New Year’s is a big deal. It comes smack in the middle of Christmas (which to me goes through Epiphany, January 6), and it’s the only holiday that lasts a month. You can say “Happy New Year” on January 31 and still be okay. I see January, its first days and weeks in particular, as setting the stage for the year ahead. I like that it happens in winter, when turning inward is the most natural thing on earth. And I like having a month’s worth of freshly minted days to clear clutter, organize and regroup, spiff and polish, and practice the habits that make each year close on a higher note than the one before.
The relevant word there is “practice.” The old concept of resolutions was promises made on January 1st and betrayed shortly thereafter, usually promises of vast transformation: couch potato to athlete, or a confirmed devotee of shabby chic set to become a pared-down minimalist. That’s not how I see resolutions now. My opportunity in January, and every day really, is to practice some aspect of living to which I aspire. If it feels right, I get to practice some more.
For me, this year, I’m thinking of removing the obstacles to greater growth and fulfillment in a variety of areas. Among them:
Unload the email overload…I took five days off email just before Christmas, and it felt like a cruise on the Queen Mary 2. Using the Boomerang app, I took a vacation from my inbox, and that taught me that I can do it every day: shut off the influx of mail at some point in the afternoon when I’ve done all I can handle. The stress relief is enormous. I used to feel as if I was always running from an avalanche, and now I can stop the avalanche in its tracks and revisit it in the morning when I’m refreshed and ready for it. I let emails come in for a few hours and when I’ve had enough – well, that’s enough. I look forward to keeping this up through a far less stressed 2018.
Commit to personalized wellbeing…It’s no secret that I’m “into health.” While vegan for the animals, I’ve been intrigued since childhood by actions people can take to improve their health. I’m drawn to the self-reliance of it and the earth magic that my actions can, to a degree at least, shape my life.
This year, I want to focus on personalized wellbeing. It’s one thing to blindly follow the edicts of experts I admire, quite another to learn what they’re saying and apply those parts that resonate. Someone whose work I’m admiring a great deal right now is Anthony William, the “medical medium.” He’s not a scientist and doesn’t claim to be, but neither am I. Although I keep up with the science around plant-based nutrition and use that in my work and in my food shopping, I’m someone with a decidedly mystical nature. I not only accept that about myself, I love that about myself.
I’m enchanted by Mr. William’s podcast on Hayhouse Radio and his books, Medical Medium; Medical Medium Life-Changing Foods; and Medical Medium Thyroid Healing. I’ve been taking his free online course, “The Healing Path,” and since I’m an educator, it’s a joy to shift into learner mode, open and eager. I love his enthusiasm about frozen wild blueberries, celery, cilantro, asparagus, spinach, oranges, tangerines, artichokes, and sweet potatoes – the same foods the scientists love but presented to me from a different perspective, one that resonates as if the information is coming in a package with my name on it.
Value delight…Like a lot of people who care about a cause, who take the world situation to heart, and sometimes ask Atlas to move over so we can take a turn shouldering it all, I’m prone to dismiss such intangibles as beauty, fun, warmth, connection, and delight. My intention going forward is to dismiss them less and seek them out more. Tonight, for example, I watched a perfect movie, The Graduate – half-a-century old and, well, delightful. The lights on the tree are plugged in and those on the manger scene and the bedecked buffet, too, even though my husband is in bed with the flu, the dog probably doesn’t care, and some of my neighbors have taken their decorations down already. And there was bath oil in my Christmas stocking – “Don’t Tell Me to Calm Down” from The Fanciful Fox – and tonight I’ll use it. Why bathe in mere water when the healing adventure of aromatherapy is an option?
In the interest of keeping it simple and keeping it real, three resolutions are plenty: one for work, one for health, one for life. And whatever you resolve – or if you’re resolved not to resolve – may you and those you love have a richly textured year ahead with good work, good health, and a really good life.
Victoria Moran is the author of Main Street Vegan and coauthor of The Main Street Vegan Academy Cookbook, brand new for the new year. Her greatest delights are Saturday morning outings in New York City with her husband, William, and their dog, Forbes; any time spent with her grown-up, lifelong-vegan daughter, Adair; speaking for an audience; doing aerial yoga; keeping up with graduates of Main Street Vegan Academy; and reading, writing, and observing serendipity unfold. Victoria will be presenting this winter in Providence, Boston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Kansas City, and New York. See her schedule here.