Posts Tagged ‘new year’

‎A new year means different things for different people. For me, one of the best things about a new year is a new calendar. Perhaps it’s the Virgo in me but pulling out my new calendar each year and starting to fill it up with birthdays and anniversaries and all the things we have planned so far gives me a sense of accomplishment. I make sure I set aside enough time to get it all done in one sitting, find just the right pens to use, and make myself a cup of tea to enjoy during the process. My kids even know well enough by now that you don’t bother Mom while she’s doing the calendar!‎ I flip through the months and wonder, in the back of my mind, what those days and weeks will bring. I know better than to try to predict the future but I still allow myself to wonder a little bit. But on top of all that, the type of calendar I use each year comes with stickers – hundreds of fun little ‎stickers to mark events and activities. I could pretend I like preparing my calendar each year because I’m so organized – but the truth is I think I just like to play with the stickers.

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‎As has become something of a tradition here at the Palace, today I have put together my new year’s realizations for the year that has passed.

1) ‎There’s a time to battle and fight and push against, and there’s a time to stop fighting and let the tide take you where it will. There is a certain gentle ease to be found in letting the universe lead and simply sitting back and enjoying the ride.

2) Sometimes you just need to make a change – whether it’s good or bad is really irrelevant, it’s better just because it’s different. Different people, different places, different conversations, a different view – sometimes all of those differences can also help you to see yourself in a new light too.

3) ‎No one is as happy as they seem on Instagram, as witty as they seem on Twitter or as perfect as they seem on Facebook, so stop using these mediums as a gage of how you stack up. And also don’t use them to determine the realities of other people’s lives. You want to see what someone is doing, check out their feed, you want to see how someone is doing, give them a call, or better yet sit down across a steaming cup of tea and ask them. The reality is usually very different than it appears on the screen.

4) The things that are meant to last, will last, no matter the time or space or distance. They may take a bit of work but everything worth having is worth working for and when it’s meaningful, it doesn’t seem like work. On the other hand, the things that aren’t meant to last, the things for which the effort given greatly outweighs the rewards received, will drag you down if you let them. The biggest difficulty is looking at all of the things in your life and determining which category they fall in to.

5) You are stronger than you ‎think, and also weaker than you think. There will be times when you amaze yourself with your ability to handle difficult situations, and you will also be disappointed with your inability to deal with other situations. Be proud of yourself when you show strength, but also be gentle with yourself during the times when you huddle under the covers. You’ll do better next time, or you won’t, but either way you need to be your own biggest cheerleader.

6) The surest way to ruin any situation, activity, event or interaction is to go in with expectations. Even if you think those expectations are realistic (or even err to the side of low), they taint the way you see things from that point on. Go in with nothing. Go in with a clear head and an open mind and a willingness to take what comes and suddenly it’s infinitely easier to just participate rather than trying to mold things to fit what you thought they were going to be.
And on that note, I wish each of you a year in which you expect nothing, and are therefore pleasantly surprised by all that 2015 brings to you.

Happy New Year!

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So here we go again, something that seems to have become an annual tradition here at the Palace, my new year’s “realizations.”  While others make resolutions about what they want to see happen in the new year, I find it much more helpful to look back at the year that has passed and examine the lessons I have learned (or should have learned) from the last 12 months.

1) Tears don’t fix things, but that doesn’t mean they’re not valuable.  They don’t solve problems or heal wounds or right what has gone wrong but sometimes they help.  They help wash away the pain for long enough that I can get up off the floor and get back to what I’m supposed to be doing, even if just for a short period of time.  Don’t fight the tears; they come for a reason.  They come when the pain is too much to keep inside and it needs to be released.  Embrace the tears, welcome them and appreciate their purpose.  Let them come, and when they’re done, wipe away what’s left and go on.

2) I have no idea what’s going on in other people’s minds and guessing just makes things worse.  It’s hard enough to figure out my own motivation for doing things, let alone trying to guess what makes other people tick.  I assume I know you, I assume I know what you’re going through and how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking.  But I don’t.  I don’t have a clue.  I don’t know any of it and trying to guess is unfair to you.  If you want me to know, you’ll tell me and then we’ll deal with it together.  In the meantime, I’ll be over here trying to figure out my own shit.

3) I’m tired of being sorry.  I’m tired of assuming that I should be sorry for things, even if I don’t specifically know what they are.  I’m tired of apologizing for things I don’t think are wrong.  So I’m not going to do it any more.  And I’m not even going to be sorry about it.

