Shocking. I know.
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void.
Before the new year, I usually start a list. The items include things I have always wanted to do, small realistic goals, places I want to visit—a life bucket list per-say.
I don’t call these resolutions. Resolutions make me feel like instead of celebrating the new year, I have to fix something about myself, I have to resolve something or find a solution to a problem. It makes the start of the year so depressing and quite frankly, stressful.
And for the longest time, I was tired of putting so much pressure on myself. Don’t get me wrong, I still work on myself. I still believe in realistic goals and making myself better, but it’s more of a month by month basis and sometimes my “resolutions” haven’t idea hatched in my brain by January 1st.
NEWS FLASH: This just in…you don’t have to have all your goals and plans for your life figured out at the beginning of the year. You can be the New-Year-Better-You whenever you want to be the New-Year-Better-You. So, make sure to come back and reread this in the middle of May, when you’ve had an epiphany.
I’m not here to tell you that your resolutions are wrong and the way that I approach the year is how you should live your life, that’s just me. You’re not doing it wrong, there’s just not only one way to do things. It’s okay to read about new perspectives and decide that it’s not for you. I just so happen to have found a process that works for me.
Growing up, my family and I would always go around the dinner table and share what our resolutions were for the year on New Year’s Eve. They usually all had a theme around…”I’m going to eat less of this,” or “I’m going to exercise more,” or “I’m going to blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.” So unoriginal. So bland. So typical. So. Much. Pressure.
It always felt so locked in stone. It’s great to have a support system to hold you accountable for the things that you want to work on, but what if mid-year you realize you don’t want to do that anymore? Can you stop? Yes. You can stop, you can take a break. Is that quitting halfway or giving up? No! Absolutely not! That’s you growing. That’s you realizing that you don’t want this for yourself anymore because it’s not making you feel good—it’s no longer bringing you happiness. And it’s okay to refocus on a different goal or check something else off the list.
I remember one day going around a different table at an old job, where we shared our resolutions with each other. They also had a theme…”I’m going to organize my email,” or “I’m going to be more focused at meetings” “Well, I’m going to blah, blah, blah.” Then it was my turn and I said, “I’m going to take more breaks.”
The whole room turned and stared at me like I was crazy. Like I didn’t deserve to do that— that it wasn’t work related or I was wrong, or lazy. How dare she say that! When in reality, we were literally going around the table sharing what we needed to work on, for ourselves. I was literally just saying something the workaholic in me needed to work on. Pun intended. That was probably the best resolution for everyone to be more productive and efficient in the workplace anyway.
And because it was so honest, so different—I looked like the crazy one? I obviously realized this was not the place for me if they thought that was insane.
A few years ago, I was working a will call shift on a Friday night at the good ole box office. A wise coworker of mine, who had been retired but still liked to work…cough cough me in 50 years, shared some insight on New Year’s resolutions.
She told me that one year, she decided to have a bucket list for the year instead of resolutions, and it changed her life. I was intrigued by this perspective. You mean I can write things down that I actually want to do and not do what I’ve heard around the table as an acceptable “resolution?”
I thought to myself, “Well I do love check lists, and that sure sounds like a lot more fun than trying to lose weight all the time.” So, I decided I was going to try something different that year. I got home and made a list of all the things I wanted to do. It was going to be my first year out of college, and I had a lot of things in mind that I wanted to do as a young adult fresh out of school. Audience rolls with laughter…
To my surprise, I was actually more motivated for the new year. The things I wanted to do ended up helping me and made me better without any of the pressure of a resolution. The things that didn’t get done, I moved to the next year, and I eventually scratched them all off the list.
Without a list in mind, a year of yes, kind of just happened. I said yes a lot, I said no some, I found a balance. I had a friend ask me, “Man, how are you going to top that?” “I dunno,” I replied.
How do I top that? Why should I feel the need to “top that,” I mean it happened, it was its own chapter, did I need to have so much pressure on the next year that followed that?
No, of course not. But, after my year of yes, I started meditating on that question.
Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream.
A few days before the new year, I got my trusty notebook out, I wrote the year at the top of the page, made sure I dashed through the number 7…and just stared.
What exactly did I want 2017 to be?
I knew there were some trips I thought about taking, some hobbies I wanted to pick up; but before I could even put these ideas on the page, I heard a crazy idea…a better one.
I decided that I didn’t want to write down my bucket list this year, because I kinda wanted 2017 to write itself. I know. So crazy—It. Just. Might. Work.
