For the last two decades, I have stressed the f*ck out of myself during the first few days of January. I've always had this visual of "breaking into" the new year with power: A naked warrior wrapped in light, angelic choirs singing in the background. An upgraded version of me, stepping into the "new year, new me" resolution list
This (insane) visual comes wrapped in vogue-magazine gloss, and looks like this:
Me, waking up at 5 am to go to spinning class. Me, actually wearing "colorful, grown up clothes" to work. Me, saving every receipt and staying on budget. Having a budget. Me, not giving a crap about what people say (or do). Me, making sobriety and recovery easy and lovely. Me, launching huge projects in my "free time". Figuring how the hell to make "free time". Me, figuring out this parenting thing (my son is 17). Me, cooking healthy meals. Me, gliding through life with zen. Sassy Latinas can have zen. Me, documenting life in fabulous recovery articles. Me, getting 8 hours of sleep every night. Because, 5 am spinning.
And every year, inevitably, the glossy visuals become a heavy necklace of shame. Tick-tock, another heavy stone.
By mid-January, my voice usually sounds like this:
What the hell, Pamela? We said January. January. Why are you still in bed? Why are you eating cake? Why are you stopping at Starbucks every morning? Why is the calendar with your son's activities not penned out? Why have you not updated your voice demo? Started your book? Finished the course? Why did you go to bed so late - again? What's with the black, boring outfits? What's with the excuses?
You really should go to yoga. No, fuck yoga, go boxing. Your arms are so flabby. The cute does not cut it at 43, Mami. Have you seen the year? Its not 2017 anymore, dude. It's January. Of a new year. New. And you are still in bed. What the hell, Pamela? Seriously.
Ah. Yes. Every new year that same exact inner-dialogue cycle happens. A decade of Januaries like a broken record: Why are you still drinking, dammit?
At least THAT one got checked off sometime in the last decade (more than once, mind you).
But still. The pain is there, nonetheless. The anguished heart is there. My judging voice is as biting today as it was back then. Today, it's the eating thing. Its the sleeping thing. Its the parenting thing. Its the money thing. Its the thinking thing. Its the breathing thing. I brace myself for it. As if it were inevitable. As if it were external, and not a self-imposed bullshit habit I can actually change. I wish I could tell the voice that the pressure does not help.
Wait. The bold insanity of this realization hits me so hard I actually laugh out loud.
I can make a decision. I will not play this game again. Not this year. Not this time. Just... no.
It takes me a minute to sit still with this realization. Frankly, more than a minute. I breathe in, deeply. I can change the rules of this game. MY game. MY life. Today. MINE.
I smile and take the heavy necklace off my neck.
This year I will ease into my January with love and compassion. I will be kind with myself. I won't fall into the same cycle of judgement and stress and pressure. Je refuse. I will own my "imperfect" January days.
This year, I will change my internal narrative, my internal clock and my internal voice.
I will drop the idea of not eating fatty foods and not being lazy, and not dressing fashionably, and not being a slug who doesn't exercise...I will drop the judgment or shame or fear or pressure.
I will say YES. Yes to me. Yes to shifting into my Universe with open arms.
Yes to healthy foods that make me smile. Yes to moving my body as often as I can. Yes to the messy days that are not perfect. Yes to the extra hour of sleep when I need it. Yes to take-out food when I cannot cook. Yes to accepting that my parenting may be just right. Yes to my son's beautiful brain, which does not always resemble mine.
Yes to softness. Yes to my curves, sexy handfuls of them. Yes to long books and creative writing. Yes to days that just need to end with hot soup and TV. Yes to my own internal rhythm. Yes to caressing my own cheek after a shitty day. Yes to my black outfits, colors were not made for me. Yes to compassion. Yes to big goals. Yes to listening to my backbone. Yes to driving barefoot. Yes to messy hair that is just right for my 40s. Yes to all the feminine and all the masculine parts of me.
Yes to easing into the year, softly and beautifully - instead of bursting into it, demandingly.
Yes. YES TO ALL OF ME. Softly, kindly, boldly, compassionately.