Back in the 90’s, there were two things I never missed at the turn of one year into the next: New Year’s Eve in Time Square and MTV’s New Year’s Eve. Granted, I was never there in person (I watched from our tv that was actually a large piece of furniture), I nevertheless felt as if I was. The lights, the music, what people were wearing and the smiles on their faces. It all seemed so glamorous–and it was. Truly, I haven’t seen a look that quite compares to Christina Aguilera’s gleaming silver-glitter eyeshadow and animal-print hair extensions, as she danced to and sang Genie in a Bottleon the small MTV studio stage in 1999. Gosh, she really killed it that year. Good stuff. One thing the reporters and v-jays working the events would always ask the attendees was, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” And they’d answer with the fundamental, “lose weight, travel more, be more organized, try new things,” et cetera. And of course, I thought, “If cool, beautiful New Yorkers are making resolutions, maybe I should, too.” After all, wasn’t it Coco Chanel who said, “My life didn’t please me, so I created my life.” ?
So, I made resolutions. And failed them. Failed myself, or so I truly felt. Every year I wanted to lose weight, be more fit, more health-conscience. And while that lasted for a while, sweets always pulled me back in. I mean, let’s be honest: I’m from the south, folks. If you eat at my momma’s house, immediately following the meal, before you’ve even finished your plate, she’s putting on a pot of coffee and pulling out a pie or cake. It’s just who I am, where I came from. And I’m cool with that. Fewer things more precious than embracing your roots.
Then came the resolution of trying new things. Great resolution. Truly, it is. We should all be doing what scares us. Author Jack Canfield said, “Everything you want is on the other side of fear,” and nothing could be truer. But when I personally made that resolution, I felt so bound to it that I refused to say, “No,” to anything. Or anyone, for that matter.
Here’s what I know to be true, at least for me: Instead of making New Year’s resolutions, I look forward to all the beauty a fresh new year will doubtless bring. The accomplishments of my children, and watching their eyes fill with joy when they pass that exam or get a gold star from a teacher. Waking up every morning with the gratitude I’ve worked–and continue to work so hard to instill in myself: that I open my eyes and I can see the roof over my head; that I move my legs and my feet hit the floor, then take me to the restroom and, after that, to the coffee pot. That I have coffee! What a great luxury, coffee. Or tea. Tea’s great, too. Still a luxury.
As for health and fitness, I try to eat well and make good choices, not for my weight, but for my insides. I think better when I take care of myself–it’s that simple. If I go on a fast food binge, overindulge on sweets, and don’t drink enough water, I see it in my skin and the way my clothes fit, yes, but most importantly I notice a downfall in my energy levels and my ability to stay focused on all the things I want to do. And since I’m a writer, it’s mega-important to me to stay focused. I’m sure it’s the way for everyone, regardless of profession.
And, you guys, I know it’s hard for a lot of you–it’s hard for me. I know. I get it. But please learn to say, “No.” It’s okay. If something doesn’t align with you…if, as my sweet momma says, you’ve got a gut a feeling you shouldn’t, just say, “No.” We learned to do it in our D.A.R.E. education class way back in elementary school. And, granted, yes, that was to drugs, but really…Why, as adults, do we have the darnedest time saying, “No, thank you,” when we don’t want to do something? By all means, say, “YES!” to what will move you closer to your goals, to the life you want to live. But also be okay and at peace with offering a polite, “No,” when, quite frankly, you just don’t freaking want to.
So, instead of binding myself to a New Year’s resolution or two or five, my goal is to live my best life everyday. To react to situations the way the best version of myself would. To honor my heritage, including my love for sweets anda great cup of coffee. To remember that in everything I see and do, to find a measure of beauty and gratitude. Because it’s a blessing to be my own my individual journey. To embrace the past, look forward to the future, but to live exclusively in the present. In my experience, when I’m living my best life, everything else falls into place. Opportunities, people, accomplishments, finding joy in the smallest of things–they all come with work, yes, but smart work, not the hard kind that makes you long for fruity drinks and sandy beaches.
Even though I still long for that. Sometimes. What can I say? I’m a work in progress. And that’s okay, too.