4) There is very little in the world that I can control so I need to stop thinking I can.  I have spent a lot of time in the last 12 months thinking that if only I had done things differently, they wouldn’t have turned out the way they did.  Now I finally realize that I’ve given myself way too much credit.  I can’t control the universe or fate or karma or the thoughts and opinions of others.  I can barely control my own thoughts.  It’s time to stop thinking otherwise.  Maybe that will stop me from feeling like a failure most of the time.

5) Life is tough and it takes work, hard work, to get through it.  But at the end of the day it’s worth it.  It’s worth the hard work and the sweat and the tears and the back-breaking weight of it all.  Because there are moments that make it seem like not so much work after all, and that’s what I have to strive for; to push my way through the work to get to the reward.  And then to enjoy the reward when I get there and appreciate the work it took.  Even if it’s just for a moment, just for one breath or one giggle or one hug.  I will let those things fill me back up and give me the strength to get to the next one.  That’s what it’s about.

Now let’s just hope I can remember these lessons going forward, so that I don’t have to keep learning them over and over and over again.  Because I’m sure 2014 will have its share of things to teach me, whether I want to learn them or not!

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With one day remaining in the year, I can safely say that 2013 has not turned out the way I expected it to.  I can look back to this time last year and almost taste the anticipation I was feeling.  It was going to be a great year, filled with many wonderful things.  I expected it to be that way.

I was wrong.

Less than two weeks into the new year I knew it would not be all that I thought it would be.  It would, in fact, be barely a shadow of what I thought it would be.  I wanted to crawl into a hole and come out when the calendar no longer said 2013 but, of course, that was not a realistic way to spend 11 and a half months.

If only it were.

So I trudged along.  I made it through the rest of January, barely, and wished away February and most of March.  With the warmer weather came a small sense of relief and summer brought with it some smiles and laughter and a pat on the back that I’d made it half-way.

But my constant companion was a sense of injustice; a feeling that this was not how it was supposed to be, not any of it.  What happened to my expectations?  What happened to my year as I had imagined it to be?  What happened?

And even in my own head I sounded like a spoiled child.  Who am I to decide what is “supposed” to happen and what is not?  In the general scheme of terrible things that happen, if this thing knocked me down for a whole year, how would I ever handle something truly terrible?  On the slippery step ladder of horrible things, I was fairly close to the bottom and yet I had still managed to fall off and stay down for longer than was probably warranted.

But I couldn’t shake it.  I couldn’t shake the sense that I was on a completely different path than where I should have been.  As I checked off the days and the months crawled by I just wanted to make it through the year, as though it was the actual number 2013 staring back at me that was keeping me from moving on in any meaningful way.

I have spent almost an entire year feeling like a mistake was made; like my original year had been so nicely written out, only to be erased like words on a piece of paper, still faint enough to read if you look closely.  And instead of writing something new on top, I have spent months staring at the paper, squinting my eyes to try and gain a glimpse of what was there before.

And now, finally, I have reached a point where I’m tired of looking at something that isn’t there, tired of squinting and imagining and creating something from nothing.  It has taken me a whole year to get here.  A whole year to realize that the things that happen to us are bad enough without adding them the weight of unfulfilled expectations.

How often do we expect things and are then disappointed when they don’t happen?  I expected this year to turn out differently.  I expected him to respond differently.  I expected to feel differently.  What if I stopped expecting things and just dealt with them as they came?  What if I just felt the emotions as they came, without first having to debate whether they are what I expected them to be?  How much of a relief would it be to just take away that step entirely? What would that year look like in comparison to this?  If I stop measuring everything against what I expected, will I also then stop coming up short?

There is a sweet little movie called The Odd Life of Timothy Green that came out last year.  If you haven’t yet had a chance to check it out, I would recommend that you do. In the movie there is one particular line that has stuck with me, and which now resonates even more than before.  On Timothy’s first day of school, his parents drop him off and after saying goodbye, his dad yells for him to “have a great day” and his mom says “that’s too much pressure!”  His dad then corrects himself and yells to Timothy to “have the day you have.”

Have the day you have.

How simple it seems when you put it that way.

How complicated I seem to have made things, and how I now crave the blissful simplicity of living a life free from unmet expectations.

