Happy New Year, Friends! Tis the season to look back on the past 12 months and think about all the things you meant to accomplish, but didn’t. And now that you’ve been eating nothing but leftover cheese loaf for a solid week, to top it all off, you are literally the fattest. Person. Alive. And so begins a new cycle of the endless quest for self-betterment in the form of self-punishment: Lose weight! Join a gym! Quit smoking!!
Here’s a radical idea: What if you formed your new year’s resolutions on the (probably correct) assumption that you are already basically perfect? How about you just go accept yourself in all your amazingness, and maybe make some new year’s resolutions that make your life more fun, richer, and more fulfilling? Dump those old chestnuts and try something different this year!! (Well, except for the quitting smoking one. You should definitely do that.)
Need some help getting started? Here are some of my favorites:
Take a class. Any class. If you have time on your hands, enroll in a full series of classes at an adult learning center. Pick up some conversational Spanish, or learn the difference between Van Eyck and Van Dyke in an art history course. Need a lesser commitment? Check out the site Dabble, where you can sign up for a single class in photography, candle-making, or sword-forging. Let me repeat that: You can take a class in how to forge a sword. Have an interesting skill of your own? You can sign up to host your own class on Dabble! Learn some new shit, share what you know, or both!! (Bonus points: Dabble makes for great date nights!)
Read a classic novel. I’m not just saying this because I know my English professor father is reading this (hi, Dad!). I’m including it because there is a certain intellectual satisfaction in catching all the Jane Austen references in Clueless, understanding why people are obsessed with throwing Great Gatsby-themed parties, and knowing that Cathy and Heathcliff were the original Bella and Edward/Anastasia and Christian. (And Heathcliff was the biggest jerk of them all!!)
Try a new fruit or vegetable every time you go to the grocery store. You already know you should be eating more fruits and vegetables, but a person can only take so much steamed broccoli. Stop and take a gander at all those weird, unrecognizable things you usually cruise past on your way to the boring-ass kale. Delicata squash? Ugli fruit? Yucca?? What is this stuff?? Google is a thing now, so there’s no excuse for not being able to find a recipe. Bonus points if you do this in an ethnic foods store, and you ask the person who works there what it is and how to use it. Surprise! Now you’ve also made a human connection!!
Start a new ritual, and commit to it daily or weekly. It doesn’t have to be complicated, take much time, or cost any money. The simplest acts can have a remarkable impact on how you start or finish your day (or week.) For example, I wash my feet every night before bed. Not only does this serve a practical purpose, given than I spend my working hours barefoot, but it has taken on a deeper meaning of cleansing the activities of the day, and caring for these clompers that carry the weight of my daily existence. Sometimes it’s a simple soap-and-water wash, other times I treat myself to a fancy, scented salt scrub. Either way, it takes less than one minute, and it helps me go to bed with a clean slate, ready to begin the next cycle. Find something that makes you feel like you, and make it a thing!
Check out some volunteer opportunities. Did you know that community service doesn’t actually have to court-mandated? I know, it’s crazy! Also weird: it can be pretty fun or rewarding!! There is probably something you already enjoy doing that you could do for the betterment of your community. Like painting, gardening, reading books, snuggling babies, or petting dogs. Get some inspiration from the website ChicagoCares.org, where upcoming volunteers-needed events include playing bingo, helping kids learn about other cultures through art and cooking projects, and sorting through clothing donations. Invite that cutie you’ve been flirting with and head to brunch after. Your crush is bound to be impressed by how civic-minded you are!
Designate a set amount of money to transfer to your savings account every Sunday. Just $10 a week will net you $520 by the end of the year. Can you spare $20 a week? Now you’re a thousandaire!! Start building that nest egg now. You never know when you’ll need it on a rainy day.
Dance more. So you think you can’t dance? Pish posh. My husband coined this inspiring statement: “The only thing you can do wrong while dancing is not dance.” He and I take that sentiment to heart, as anyone who follows our dance routines on Instagram knows. Dancing improves heart health, balance, coordination, and flexibility, releases feel-good endorphins, and fuels creative expression. If you like some direction in a supportive and fun group setting, check out a POMSQUAD Fitness class. Are you a hopeless, rhythm-less shit show in need of precise instruction? Call up your local Arthur Murray or other dance instruction studio and say, “Hi, I’m your worst nightmare. I’d like to book a private lesson.” Every teacher loves a student who is eager and willing to learn. Never be the one to sit at the table and “watch the coats” ever again!
Write notes. Real notes. With your hands, and a pen, and some paper. Send those notes to a human person. Thank you notes are a forgotten art, but even more than that, getting mail is awesome. The next generation may very well grow up never knowing the thrill of checking the mailbox every day to see if something exciting came. Have terrible handwriting? Me too!! I promise, your nephew or grandmother or best friend from high school won’t care. Find a funny card or some pretty stationary and send off a note for no reason at all.
Master one great karaoke song. There will come a time in your life when you will be at a sinking party that needs a saviour. Be that saviour. Annabeth rented that karaoke machine because she thought it would be a hoot, and now it stands alone in the living room all alone like an unwanted guest and the canapés are almost gone and the guac is littered with broken chip crumbs and everything is a disaster. You know every word of “These Dreams” by Heart backwards and forwards like it’s your damn job. You already know that great karaoke moments are all about showmanship, not vocal acuity. You’ve been preparing for this your whole life. This is your moment. Sieze that moment. Save that party, you hero, you. Annabeth will be forever in your debt.
Buy yourself something awesome. It’s true that money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy things that bring more color, beauty, and satisfaction to your life. Whether it’s a work of art, a fancy Dyson vacuum cleaner, or that weird infomercial gadget that fascinates you, if it’s something you will use often and appreciate fully, then it’s worth it. And if you’ve been following the savings account challenge, you can afford it now!
What do you think, yogis? If you’ve tried any of these or have some other suggestions, I would love to hear all about them! Send me an email or let me know in the comments. And if you make no other resolutions, just go back to the basics: Work hard. Be nice. Stay golden.
I like careers that involve wearing comfy pants. If I weren't a yoga teacher, I'd try to write full time for a living. Join me here to see what's on my mind, and share your thoughts with me!