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Before I go any further, let me preface what I’m about to write by saying that I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. In fact, I don’t recall ever making any sort of ‘resolution’ at the stroke of midnight at the start of any of my 28 years (including those early ones when I didn’t have the aptitude to do so…).
My reality is that I make commitments to myself (and like to try new things) over the course of the year, and I prefer it this way. It takes the pressure off and it affords me the freedom to decide things when I feel like it, not because a new year is just around the corner but because I desire to make a change or take on a challenge. It keeps life fresh and ever evolving over those 365 calendar days, and holds me accountable because I want to be, not because January 1st told me that it was now… or never.
That being said, as I’ve settled into my late 20s, and I’m determined to be good to myself, mind, body, and soul, there are certain aspects of my life that I devote considerable thought and attention to. After all, there is no better time to start taking good care of your health and well being than today. My grandfather (wise man that he is) lives by the mantra, “why put off until tomorrow what you can do today?” and while his words resonate, actually practicing them isn’t as easy as preaching them.
Still, I make a valiant attempt.
When I was younger, I lived in the blissful ignorance that my lifestyle choices had very little – or no – consequences on my long-term physical and emotional state. But by my early teens, I was already starting to understand that this wasn’t reality, and thus came certain lifestyle ‘tweaks’ (aka: I started to eat a wholesome vegan diet and took up running). I don’t recall the exact day when the light bulb over my head switched to ‘on’, but it definitely wasn’t December 31st.
By my twenties, I was exposed to friends’ health scares (some fleeting, others more enduring) and also began to see the potential toll that the aging process can take on one’s mind and body as I observed many of my loved ones getting older, all of which served as a daily reminder that life is too transitory to wait until tomorrow (or until the first day of the year) to do things differently. My grandfather’s words would ring in my ears like church bells. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today…”
Was I supposed to wait another 365 days to start living my life the way I wanted to live it today? To make the changes that I wanted to make? To take on new and exciting ventures and hobbies? While I understand the appeal of the whole ‘new year, new beginnings’ train of thought, it’s all a bit hokey to me. Life isn’t that regimented; and people are always ‘in flux’.
You might try to convince me otherwise, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one. Why? Because, by nature, I’m strong-willed. I’m not typically one to shy away from things that might be considered less than mainstream, and I like to experience things for myself, even if this means that, at times, I navigate life like a lone wolf.
Yet, like many of us, I struggle with not letting other peoples’ preconceived feelings and judgments get in the way of me doing what may seem ‘weird’ or ‘inconceivable’. I believe that the constraints or limitations that others have for themselves often hinders us from following through on our individual interests and agendas. The fear that others won’t “get us” or what we’re doing, or that our desires and quests might be ‘offbeat’ in relation to what the general public is accustomed to sometimes prevents us from treading new waters, discovering passions, and potentially excelling in areas that were, at once, unfamiliar and exotic territory.
I’m calling myself out on this, and I’m going to call you out on it too because, as humans, we have a natural tendency to look to others for permission and to seek validation externally when the one person who we should really be answering to is ourselves.
And I’m not raising this issue because it’s a new year. I’m pointing it out because there’s no better time to be self-accountable – to our minds and bodies – than right now. Personally, there is so much that I want to do, some of which might seem ‘crazy’ to others, but I’m trying not to pack everyone else’s trepidations into my own baggage. Always caring about what others think is a heavy load to carry, and it makes our individual journeys far less pleasant.
I’m not about to preach or suggest that my interest(s) should be that of the next person’s. But there are certainly things I want to do over the next 11-odd months, and far beyond, to make it so that I’m a healthier, more physically- and mentally-stimulated version of the person I am today.
I intend to…
Spend less time on social media (and thus less time consumed with others lives), and focus more on my best interests.
Meditate more and do what I can to be ‘in the moment’.
Read my camera manual, cover-to-cover, so that I better understand the ins-and-outs of this technological apparatus that cost me several paychecks… and maybe become a more skilled photographer in the process. Perhaps even register for a photography course…
Spend time in the boxing ring. My arms are naturally muscular, so why not use what my mama gave me? I want to be focused and strong, and boxing promotes both.
Take a ballet class… on the regular. I miss dancing. I want to plié and pirouette again. But those pointe shoes… ouch!
Eat food more frequently in its raw and natural state. Today’s foods are wrought with sugar, chemicals, and other nasties. I constantly strive to eat healthfully, but I’m going to be more stringent about taking things ‘back to the basics’. I know that, in the long term, this will benefit me greatly. I will not, however, be cutting back on my dark chocolate intake. Never.
And, on that note, take more trips to the farmer’s market. I have an all-year-market around the corner from my house. There are zero excuses. Supporting local producers and purchasing regionally is better for both my health and the environment.
JUICE… my fruits and veggies! Give me a stalk of celery, a few apples and some carrots, a beet or two, and a pinch of ginger, and I will give you a winter ‘cure all’.
Get more creative in the kitchen. This one scares me. My recipe books, when I do cook, are my bible. But I’m striving to be more adventurous with ingredients and spices. I apologize, in advance, to anyone who might be privy to my, ahem, ‘experiments’.
Be less critical of others and myself. And if I tell you this one ain’t easy. But… it’s essential. I can’t believe how much time and energy is wasted on negative thinking. It’s harmful to my emotional well-being and, if you didn’t already know this, our emotional health is very much interconnected with our physical health. Kicking negativity to the curb will have a positive effect on my physical state, as well.
If you have, however, made a New Year’s resolution or two (or twenty!), who am I to criticize? We’re all on our personal journeys – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
I wish each and every one of you a Happy 2014. Go forth with good will and determination.
And walk along your path with a light bag, not to be weighed down by others’ fears and judgments. It is neither your load nor your responsibility. Instead, carry with you your tailored and evolving dreams and aspirations. Today. And every other day of the year.