January reminds me of the first day after a long vacation. I’m thankful for the trip, but I can’t wait to get back to real life. From Halloween to the new year, our lives are so packed my brain starts to melt. Beginning around Thanksgiving, we drape our home in lights and ribbons, bake more than we will for the rest of the year, and cram our calendar full. We all, in our way, become little Martha Stewarts, striving to make each moment of our lives memorable, but without her budget or rap sheet.
Then, when it’s all over, and you need to rest and recover more than ever, we’ve got to start goal setting—resolving to be better people in the next 12 months than we were in the last.
In 2013 I lived in Portland, Oregon, and I was lucky enough to be part of an unofficial lunch club with Gwyneth. To give you an idea of who Gwyneth is, I’ll tell you that she exclusively wore long rompers that she sewed herself with every type of wild patterned fabric you can imagine. Gwyneth was, and I assume still is, so genuinely herself that it’s impossible to ignore her.
Toward the end of the calendar year, our lunch group’s conversation turned to the subject of New Year’s Resolutions. We all went around the table, over our cafeteria lunches, and everyone shared the things we aspired to do and be in the coming year. We were starting new hobbies, eating better, traveling more, and then when it was Gwyneth’s turn, she announced that she and Bruce had resolved to eat more cheese.
We all laughed, assuming she was kidding. She wasn’t. The year prior, she had resolved to drink alcohol every day. It had been a particularly difficult year at work. I think about her every year at this time as I resist the urge to overpromise and underdeliver. That conversation changed my New Years Resolution game forever.
In 2020, my husband and I resolved to eat more tacos. We did a pretty good job, even mastered homemade corn tortillas, though there is always room for improvement. This year was a bust. We resolved to eat more ethnic food, hoping to travel to the big city (Orlando) for Ethiopian or Mediterranean food. We didn’t. But we kept up with our taco tradition, which is something. And we learned to make espresso on our stovetop. I’d give us a 67%, and like one of my professors in college used to say, “D equals diploma!”
So, in a world that tells us we’re not ok unless we’re trying to be better, and smaller, but bigger in the right places, and more spiritual, but also richer, and minimalists, but also buy all the coolest stuff, I hope for this new year that you fulfill a fun and totally asinine resolution. I hope you become more yourself and release the pressure to be anything else. Happy New Year!