For my family, 2017 was like a bad joke and a country song rolled into one. By the time December 31st came around, I was never more ready to put a year behind us. 2017 brought not one but two cancer diagnoses to my husband, which led to surgery and radiation. Hurricane Harvey swallowed my stepson Matthew’s apartment and car. Shortly after, he was in an 8-car pileup in Houston (not injured, thank God), and right before Christmas, the poor guy came down with the flu. I got so deeply depressed and red-faced angry by the news that I buried my head in the sand and stopped watching it. And though 2017 brought countless blessings for us – mainly in the form of family and friends who held us up when I wasn’t sure we could keep standing – by the time the year was nearly over I was very much ready to kiss it goodbye.
December 31st is my favorite day of the year. Every New Year’s Eve, we have a small gathering at my house with a few dear friends, and we eat fondue and drink champagne and make vision boards. I always set 10 goals for the coming year, so when I don’t achieve all of them, I can just focus on what I actually accomplished and pat myself on the back for that. I love the idea of looking ahead with goals for the next year – even if some of them never happen.
This New Year’s Eve, when we started making our vision boards, I wasn’t feeling it at all. I flipped through magazines while we drank champagne and struggled to find inspiration. I pulled out my 2017 vision board for ideas, looked at my list of 10 goals, and groaned when I realized that 2017 was kind of a vision board bust. I didn’t do more than one 5K, much less a half marathon. I traveled a lot for work, but I never made it to Marfa.
On New Year’s Eve, after slapping the words “less clutter” and “reading” on my board, I decided to finish it another day. I fell asleep shortly after midnight (we’ve reached the age where we watch the ball drop at 11 and everyone goes home before the streets get nuts), and woke up on New Year’s Day, eager to feel inspired and motivated.
I woke up on New Year’s day, waiting for a New Attitude. Remember when we were little and on our birthdays we woke up and tried to figure out if we felt different being a new age? It felt like that. I waited, and nothing happened.
I’m not sure why, but it took me another full week to go back to the vision board. Maybe it’s because on New Year’s Day, my 14 year-old daughter got pre-frostbite on her toes. I don’t know how this happens in Texas, but it was hovering around 25 degrees that day, so it happened, and it was freaky and made me feel like a terrible parent for not preventing it. Then, on January 2nd, Tim and I got the flu, or something fluish that made us feel really terrible for several days. I juggled working from home and taking power naps to avoid dying. Finally, on January 7, I took the Christmas tree down, and a few days later, I uncovered my vision board under a stack of unread mail and gave it another go.
Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter what year it is, or what goals we set for the coming year, what we need to be doing is easing up on ourselves. So what that I left our weird white pre-lit tree up a few extra days? So what if I’m still sending out Christmas cards in January because I didn’t get them all finished weeks in advance? So what if I vowed to do a Dry January but I made my own rule to start it on January 2 so I could do a little holiday day drinking? So what if I hopped on the scale and while I am down from this time last year, I’m not at the number I have in my head that I think I need to be?
It’s all a work in progress. Every day, we are a work in progress.
So, 2018 is going to be The Year I Ease Up. Yesterday, instead of working through lunch, I took 20 minutes and treated myself to a wog (walk/jog) around the golf course by our house. Last night, instead of pressuring myself to clean out my work inbox, after dinner, I kicked back with Tim and watched tv, and wrote out birthday thank you notes that are three months late, so that some of my friends are getting a very tardy thank-you note and a bonus Christmas card sometime before January 15.
If you’re seeking a change in 2018, I’ll suggest easing up on yourself as well. Let’s see how it goes. Keep me posted on your progress, and I’ll let you know when I make it to Marfa.