new year

It’s New Year’s Day and I’m sitting in my family room with the Christmas tree lights on, the TV off, the cat and dog resting, and Travis reading his phone on the couch opposite me. I have one soft light turned on in the corner, but for the most part, the room is dim because I was watching a documentary and the fan light causes a glare on the television.

I’m writing because I told myself I’d write today; it’s the new year after all, so it seemed like a good reason. I hoped to have all my resolutions picked out so I could tell you about them, but I’m having a hard time promising myself specific things like exercising five times a week, or writing a book, or going to bed on time, or learning how to do a headstand (although all of those things sound fabulous).

In years past, I chose five things I’d never done before and while this lead me to several adventures (like buying my first pair of stilettos and getting a massage) and temporary hobbies (like making desserts and sewing purses), I haven’t been able to think of five new things that I can commit to yet. However, that doesn’t mean I won’t do some of the things I’ve thought of such as climbing a 5.11 route or finally making a trip to Chaco Canyon.

I suppose this year I want more of a theme to work on instead of a number of things to check off a list. Quality over quantity perhaps?

What I keep coming back to is two themes: Simplify and Let Go. Let go was supposed to be my theme of my 32nd year anyway, right? Maybe it’s not time for me to come up with entirely new goals, but rather to focus on the ones I don’t have down yet.

Last week, Travis and I boarded a plane for Hawaii where we lived simply in so many ways. I have only put on mascara once since we left Christmas morning. My hair was never blow-dried and only styled in ponytails and buns (which is not a huge surprise, but still). I wore gym shorts, swimsuits, and tank tops every day which confirmed what I was afraid of – that I’d overpacked with all those shirts I didn’t wear. We stayed in a little studio attached to a house where a kind, outgoing 60-year-old man lives with his girlfriend. They shared their boogie boards, beach chairs, and umbrellas with us. He’d marked up a travel book and told us to take it everywhere if we wanted. Although we paid to stay there, we didn’t pay much, and his generosity made me want to be just like him someday – friendly, and genuine, and willing to share.

From the moment we landed on the Big Island until the day we left, the knot in my chest that has become all too familiar went away. I didn’t stress; I lived in¬†moments. I took tumbles in waves, boogie boarded with my arms stretched out as if I were flying, took deep breaths of the salty ocean wind, and tried to engrain images of volcanoes, waterfalls, brightly-colored flowers, and black sand in my memory.

I’m very reflective, you know, so I reflected. I thought about Christmas and family and friends and life and loss and God. I read my books, and wrote in my journal. I was quietly thoughtful at times, and talked Travis’ ears off at other times.¬†And the whole week – the whole week! – I was simply thankful to be there – anywhere! – on that island.

One day, I drew names in the sand of loved ones I’ve lost, and those my friends and family have lost. I included common nouns like “grandpa,” “brother,” and “friend” in hopes I wouldn’t leave anyone out. Before we left the beach that day, most of the words had already washed away because pictures in the sand are fleeting and, like life, disappear without our control.

So, now we’re home and Travis and I have made lists of things to do this year. I’m calling those lists ongoing resolutions, not new resolutions. We’ve discussed ways we can be more organized and accomplish our goals. But beyond the lists and goals for our budget, and health, and travel, is my biggest longing of all – to focus on what matters. To let go. To simplify. To be grateful. To remember what it feels like to stay present in my own life and accept it for what it is – a short, fleeting gift.

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