Every year I complete an End of Year survey. This survey is something that I keep for my own personal use, much like other people keep gratitude journals. I’ve been doing it since 2002, and it’s both hilarious and perspective-widening to look back at all of the things I thought were so earthshatteringly important when I was 17 or 18 or even 20.
One of the questions on the survey is “What did you do in (insert year here) that you’ve never done before?” When I was 20 – in 2005 – my answer to that question was Did two shows in a row, lost almost 30 pounds only to pack on six again in two-three weeks, got down to a size twelve for the first time in probably my life, bought a size-ten skirt, was a redhead for about three months, worked basketball camp for two straight weeks and loved it, stage managed a show and loved that too (Your flag is on fire! oooWHAAA!!), lived in a hotel for a month, moved into a new house when I was fully conscious of it happening (the last time I moved to a new house I was five and didn’t really notice anything that was happening), was a lead in a college show, was a ‘pretty girl’ in a show (hey, it said that we were fair and beautiful of face IN THE SCRIPT), got drunk enough not to be called ‘tipsy’.
Damn, this year really was momentous!
BAAAHAHAHHAHAAHAH. I cannot even believe how much of that revolved around my weight. Even my resolution for 2006 was to lose twenty more pounds.
For 2013, my answer to that question was this: Tried Ashtanga yoga, taught two classes at the same time, became an adjunct professor graduated with my Masters Degree, wrote a PhD application (x4), passed a Masters Candidate Exam, went to a friend’s mother’s funeral, tried a spin class, went to see Muse in concert (two nights in a row!), became a godmother, ran 9 miles, busted my sacroiliac joint, presented at a conference for Children’s Literature, flew somewhere without my parents, went to Mississippi, wrote a paper for a critical anthology, went on hormone medication to combat depression, traveled to Cape Cod without my parents, did a bunch of yoga poses I’ve never attempted before, lived almost an entire summer at the Niantic shore, did a weightlifting program.
This year wasn’t about the small things becoming big things, more so about the big things being insanely big life-altering things. This year was a year of change, growth, depression, grief, insane happiness, peace, and general understanding, and 2014 has the opportunity to completely change everything about my life. 2013 had some spectacular lows, but I guess that’s part of getting older.
Last year, I told you that 2012 was the year I learned what love is. Oh, to be young and foolish. 2012 was when I was all “LOVE IS RAINBOWS AND LEPRECHAUNS FLYING OUT OF EVERYBODY’S BUTTS”. Woof. That’s not really love, that’s just the first giddy flushes of what love eventually turns into. It isn’t just the moments of blind euphoria, but the moments in which there are so many things that make you so.damn.mad and the times that your heart breaks. But then they do one thing that makes you bust a gut laughing or just put your head on their shoulder and breathe and realize holy shit you are the best person in my life because nobody else would not just put up with me but love me, even though I consistently leave my sweaty gym clothes on the floor and laugh way too loud at the movies and I wear all of my emotions on my face at the exact same time shockwave of wonder, at how I landed with this person who is so consistently granite in his support. 2014 will bring many changes, but that will not alter.
Part of that love goes towards oneself, of course…this life isn’t much if you don’t truly like the person who stares blearily at you from the mirror every morning while you chug some water and figure out what pants to pull on. Sometimes, that means chemical healing. Trying to solve every single physical or mental problem you have by yourself is exhausting. Going on medication this year was the best thing I’ve done for myself in quite some time; it helped me drop some inflammation, as well as some of the negative emotional weight. Depression and anxiety are not things you can just shake off. It is a chemical predisposition I’ve fought since I was about 12 years old. People who think it’s solved with just yoga and green smoothies are deluding themselves. Depression is real. Get help if you can.
On a similar note…Facebook is a soapbox for everyone and their historical, karmic bullshit. Don’t pay attention to it and you’ll be much happier. And if it bothers you to have that crap on your feed…the “Hide All From User” button is a miraculous tool.
Speaking of tools…Despite what I just said about yoga not being the be-all-and-end-all medicinal tool, yoga is the one thing I consistently do that helps keep the panic and depression at bay. When I don’t do it for longer than a few days I am a noticeably angrier, more volatile and emotional person. It doesn’t take much yoga for me to be better; sometimes, just sitting very still and breathing is a valuable panacea.
