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The “Girls in the Attic”

Every new year always seems to start like this: New Year’s Eve, you’re ready to start kicking butt and taking names. You’re psyched by goals and plans and heady with your perceived probability of success. If you can just get off on the right foot, you’ll be flying full-speed ahead into the new year like an Olympic champ. You’ve visualized. You’ve fantasized. You’ve rigged the motivational side of the game in your favor, and you’re itching–no, on fire to jump in.

At 11:59PM New Year’s Eve, we’re all winners and champions and life-hackers and Highly Effective People. Then the New Year rolls in, all glittery and full of promise: the angels sing, the fireworks burst, the champagne pops, and everybody shrieks with the delight of their own untapped potential and optimistic future days, and the starting pistol goes off and–!

And you trip. Right off the blocks, maybe still in the gate with your foot caught in the rails, flat on your face with a mouthful of dirt, and you think: Oh, right. Here comes the New Year, same as the Old Year.

It always seems to come as a bit of a shock, and yet it happens literally every New Year’s Day. I meant to post this yesterday, but then it was a crazy, uncontrolled cluster of a day involving cat vomit, undependable naps, even worse bedtime routines, piles of dirty dishes, and sticky kitchen floors, and meltdowns, and crazy, and just–nope. It was a needed reminder that a date change is not a fairy godmother’s wand that magically turns you into the better version of yourself. Not that I really expected it to (maybe hoped…dreamed…wished?), but I think we always hope the shininess will last for at least the first day of the New Year.

Lots of folks seem to be down on goals/resolutions/etc. this year–a perhaps reasonable and sensible response to the often overzealous Resolutioners screaming about going to the gym four hours every day (for real, this time!), or howling about getting a dozen fiction sales because GOAL. I get that. I get the cynicism, because it’s all too easy to get sucked into the fervor of the glittery ball dropping and think: Yeah. This Year. YEAH.

But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to imagine the ideal you, the one who keeps up with the dishes, watches less TV, jogs regularly, writes daily, etc. I think sometimes, we all need that day to pause, reflect, dream: How could I be better? What would make me happier/more fulfilled/more at peace than I am here at the very end of the old year, trying to drag myself over the finish line (even if it’s really just another mile-marker in the marathon of life)?

I think it’s vital to stop and reevaluate, change things up–heck, even try and fail to change. It helps us realize what our priorities are, and success or failure, we learn a little more about ourselves through this process every year. Our strengths verses our weaknesses, our desires verses our abilities, our aspirations verses our current realities: when else do we stop to think about these things in the course of the typical year? And not just think about them, but actually try to take action to change our situations?

So although yesterday completely lost its glamorous shine, and I now look ahead to a year that will undoubtedly incorporate many failures–and probably some successes , too–I remind myself: Dream big. Try a new approach. Test new theories about yourself. So what if you fail? You’ll know you a little better by the time next New Year’s rolls around. :)

Happy New Year’s, Everybody! Onwards and upwards!

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