What tha what?
I checked my pulse to make sure I wasn’t dying. I’ve always been a planner, the Jane and Leslie in me proved that to be true. I’ve always had a plan. Well, until I had my year of yes, and I got a taste of surrendering. I spent time saying yes to things that I didn’t think I would ever say yes to without planning to do so.
As daunting as it sounded, while giving me partial anxiety, surrendering was actually pretty nice. It wasn’t stressful, I wasn’t worrying, it was actually quite peaceful.
One of the biggest things I said yes to this past year was God. One of my core memories in my journey of faith was when a spiritual guide once told me, “Why don’t you just try floating in the river and let the sun warm your skin, instead of trying to swim so frantically, trying to grab on to anything to try and stop yourself from drowning?”
10 years ago, that was an absurd concept, one that I wasn’t quite ready to jump into just yet. But man, the idea sounded really nice.
The Beatles fan in me, knew exactly what he was trying to tell me…Tomorrow Never Knows.
But listen to the color of your dreams.
Along with Coldplay, The Beatles have always been my rock.
I have Let It Be on mugs and inscribed on rings. I wrote my first movie review on Across The Universe and it was published in my high school newspaper. I read the article out loud to my family before I made all of them watch the movie that brought the songs that cradled me to life. I checked off one of my biggest life bucket list items and saw my favorite Beatle live. I ironically wear my Paul McCartney concert tee on the Fourth of July because his face is on the British flag.
My go-to karaoke song is Hey Jude, because I think everyone should Na-Na in unison at least once in their lifetime. It gets the people going. Ever wonder why my dog is named Jude? Me too. Oh, and my kids will grow up listening to The Beatles Lullabies during nap time. Obviously.
The coolest moments in college were when I was laying on the laminate wood floor of my student apartment with a glass of cheap wine in my hand, listening to my Beatles albums. I’m an old soul. All that was missing was a cigarette, so French. But, smoking kills and is a huge turn off, so I’ll leave the smoking to the movies.
Awakening those dreams.
Lucid, sober dreams of peace and love filled my mind, body and soul. No Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds was involved making of such dreams or ever will.
And for the first time last year, as I was saying yes to all the things I wanted to do. I was rediscovering the things I once dreamed about doing and I wanted to make them to come to life. I started accepting the desires that were inscribed within my heart ever since I was a little girl, and I wanted to start watering them and patiently watch them bloom.
Well, this is what my bucket list for 2017 looks like. It has the year, and it’s blank. I’m listening to Revolver on repeat as I write this and I already feel the wave of peace. It’s a good place to start the year. The water is cool and the sun is shining on my skin.
I think I’m gonna like it here.
When it comes to personal growth, we can’t rush the process or always be in control of the season. You might have grown up to think that there was only one way to start a new year, well I’m here to tell you that you can start your own traditions.
You can work on whatever you want, or not work on anything at all. You can write down your goals and check things off your list. Or you don’t have to, you can just see where the year takes you. You can continue to try to do the same goal you always do. If you really want to lose some weight to feel healthy, got for it! But only do it if it’s for you, no one else. You can try new things. You can finally read a book, start dating again, fly out of the country for the first time—you can do anything.
My point is that instead of deciding to find solutions that you think are acceptable in today’s society or would please your mom, do something this year that’s actually going to make you happy and not end up making you feel worse about yourself.
Because sometimes taking a little courage to do something you’ve always wanted to do, is worth more than losing one pound. Who knows, you might even be healthier by actively doing the things you’ve always wanted to do and you’ll start to notice a glow about yourself that you hadn’t noticed before. Just don’t put so much pressure on yourself.
In the meantime, I’m going to look forward to seeing what kind of story 2017 has in mind. So here’s to 2017. The ultimate trust fall. Cheers!
Here is a
prayer, mantra… Here are Beatles lyrics I will try my best to live by this year and I hope you can get something out of them too. Because, Tomorrow Never Knows.
And, It’s okay not to know. Stop trying to figure it out. Just float down stream.
Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream
It is not dying, it is not dying
Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void
It is shining, it is shining
Yet you may see the meaning of within
It is being, it is being
Love is all and love is everyone
It is knowing, it is knowing…
… that ignorance and hates may mourn the dead
It is believing, it is believing
But listen to the colour of your dreams
It is not living, it is not living
So play the game “Existence” to the end…
… Of the beginning, of the beginning
–Tomorrow Never Knows, The Beatles