bit like I did when I was a teenager – even if I’m not as good at it anymore.
I will be kind to my spirit. I will give Mass a better shot and try not to be such a stinker about saying the same prayers and same chants every single week. I will pray and will stop feeling guilty that I don’t pray like my mom prayed. I will read my Bible and stop feeling guilty that I’m not the scholar she was – I’m the scholar I am. I will stop trying to DO better and simply practice LOVING better – loving God, my husband, my children, my friends, and strangers better. Because the kindest thing I can do for myself is to love the people around me and love ‘em good.
So that’s it. My road to keeping the happiness alive this year is simply to be kind to myself. SO much easier than making charts and schedules. Then again, I kinda like making charts and schedules…Gah! Stop it, Ellany!
What’s your 2014 resolution?