How I did on last year’s resolutions and my new year’s resolutions for 2019
I made some New Year’s Resolutions last year (2018) that were important to me. Here’s how I did on them.
- Read more poetry – WORKING ON IT. Recently I’ve been enjoying the excellent collection called Typists Play Monopoly by my writing teacher from San Francisco, Kathleen McClung. I’ve read poetry by Rainer Maria Rilke, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Franz Wright, James Wright, Donald Hall, and Maya Angelou among others in 2018. I’m still working on being able to truly enjoy poetry which requires focus and patience, two of my personal weaknesses, as you will find out as you read ahead.
- Be a better aunt – CHECK. I am the proud aunt of 21 nieces and nephews and 5 grand nieces and nephews. I’ve made great strides in becoming a better aunt in 2018 by consciously reaching out to my nieces and nephews who are far away via text or social media, by sending birthday presents to the little ones, and spending quality time with each of them when they visit. And now that I live in Phoenix, I spend a lot of time with my nieces and nephews and their children who live here, not out of some duty to fulfill a New Year’s resolution, but because I enjoy spending time with them. I don’t have kids of my own (mostly by choice) but I love being an aunt. I revel in how much my nieces and nephews look like me, my siblings and my parents and how they are carrying the mantle into future generations through our traditions, our culture, our food, our language, and our values. I also just plain LIKE my nieces and nephews and their kids, which makes family functions quite fun. Being an aunt to 21 nieces and nephews and five great nieces and nephews has made my life rich with meaning and love and connection.
- Dismantle the patriarchy and white supremacy – WORKING ON IT. I didn’t do as much as I would like on this in 2018, other than just living my life as a professional single woman of color in a man’s world. But I have come to be more suspect of catch phrases like “dismantle patriarchy and white supremacy” being bandied about without any actual action or self-reflection in settings that are deeply steeped in patriarchy or white supremacy just because it is a trendy thing to say.
- Write and draw more and share it – CHECK. I always want to do more with my creative work, but I produced a fair bit more of cartoons and writing in 2018 than in recent years past. This will show up on my list for 2019 too, see below.
- Go faster on my bike and on my feet – CHECK. This was my low-key way of saying I wanted to become more fit in 2018. I have become faster on my feet by walking a great deal when I lived in San Francisco for the first 9 months of 2018. And I have become stronger in general in the last 3 months living in Phoenix as I joined the gym my nieces go to and I attend weight lifting and Zumba classes with them. Side note: I noticed how joining this gym and attending group fitness classes has helped develop a sense of belonging on top of helping me become physically fit. Prior to this I had been exercising on my own exclusively. I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what it is you do together with other people, in my case it’s lifting weights and dancing to awesome music at Zumba class, it is the “together” part that nurtures us.
- Trust in my own voice – CHECK. This is the accomplishment I’m most proud of. In 2018 I made a lot of progress on this and have found a confidence in myself and my voice that I’ve never had before. I am even beginning to be able to stand my ground even when I make no sense to others, but I know what I am saying or doing is the right thing. I don’t recall working on this consciously but rather it’s just something that has happened over time, probably due to maturity. I also am less and less likely to put people on a pedestal, which is hugely detrimental to trusting your own voice.
- Shine brightly and hold space for others to shine brightly – WORKING ON IT. I was in a work situation where to shine brightly did not fit into the order of things. I was meant to be a back of house worker who silently took orders and executed on the low-level work I was given. Shining brightly was reserved for a few people at the top, the rest of us were meant to be dull automatons in their shadows doing their bidding. Many people enjoy working quietly in the back-of house, content to let others lead, but I am not such a person so that job wasn’t a good fit for me. I’m glad to say I am in a work situation now where I can shine brightly again, and I feel SEEN and appreciated for what I bring to the table, including my leadership, communication and community-building skills. My coworkers are not afraid of me meeting my full potential but encourage it. I am cognizant of holding space for others to shine brightly as well and am most conscious of it with my nieces and nephews. I try to be as encouraging as possible to them especially with things that they are passionate about. As I feel seen and appreciated by the people in my life, I have more capacity to see and appreciate others as well, in work situations and in my personal life.
