Decembers are strange months. They force us—through our grieving over the last year, our anticipation and expectation for the next, and the celebration of the present with good food, family, and friends—to live fully in all aspects of our lives. The past, the present, and the future. Decembers can be exhausting, sad, and overwhelming, but they can also be joyful, hopeful, and so very warm. It all depends on what this year’s past, the present, and the future feel like to you.
I’ve had many Decembers full of loathing, curmudgeonry, and gloom because, well, the holidays were never happy times for me. They were the time of year that pretending to be merry and bright only brought out the worst in my family. This year felt different. This December was a warm one. I felt loved, and I allowed myself to be loving too. Time certainly heals and I have come far enough from those sad Christmases I used to know to a place where I can give myself over fully to the season.
But now it’s come to an end. Now is the time to let go of Christmas and to think of the New Year. Now is the time to muster up the best of ourselves. Now is the time—fueled by all that good food and deep love—to become who we’d like to think we are.
But first, here is what I am…
Writing slowly but steadily, on big projects and small. I had high hopes of starting a daily blogging habit for the new year but upon further reflection and introspection, daily blogging just isn’t for me, yet. Turns out I just don’t have a ton of energy to go around and focusing on blogging so much means less time and energy for my dream projects. Not only that, but failing to post daily makes me feel like, well, a failure, and being so filled with disappointed makes it impossible for me to write anything at all. So, I’m writing here, and for Zen and Pi, and I’m even resurrecting my newsletter too! but I’m only committing to one piece per online space per week for now and looking forward to creating and sharing more meaningful work with you soon.
Making promises. I promise to spend less time in from of the TV and more time in my “creativity room”. I promise to keep a list of dreams and projects in front of me rather than my Twitter timeline. I promise that whenever I feel bored, I won’t let my first instinct be to pick up my phone. I promise to read a book instead. I promise to write every day. I promise to stop apologizing for my weaknesses and to embrace my vulnerability. I promise to keep on doing what I have been doing but to use the lessons I have learned to do better.
Planning everything. I have been experimenting with using Trello to keep track of tasks for all my big projects and my blogs. I have a list for each project and lists titled “this year”, “this month”, “this week”, “today”, and one for “every day”. I’ve been moving items (or cards) from their project lists into the “time frame” lists once I feel I’m ready to begin. Each card can have a description, a checklist, attachments, and I can add comments and links underneath too. I love that I can keep both short-term and long-term to-do lists in front of me without getting confused or overwhelmed and it’s easy to shuffle them around as needed.
Anticipating a “Dry January”. For those who’ve never heard the term, Dry January is a movement where people pledge not drink any alcohol for the first month of the year. I don’t consider my relationship with alcohol to be problematic per se, but the medication I am on for my ulcerative colitis is affecting my liver and cutting out my daily drink proved harder than I thought it would be. A hard cider or a glass of red wine can be a real comfort at the end of a long day but I need to take care of myself and learn to decompress in new ways. I look forward to the money saved and maybe losing a few pounds too.
Reading The Iliad, still. I knew I would be reading it to the end of the year but with the holidays and this weird period of laziness and listlessness between Christmas time and the new year I haven’t been able to finish the book. That’s ok though. I’ll pick it back up as soon as I feel ready. I’ve set new reading goals for the year too, 30 books once again. I am determined to make 2019 the first year I meet this goal by making reading a priority, something I must do, every day.
Watching old episodes of Veep on HBO while I wait for most of my usual shows to come back between now and April. Before that, I was watching Killing Eve on Amazon Video and I cannot recommend it enough. I have been a fan of Sandra Oh since her days on Grey’s Anatomy (another show I anxiously awaiting both the return and the end of). I saw Bird Box on Netflix; it was good but not great, and I finally got around to Isle of Dogs which was exactly the work of art I knew it would be.
Feeling tired. December was, as all Decembers are, exhausting. I feel bad for having been so lazy this past week off from work but it felt so good that I know I needed it, mentally as well as physically. I regret nothing but I do resolve to get off my ass starting today.
Fearing a new year that will be just like the last. I’m afraid that I won’t get anything done at all and that I will fail all the challenges I start and the goals I’ve set. I’m afraid 365 days from now I will be sitting at this same desk writing this same post saying all the same things about how I failed, but it’s okay, I have a plan for 2020 and this time I’m going to get it right! I’m afraid that I am not capable of the work I need to do or worthy of the successes I hope to achieve.
Reflecting on 2018 and what it meant to me. This year I completed a Year Compass booklet for the first time and it really helped me get over the initial disappointment I felt over all the things I didn’t get done. I realized that while 2018 wasn’t productive in all the ways I had hoped it would be; it was still an amazing year. Looking back, I had a year full of warmth and love, friendship, family, and fun and I’m pretty proud of that.
Needing willpower like I have never had before. Willpower is the word I chose for 2019. I wrote it in my Year Compass under the coming year and underneath I wrote: “productivity is planning for the future weaker, stupider you”. I was thinking of a Tumblr post from Stowe Boyd, “Will Power Is A Myth, So Take The Damn Nap“. I’m asking for the strength to do the work, or do what needs to be done now so I can pick the work back up again later.
Learning Classical Sociological Theory! I’ve been looking for some free online courses to take for a while now and this was one that looked good. I’m on a mission to learn how to practice and I think taking a structured course would help me cultivate a habit of daily discipline and fuel my writing with new information and perspectives! Win, win and all for free right? I haven’t enrolled just yet (I’m implementing new habits in a more staggered fashion for 2019 rather than all at once) but by February I hope to start.
Loving this past year. I know it was a horrible year politically here in America and in many places around the world because of America but personally, in my own little suburban bubble, it was a pretty good year. That isn’t to say I didn’t have my ups and downs, or that the bigger picture not affected me but what I did have was an amazing support system and what I did was take breaks as needed from said bigger picture. I know that is a privilege many don’t have, and I am grateful that I do.
Hating that this past year was so politically ugly and divisive. I hate how much we hurt one another out of fear and of pride. I hate how the unknown makes us so cruel and how easily we justify suffering and death. From the growing threat to immigrants, the frequency of mass shootings, the number of animals that went extinct, and the abandonment of our responsibility to the global climate crisis, 2018 was the year that humanity broke my heart and I hate that I have no expectation that 2019 will mend it.
Hoping, on this last day of 2018, that all of us all around the world can find the courage to forgive and begin again. I hope that we can start a new year with a little less of the past holding us back or holding us apart. I hope the new year can begin with more clarity and that 2019 brings out more of what is good in us. I hope you all have a safe night and a productive start—in whatever way is meaningful to you—to your brand new year.
So, yeah, all in all, December was beautiful. It was by far the best December I’ve ever had, emotionally anyway. I look forward to ringing in the new year with my fiance, in our home, while enjoying good food, getting some writing in, and completing a few projects in the house. It’s just the tone I want to set.
But what about you? How did December treat you? How did 2018 treat you? Did you have a wonderful Christmas and will you ring in 2019 quietly with close friends and family, or will you attend a grand gathering somewhere and meet it with flare?
Let me know in the comments.
“The first of December was a wintry day…and the year seemed getting ready for its death.”Little Women, Louisa May Alcott