Dear 2016: These Are My Vows To You

Let’s face it, Jan 1st is the day we make a commitment to the following 364 days. We make promises and goals because the first of the year symbolizes a union. Similar to unification with a partner, we make promises to the approaching days to grow, change for the better and live each day with love and kindness. We know the coming 364 days will not all be sunny, we accept that some days we won’t live up to the promises we make and we pledge to take this New Year one day at a time.

We make vows to ourselves, to the universe and to the New Year. We stand at the alter of a new beginning, hand in hand, with a clean page, full of blank space. We decide what our commitments will be and with that, we set out a path for the new year. With 2016, these are meaningful vows I pledge to the days ahead:

I vow to accept less bullshit. Kindness isn’t hard and it doesn’t take any effort. If you’re not a kind person then I won’t invest my love and time in you.

I vow to see fewer sunrises and sunsets from my bed and more surrounded by fresh air with no barriers between my eyes and the skyline.

I vow to touch those I love more. More hugs, more kisses, more intertwined fingers. I don’t know how much of my life I have to touch those I love so I won’t waste one day taking their embrace for granted.

I vow to be weaker. I want to be weak to my emotions, I want to feel every moment and throw away the notion that varying reactions are weak or unstable. Feeling deeply is a blessing that I want to welcome with open arms.

I vow to spend less time getting ready. Doing makeup takes away time from doing life. I want a makeup free face whenever possible; I want to embrace my natural self like I plan to embrace my inner self.

I vow to document my life. Not just a caption on a picture but with long descriptive sentences of my thoughts, my memories and my moments on paper, written by hand.

I vow to talk to myself more as a friend and less as an enemy. I have spent decades yelling at myself in my mind. I will start forgiving myself for shortcomings. I will start treating myself with the kindness I expect others to treat me with.

I vow to give generously to those in need. I have been given so much, it is only right to give to others. Coats, shoes, time, donations, kind words, prayers and smiles, I am giving it all.

I vow to put my phone down and not be distracted. When I am with those I love, I will be with them entirely, not staring at other people’s lives, writing emails or answering texts. I will look away from the screen and into their eyes.

I vow to laugh every day, multiple times. Wherever I am and whomever I am with, I will seek laughter, real deep-in-the-belly laughter.

I vow to be with my family more than anyone else. Biological family or chosen family. I want to spend fewer moments with superficial friends or people that I don’t have an intense connection with, family over everything.

I vow to accept the apologies I deserve but haven’t received. People are cruel and mean; I will forgive them and pray for them anyways because I am neither cruel nor mean.

I vow to take better care of my body. I’ll eat more green foods and less white foods. I will eat foods that give me energy and clear my mind, not weigh me down. I will live by the motto that fighting cancer is hard, eating good is not.

I vow to not drink fewer than two glasses of deep burgundy wine each week that tastes of berries and a hint of smoke. Life is crazy and chaotic, drink the wine.

I will spend more time with my pets. Their small hearts are enormous and their lives are short, they deserve more kisses, long walks and excited conversations.

I vow to accept my mistakes in 2015. I will not carry them over the threshold. I will not relish in self-doubt or regret. I will accept 2016 as a fresh start and a clean page.

Lastly, I vow to make more vows, more declarations of self-love and more goals for myself each month. I vow to always be better, to be forever changing and growing and always mindful of my heart and soul.

The Reality Of Starting Over

Starting over is life’s kick in the ass. It is practically always ugly, unexpected and devastating. It doesn’t make sense, the timing is awful and we (those broken by the process) are almost never ready.

So many things happen on our journey that isn’t part of the “plan.” We get cheated on by our soul mate or fired from our dream job. We run out of money or energy. We get sick or divorced. All of us, at some point, get broken from the inside out. Our hearts shatter by the complicated and unanticipated nature of life and we are forced, unwillingly, to begin again with nothing.

When life breaks us down, we live in denial for a while; we look with teary eyes to the past, to before. We get angry at the universe for dealing us such a hard hand. Our hearts fill with hate like a tall glass of water and we’re so tired each and every day of going to bed not feeling any different than the day before. Time, the healer of all things, isn’t healing us. Nothing is healing us.

We reach a breaking point within our anger that pushes us toward starting over. We make a decision to reinvent ourselves. We get a little wild and reckless, drink too much and stay out too late. In the next moment we get stable and responsible, spending time with our families or our God. We remain constantly inconsistent.  We ask for help or we continue to refuse it but whatever we do, we try in varying fashion to embrace the new life we were dealt.

Step one requires we start with the outer walls. We reach out to old friends, we text everyone, we say “yes” to so many things that before we know it, our every second is filled with an appointment or friend. We find this empty and tiring but we know staying home drenched in sadness isn’t going to heal us.

We cut our hair so the reflection in the mirror hides the past. We buy new clothes in an attempt to hide behind style or compliments. We buy gorgeous furniture so that when we are home we are not reminded by things of a time when our hearts were whole. We hope that changing the outside will somehow change the inside.

Step two requires socializing. We workout, we learn to cook, we join groups and take music lessons. We just say yes, over and over, hoping that by building friendships and hobbies, we might find something that feels right. Anymore, we long to just feel something right.

Sometimes we jump back a step or two. We get burned out so we retract. We cancel plans and ditch friends; we become angry and irritable with everyone we love. We cry at the most unfortunate times and our emotions are one big, long roller coaster. One minute we scream then we sleep and we always think. God, we pray to just stop thinking.

We know that whatever happened to us was sad and unfortunate but we also know that it is time to move on. We know that we have to let go but the past, the certainty that we would never have to start over again, reaches out and grabs us like a dark hand in the night. We struggle with ourselves. We want so desperately to start over at this point but we want so desperately to not let go of what once was.

Step three requires we start rebuilding the inside. We sit quietly. We listen to our thoughts; we respect our sadness and our shock. We try to silence our fears with the voice of our blessings.  We become gracious. We know that sadness comes and it goes but we recognize there are so many things to be happy about that we push through, we fight to be happy.

One day, we accept that this is what starting over looks like. It looks like laugher and sadness. It looks like cries of pain and cries of joy. It looks vibrant one day and grey the next.  It looks a lot like a hurricane and a sunrise. It looks like us, you and me, waking up another day.  
Day in and day out, we find some small peace in all that was and all that will be. We become less afraid of starting over. We know this wasn’t our first time and we know it won’t be our last and we stop trying to figure out every dip and turn in our lives. We look back, always with a small bit of sadness, but now also with a bit of respect. For where we were, who we were and where we have come.