For 2014, I have a few things on my list of Resolutions that I consider to be very indicative of the notion that’s currently stewing inside of me – this next year is going to be crazy.
1. Start working on my doctorate. I find out in March whether or not I will go on to higher education in the fall of 2014, and more pressingly, whether or not I’m going to have to move states in order to achieve said educational status. I’m of course scared at the prospect, but sometimes fear is a valuable asset to one’s personal growth. If I don’t make it in for the 2014-2015 school year, I’ll just keep on keepin’ on with what I’m doing right now, which is adjuncting and writing and working part time. Either way, I’ll be happy. It’s just that one of those options would allow me to get much more sleep and would let me play with my nephews, like, whenever.
2. Continue my current yoga groove. The Salutations for Sandy Hook series has been really inspiring for me to get off my ass and into my asana. Currently I practice yoga 5x a week (2-3 hour long sessions, 1-2 half hour sessions) and I’d like to keep that going into the new year. Of course, it might not last at the intensity, but as long as I get some quality time on my mat 5x a week, I feel like a better person.
3. Read most, if not all, of the books. This year I made it a personal goal to put a pretty good dent into the books I own but haven’t yet read; it’s embarrassing how many of them there are. I did my best, but I also bought a ton of books and read them as well, so there are still a bunch in my bedroom and clogging up my house. Right now I’m reading Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh and The Raven Queen by Jules Watson.
4. Finish the book(s). Yep. Baby’s writing some books, y’all. Not at all what you think; I’m not collating my thoughts into a series of memoirs just yet. I’m only 28. I’m barely cooked. I’m still in the package for God’s sake. So I’ll just sit on that stuff until I actually have something valuable to contribute to the world of nonfiction essayists. But I do feel like I can contribute to Young Adult literature in a way that isn’t about vampires or boy troubles against a dystopian landscape. Well, it’s dystopic, but there’s more of that dystopic bent to it rather than a treatise on BOYS AND FEELINGS. I should hopefully have it done later on in the year. Check back with me on that one.
5. Reevaluate my food. This summer was the closest I’ve gotten to the kind of eating that makes me happiest – lots of veggies, fruits, green smoothies, and a serious cutback on meat. I did a good job of keeping up at it this fall; this year was the first time I went through an entire semester of eating mindfully, and it was awesome. I’m going to make a concerted effort to make better choices about the ways in which I fuel my body for 2014. I barely eat red meat unless it’s a special occasion, and I refuse to eat pork unless it’s been cooked by my mother. This Rolling Stone article about the way we treat animals – particularly pigs – in mass farming systems made me cry and nearly barf. It is incredibly graphic with NSFW pictures involving animals, and it’s made me seriously reevaluate my food choices. I just want to eat well in 2014, but in a way that is kinder to both my body and to the world. I know there will be days that I’ll be running all over the place and the only thing available will be a protein bar. But I’ll make do. I’m going to also attempt to stop drinking soda, if only because it gives me a headache. But it’s so delicious, you guys….
6. Get onstage again. I didn’t tell you guys about this, but a few weeks ago I auditioned for a play called Noises Off; it was the first play I’ve auditioned for in four years, and it took place at the same company I did The Vagina Monologues and The Musical Revue, and I was practically dry-heaving in the wings prior to every entrance. But I got through the two hour cold reading session and when I left, I felt the itch to be onstage settle on my skin like a bad rash. I was bummed not to get in Noises Off but it just spurred me to be better for the next time around. I’m auditioning for something else in the coming weeks, and I hope it comes through!
So. Those are my goals for 2014. They may not be very enumerative or even very big, but they’re mine. And I hope that this blog will provide a space for me to complain, exalt, or rant. I have a feeling that 2014 will be very, very big indeed. It’s why the title of this post is from Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, the modern-day father of Ashtanga yoga – “Practice, and all is coming.” I have a feeling something’s coming.
2013 was a trip. 2014 will be a rocketship. I’ve got my rocketship underpants*. Hold on to your butts.
PS. If you don’t read Calvin and Hobbes, see yourself out.