New Year’s Resolutions. How I dislike this term. There is so much pressure behind it. Such a mountain of expectations, and, let’s be honest – one of the expectations is that you are not going to follow them. So, let’s make some promises we can keep this year. Why not pick some more realistic goals, and tell yourself they are guidelines, not absolutes. Stick to them…mostly. And when you flop, just move on. Don’t obsess about the flop. Just unflop.
Here are seven suggestions from a 39 year-old mother of two girls, wife, doctor, vegetarian, small-business owner, artisan soapmaker and perfumer (in case any or all of those matter to you):
- Michael Pollan said it in seven words: Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. (Food Rules – amazing, tiny little book.) And, no fast food. Just no. There is not one reason in the heavens or on this warming earth to eat fast food. Carrots from the bag are fast. Raw almonds are fast. A lil’ piece of organic cheese is fast. All three are vastly healthier, and ultimately cheaper, than the drive-through options.
- Exercise. The Nike people had it right. JUST DO IT. This means different things to different people. If you are just starting, start with 15 minutes a day of brisk walking, six days a week. If you are already in shape, or in-shape-ish, spruce up your routine with some new playlists (try Spotify if you haven’t yet). Or, try a new angle on an old sport. I’ve been practicing yoga for almost 20 years, but just started focusing on my handstand (and by focusing I mean obsessing). After years of self-guided practice, I have been taking classes at a local studio called Kula (means “community of the heart”), and am also mixing things up with yogaglo.com – 18 bucks a month for as many classes as you want, and they are GREAT! From a medical standpoint, my absolute favorite physical benefit of exercise is the effect it has on your mood. Yes, heart and muscles and lungs get strong, and you may lose a few pounds, too. But the endorphins are the way you will hook yourself on regular exercise. So – and I don’t say this often – go get addicted!
- Make better eye contact with people. Don’t ask “how are you?” and then not wait for the answer. Hold the door. Shake hands better, with a little more gusto, while making eye contact. Get the point? SEE all these other humans here with you. Acknowledge them. Their lives. Their love. Their pain. It will make you feel so much less alone, and so much more alive.
- Don’t choose bottled water. Filter it, drink tap water, or get spring water in the five-gallon, reusable, glass bottles. Why? Watch this video. Applies to plastic bags as well.
- Reconnect with a friend you’ve lost touch with – one that was important to you. This year, I tracked down a woman I met in a summer program in Oxford, England, at age 17. She lived in Anchorage, I lived in DC. We wrote letters for a few years (pre-email, pre-cell phones – I’m old), and then lost touch. Twenty years later, thanks to Google and my border-collie-like perseverance, I found her. She lives three hours from me, in Colorado. She has two kids, like I do. She has border collies, like ours. She is an avid mountain-biker-runner-nordic-skier (me too). She drives a Subaru (yep, so do I). And guess what she makes her family and friends for Christmas every year? Soap. For real. I’m so glad to have her back in my life.
- Write more notes and letters by hand. We text and email and Facebook and Tweet all day long. I’m not saying you should stop all that (though we could all Tweet less without dying). I’m just saying go old-school also. Stick a note in your husband’s wallet that he will find at the grocery store, causing him to smile a secret smile. Send your mom or grandfather or granddaughter a letter – the kind with a stamp that shows up in the mailbox and makes the recipient feel like the most important person in the world for that moment. Slip a card in your best friend’s yoga bag that she’ll find later, probably right when she absolutely needs it. So easy to do, such a wonderful result.
- Decrease the chemicals in your world – in your home, in your diet, in your shower, on your skin. You should be able to read and understand the labels on the products you use, for the most part. Specifically, avoid certain ingredients like parabens, phthalates, and things that end in “eth." Do it for you. Do it for your kids. Do it for your pets. Do it for the planet. The best part? It doesn’t have to feel like a sacrifice anymore. There are green luxury brands (yes, like Osmia Organics) that keep you feeling pampered and posh while making change for the greater good.
Wishing a Happy, Healthy, Hopeful, Hilarious, Humanitarian, Heartfelt, Hip, Honest, and Harmonious New Year to you all.