It’s that time of year. The gym is jam-packed and your Facebook stream is clogged with manic resolution-making fiends. That’s fiends, not friends. Although they’re probably your friends, too, and otherwise normal.
I resist the resolution-making frenzy, probably in the same way I unplug from Thanksgiving (“traditionally,” we do a day hike, and eat PB&J or Vienna Sausages from a mountaintop), Christmas and birthdays (we do parties but not gifts), and other shit. Oh, and we don’t have a television, of course.
Go ahead, call me a Luddite and a grinch. But I’m a pretty damn happy one, as these things go. Srsly, getting untangled from all that stuff (and it IS only stuff) will liberate your soul, de-clutter your house, and renew your spirit.
And with that in mind, here’s what I did this year — more how I try to live every year — and why it might just offer YOU a juicy, yummy, spinning-in-the-sunny antidote to the ridiculously intense pressure you may be feeling to lose weight, finally write your book, quit your job to become an internet millionaire, etcetera.
Not that there’s anything wrong with those things. But these are bigger, better, and easier on the soul…
Make Joy the Boss of You
You know me, I fucking love a spreadsheet. And I have a sliding, screaming avalanche of ideas that could kill me (if I were to let it) with the weight of all the new project spreadsheets I create to get them done. But in the end, the deadline doesn’t rule. Joy does. It’s not about constantly chasing happiness, it’s about letting the things I already do every day be things that nourish my soul and bring me joy. In daily doses.
So. Search out beauty. Be unabashedly goofy. Indulge your creative passions. Tolerate less bullshit. Sharpen your ignoring skills. And don’t let fear make you her bitch.
If you aren’t doing stuff every day that brings you joy, do something different. That’s the spreadsheet to put at the top of the motherlovin’ pile.
I’m not saying all that’s easy, you’ll have to fight for it. But you can get there.
Find and Build Your Tribe
Go on a serious, single-minded pleasure-treasure hunt for people — in real life and online — who are living according to joy and make them your friends. Cheer madly for them, support them, and send them sparkly things. Skype or coffee with them regularly.
Relentlessly unlink from the people who are sucking the life out of you; instead make connections with people who are sheer, unapologetically badass life-livers. Hah. “Livers” sounds like an organ nobody wants to eat. (Amazing how easily distracted I am.) (But that was funny, wasn’t it?)
Use A Sledgehammer to Break Shit
You’ve been nice long enough. You’ve probably been repressed, actually.
When do you get to grow bigger, rather than constantly being shoved into progressively tinier boxes? Fuck that, break a few of those rules and restrictions you think you have to live by. Not the big ones, like being faithful to your spouse, but the little ones, like believing you have to maintain a clean kitchen, or worrying that you’ll be laughed off the team if you can’t do as many push-ups as everyone else.
You are surrounded by tiny-minded rules! You’re inundated with them! Please: the rolls don’t have to be homemade. Just because it says shampoo doesn’t mean it can’t also be used for body wash. You are allowed to go on a wild goose chase. You can speak your (actual, real, substantial, and intelligent!) (and sometimes wonderfully ridiculous) mind. You get to overuse parentheses! (AND wear your slippers to the grocery store, I just need to add that.)
I can set me some big fat badass goals, and I love me a To Do list. But I can also take a sledgehammer to them if I need to.
Embrace Your Inner Mule
I love mules. They are sturdy little bastards. I don’t care how fugly you think they are, they are patient, strong, and independent-minded (polite word for “stubborn”), and they will flat get the work done.
I’m a writer. And my rather embarrassing mulish vision of myself and my creative work process was utterly crystallized and confirmed when I heard Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk about her own rather mundane source of creative genius.
If you haven’t already seen this one, you MUST watch it! (The “mule” part comes about 11 minutes in, but if you’re a creative — and you ARE — invest 20 minutes and watch the entire thing.)
I don’t walk around just waiting and hoping to be sparkled with inspirational fairy dust. Um, actually I DO, but the way I get work done is by showing up and writing — a mule plowing the field — Every. Damn. Day.
Well, most days. Sometimes I get a little burr under my saddle and I honk and bray and gallop off in search of wild romp or a mouthful of something delicious and forbidden with friends, some of whom are as mulishly awkward as I am.
Make a little progress every day, and laze away your off days. Be stubborn, sturdy, and hard working. Embrace your inner mule. Hug her and pet her and bring her apples and tell her she smells fabulous. Where would you be without that gal?
So. That’s my version of New Year’s resolutions. Not so much resolutions as a way of living that I find deeply satisfying, year after year. Meanwhile, I’ll try not to slap you when I see you posting that shit about “getting to the gym more often.” Cause you’re part of my tribe, and I love you.
And I hope you’ll bring me sparkly things. Or bubbly things. And maybe something to get all these mule hairs off my couch.