I have mixed feelings about New Year’s resolutions. I just…I don’t know about those. But I do know about lists. I love lists.
Let’s make one of those. Title it No Pressure. Good — now we have each other’s permission to have fun with it, even if we just end up filing it away and forgetting about it.
I’ll go first, okay? In order to give you some time to think.
1. I would like to cry in slightly fewer coffee shops. I would like to not feel bad about not tipping every single time. I would like to laugh more.
2. I would like to do a headstand, unassisted. I would like to develop more strength and more courage. I would like to work on my ability to trust. Float there.
3. I would like to date myself more. Make myself a real meal, from a cookbook, once a week. Take myself for more walks. I would like to remember this: if you do not know struggle, you cannot know peace.
4. I would like to practice patience. (How hard can it be to follow a fishtail braid tutorial, à la Lauren Conrad? I really would love to learn how to fishtail.)
5. I would like to find every reason to love my current city. I’m lucky to be here, and it will not be forever.
6. I would like to think about a puppy. It’s not the right time, but I think thinking about it will bring me joy. Someday will arrive.
7. I would like to remember that anxiety lives in the inhale, in the slow exhale that never comes. In 2015, I would like to stop holding my breath.
8. I would like to keep trying to make friends out here, and work on being a better friend to all of the ones so far away.
9. I would like to be a tiny bit more open to possibility. I would like to dream. Not feel silly, dreaming.
10. I would like to be less afraid. Of change, of failure, of potential hurt.
11. I would like to differentiate the reality of being alone from the feeling of being lonely. I would like to do a better job of separating the two. I would like to remember how much I value my time alone, and all the things I can do to feel less lonely.
12. I would like to keep questioning where my mind is. I would like to keep up the small goal setting I’ve been doing in the last six months. Last week I stopped wearing a watch while I worked out; this week I would like to have a burger. With bacon!
13. I would like to let go of the urgency behind the voice that says: HI! HELLO! MUST HAVE ANSWERS TO ALL OF THESE VERY PERTINENT QUESTIONS, RIGHT THIS MINUTE! I could spend a whole lifetime answering those questions. I could do it with humor and grace and the kind of perspective that will only come with time.
14. I would like to find solace in the fact that nothing stays the same. Guaranteed change can be reassuring. I could consider it heartening, rather than REALLY RATHER UPSETTING, IF YOU WANT TO KNOW THE TRUTH.
15. I would like to keep piecing together what’s important to me, in a person. A partner-person. I care about the way he disagrees. The way he argues. The way he expresses his feelings (or doesn’t). I care about exactly where does keeping our relationship alive fall on his list of priorities. I care about his thoughts re: leisure time, and how he likes to spend his. I care about the way he acts first thing on a Monday morning. I care about how he treats his aging parents, and whether or not he would like children. I care about whether he can promise to never stop dating me, whether we marry or not. I care about how he feels about money + success. I care how he feels about joy — is he out to grab as much of it as he possibly can, for as long as he can? I care about how much love he has to give, and what kind of life he wants to live. I also, truthfully, care about where he thinks his dirty socks should go. And when the dishes should be done — as we go or at the end of the day. And I care about which way he’d vote about the sheets on our bed: tucked in or out?
16. I would like to try out a few more jobs. In a week from now, I’ll be an administrative assistant, and then I’ll have a better sense of what that’s like. I’d like to remember there are takeaways to every job.
17. I would like to keep writing while I investigate all my other options. I would like to let go of the book I started writing in 2014, and let it morph into the anorexia memoir it’s become.
18. I would like my mother to know that if she winds up being the love of my life, I will not be disappointed. She’s given me the opportunity for a new kind of life, a happier life. I could not have come this far without her, and I would like to make sure she knows that. I would like to tell her she deserves all of the happiness and then some — that she’s RADIANT, and sharp as a tack, and she should always go with her gut. (Except about moving to Arizona, because Arizona is TOO FAR.)
19. I would like to start look people square in the eye and say thank you whenever they say something nice. I would like to say more nice things, too.
