Tuesday, December 31, 2013

At Year's End ...

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
~Oprah Winfrey
I guess it's inevitable.  No matter how much I try to avoid it, around this time of year I still find myself thinking about what the coming year will bring, and how I hope it will be better than the past. I think about the changes I want to make, for myself and for others - the things I want to do differently, and the different results I hope to achieve from those changes.

Lately it seems to be on my mind even more. Maybe that's because we're all so bombarded with facebook posts and television commercials about everyone's resolutions, leading us to think about our own (or our lack thereof).  

More than anything, though, I think it's got a lot to do with the birthday I just had, and the one that comes next.  I'll be turning ... (deep breath) ... forty ... at the end of next year.  (Sigh.)  Yes, it's a whole year away, but it's a big deal to me, so I'm thinking about it already.

Fabulous at 40
I remember years ago, I'd seen Diane Lane on a magazine cover with the headline Fabulous at Forty.  Yes, she was (and still is) gorgeous, but it was more than that.  She looked natural ... she looked healthy ... and that's (part of) what made her so beautiful.  It was inspiring.  Though the number seemed so far away then, I knew that I wanted to be fabulous at forty just like her. Now that I'm so close to forty, though, I'm farther away from fabulous than I've ever been in my life.  I've certainly got my work cut out for me.

The seemingly natural thing to do now would be to make a list of New Year's Resolutions that would help lead me to that goal by the end of next year.  The problem with that, though, is that I don't really believe in making new year's resolutions (I even wrote a piece about that on here a few years ago).  Basically, they're just a way for us to set extreme, unrealistic goals that we can never live up to, leading us to feel like failures year after year.  

The way things have been going, I've got reason enough to feel that way without adding resolutions that I can't stick to.  I'm more overweight than I've ever been, I'm unemployed for the first time in my adult life, and I'm still dealing with a couple of chronic but invisible illnesses that leave me in pain nearly every minute of every day.  Certainly nowhere close to fabulous (though a different f word does come to mind).

The good news is that though I do have my down moments (who doesn't?), overall I know that I'm not really a failure.  In fact, when I think about all the things that have been thrown at me, I've got to say I've handled them pretty well.  I've stayed true to myself, and not let anything (or anyone) break my spirit.  I've stayed strong when it would be easier to fall apart, and have done (and continue to do) all I can to move in positive directions.  That has to mean something ... perhaps even more than the tangible shortcomings.

Still, I do want to feel (and look) fabulous by the time I hit forty, and I've got a long way to go.  That's why I've got to start now.  I'm not making a new year's resolution, and I'm not going on any extreme diet.  I'm just making a conscious decision to make better choices ... most of the time.  Fabulous isn't only physical, though: that feeling will also come from a new job that will both inspire me and help me make a difference in the world (I'm already working on finding it).  In the mean time, I'm finding ways to volunteer more in my community, and remembering to rest whenever I can, so I'll have the energy when I need it most. 

My goal for 2014 ... and every year!
I'm not sure if it's funny, sad, or a little bit of both, but I reread that post from 2010, and realized that in some ways, for as much as things have changed, I'm in the exact same place.  "I [still] want to be better.  I [still] want to improve my health, my financial situation, my appearance.  I [still] want to be a better friend, a better wife, a better daughter, a better person.  I [still] want to lose weight, save money, and help those in need."  In a way, it's kind of refreshing: I'm still on the same journey, with the same values.  Through the ups and downs, the hits that I've taken, I haven't really changed.  I'm still me ... and over the years I've learned to appreciate that.

I wish you all a year full of more joys than sorrows, strength to get through the hard times that inevitably come, and most of all, peace and love.

**If you like what you read, tell a friend.  In fact, tell me too - post a comment below.  If you don't like it ... well ... I'm all for honesty, but please be gentle!