I’ve always been drawn to Nikki McClure’s art work (enough that I have two of her images tattooed on my body). The print above is called “Start Over.” I had a visceral reaction to both the image and the concept. As a yogi, as a person committed to social justice, as a person who has been alive for nearly three decades (an adult, decidedly), as an educator, as a friend, as a daughter, I am constantly working to be better than the moment before: more present, more mindful, kinder. But then life happens; and life in 2014 threw things at me that I had didn’t have tools for. Heartbreak hung like a cloud over my whole world for most of the year (and it ebbs and flows, in different variations, to this day). I had crushing realizations about how my past informs my present, and how much work it would take to break negative patterns. I learned, without choice, what it means to grieve the loss of life. I got through my first year living alone. I got through my first year teaching as an Assistant Professor. I started paying back debilitating student loans. I had days of loving my body and hating my body, days of loving myself and days of hating myself. I got through sitting with the pain of uncertainty, breathing through the discomfort of not knowing, making peace with my relative lack of control over certain circumstances, and realizing (on good days) my total control over my reaction to those circumstances.
Society was also doing a lot of growing in 2014. Injustice ran rampantly, and resistance blossomed fiercely.
It was a hard year.
It was also a liberating year. A year that I realized how strong and capable I really am. A year that taught me profound lessons. A year that didn’t really provide me any concrete answers, but showed me how I didn’t need them. How I could still be clouded with questions, but still choose happiness, in spite of it.
I don’t really believe in one calendar day completely wiping the slate clean of the baggage I collected and the (many) mistakes that I made in 2014. I do believe in growth though. Serious, deep-in-your-bones, transformative growth. I am committed to really embracing the shit out of what 2014 provided me, even the stuff (especially the stuff), that was so fucking hard.
I do feel like a change is gonna come. For me, for our world. I feel it in my gut.
But I’m a do-er as much as I’m a feel-er, and I need concrete, tangible steps. How will it be different? How will I practice doing good (for myself, for our world, for those things simultaneously, because everything is connected)? How will I keep breathing fully, how will I keep reacting mindfully? How will I get better at loving myself (and everyone else)?
This is where a list of resolutions comes in handy. I like lists. I also like the idea of resolution; from the root “resolve”:
“decide firmly on a course of action.”
from Latin resolvere, from re- (expressing intensive force) + solvere ‘loosen.’
Intensive force to loosen. I love that. Loosening, intensely; to breath deeper and live harder, with intention and joy. So here’s my list of resolutions to practice living better, every day:
1. Connect more with people. Avoid small talk if I have the option to exchange more meaningfully; have longer conversations in person, ask people about their feelings and opinions about things that matter.
2. Continue grounding rituals. Lemon water in the morning, self-care books and journaling/gratitude lists at night. Daily yoga practice, exercise that feels good, green smoothie or green juice for breakfast. Deep cleaning and de-cluttering; practicing the one-in/one-out rule.
3. Eight hours of sleep as much as possible. Lots of water.
4. Doing more for others. More care packages, more phone calls, more helping out. Complimenting people (mindfully) more often. Getting back to volunteer yoga teaching (ideally in the juvenile detention center I’ve been in contact with in Boston, but really anywhere that works out). And getting back involved with organizing and activism in whatever form best serves the struggle.
5. Writing for me (blog, creative personal stuff, maybe a zine!) at least a few times a week, and writing for school/work at least a little bit most days of the week.
6. Pausing. Really pausing before I react to things. Breathing during that pause, remembering what my words and actions mean in the world. Contributing more kind energy than hostile energy into the world (interpersonally, anyway…I’ll still probably be pretty hostile about social injustice). Practicing lovingkindness towards all beings (including myself). Saying and living, everyday: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.
7. More music. It’s always been a big part of my life, but it’s taken different forms. I’d like to devote some dollars to seeing more shows, I’d like to make more mixes for myself and others, I’d like to go dancing more. And maybe, just maybe, playing some music again, too.
8. Start a podcast (already in the works with one of my fave ladies!).
9. Finding a way to honor my priorities so that the academy doesn’t run/ruin my life and so I don’t start to resent a job I love. Maybe this means turning down opportunities that seem best for my career. Maybe it doesn’t, but I am committed this year to making decisions that serve me best, and if moving halfway across the country again doesn’t serve me, I won’t do it. (Whoo, that’s a really scary thing to write!)
10. More laughing. More tattoos. More turmeric root.
Wishing you all, and all beings everywhere, a very happy New Year.
What are your resolutions? xoox