Confession: I never, ever stick to my New Year's resolutions. Not once.
And I don't think that's an accident. New Year's resolutions are habitually loaded with shame and "should." "I 'should've' exercised more this year, so I'll do it next year." "I feel like shit about not having done X, so let's do X now."
But shame just isn't GOOD at motivation. Shame is really really good at paralyzing and shutting down, but as a motivator it's just shit. (That's not just my opinion. Brené Brown said so and she researches this for a living.)
However, if I may toot my own horn, here's what I DID do this year:
- Since March, I've done yoga at least once a week if not twice, with the exception of a couple times when I was traveling. For the past month or two I've also Citibiked once or twice a week.
- I've mostly resolved my sensitive-stomach issue by eating the same two things for breakfast and lunch every day (fried eggs and toast with butter for breakfast, and a blueberry-banana-spinach-ghee-nut-butter-collagen-cacao-powder-cashew-milk smoothie for lunch). Incidentally, I stumbled upon this as a solution because nothing else was working so I decided I might as well eat what the fuck I want for breakfast if I was gonna get diarrhea anyway, and that's when the diarrhea stopped.
- I meditate every single day (even if I'm getting up at 4am for a flight), journal (almost) every single day, and every night I write down my "wins" for the day before I go to sleep.
- I finished my novel. Very late after the deadline that the publishers initially set, but I finished it.
- I traveled more this year than I ever had in any year prior (and subsequently discovered that that's not actually what I want - but I had to do it to know that). I went back to Europe for the first time in 12 years, and finally saw Berlin. I performed Baby Mama in 3 states and 2 countries.
- I started my life coaching and Desire Map facilitating business, which has become the primary way that I make my living (along with teaching playwriting privately and the odd article or arting).
- With Emily Rose, I created the first nine songs of a musical about birth parents.
- I haven't stopped scratching my skin, but I've at least gotten to the point where when I find myself scratching, I stop and do a breathing exercise.
- I presented at a conference for the very first time.
- I took a bunch of amazing courses, among them: Marie Forleo's B-School, getting my life coaching certification, and am currently a student of Andréa Ranae's Coaching As Activism course and Beautiful You Life Coaching Academy's training program.
- I directed a play for the first time in 10 years.
- I sang John Grant's "GMF" onstage at a Youngblood brunch.
- I built my Patreon up to $300/month.
- Maybe most importantly yet also the thing I feel least comfortable bragging about: I made the conscious choice to expand. I spent the year grappling with the question of, "How do I want to show up in the world? My old ways clearly aren't cutting it." And I realized that it had to start with listening and learning: Listening to folks who don't look like me; learning the history I had either previously ignored or never learned; listening to and with my body; learning how our brains work; listening to the people who are calling for the same compassionate and nuanced discourse that I crave, but who have so much more to lose than I do; learning how I can ACTUALLY help and not just *feel helpful.* This process is only just beginning and I hope it lasts the rest of my life.
- Oh, and I wrote for BuzzFeed and Brooklyn Rail.
[A caveat to my self-celebration: If your inner critic is looking at that list going "mannnn I didn't do SHIT this year" - you did. You did so much. I promise you did. 2017 was so fucking triggering, toxic, and disaster-ridden that if you made it through this year in one piece, you should throw yourself a Goddamn party. And just to be clear, since text-based communication so often destroys nuance: I was also in a ton of pain, as so many of us were. A huge reason for amping up the self-care routines is because I realized this year that I have anxiety, which I thought at the time was circumstantial but now I'm like, nah, that's been there for awhile. Were there days I had to just lie in bed crying for hours? Yes. Did I do stupid shit with money? Yes. Did I fall apart multiple times? Yes. Did I need (and acquire) lots of therapy? Yes. Is looking at the Internet a constant triggerstorm? Yes. Do I remember the last time I slept soundly through the night? Not really. No pity here, just trying to paint a more complete picture, even as I high-five myself very publicly for what I'm proud of.]
But what I got done, I didn't get done by leading with shame. I didn't get anything done because I thought I "should."
I did these things because I thought they would feel good. Because my heart said, "That!"
And for the most part, they did feel good. Even the most uncomfortable learning and listening felt good in its own way.
And to be clear, I don't mean "feel good" in an easy or shallow way. I don't mean quick dopamine hits. I mean feeling good like "daaaaaaaaamn," like deep down, like oomph like whoa like nngaaaahhhhh-wow-yeah. Like "ow it hurts so good"-good, like holding-hands-good, like "damn this world is broken as fuck so what I gotta do to feel whole?"-good.
[And then there's all the smaller things I did to feel good - it's not all about "accomplishments." The long walks. The glitter on my eyelids. The long meandering sunlit chats with friends. The chocolatey tea with raw honey and cashew milk. Burning incense and hanging fairy lights and reading such good books and subscribing to SOOOOOOO many incredible podcasts - seriously, if any of you need podcast recommendations, just ask me.]
When the world is burning, it can feel irresponsible to want to feel good. Trust me, I know that.
But I also don't think any of us are going to be of the most use to the world by feeling like shit.
What I want in 2018:
- As many Democrats in office as humanly possible and zero nuclear war.
- A consistent outlet for my rage.
- To create a podcast. (It's going to be loosely based on "Lysistrata Rape Play," for those of you who've seen/read that.)
- To forgive my past abusers.
- A bank account that is so fucking pleased with itself that if it could smile it'd look like the cat that swallowed the canary.
- To spend more time with queer and liberation-oriented community.
- To never stop becoming better at what I do.
- To never stop expanding.
These are not "resolutions." My desire for these things has nothing to do with my being presently insufficient. These goals (not even sure these all count as "goals") are from my heart and my gut, built for connection/magic/caretaking/all that other good shit I wanna feel, and subject to change.
If New Year's resolutions work for you, then goddess love ya. But if you are consistently disappointed by your New Year's resolutions - or, if you've gotten what you wanted and you felt exactly the same afterwards (or worse! Google "olympic gold medalist depression" sometime!) - or, if you have trouble letting yourself really want what you want - or, if you have no clue what you actually want...
I'm doing a thing that may interest you, and I'm gonna plug it now.
Diana Stahl and I are co-leading a Desire Map workshop the first weekend of January. The Desire Map process (created by Danielle LaPorte) is deceptively simple: 1) get clear on how you want to feel, and 2) set goals based on those feelings.
I started teaching the Desire Map because, alongside breathing exercises and therapy, it remains one of the most helpful tools I've ever found for feeling good. I don't even know what the past two years would have looked like without it.
I invited Diana on board because I trust and adore her, because her heart is so huge and open, because her energy is so nurturing and grounding and yet so sparkly, because she articulates vulnerability and discovery in such a heart-achingly beautiful way, because I want this weekend to feel sacred and special and I knew she could help me do that.
It's in-person, it's in NYC, and it's going to involve dance breaks.
Thank you for reading to the end. I love you. I hope I see you there.
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