So, as I sit on the cusp of a fresh start, both according to the calendar on the wall and also a feeling deep inside, I will not wish you a great new year.  Rather I will encourage you to have the year you have.

And I am excited to try to do the same.

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I told myself to get out of bed, even though I really didn’t want to. Tomorrow the alarm will once again ring WAY too early and sleeping in today will only make it more painful. So I sat up, slid my feet into my slippers and decided to head down to the basement.

I tiptoed past the kids rooms where they were still sleeping soundly in their beds. We all stayed awake until after midnight last night and then the kids fell asleep in the car on the way home from our friend’s house. They would probably sleep at least an hour more.

I headed down to the basement, telling myself that it was time to finally get caught up on Grey’s Anatomy, having five episodes still sitting on the PVR. I got about halfway through the first one when I heard footsteps above me.

I called out so he would know where I was and moments later turned to see him, all sleepy-eyed and tousled hair, dragging his blanket behind him.

“Happy New Year, Mama,” he said, climbing up on the couch beside me and tucking his head under my arm. I turned off Grey’s, it’s waited this long, it can wait a little bit longer. Instead we watched some cartoons until our tummies grumbled and it was time for something to eat.

He decided on Froot Loops, I made myself a bagel. I poured two glasses of orange juice and pulled up the stool beside him.

He lifted his glass and smiled at me.

“Let’s cheers, Mama. It’s 2013 now.”

We bumped our plastic glasses together, each took a sip and smiled.

What a great way to start a new year.

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‘Tis the season to make big plans for the coming year and all the things we hope to do to make this one even better than the last one.  I myself usually make a few fairly informal resolutions, things I’m looking to improve on, that kind of thing.  This year however, I’ve also decided it’s perhaps even more important for me, personally, to also come to some realizations about the things I cannot, or should not, try to change; things that will always just ‘be’ and the sooner I realize that truth and move on, the better.

And so, here we go, my New Year’s Realizations:

1) bad things happen.  I can’t predict or avoid them, bad things just are.  I spend a lot of my time worrying about these bad things and trying to figure out how I would deal with them if/when they ever do happen.  It’s a huge time-waster for me and it’s time to realize that worrying about things that may or may never happen is unproductive and ultimately futile.  I realize that now.

2) good things happen.  As mentioned above, I spend a lot of time worrying about bad things happening.  However, I spend very little time imagining good things happening.  In reality, these good things may never actually happen in ‘real life’ but heh, they’re a lot more fun to spend time thinking about than the bad things.  I realize that now.

3) it starts with me.  If I want to do something, I have to do it.  I can’t spend my life sitting around on my butt waiting for things to happen ‘to’ me.  If I have an idea, it’s my job to take the next step because if I don’t, who else will? I realize that now.

4) it ends with me.  I can’t love you forever.  I can’t hate you forever.  I can’t be angry forever.  I can’t wonder what might have been forever.  It has to end sometime and I’m the only one who can decide when the end is.  I realize that now.

5) it’s okay to have fun.  Life is hard; it’s sad and lonely and depressing and monotonous and heavy and disappointing and unexplainable and draining.  And I can choose to focus on all of that or I can choose to accept that the bad stuff exists and have fun anyway.  I can laugh out loud on the train when I read something funny in a book.  I can tell a belly-aching (and perhaps borderline inappropriate) joke at a party. I can have another glass of wine and kick off my uncomfortable shoes.  It’s okay to have fun, I realize that now.

6) being a mom is hard.  I actually realized that long ago, like 5 minutes after my first child was born, but the part that’s taken me longer to realize is that it’s okay to admit that it’s hard.  It’s okay to say the words out loud and/or write them down on the page.  It doesn’t make me any less of a mom, it just makes it a teeny tiny bit easier when I admit that most of the time I have no idea what I’m doing, and that’s okay.  I realize that now.

7) words are just words.  Words can hurt people.  Words can make people laugh and they can make people cry.  I am responsible for the words I say and the words I write down but at the end of the day, they’re just words.  They don’t have to be perfect.  What I write doesn’t have to be perfect and even if no one reads them, that doesn’t mean they weren’t worth writing. As long as they come from my heart, they mean something, even if it’s only to me.  I realize that now.

Well there you have it, a few new year’s realizations to put 2011 safely to bed and drag 2012 out onto the dance floor to see what damage we can do.  At the very least, it’s going to be an interesting one!

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