the anti-resolution revolution.

Oh man. It’s that time of year again. To feel guilty about eating all the Christmas cookies we worked so hard to make. To budget all the bills we carelessly racked up since Thanksgiving. To get the laundry done (all of it) and regular Pinterest-worthy manicures. To try to be the type of person that does all the things that we can never seem to do. But, for what? Why make a big deal about it once a year? Why not take it a step at a time, all the time?

Most of my 6 years being in and out of the 4 or 5 colleges I never graduated from is a blur, except for the end of my first semester at a school I’d never return to. The professor taught philosophy like I imagined George Carlin would. On the last day as we turned in our final papers, he picked up a guitar and made us sing along to “All Together Now” by The Beatles. When the song was over he told us to live the rest of our lives by two rules:

1. Never be politically correct.

2. Never make a New Year’s resolution.

The semester ended just before Christmas so these ideas resonated with me through the holidays and always come back to me at the same in the 8 years since. It was the first time a teacher ever told me not to do something I thought I was supposed to do, and I liked it. It was more than rebellious; it was being honest with yourself. Setting resolutions for a new year seems to be setting yourself up for failure in the following months. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in setting goals… but in varied degrees. There is no short list of things you should complete in a year; there should be an ever-changing, on-going list of goals, each with their own importance, meaning, and deadlines. Pledging to hit the gym more at the beginning of the year will end up in the same category as “backpack through Europe someday” or  “organize concert ticket stubs” after a month. New Year’s Resolutions become just another thing you think about sometimes and hope to do someday, until next year when you do it all over again.

Listen, we all have something we’d change about our bodies- we could all eat better, sleep better, love more, and cry less- but you can’t quit your lifestyle cold turkey every January 1st(well, after brunch right?) and expect to start a new one. I’m not saying “don’t dream big”, but if you set smaller more realistic goals for yourself, you’ll find it more satisfying when you can cross them off your list. No goal is too small; every morning I make a goal to get out of bed in time to go to work with clean hair, but sometimes baby powder is all I can manage, and that’s okay too. You can’t get down on yourself when you’re tired of kale smoothies on day five of your cleanse. Try to eat well most of the time, but go easy on yourself because if there are free donuts at work, eat the goddamn donuts. One bad meal isn’t going to ruin your year. Know your limits. Don’t reward yourself with food. Don’t drink when you’re sad. Don’t stress. Don’t dwell. Learn to let go, but understand it takes time. Get off your phone. Read more. Reach out more. As long as you are doing the best you can most of the time, you’re doing the best you can. Take time to make each day important, even if it’s something seemingly meaningless, because there’s no point in wasting the present for the future. It’s okay to plan, but don’t wait your whole life for one big moment. Eventually your little goals will add up and someday you will realize it’s good enough. Before you know it you’ll be closer to your goal weight because you smiled more and got enough sleep. Don’t compare yourself to others- nobody has it all figured out. As long as you feel like you’ll be okay, you will be. I believe in you. Happy New Year, Happy New Day.

Katie and the Mandala

I live for spontaneity but I’m not good at making new friends. I’m more likely to return an old postcard than a new phone call and I’m not very good at mailing things anyways. The day I met her she asked me if I wanted to go back to her dorm room and I decided not to make up an excuse this time. We talked about the importance of smiling at strangers and the power of a good hug. We both found big meaning in small moments, hid our sadness with giggle fits and enjoyed crafting and talking nonsense into the late hours of the night. But now, most of my memories of her are ones I’ve created out of stories I was told by those who were with her in a place I’ve never been. When I think of her, I picture her with a pixie hair cut I never saw in clothes of colors I never knew. The story I remember most was of her last morning on earth, and how she spent it drawing a mandala- a symbol of universal balance meant to inspire inner peace. I picture her drawing and meditating into the ascending spiral patterns on the page, and I wonder what clouded her mind so much she couldn’t shake it. I wonder why she couldn’t laugh it off or cry it out. I wonder if she tried. When I’m lost in thought, I think of Katie and the mandala, and I realize that even my darkest hours are incomparable to the lifetime we’ll spend with out her. I wonder if a stranger had smiled at her that day if things could have been different.