Revising as We Go: A New Year’s Reflection

Every year, I like to do a special post at New Year’s. I take time, first, in my private journal, and I highlight the best moments of the year that has passed, and then I begin outlining things I want in the new year. I outlined the process in greater detail last year.

It never fails that, out of this reflection, there comes a nugget of truth that ultimately leads me into the new year. Last year, as I wrote, it became clear to me that forgiveness was the guiding principle that stood out:  forgiving others, yes, but more so, forgiving myself for being, well, me.

toast

This year, when I sat down to list out the highlights of my year, I was blown away by how blessed I’ve been. I married the most amazing woman in the world this year, and the day was full of beauty and fellowship and fantastic French food. We moved across the country together just a week later, and we managed to get a great apartment with room for an office for me. I sat in bed in June and cried tears of joy as I watched the live blog of the Supreme Court decision that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, thus allowing my marriage to Amanda to be recognized by the federal government, and therefore the Navy.

I finished the first draft of my novel this year, and the second draft is (slowly but surely) in the works. I published an essay about my complicated relationship with religion and Chick-fil-A and sexuality called “This Closet Smells Like Chicken,” and lo and behold, it was then nominated for a Pushcart Prize, which BLOWS MY FREAKIN MIND.

Color Run

I not only managed to run a mile without feeling like death was coming for me (one of my very specific goals for 2013); I ran my first 5K and finished with a smile on my very dirty face. My next race, the Tinker Bell 10K is in three weeks, and I’m training hard, managing to not only make it a mile, but keep on going.

2013 was fantastic, but after I listed my highlights, I turned my attention to 2014. What did I want to do in the new year? What could I control and make happen? What was a mere hope for me? What are my intentions?

These were hard to come up with. My goals came pretty easily – they generally center around writing, fitness, reading, and cooking – but then I got stuck.

Then I looked at my goals:  so many of them involve the word “keep.” Keep running, keep writing, keep reading, keep cooking, keep pushing yourself, keep thinking, just keep going.

I spend a lot of time in my head, continually processing things that happen around me, what I see online, what I read, what I worry about. All this reflection and self-awareness can sometimes have adverse effects, but more often than not, it allows me to revise as I go along. I can adjust my choices, my patterns, all year long and not just at New Years.

I always hate those New Years posts that are all like, “You shouldn’t make New Years resolutions! Everyday should hold new resolutions.” Okay, yeah, blah blah blah. That’s not as much fun as making a list of goals with the fresh energy that comes after a month of over-indulging in cookies. (Or was I the only one?) It’s what launches office remodeling (for me) or the start of new projects or blogs or books or additions to the house or whatever. The start of something new brings with it inherent energy, and it seems wasteful not to harness it for ourselves.

photo 1 (4)

Make resolutions. Set goals. Dream big. Shoot for wonderful. But keep in mind that it’s not over till it’s over, and we are absolutely entitled to revise as we go. So much can change in a year; why should we assume that our goals and dreams and visions and hopes won’t change too?

I wish you a very happy and safe New Year. I can’t wait to share new recipes, new projects, experiences, and moments with you in 2014.

6 thoughts on “Revising as We Go: A New Year’s Reflection

  1. I want to keep doing the things that are working for me. There doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with that.

    But as you say, that could change at any time. This time next week, there’s a reasonable chance that I’m going to want to chuck it all.

    Happy New year!

  2. couldn’t agree more: it bothers me when people warn against resolutions this time of year. Make goals! Dream big! Get there, or feel good trying! I understand the pitfalls of saying “on january 1, i’ll quit smoking/drop 79 pounds/begin a workout routine/clean my entire house/get promoted at work,” because yes: that is unreasonable and unattainable, and if you have that mindset, you’ll quit before you start. but there’s nothing wrong with setting milestones to reach for yourself throughout the course of the year, at all. Always make your steps move forward, i say. Even if it’s baby little steps.
    and speaking of steps, i’m so excited for Tinkerbell for you! 10K…that’s something big. I know you’ll do an incredible job, and you’ll feel great when it’s done. :)

    • I’m excited for the 10K too! I have to make some hats for it this weekend, but I’m feeling good about it, and though I’m not technically all the way trained for it, I think it’s going to be great.
      And you’re right – baby steps. One thing at a time!

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