If you are like me around this time of year, you are writing lists like mad. You are plotting and planning your new year and next best self. 2018 was rough for many of us as it was filled with passings, challenges, and changes. A dream I built was destroyed in a matter of months. What I thought would zig…zagged. At the end of 2018, I decided to think of some things differently.
I admit I suffer from comparison disease. If I work a Saturday night, I immediately think everyone in the world is having an amazingly fun night. They are popping bottles like it’s New Year’s Eve at Studio 54 circa 1979.
I also place high judgment on certain days of the week as well as holidays. These I know are just social mores. If it’s Monday, you should hate your job. If it’s Friday, you should be happy. If it’s Saturday night, your life should live out like an episode of Sex and the City. If it’s a holiday, you should exhaust yourself with overspending, over-drinking, and over-eating.
Our social mores don’t allow for the full spectrum of moods, feelings, or experiences. If time is just time then why do I judge it? Why should a Monday night feel any different than a Friday night? Because it does and that’s how we have been socialized. In 2019, I really want to release that. If I want to go to the library or a quiet coffee shop on a Friday night then so be it.
I want to release that judgey voice that say that’s lame and that I should be out partying with people or that partying is the only thing to do on Friday and Saturday nights. I have found that some of my birthdays spent alone were better than the ones that I made people celebrate with me. Let’s send this ghost away. It’s time we are in control of how we judge and spend our time. (Well, as much as we can as many of us have to make a living or raise children, etc.)
Another thing I’d like to give up is something I call “spiritual shaming” and it makes me so angry.
It goes something like this:
Me: venting about working long hours, political things I think are unfair, the death of a friend, or financial problems.
Well-meaning spiritual person: You should be grateful. Life is so beautiful. You need to count your blessings. You are creating all this because of your bad energy and it’s bringing you all these problems. My life is amazing because of my amazing consciousness. (Plus there’s literal finger pointing going on here.)
While I do keep a gratitude journal and I am so very grateful for all I do have, sometimes I just need a compassionate listener. I need to be soothed by a smile by and a nod of acknowledgment. I need another person to look me in the eye and be in the “yes, I get it” presence.
Telling someone going through a rough time to just be grateful is actually very unkind and creates feelings of shame. I’ve never felt good after any of those conversations. I am choosing to either release these people from my life or release my anger. Hey, they mean well.
I’ve also come to realize that I’m addicted to being the underdog. This could be the product of watching too many romantic comedies. The underdog gets the love, the street cred, the appreciation, and then the Prince or Princess Charming. I’ve been addicted to the role of the underdog when really I could choose to be okay with being a smart, centered, and confident person to begin with — but apparently, I want the story. I want to make things hard for myself. Let’s keep the drama in our creative work and out of our actual lives.
In the new year, some of us might be giving up toxic substances. I think this is hard to do not just because of the chemical addiction, but because we personalize ourselves through substances. Our food and drink choices become almost like astrological signs. Someone who orders a complicated drink from Starbucks is viewed as difficult. Someone who gets a black coffee is easy going and cool. Drinking whiskey is hip. Drinking tea is healthy. Drinking wine is sophisticated. Eating fried foods is bad. Smoking is bad. Drinking green smoothies is light.
I like to view all of these including my exercise as tools in my toolbox. I like a big toolbox with a lot of options for different uses. For 95% of my life, I do choose healthy, but for the rest of it, I love craft beer and the occasional cigar with my Dad.
Another ghost to give up is a very old idea and that is that artists need to suffer to create beautiful work. That old equation: Art + Suffering = Greatness. If you are constantly in a state of hustle, how much time or energy can you put into your art? Especially if you are constantly worried, cold, stressed out, and hungry.
Note to self: Lin Manuel-Miranda started the research that led to writing Hamilton while he was on vacation in Mexico. There’s also this belief that as artists, we are either chart-toppers or starving. There are a lot of creative people that live happy productive lives in the middle of that spectrum.
In 2019, I will be adopting those typical resolutions like eating less sugar and practicing more yoga, but I also realize that self-care isn’t about drinking red wine in a bathtub with a face mask on. It’s also about getting true rest, making sure I’ve budgeted myself appropriately, that my lunch is packed, keeping my gas tank at half full, and booby-trapping my office and home with chapsticks (I have really dry lips).
It’s a new year, baby! Let’s release all these ghosts, bad thoughts, and habits like balloons rising in the air. Good-bye!
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends Awakening Shakti: The Transformative Power of the Goddesses of Yoga.
Sip a little more: