I got a head-start on my New Year’s resolutions. In November I joined a gym four blocks from our house. It’s a functional, affordable, women-only gym. It isn’t fancy and they keep the temperature slightly higher than I might choose, but the price was right, and I was immediately appreciative that the sounds of weights slamming together, loud grunts, and congratulatory slaps on the back was completely absent from the space. It’s actually kind of eerie how quiet it is.
It seems as safe a space as any to let my baby belly hang out.
Like most gyms, there are motivational posters all around, reminding you why you’re there, preventing you from leaving before you’ve changed into your gym clothes. (Maybe it’s just me, but some days that feels like a work out in and of itself.)
One phrase particularly caught my eye:
(If you’re tired of starting over, stop giving up.)
For some reason, that struck me as incredibly profound, and I kept thinking about it during my work out. It got me thinking about how often I give up and give in, how many times I make a plan, and how few of the times I can keep it going long enough to see the results I want to see.
Then the self-talk started. “Stop giving up!” “Don’t be a quitter!” “Stop giving in to what is easy!”
I don’t know if you’re hearing the trend here, but I did. Shame is such a sneaky, sneaky thing, and there it was again, rearing it’s ugly head. Despite the success of joining a gym again after a year and a half break, my first self-talk wasn’t one of celebration or success, but one of shouting and failure.
This is not how I want to feel going to the gym. Actually, this is not how I want to feel. Period.
Like many people, I find myself excited to make New Year’s resolutions. It’s such a great starting-over point. It’s so wonderful to make plans and dreams, to wish for better.
But I think it can be a dangerous time, too. Because if I’m not careful, it turns into dissatisfaction with myself, my accomplishments, my surroundings, and my choices. It’s not that there isn’t a time and place for change, it’s just so easy to forget about the other stuff. The good stuff.
It’s so easy to make plans and dreams for the year to come without fully appreciating the year that has passed.
Over break my in-laws watched our son so my husband and I could go to dinner. Between bites of sushi and sips of champagne I asked my husband, “What are some of the things this year that you’re really proud of accomplishing? What are some of the things that you have stuck with and even got better at doing?”
For the next hour we went back and forth, sharing stories and examples of ways that we have changed and grown. We talked about how we’ve learned to be more gracious with one another’s needs even while attending to the needs of our son.
We talked about how we’ve made time for one another: having date nights, shared Netlix shows, reading together, and having an overnight without our baby. (A huge thanks to my in-laws for that one!) And how we’ve made times for our son, sitting on the floor and playing with him side by side.
I shared how this year has been about letting go. As I have changed jobs I have had to learn how to leave graciously, how to walk out the door without resentment, desiring the best not only for my future, but for the future of the people and places I leave behind. I talked about how I have had to let myself grieve, and it has taken longer than I expected, and yet I feel like I’ve managed to find peace.
There are other things, too. Like reading 65 books, logged on goodreads. Or not eating sugar or white carbs for the first four months of the year. Or mostly keeping up with my blog.
I even mentioned the gym. Going one to two times a week. Not as many as I might want, but more than this time last year.
I’d go on, but it’s already starting to feel a little braggy.
It was a moment of lovingkindness, a moment of gratitude for what has been. It was grace.
I have some ideas of goals for this coming year. We’re starting to eat a more plant-based diet. We’re going back to cutting out white carbs and sugars. We have goals of going to the gym. We’re even talking about making our bedroom a screen-free space. (She says, as she types in bed.)
But somehow, the goals don’t feel like badges of my failure from 2014. They feel more like continued successes, like picking up some of the strands that were dropped, and carrying on.
And I suppose that’s my wish for this year: a little more grace, a little more love, and a lot more kindness, day in and day out on this journey.
Somehow that feels more important than another diet.