This Will Be Our Year

I’m a little late to be writing about this, especially since many of us have already abandoned our New Year’s resolutions in favor of Netflix with a Ben & Jerry’s chaser. It’s January 10, for heaven’s sakes. The yoga mats and juicers are already getting dusty, and we’re skipping much-needed workouts in favor of much-needed sleep. Ah, the predictable humanity.

Yet, something dawned on me this year, as 2018 entered stage left. This is the year that I turn 48. Next year, in 2019 — if you follow along and do the math — I’ll be 49. I’ll be spending a great deal of THAT year fretting about “the last year of my forties,” about pounds not lost and books left unwritten and unread, about opportunities missed and moments squandered. As one tends to do, when closing out a decade of life and facing an older, creakier version.

So, this is my year to pre-empt that. I have no choice but to view it as such. And it’s a delightful feeling. This won’t be a year of relentless self-criticism, or of measuring myself against the achievements (or TBH, as the kids say, the filtered Instagram posts) of others. This won’t be a year of overthinking — as is so often the case for my guilt-addled, adult-child-of-dysfunction brain. This won’t be a year of fretting. Or whining. Or justifying. This will be the gap year I never had — because I was born in 1970 and we didn’t have those things. We just had Tang and Big Wheels and college and jobs. It’s never too late to have a gap year, I think. So long as you can pay your electric bill.

So? This will be a year of doing. A year of leaping. A year of failing. A year of exploring. A year of reading and writing and performing. The outcome isn’t the goal here. The daily process is. I’m putting my money where my still-47-year-old mouth is.

First things first. An action plan. A list of resolutions. It’s still January, isn’t it?

Oooooh, yay — a list!  God, how I love lists. I adore the sensory quality of sitting with a clean-lined sheet of paper and pen in hand, ready to dump all of the nonsense in my head out onto the page, and somehow make order of it all. I swoon over the spiral notebooks and black Sharpies and bulleted points and whiteboards and underlined subheads and swift, sharply-drawn lines through items completed and accomplished. I’m sick like that. I realize this.

The creation of this list isn’t to boast or brag, or to portray myself as manic or delusional, because it’s highly unlikely — yet infinitely possible — that some or all of these things will be achieved in 2018. Again, not looking for outcome. I’m interested in process. And accountability, too.

Two months ago, I decided to adopt a new lifestyle, one that limited my intake o sugar, carbs, caffeine, dairy and alcohol. I had told my doctor at my annual physical that I was frustrated with my weight, sleep habits, anxiety and rising cholesterol levels. Some of that was Trump’s fault, we decided, but still. She suggested that I try Dr. Mark Hyman’s sugar-detox plan. I listened politely and mentally rolled my eyes at the suggestion. I’d tried such things before — and wasn’t able to maintain such efforts. Too limiting. Too hungry. Too hangry. Too depleted.

This time, it worked. I’ve lost nearly 15 pounds, and my total cholesterol number has gone from 202 to an astonishing 146. I have greater focus, and less brain fog. I’m not so tired anymore. Trump still makes me anxious, but there doesn’t seem to be a recipe or nutritional supplement for that — so I close the internet browser and listen to music instead.

I’m not thinking too much these days — about the why or how or what if. I’m simply doing. I’m planning meals. I’m getting up in the morning and putting on my sneakers to workout. I’m making better choices for self-care (blech — isn’t there another phrase we can use?) instead of gorging on venti Starbucks drinks, red wine and the internet. In years past, I’d have all sorts of reasons why this wouldn’t work. This year, I’m just doing it. Shut up, Nike.

So here, then, is my list of New Year’s resolutions for a still 47-year-old’s gap year. I’m using subheads, because they’re yummy. If I had a whiteboard, I’d be making out with it right now. Hard.

 

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS 2018

 

PERSONAL HEALTH

1. Continue to limit caffeine, sugar, carbs, dairy and alcohol.

2. Lose 35 pounds this year. Totally do-able. I’m on my way.

3. Practice restorative yoga twice a week. I tried to like yoga. Really, I did. But we just don’t get along. I can’t hold a crow pose in hot, overcrowded rooms, or do anything named Ashtanga or Iyengar, because if I can’t spell it, I’m not doing it. But simple stretching in a restorative class? That, a girl can get behind. Or in front of. I’m not sure, exactly. I get confused with the straps, and I can never tell which way to point in warrior pose. But I do realize that stretching, balancing and lengthening — as well as deep breathing and being still — are important for my health as I age. So it goes on the list.

4. Do cardio 5 times a week. That used to mean an hour of running or walking 8,000 miles or training for half marathons — and being in a great deal of pain and giving up afterwards. It can’t be about that anymore. My body is responding to my new eating habits and better sleep, and releasing more weight with simpler, consistent exercise. I ain’t questioning it. I’m just doing it.

5. Weight train twice a week. So important as we grow older. I prefer weight training to cardio. Not sure why, but I’m sticking to it.