- Dive deep – WORKING ON IT. This is an area I struggle with due to my Enneagram 7 personality and my quick scanner mind that likes to jump from thing to thing. An important component of diving deep I’ve discovered is cultivating focus. Modern technology has been terrible for my already scattered attention, with my flashing phone and beckoning social media likes. So, I’ve started to implement phone-free, social-media free chunks of time where I can focus on what I’m doing. In a short time, I’ve seen huge results from this. I’ve also downloaded the app called Moment that monitors how many times I pick up my phone and how many hours I spend looking at my phone each day. It’s been a rude awakening to the addiction I have to my phone but having this information has helped keep it in check. Another aspect that’s essential in diving deep is patience. It so happens that patience and phone and social media addiction contradict each other. Diving deep requires sticking with something for a while, through the tough parts where you don’t know what to do, through the boring rote parts, and through the failures. I’ve been using my job as a place to cultivate patience. At work I often run into problems with the software, or not knowing something or making a mistake and having to go back and do a thing again. But I have no choice but to stick to it and work through these issues if I am to meet my commitment and get a project done. Amazingly, when I stick with something, I overcome the hurdles in front of me and get deeper and deeper into each project, make progress on it and ultimately deliver it. My goal for 2018 is to use the skills of focus and patience on my creative and personal goals.
- Stop coddling people, be honest and ask for what I want – WORKING ON IT. I still struggle with this and haven’t made much progress on it at all. It’s very hard for me to have uncomfortable conversations with people and I usually put them off until the situation is a mess.
- Deepen and cherish my existing connections – CHECK. Yes! In 2018 I have worked on SEEING the connections I already have in my life and reconnecting with them instead of my usual m.o. which is to take for granted the people who already love me and go seek more/new/other friends and connections. For the approximately two years I lived in San Francisco I had to work hard for every connection I made. It’s easy to live an isolated life in a big city full of busy and transient people. I joined meetups, went on online dates, joined groups but this netted me a small handful of friends who were also very busy. As with everything, making deep, lasting connections takes a lot of time and patience. I found myself in my early 40s having to jump through a million hoops to just have someone to hang out with on a Saturday. It occurred to me I actually have many good friends, solid connections and people that would love to hang out with me, but I was far away from most of them. This was partly what prompted me to move back to Phoenix, my myriad of deep strong existing social connections that have ben cultivated across generations. I became tired of feeling isolated and like I had to bend over backward to make new connections. I decided to enjoy the connections I already have, and to great effect! In San Francisco it felt like I was seeking new barren fields and trying to plant new trees with great effort and poor results all the while I could come home to an existing ecosystem of old mature trees that give plenty of sustenance and shade.
- Don’t take those who love me for granted – CHECK. See number 10. This has been a huge focus for me in 2018 and it led me back to Phoenix, a city that houses the most people who love me per capita.
- Make lots of space for my feelings – WORKING ON IT. I still struggle with this. With years of therapy I’ve gotten a lot better at making room for my feelings, even the really ugly ones like sadness, regret, hopelessness, and despair. I’ve learned that instead of stuffing them deep inside me and covering them with frothy exuberance and positivity I need to feel them to process them in a healthy way. I am armed with this knowledge, but I often revert back to my old habits to snuffing out my feelings with an “I’m fine” attitude. I’m still working on not being ashamed of having feelings and showing them.
In addition to continuing to work on my resolutions for 2018, here are my New Year’s Resolutions for 2019 (not in any order):
- Be willing to risk rejection and cultivate connection with others whether it be people I already know and love, people I don’t know very well, and even people I don’t know at all.
- Lead by example. (Don’t get caught up in trendy causes.)
- Be willing to risk rejection and share my stories.
- Be willing to risk rejection and publish more creative work, including self-publication and submitting to other publications.
- Share the wealth.
- Look to what I already have for the things I desire.
- Be patient.
- Embrace the fact that we are all aging and that it is not an indictment on any of us. (And exercise to keep limber.)
- Understand that I am both brilliant, amazing, and generous AND scattered, selfish, and self-sabotaging at the same time and that living a good life is not a race.
- Expend my energy only on things that matter to me. Be courageous and say no more often.
- Keep getting to know my complex self even better. Accept that our gorgeous lives are not always Instagram-friendly.
Photo credit: Me on December 31, 2018, looking reflectively behind and excitedly ahead.