January. The first month of a new year.
Doesn’t it just call to you!?
An invitation to engage in riveting reflection. An opportunity for self-betterment.
A chance to tap into luminous and infinite possibilities that lay in waiting beyond the stroke of midnight! But why is it so appealing? Why is it that we aim to become our best self with the birth of a new year?
Civilizations around the world have been celebrating the start of each new year for at least four millennia. That's more than four-thousand years!
The decision to start the new year in January was done in part to honor the god Janus, for whom the month was named. Janus – the Roman god of beginnings, gates, transitions, time, duality, doorways, passages, and endings - had two faces, and was able to look back into the past and forward into the future, simultaneously.
Steeped in metaphor, we hold tight to the birth of each new year, reflecting on the path we’ve traveled while celebrating this portal to betterment.
A celebrated time to find treasured opportunities hidden in each new day.
A time of resolutions.
To drink less.
To exercise more.
To be more present.
To slow the hustle.
To be more organized.
To make more time.
To spend less money.
To be a better parent.
To be a better partner.
To make healthy decisions.
To read more.
To stick to said New Year’s resolutions.
Despite best efforts however, resolutions often fall by the wayside.
Why is that? I mean, I for one am a fan of the infinite possibilities, personal development, and treasured opportunities hidden within each New Year's resolution. Aren’t you?
Nevertheless, maintaining our best intentions is often a tall order. In fact, I’m convinced that the Latin root of January actually means “‘To Do List’ for the first week of the New Year”.
In fact, the celebration of New Year’s Day in January actually fell out of practice during the Middle Ages. Even our ancestors had a tough go at keeping up with the celebrations and traditions associated with the birth of a new solar year. I mean, you've seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, right? Disease, religion, environment, war, economy, and even the chafing of chain mail likely hindered their celebratory efforts just a little. So let’s cut them some slack, shall we?
Like most I suppose, I moved toward the launch of this new year with great anticipation over the chance to hold tight to a Holy Grail of my own making, a conceptual chalice which of course runneth over with New Year’s resolutions.
And as I prepared to take a drink from the forthcoming year's cup of unlimited potential, I received a visit from an unwelcome guest.
At first, The Flu attempted to flirt with me, but I brushed it off. I'm not won that easily.
So The Flu, being the aggressive pursuer that it is, took things a step further, and sent me a love letter to profess it's feelings. As I'm fluent in Fluenese, the loose translation read:
"I shall take you to bed and have my way with you. I will make you ache, shake, and sweat until you moan and groan.
I will make you beg me to stop.
And when I am finished, you will be weak in the knees for days."
So much for my resolution to re-calibrate a fitness "routine" and ardently pursue working out.
So much for my resolution to write more and draft that article about the current climate of fundraising and philanthropy amidst the new tax plan.
So much for my desire to spend more time with my family. If you know my husband, you know that with the first signs of ailment, said family member is required to be comically quarantined, complete with room service and scheduled check in’s via FaceTime. His sickness aversion game is strong. And hilarious.
So, since the flu had put the brakes on all that I aimed to accomplish at the onset of this new year, which also happens to be the month of my fortieth rotation around the sun (whoa), I was of course, mad as hell.
Like most I'm sure, I usually find myself, on the go, juggling what often feels to be infinite tasks, roles, and responsibilities. Though I'm working on changing that, honing my focus on being more present and more mindful takes time. It requires a moment by moment commitment, and sometimes, that can be challenging. In this fast paced, digital world, rife with an increasingly unstable political climate, each passing day is filled to the brim with personal and professional to-do’s and expectations. Leaving one to feel as though they are in fact, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.
I for one have spent my entire adult life and then some, holding tight to a fierce work ethic, priding myself on all that could be accomplished within any given day, and chastising myself during moments when I had failed to put the pedal to the metal. I’m an auctioneer, so I suppose in some ways, fast is a favored speed. But I'm working to change that. And all I can say is, thank God for therapy.
As luck would have it, self-care was in fact among the resolutions that had made the 2018 cut. So wile the flu had it's way with me, Janus - that good ol’ Roman god, had given me the opportunity to reflect on my past attempts at self-care, and the intentions that I would like to invest in moving forward, post flu.
And you know what stood out the most upon such reflection? What I realized had been missing within those past attempts at self-care, and each passing year’s resolutions?
Not compassion for others. That has always run deep. Rather, compassion for myself.
Bed bound, feverish and mopey for days, it actually felt amazing to quite simply, press pause, and let go of the self-induced anger and anxiety that came along with not being able to “do all the things.”
To be kind to myself, and allow my body, mind, and spirit the opportunity to do nothing more than sleep, eat, and sleep again.
To gently ease into this new year, with care, consideration, and compassion.
To abandon my inner critic.
It’s only been a few days now since I’ve been up and at’em once again. And though I’ve resumed a "mindful" hustle, I have a new companion in compassion.
Though resolutions often come and go, I’m hoping that compassion can become my official plus one for countless New Year’s to come.
So here’s to the New Year! And in this case, here's to not getting a flu shot.
May we aim to give the same kindness and compassion to ourselves that we would give to others.