living well

Boldly go into this New Year

8 Comments 31 December 2013

Happy New Year to all my lovely readers!

Happy New Year to all my lovely readers!

I have rarely spent New Years Eve at a party or out in the cold watching fireworks over a big city. One year we hosted a 12-course meal for our family, stretching across midnight with a course of sparkling drink as the clock struck 12. It was fun, but kind of hard work. I would definitely do it again, but differently (i.e. with more help!).

Most years we just relax and watch movies or play new board games (my parents gave us Carcassonne for Christmas this year, anyone ever played it? We LOVE the strategy board games in this house.), and this year we’ll do the same.

One thing I do enjoy making time for are the different recaps of the year across social and mainstream media. Unlike many who reject the notion of obligatory celebrations on the New Year I allow myself to join in with the shared cultural experience. It’s the end of a cycle. Yes, it’s a manmade cycle and a more natural New Year might be in April when spring first arrives, but it still works because so much of our world is set around this cycle. Rituals and ceremony are important to humans; they help shape our stories like the covers of a book. We use phrases like ‘the end of a chapter’ or ‘that’s another story’. (This is why I know writing stories is a noble profession: we need them.) And so I join in by reading these recaps of the past year. A year of stories.

Reading the lists of Notable Obituaries is probably my favourite of these round-ups. It’s not morbid curiosity; rather it’s a celebration of those notable lives. These obituaries are full of fascinating stories–what incredible lives these people have led! Many of the stories I didn’t know about these people because all I read about to this point had been their current events. These stories don’t rise them higher in my mind, rather, they make them more human, more like me, and the stories sit them nicely in that web of human life connecting us all. And of course this exercise allows my thoughts to drift across the family members, companions, friends I know who have died in the past year and I think about their whole lives in the same manner, as a long and interesting story.

But it’s not just a time of saying goodbye to lives in the past year. It’s a forward-looking time for me as well.

Besides the Notable Obituaries, I also do this little habit every year, where I think of all the surprising things–good and bad, that have happened to me in the past year, things I never could have predicted at the start of it, on the first of January. It’s a useful exercise to remind me that the coming year will bring more surprises: good and bad surprises, and to look forward to the good (and do what I can to encourage a lot more of the good) and to brace myself for the bad–to boldly go into the new year ready for as much as I can be ready for. This little habit, this exercise in preparation prevents me from being a passive person who allows things to just happen. Instead, I am an active player in my life; I am someone who makes things happen.

And I wonder what I’ll make happen in 2014!

(I have a few plans, and I’m excited for them!)

What about you? What rituals or promises or resolutions have you made? Or are you happier just letting the event slip past as any other month end, month beginning?

Whatever your plans, I wish you all a very happy, successful and healthy 2014!



Your Comments

8 Comments so far

  1. I am much happier to let the day slip by just like any other. That said, I love your approach of spending the day planning for how you can take advantage of what the year will bring. I think that the resolutions lists are silly and would much rather see people dedicate time to either doing things or getting themselves into the right place to be able to do things. In other words, Do Do Do and not List List List.
    I hope you have a great evening and I am looking forward to seeing what you have planned for 2014.

  2. So there are those who want things to happen, those who watch things happen and those who make things happen – and you’re the latter, as am I, it would seem! A warm wonderful happy new year to you Michelle :) X

  3. A couple of years ago, I spent a year changing one thing each week about me. The final list of 52 things gave me a quite fascinating insight into my anxieties and fears — and there were some really big surprises in there.

    Some examples:
    • Change One Thing This Week (Week #8: Start using 24-hour clock timings in all communications).
    • Change One Thing This Week (Week #14: Limit mobile phone calls to under five minutes).
    • Change One Thing This Week (Week #9: Don’t snack on food while preparing meals).
    • Change One Thing This Week (Week #12: Stop self-criticising myself to death. Remove my inner critic).
    • Change One Thing This Week (Week #40: Create a dry weekend every month. With saved money, do something fabulous).
    • Change One Thing This Week (Week #41: Start weekly meditation once a week to relieve stress and aid in sleeping).
    • Change One Thing This Week (Week #42: Be 100% responsible for my life and start to take full responsibility for my moods, attitude, thoughts, feelings, actions and words).

  4. Iota says:

    I have decided to make a very achievable resolution, rather than one of those ones which are laudable but in vain.

    I’ve never made a Christmas cake. I’ve never even made a fruit cake. So my resolution is to make at least one fruit cake this year. I’m planning to make a trial one (or more), and then to make a Christmas one in the autumn, but in the interests of “achievable”, I’ve phrased my resolution to be “at least one” – gives me an opt-out!

  5. Kirsty says:

    I’m now sitting here trying to think of all the things that have happened in the last 12 months that surprised me. I am keeping a memory jar of things my son does this year so maybe I should do one for myself too and note the achievements, happenings and good fortune that I hope 2014 holds! I know you will make great things happen this year, enjoy x

  6. When the babies are small, years seem to pass in a bit of a blur… I can’t remember many things that happened in 2013, though I made a couple of big decisions. 2014 is going to be massively influenced by these decisions. Exciting times ahead! :-) xx

  7. Mari says:

    Sounds like you’re in a very good place right now and I am hot on your heels. I have plans, dreams and desires for 2014 so there is plenty to be getting on with for the meantime.
    Wishing you a wonderful 2014 and VERy impressed with john’s comment above – wow!

  8. 2014 is all about finding a family home for me. If we’re not in it by December, I’ll be disappointed.

    Oh, and I love reading obituaries too. People who have led such interesting lives. In another life, I think I’d have become an obit writer.

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An American writer in the UK for over 20 years. Lives in Essex. A pretend extrovert.

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