a new year

The Year That Shall Not Be Named has come to a close. The champagne has been popped and the tweets in which we collectively grasped for humor and for witticisms and for anything really to make sense of the cluster have been put to rest. It's time to move forward. It's 2017.

Last year was, for our nation, a mess. It was, for me personally, mediocre at best. A few particularly good things did happen—I got to visit my best friend in L.A., my little apartment in the city was featured on one of my favorite websites, I celebrated the weddings of a few close friends, my nephew who I am head-over-heels-can't-even-believe-it in love with was born. Those things were great. But otherwise? Definitive mediocrity. While the shift that happens when the clock strikes midnight on January 1st doesn't necessarily mean my circumstances will change or our country will rise from the heap of dumpster fire ashes it's lying in, I'm one to take any opportunity for a metaphorical fresh start. 

On New Year's Day I went to dinner with a friend and as we sat down in the cozy space, one of my favorites in Minneapolis, our waiter asked if we had set any resolutions yet. I swiftly told him that no, I'm not setting resolutions this year and he laughed and said that was a good strategy, to keep expectations low. And I suppose that's a part of it, the comfort of low expectations. But another is that I know myself. I know that writing a laundry list of lofty resolutions doesn't fuel me, it stifles me. A few days ago I found the list of goals I had written in the early hours of January 1, 2016, after the ball had dropped and the wine had worn off, and in the course of the past year only one of them has truly been fulfilled. So in 2017, rather than making a futile attempt at dedicating myself to a broad list of goals, I'm going to focus on setting a few meaningful intentions instead.

The first? Be present. If you've ever meditated or tried to stay present for the length of one activity—taking a shower, going for a run, washing the dishes—you understand that our minds can be a minefield of thoughts. (I mean if you've ever lived a day as a human person you understand this.) Most of my life is spent pondering the future or overanalyzing the past and I've realized that it is in these moments of absentmindedness that a lot of my anxiety takes root. Being present lessens the swirl of babble and emotions I've usually got going on inside, and that benefit alone makes it a worthwhile pursuit.

Intention number two? Figure out what I love and do more of it. A fun thing about me is that I tend to be a bit of a chameleon. (Kind of like Maggie and eggs in Runaway Bride...oh you haven't watched that movie 50 times like I have? Weird.) I adjust my conversation style based on the people I'm talking to. What piques my interest changes based on who I'm with, based on who I admire most at any given time. Maybe this is not an anomaly, but I'd still like to dedicate energy this year to figuring out what truly appeals to me.

And the third. Be kinder to myself. Here's the deal: my inner critic can be—in the words of my friend, Danielle—a real bitch. It's almost impressive how quickly my brain can come up with reasons I'm not good enough for something, not pretty enough for someone, not enough in general. This year, whenever possible, I'd like to catch that inner critic in the act and tell her to please, kindly, fuck off.

That's it folks. Happy New Year. Let's make 2017 a good one. Or a good-ish one, because low expectations and stuff. Let's be nice to each other and support one another and remember that we're all, most of the time, trying our best. And whenever the going gets tough, let's look up our favorite Obama Biden memes because they helped last year and I assume they'll still do the trick in 2017. Here's mine. Cheers.