Each New Year’s Eve, I wonder what the coming year will bring that I cannot anticipate, which prompts me to look back at the previous year and note those things that surprised me. In 2022, for example, these are developments I could not have predicted on December 31, 2021:
I began a new, fundamentally different relationship with my body after an episode of severe back pain.
We bought a
project house in Louisiana.
These are all huge things for me, and my life is significantly different from a year ago because of each of them. I will also wonder, too, about what things will happen in the world. On January 5, 2020, I wrote these words, reflecting on the death of someone important to me:
“We are living through a frightening, unstable time. Robert and I viewed many things differently, but we agreed about this. His death–or, more importantly, his life and his beliefs and his many words to me–have me thinking hard about what work needs to be done in the face of all that is coming.”
Ha! “…in the face of all that is coming.” I had no idea what was going to be coming in the months that followed: pandemic, schools closing, protests, wildfires that gave my city–for a week or so–the worst air quality in the world, a presidential election in which the loser (we now know for sure) tried to overthrow the results and was largely responsible for ending our long streak of peaceful transfers of power.
What will the coming year bring? Who knows! After the past few, I have lost any illusions I once had about being in control of what happens. And honestly, I am glad I don’t know. I’d rather deal with the hard things as they come; knowing about last year’s ahead of time would not have allowed me to prevent or mitigate any of them. As for the events I’ve deemed “good,” this last year gave me such lovely, wonderful surprises, and a big part of my delight was the unexpectedness of them.
Perhaps because of the way so many things have felt out of my control in recent years (in ways both good and bad), I’ve abandoned anything that looks like a traditional resolution, and I don’t choose a word for the year, and I don’t really even set intentions. I like to think that new ways of being are something I can invite in at any time (which is why I’m publishing a new year’s post after everyone else has moved on from that topic), and I’m more interested in small shifts than grand undertakings. So, these are two small shifts I’m making this month:
1. PT and yoga: I began physical therapy in the fall, but I haven’t made good progress with it. Despite the fact that it should only take me minutes a day, I’ve had a terrible time making time for it. Yoga is also something I’ve been wanting to start. I’ve signed up for a 30 day yoga series through Yoga with Adriene (recommended by the pain management clinic I started working with in October). I am only a few days in, but I’ve been starting my days with PT and yoga. Maybe I needed more of a time commitment, so that it wouldn’t be so easy to tell myself I’d do it later in the day? I’m not sure how it will work when skating starts up again (classes weren’t in session over the holidays), but my goal is to do PT/yoga on any days I’m not skating. (I’m giving myself permission in advance not to be perfect in my practice. I think that’s got to be a key to sticking with new things.)
2. Reading: Last year my daughter introduced me to an app called StoryGraph. I signed up for it, recorded one book, and promptly forgot about it. I’ve never been a GoodReads person; StoryGraph appeals to me (maybe?) because it’s small. Or it’s small the way I plan to use it. I’ve signed up for the January Pages Challenge, using both the audiobook I’m currently listening to (The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois) and the print book I’m reading (The Winners). I want a way to track my reading, and I want some accountability for myself. I like the visuals of this platform. I don’t know why I’ve been having trouble sustaining my attention with print books, but I’d like to work on changing that. I know the best way is simply to read more. Right now, I’m just raising my awareness of how much I’m reading and why I sometimes don’t pick up a book. If this is something you use or are interested in using, let’s be reading buddies; my username is ritamarie.
That’s it. These are two things I hope I can turn into new routines in my life, regardless of what the year brings. Challenging my body and my mind, cultivating good mental and physical health. I’m still plugging away at food issues (planning, preparation, low-inflammation options, developing workable routines), household organization, figuring out skating goals, and thinking about writing goals, but I’m not starting anything new with any of those things. I can only cultivate so many new habits at once, and these two seem pretty compatible with winter, with its slower pace.
I would love to know what you’re anticipating in the coming year, how you establish new habits, or if you have any book recommendations. Or maybe just chime in on what you want to be in 2023:
Sending wishes that all your surprises in the coming year will be good ones.