6. Get off the fucking internet. Limit social media. This is a devil of a challenge for me, but my resolve has grown stronger in the past year. I used to post more often, as many of you have reminded me. Although — if you’ve seen how much I post, then you must have been on as much as I was. To cryptically quote “The Producers:” — “Then they’d see you. And you’d see them. And why aren’t THEY at the office?” 

Let’s not do that anymore, shall we?

7. Get massages. I’m older. I work hard. I’m sore. I have short, tight muscles. I carry a lot of deep-rooted shit in my bones, and it needs to get expunged. So. A Groupon for Massage Envy, then.

8. Take more baths. Epsom salts do a world of good for an achy, old broad who does five cardio and two weight-training sessions a day.

9. Get outside every day. Not an easy feat when it’s -5 degrees, but still necessary. Sunshine and air and trees and movement are all good for what ails you.

10. Get in bed by 9:30 pm whenever possible. Read a book. Listen to music. Watch a great movie. But no more scrolling, no mindless snacking, no fretting, no bluescreen business that impedes proper sleep. I laughed when my doctor prescribed this a few months ago. I see the results now.

11. Attend an Omega Institute workshop. For years, I’ve been reading the OI catalog and poring over course descriptions — and sighing when there’s yet another schedule conflict that prevents me from attending. This is my year, Omega.

12. Meditate. This has been a challenge for me. Which is ridiculous. Five minutes, kid. Sit still. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. That’s all it takes.

13. Stop being such an asshole to myself. Pretty self-explanatory. Love myself as much as other people in my life do.

 

WRITING/PERFORMING

1. Read like a writer. Write like a motherfucker. Hours given to mindless social media are hours lost to possibility and enrichment. Writers need to read. No getting around it. Writers need to get their asses in chairs every day and do the work, too. No getting around that, either.

2. Put the finishing touches on my office space in the basement. It’s taken some time, but we painted our old office a funky-doodle peacock blue, had shelves built and got a new desk — and created a space where I don’t have to feel badly about the wash or dirty kitchen counters or be Mommy or Mrs. Anything. Where I’m me — the person who I used to be, who I still am and who I’m still in the process of becoming. Where I can write, damnit. Because I’ve got a lot to say.

3. Perform at the MOTH. Win one MOTH storyslam this year Maybe two. The MOTH scares me. It’s Flying-Walenda-style highwire without a net. No notes to keep you on track. No guarantee that you’ll be called up to perform, since you throw your name in a hat and hope for the best. But I want this. I really do. I want to do things that scare me, and be changed by the experience. I performed once at the MOTH last year, and garnered second place on my first run out of the gate — and on my home turf in Queens, yet. I know I’ve got the chops for this. It’s scary and embarrassing to write that, mostly because it’s true.

4. Perform at several other storytelling events this year. I’m slotted to read at an event in New Paltz in February, and I’m auditioning for Listen To Your Mother North Jersey 2018 next month. I’m on my way. Know of any other events? Want me to read at your event? Email me! mkharris1@mac.com. XO

5. Publish my essay about the Feast of St. Blaise. Long story. You can read it when it’s published. Which it will be, damnit. It’s been sitting with The Normal School for months. If not there, then somewhere else.

6. Finish the first draft of my screenplay. Blah, blah, blah. You’re sick of hearing me announce this. I’m sick of saying this. No more thinking. Just doing.

7. Flesh out ideas for a book. Fiction or memoir. Not sure yet. I smell chapters either way.

8. Put together a new website to showcase my work. It’s time.

9. Put together a podcast. Produce several episodes. Enough already. No more pussyfooting. That’s right. I said PUSSYFOOTING. And I might say it often on a podcast, too. SO THERE.

10. Publish another essay this year. Maybe two.

 

MISCELLANEOUS

1. Stop deflecting compliments. Just say thank you.

2. Stop apologizing for things I shouldn’t have to be sorry for. I’ve gotten far better at this in my forties, thanks to a friend who kindly drew my attention to my bad habit several years ago. Still, I could improve.

3. Cook for the week on Sunday. Life is so much better, and yummier, when I cook for the week on Sunday.

4. Put friends on the calendar, and keep them there. Don’t cancel unless absolutely necessary. My husband and I are social, but increasingly tired. We need to find a balance between over-scheduling and overpromising — and feeling out of the loop. It’s a delicate balance, but worth the pursuit.

5. Clean out the attic. Swedish death cleaning can be fun!

6. Dress up for my life. No more yoga pants and baseball caps. I’ve made a real commitment to this since my days as a young, exhausted, spit-up-streaked mommy. It’s important.

7. Remember family members’ and friends’ birthdays with cards — not just texts or Facebook messages. 

8. Think about opening that bookstore/coffeeshop/bar/performance space. Seriously.  Think about how. 

9. Play the drums. Buy a secondhand set of real drums. Drum like a motherfucker.

10. Nurture my husband, my marriage, my children, my friends — and most of all, myself. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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