I think it’s good to have a balance with goals, to have the ability to set them and not shy away but also to recognize that our tendency for setting them at this time of year is a bit unnatural.
New Year’s was always a special night for me.
When I was younger we would celebrate with my cousins, going outside and banging our pots and pans at midnight. As I got a bit older, around 13 or so, my parents started throwing their annual New Year’s Eve party.
I looked forward to this more than any night of the year. Their New Year’s party was the first night I got drunk, in 8th grade, and the night of my first real kiss, with a boy with long blonde hair.
He tricked me by telling me that he had left his shoe in my bedroom, so I would go up there with him, and before I knew it we were making out.
He was one of my close friends and it was a sweet kiss, a kiss that turned into nothing else but that I remembered for weeks afterwards, making out with my water bottles to pretend I could still feel his lips on mine (it’s true. I became obsessed with kissing, at 14).
In the years that followed, my girlfriends and I would run outside of my parent’s house into the cold, sometimes into the snow, with our Ugg boots on and strip down to our underwear. Our New Year’s underwear, that we’d buy from Victoria’s Secret, and we’d run around the neighborhood, unhooking our bras and baring our breasts to the air, laughing nonstop.
Breathless, we’d finish our run, put our clothes back on just in time to tell the boys we had been streaking and they had missed it.
One night there was a snowball fight, and some of the the drunk adults came outside, even my soccer coach throwing snowballs at me in the middle of the night.
Sure, there were my “resolutions,” that I’m sure were to be skinnier or clear my skin or get some boy to like me, but the thing that stuck with me the most was the magic of New Year’s Eve. An excuse for glitter and sluttiness, a who was going to kiss who at midnight.
That wore off over the years. Once my brother’s accident happened, there were no more New Year’s parties. And as the years went by, I drank less and less, until I barely drank at all. I think the last time I was drunk was New Year’s of 2019, and that was an exception – I had been convinced to have fun with friends and we got drunk together, playing board games and getting to sleep in a comfy bed.
I was talking to Jordan the other day, wondering out loud if we’d bring back New Year’s with our kids. I think we will. The magic of New Year’s, of a year turning into the next, of a whole new chapter of life. Of glitter in the dark. I am sure we will celebrate with them.
And for now, we sit and reflect together the way we will probably do when we’re 80.
Quiet nights, reflecting on the year that’s passed and setting intentions for the years ahead.
I used to not be able to plan out the years ahead.
Really up until this year. The past few years I’d roll my eyes at Jordan, I’d say, I don’t want to set goals, goals are so masculine, my body doesn’t work like that.
Years ago, I was in a psychology class and the professor asked us to map out our 1 year, 5 year, and 10 year life plan.
I shut down. Couldn’t do it. In my mind, I thought it was the stupidest thing ever.
Didn’t he know that life could change at any second, that someone could die at any moment, and that it was pointless to plan for anything?
I felt superior, like he didn’t know the reality of life, which was that it was happening moment to moment.
But as I’ve gotten older and healed (some of) the trauma of all the loss in my early twenties, I’ve learned that it’s not that at all.
Sure, life is happening moment to moment. But my inability to plan and to think long-term was a response to the trauma I’d experienced and also an immaturity. Not wanting to set goals that I might have to actually show up for and commit to.
I framed it as, anything could happen and this goal could no longer be true… but I didn’t have the trust in myself to both be able to plan and commit and also know that if something happened I could adjust around it.
I think my ability to plan this year is reflective of my ability to settle in and ground into safety in our life here. That Jordan probably isn’t going to suddenly die and something isn’t going to go horribly wrong. That it is safe to plan and to create goals for the future.
I felt like the word goal “wasn’t feminine,” but I just had never been taught habits and structure.
Because I hadn’t been taught good habits, I felt like I was bad at them. And as we know from my journey with cooking, when we feel like we are bad at something it is easy to excuse it by saying we don’t like it, and make the thing itself wrong.
I felt like it was part of my personality that I was bad at structure, and maybe there is some truth to that, but what really is personality?
I was on a call with a homeopath yesterday, and she was reflecting to me this theme of separation she sees throughout my life. Not just all the loss I’ve experienced, but the way I often need to feel myself as separate. I told her one of my favorite feelings is to be in a new country or place I’ve never been before, where no one knows who or where I am. And I told her the safest place in the world I could imagine being is in a gigantic field that stretched on for miles, and I am sitting alone at the center and no one knows I am there.
There is eczema all over my hands, and in German New Medicine eczema is a “separation conflict.”
It’s something I’ve seen and gotten to know as the essence of me, feeling myself separate, out alone in the world. In homeopathy they look at the story and essence of you, to match you with an energetic remedy out in nature that is the same. Like cancels like, they say.
There is something incredible in this, and I feel in the coming months I will have a lot more to say on homeopathy. It is like the ultimate quiz, I told Jordan. What is the energy that the stories that are you create, and what if there is nothing wrong, but we just match it with something else in the world that is the same.
So I don’t know if it was actually part of my personality that I was bad at structure.
Or if it was just a truth, a reaction to being codependent as a child, to feel free at all costs.
I have already become so much better at habits. I am walking more, my cooking is on a rhythm that I could only ever have imagined having, where I am good at preparing. I write every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I have written 20,000 words of a memoir.
And it feels nice to set goals with my husband.
We have been doing something called HeadStart through Commit Action. It’s basically like a long and involved workshop for reflecting on the last year and planning the year ahead. In it they talk about something they call “ecological goal setting” which is a way of setting goals to make sure it aligns with your values. I had done something like this in my first-ever coaching training, which it has felt nice to come back to. And when Jordan and I started to share our visions last night, it was so amazing the way our visions aligned perfectly. So we have our own goals, but those goals intertwine and support each other’s, so we basically have this big vision for 2023 that feels congruent with what we value and believe.
For me this has meant letting go of the goals I thought I should want and instead focus on what really matches with what I value most.
And I think it’s important to set these while also understanding that January, being the beginning of winter, is probably not the time to launch ahead full force. We are still in the dark, in the resting phase. And, that doesn’t mean that we can’t begin – just that we can balance our goals with respecting nature and our bodies at the same time.
I will tell you some of mine.
My overarching goal for the year is to finish setting up our entire home and prepare it to get pregnant with our baby. This means that I want all the household projects to be completed – from the new deck and greywater system, to having all rooms repainted and decorated, to the bathrooms being torn apart and redone, to the garden beds built and set up, and the root cellar created. I will be overseeing all of this, hiring people and making the decisions. It is realistically close to $200k of work, and it’s Jordan’s main goal to attend to the financial side of this (with my help, the same way I’ll have his too).
My other goals are to finish writing my book and have most of the initial editing completed. To keep sharing my podcast once a week and sharing my writing on social media. To become someone who walks 10k steps a day and goes to the gym a few times a week. To grow more food and can more food than last year. And to deeply nourish my body to be in the best place possible to have a baby.
It is the year of fertility, for my body, my work, our land, and our home.
And this is the north star for both of us: being ready to have a baby.
There is something to be said for are we trying to be too prepared, could we just get pregnant now and still do all these things… and I don’t quite know the answer to that question. I want to take a trip to Greece in September and conceive our baby in Greece. But it is also entirely possible that we don’t last that long. So I guess you’ll find out just as we will!
It has been a beautiful year, full of lessons. And for the first time ever I have a detailed plan for the year ahead.
Let’s see how it goes.
If you liked this piece, you might also enjoy:
– #63: Choosing a word for the year, what I learned about “wealth” being my word for 2022, navigating the unknown, my relationship with my work and what really matters to me, writing a book, & life playing chess (podcast)