New Years

It’s here! 2019 has arrived! I love New Year’s, but not because I want a fresh start. I don’t believe in fresh starts.

What I do believe in is the power of ritual, and for me, New Year’s Day is an opportunity to enjoy a day-long ritual. (Don’t worry: it’s not as arduous as it sounds.)

The basis of my new year’s ritual is intentional (or mindful) action. You know that phrase from your guidance counselor’s wall, “If you can dream it, you can be it.” It’s not a lie.

I have a couple more: 

Whether you believe you can or you believe you can’t, you’re right. 

What you say makes your day. 

Your body hears everything your mind says. 

I could keep going. But I won’t. 🙂

What can be tough about self-talk is noticing when negativity is creeping in. As much as you say, “I accept myself,” or, “I am loveable,” or, “I am a badass,” you might still be saying, “What’s wrong with me?” and, “I ruin things,” and, “I am in the way.” One way to address this disconnect is to be intentional with specific activities that you do regularly.

The first recommendation my Ayurveda teacher made to me before she knew me well at all, was to eat oatmeal in the morning. She said I should put cardamom in it and anything else I liked, she encouraged me to try it with butter or cow’s milk, and, most importantly, she guided me to eat each bite thinking: 

“These oats are so grounding for me.”

“This cardamom is calming me so much.”

“This butter and cow’s milk is soothing my system even now.”

Within three days of eating oatmeal instead of eggs for breakfast, I noticed I was much much calmer: my skin wasn’t as red, the heart palpitations I had been suffering had slowed, and I was sleeping better (even though I ate the oatmeal at 5:30 am). Now, as much as I believe that food is medicine, I think the power in her prescription was intentional eating. As I ate it, I felt proud of myself for spending what ended up being an extra three or four minutes to eat sitting down, concentrating on the sedative properties of the cardamom slowing my heart rate, visualizing the butter coating my stomach and absorbing the acid. 

For the record, I’m pretty sure butter doesn’t absorb anything, and I am sure I’d have to ingest at least a couple of pounds of cardamom for it to have any measurable impact on my heart rate. All the impact I visualized was in my imagination. 

Imagination is powerful. See “If you can dream it…” above.

All this to say, that instead of setting resolutions, and instead of even setting intentions, I ritualize moving intentionally through this day. I envision it as a microcosm of the year ahead, and I try to fill it with the activities and the mindset that I want to characterize the year. In setting my agenda (#queeragenda) for the first of the year, I ask myself:

How do I want to spend my energy? AKA: What do I like to do?

What do I want to get out of my relationships?

How do I want to care for myself?

What do I want my rest to look like?

One tip: I don’t devote a ton of time to any of the activities (except perhaps the bath, cuz…). This is not a ritual about productivity; it’s a sampler platter to help me direct my energy.

Here are some items on my agenda for the day and the intention they materialize:

Eating homemade leftovers.
I nourish myself and my wallet with delicious food.

Reading (on paper).
Even ten minutes of reading connects me with external wisdom as I enjoy my own imagination and curiosity.

Playing a round or two of Talking with Kellen.
We fantasize together because it helps us expand our own hearts and our understanding of each other.

Walking outside.
In nature, no matter the weather, I am reminded how I can come back to center.

Taking a bath.
I have time to care for my body and my soul in water.

Going to bed early.
I honor my bedtime so that my body and soul can restore and reconnect.

Here are some activities (that I enjoy, save the last one) that I will not enjoy today because I don’t want to start the year with the accompanying energy.

Watching tv/movies or reading on a device.
Screens are easy for me to overdo.

Drinking more than one alcoholic drink.
I love my liver.

Spending money.
I tend toward yang-heavy, external actions, so keeping my resources close helps me out.

Letting my inner critic have the last word.
I do love, accept, and enjoy myself, and I work to make sure the words in my head reflect that.