Friday, January 1, 2016

Ode to the "New Year, New Me" Tradition

Another year has dawned and the claims of "new year, new me," umpteen resolutions, countless promises to forget the past and embrace the future, and hope for better days ahead have all been nonstop with each tick of the clock.  Then again, most of us rely on digital timekeeping devices, so the clocks silently advance with occasional alerts for calendar events, communication updates, etc.  I'll readily admit I too like to spend a bit of time reflecting on where I've been the past year and who I can be in the days ahead.  Resolutions tend to always focus on health, love and faith.  And every new year's season, I'm struck by how much has changed and yet, how little has changed.  Such contradictions baffle me, but so too does the idea of braille on a drive-up ATM and how people can say one thing but prove something else entirely by their actions.  So this year, I'm doing things a little differently not as a new and improved me, but an ever-aging me (YIKES! Did I just admit that out loud or in writing as it were? Say it ain't so!).

The aging gracefully me (my 8th graders say so and we all know kids are nothing but honest) knows with time comes wisdom.  Life provides the opportunity to learn many lessons.  Sometimes we need remediation on a few of those lessons, and other times, we are the star pupil and succeed from our first exposure.  Either way, we strive for progress.  Most of us want better versions of ourselves.  Whether that's increasing our health and fitness levels, decreasing or better managing stress, learning to embrace each moment more fully and go with the flow on occasion, invest time and other resources into making relationships with family and friends stronger than ever, we are never quite satisfied with the status quo when it comes to self.

My plans for the new year got a head start in December with multiple trips to medical practitioners.  Seriously, I met my insurance deductible in a four-day stretch and I've gone 15 years without ever once meeting a deductible.  Heck, if you were to add up all 15 years, I'm not sure the math would add up to a single year's $1,000 deductible.  So I praise God for being healthy, but I also accept that there are times I'm not able to control my own wellness and must rely on experts.  They've done great work managing symptoms and the Christmas break gallbladder surgery even had a bonus umbilical hernia repair thrown in (at cost).  My eye doctor was pleased with my stable vision despite said aging process.  So my goal to prioritize my health with more conversations with primary care physician and others is already in progress.  I'll continue with some chats about weight loss options (thyroid specialist and maybe others), a dentist appointment series to finally get the custom bridge I've procrastinated for four years now, and I'm even considering therapy sessions to talk through things of the past I just can't seem to get past (abusive relationships, deep-rooted grief, rape, etc.).  Heck, I feel better already and I haven't even made all the phone calls to schedule the appointments in 2015.  Correction, 2016.  You know we'll all spend the next two or three weeks making our fives look like sixes.  Don't judge.  :)

I've also determined that because change is hard, I need to make better (dare I say consistent?) use of an outlet to document life's moments big and small.  You'd think as a Baldwin girl, I'd choose photographs.  But I'm the one who avoids selfies.  I think there are maybe two or three pictures of me in European destinations despite the 30+ days I've actually enjoyed abroad.  I spent more time taking pictures of things and everyone else, forgetting to document ME in those moments.  Therefore, the easier choice for me is writing.  I love words.  I appreciate the power each one holds to give meaning to life and the metamorphosis that occurs with life's changes or progress.  The best visual I've ever had for change is that of a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.  The fuzzy ugly worm shuts itself off from the world, wraps itself in special stuff that was inside her all along, and emerges as this majestic, beautiful, strong and yet delicate creature winged for flight and a very special life purpose to fulfill.  My Chrysalis people really know this transformation story well and we all love the Bible verse in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that supports progress: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new is here!"  I say all this to say, I'm pledging to write more in the new year.  I've chosen to go with once a week to keep the pressure on me low and hopefully the interest level high for readers.

I end this blog post with a song because, well, this is Alissa Baldwin, and music speaks to me.  It also happens to relate perfectly to the butterfly illustration above and my heart for removing my masks and walls, revealing myself in 2016 as a better version of who I can be in Christ.

Butterfly by Seven Day Jesus

As Carolyn Jolly once told me, "mirror mirror on the wall...." (she knows the rest)

Until next week, let the changes begin (continue)!

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