Another year ends and begins.
I begin every new year by reflecting, writing, and renovating my goals. The process starts when I roll out my yoga mat, fold down into the sunspot on the floor, and sink into the songs playing from my phone. Rolling out my yoga mat wasn't always a part of the process, but the requirement of daylight and music has remained consistent.
In middle school, my yoga mat was my group of close girl friends. We were so unsure of our identities outside of our social group that we created a list as if we were one. On a single piece of paper while taking turns writing in the same color ink. Then, even before that, my mom and older sister, Lena, were my yoga mat. The three of us would sit criss cross applesauce on the carpet and spend an intentional hour in silence writing goals. Well, “in silence” with Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, or Jewel playing in the background, of course. After the hour, we shared and asked each other questions. We even collaged our own vision boards.
Sitting down to “set goals” this year initially felt a especially… tone deaf? I mean, I knew it would be good — nobody ever regrets taking the time to be intentional about her/his/their future, right? It’s a luxury to have the mental and physical space to invest in yourself, right? Ideally! But, I straight up just didn’t want to do it. After the year We’ve all experienced — after all the sadness, and isolation, and murder, and death, and violence, and poverty, and hunger, and, and, and… I just wanted to enjoy my day off and hide away with main man — Netflix.
Luckily, my respect for tradition and rituals allowed me to push through. When I sat down on my yoga mat and listened to the music from my *fire* playlists I immediately felt grateful. Grateful for the sun on my face, grateful for the solitude, and grateful to be alive. Then, I mentally smacked myself upside the back of the head. Why was I dragging myself to the mat, to this state of peace and gratitude towards life, in the first place?
Why does “self-care” feel like such a chore?
I was mad at myself for being mad at life.
“Don’t do that,” I heard myself say in mom’s voice. I wanted feeling good to just come naturally and not take so much intentional time and effort. I felt like I didn’t have time — even after being quarantined in the house bored for nine months straight.
Nevertheless, I wrote down my goals: (listed at the end)
I returned to work this new year hesitantly, but with my my best foot forward. Not even two full days into it and my director interrupts our team meeting with, “I just want to let y’all know that they’re storming the capitol right now!”
We stopped the meeting, minimized our work-related windows, and searched our phones. White folks climbing the western wall of the U.S. Capitol?! Guns?! A stand off?! An evacuation?! An ailenated Black peace officer against a mini-mob?! Silence from Trump on Twitter for five-ever?! I couldn’t. My skin was crawling and I felt like I was about to go stone cold Saweetie “Back to the Streets,” on life.
Really, I just wanted to escape. I wanted to escape feeling bad, and worried, and scared, and hopeless. I wanted to escape this time where feeling good, and positive, and confident, and stable, and hopeful requires so much f***ing work! I couldn’t wait two more weeks to level up from this mess.
I had to get out. So, I left.
I took a road trip down to San Diego in the middle of the night and stayed on the beach for the weekend. A foreign city in a familiar setting, takeout food, cable TV, and a big ass bath tub I didn’t have to scrub down at the end. Me, my dog, my music without interruptions, a full tank of gas and Highway 1. I was a mood, a look, a vibe, a car concert — purposefully over the top. A guaranteed good time I curated to experience unapologetically.
On the road back home, I flashed on the argument I had had with myself when doing my new year reflections. Turns out, 2020 is a feeling that never ends (or at least not in 2021). Apparently feeling good is difficult because life is full of obstacles. Especially right now, in the midst of a global pandemic — that’s been around for a year and is still currently killing thousands of people a day. Especially right now, in the midst of a pendulum swing, impeachment, and political uprisings. Especially right now, while We await convictions for the murders of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery. Especially right now, while the world is plunging further into the climate crisis.
There are plenty of reasons to feel hopeless and depressed and suicidal. Choosing to be alive right now actually requires more socioemotional and political work than ever before. Living is a full verb that requires rent. Feeling hopeful about being alive is demanding our active and mindful attention on a daily basis. And you know what? That’s alright. That’s what the moment is requiring of Us, so We need to show up however possible and rise — hesitantly with your best foot forward if that’s all you’ve got.
Because, clearly, there’s a ton of work to do.
Life isn’t easy, but there’s always so much more good to come. The trick is, you have to stay alive to experience it.
Take a breath — here comes the sun.
Intentions for 2021:
- Return to law school
- Launch “Sorry, I’m on Break” podcast
- Practice vulnerability and self-love at least once a day
- Drink 2x water bottles a day
- Yoga 3x a week
- No palm oil
- Cut out meat completely — or at least limit to one form and NO reds!
- Publish my book
- Practice grace towards self and others
- Live in the moment