Resolve in a New Year

I am not much for New Year’s Resolutions.  They seem, more often than not, to represent our failures to follow through on promises to others and to ourselves.  For me, they provide a slippery slope to perfectionism.  They call me to do more, better, too much.  They make me anxious about where I am and where I could be.  If too caught up in the spirit of resolutions, I make a list of unrealistic expectations for myself that will only bring disappointment.

While resolutions do not serve me, soaking in a long bout of reflection about the past year often does.  2017 was hardly akin to a long soak in the tub, however.  I fought for my rights and the rights of others.  I worked my body and my heart harder than I thought I could.  I built strength.  I built resolve.

I learned that it’s okay when things don’t go as planned.  When I show up to a 5k late with a 12-hour old tattoo, it’s okay not to run my fastest race.  When I create a storytelling class for my guests at work, it’s okay when our conversations don’t make sense.  When it’s thundering outside, it’s okay to bail on my long run and go to the Women’s March last-minute instead.

I learned that I am terrible at resting.  I spent a handful of extra days hanging onto several colds because I refused to slow down at the onset of my symptoms.  I took my first sick days and tried my best not to feel bad about it.  I took my first mental health days and tried not to feel bad about it.  I tried to live into the word “vacation” by doing all my exercising and cleaning the night before so that I could have a full day with no obligations.

I learned that I am in charge of my body.  I practiced saying “leave me alone” to men who called and whistled at me on the street.  I practiced calling out the sexism of the guests at my work place, even though the oppression they suffer seems often worse than my own.  I practiced using my voice to protect other women.  I practiced sending love to the places on my body that I often do not love: my lower belly, the wrinkle to the left of my mouth, the hair under my arms.

I learned that my words have power.  Only I can tell the truth about my experiences.  What I feel is true, even if it is skewed by the cycles of my body or mental illness or lack of sleep.  Writing words about my own places that hurt is worth it.  I take the words of others seriously, which means that they sometimes hurt, so I should be careful with my own.

I learned that I am strong.  I ran a marathon and came back for another.  I marched with signs more times that I thought I could handle.  I clicked “Publish” on this still tender and pink project of mine.  I called out people who have hurt me, and that makes me brave even if they refused to offer me healing.

In the year to come I am resolute: to rest, to fight, to speak.  I am not who I was at the beginning of 2017, and for that I am grateful.  We have a new year before us – a whole year of learning, growing, and being resolved to make things better.  A new year full of broken bones, painting pictures, snow days, crying on someone’s shoulder, making coffee, midnight conversations about Kierkegaard, and this is a blessing.  May it be so.

Author: Brenna Lakeson

writer. theologian. activist. cat enthusiast.

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