20. I would like to learn to accept unconditional love at face value. Volley it right back.
21. I would like to remember the overwhelming upside to being diagnosed with anorexia. I have the chance to be free of it now. All I have to do is reach out (reach in) and take it. Keep on taking it.
22. I would like to never ever lose the feeling of being lucky to be here, when I wake up in the morning.
23. I would like to send more “thinking of you” notes. Just more notes in general. Who doesn’t like notes?? Handwritten notes.
24. I would like to have a little more faith. Not in a religious sense, but in “the yoga sense”. I would like to remember that it generally does take some teetering to find a balance, and it’s normal to forget your breath sometimes. I would like to remember that there are wonderful elements to movement, to steadily warming the body up before carefully cooling it down. I would like to remember to embrace the transition into stillness, too, even when my brain insists it is VERY MUCH AWAKE. I would like to remember that thing about shutting your eyes in order to open them up wide.
25. I would like to keep adding to my collection of quotes, which is currently stretching onto page 257 of a gloriously disorganized Word document. And I would like to be a little more okay with mess. In 2015 I will make more mess. How’s that?
“I want you to stop running from thing to thing to thing, and to sit down at the table, to offer the people you love something humble and nourishing, like soup and bread, like a story, like a hand holding another hand while you pray. We live in a world that values us for how fast we go, for how much we accomplish, for how much life we can pack into one day. But I’m coming to believe it’s in the in-between spaces that our lives change, and that the real beauty lies there.” -Shauna Niequist
“Start now. Start where you are. Start with fear. Start with pain. Start with doubt. Start with hands shaking. Start with voice trembling, but start. Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just start.” -Ijeoma Umebinyuo
“Lie down and look up at the ceiling and breathe with those curiously fragile lungs of yours and remind yourself: Don’t worry. Don’t worry. All is as it was meant to be. It was meant to be lonely and terrifying and unfair and heaving. Don’t worry.” -Unknown
“I actually attack the concept of happiness. The idea that — I don’t mind people being happy — but the idea that everything we do is part of the pursuit of happiness seems to me a really dangerous idea and has led to a contemporary disease in Western society, which is fear of sadness. It’s a really odd thing that we’re now seeing people saying ‘write down three things that made you happy today before you go to sleep’ and ‘cheer up’ and ‘happiness is our birthright’ and so on. We’re kind of teaching our kids that happiness is the default position. It’s rubbish. Wholeness is what we ought to be striving for and part of that is sadness, disappointment, frustration, failure; all of those things which make us who we are. Happiness and victory and fulfillment are nice little things that also happen to us, but they don’t teach us much. Everyone says we grow through pain and then as soon as they experience pain they say, ‘Quick! Move on! Cheer up!’ I’d like just for a year to have a moratorium on the word ‘happiness’ and to replace it with the word ‘wholeness.’ Ask yourself, ‘Is this contributing to my wholeness?’ and if you’re having a bad day, it is.” -Hugh MacKay
“Stones in the road? I save every single one, and one day I’ll build a castle.”- Fernando Pessoa
“That place of true healing is a fierce place. It’s a giant place. It’s a place of monstrous beauty and endless dark and glimmering light. And you have to work really, really, really fucking hard to get there, but you can do it, honey. You’re a woman who can travel that far. I know it. Your ability to get there is evident to me in every word of your bright shining grief star of a letter.” -Cheryl Strayed
“Pull from your ribs those loose strings that still call you by those names you no longer go by, unravel yourself before others get the chance to pull you apart. There is nothing wrong with old seams. No thing can live to be old without learning the art of self-repair.” -Emma Bleker, Young Things Under Repair
“What else should our lives be but a continual series of beginnings, of painful settings out into the unknown, pushing off from the edges of consciousness into the mystery of what we have not yet become.” -David Malouf
“I will bleed for better reasons this year.” -Y.Z, An eight-word resolution
“As other girls prayed for handsomeness in a lover, or for wealth, or for power, or for poetry, she had prayed fervently: let him be kind.”-Anaïs Nin
“The planet does not need more successful people. The planet desperately needs more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers and lovers of all kind.” -Dalai Lama
“To imagine — to dream about things that have not happened — is among mankind’s deepest needs.” -Milan Kundera