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What Is a New Year Anyway?

So here we are. Clean slate. It’s the start of a new year, a new decade. 2020. One can’t help but think about it when social media feeds have been flooded with reflective posts in the days leading up to today. You know the ones. The ones about how 2019 sucked, so good riddance. The ones about how 2019 taught lessons and how much more appreciative we should be in the new year. The ones about loss and sadness. Those that remind us to be grateful for what we have. The ones filled with realizations of how much has been accomplished. Or how much needs to change within ourselves. The list is endless.

All of these posts are true. For someone. We can relate to some, yet roll our eyes at others or be envious even. We can learn a thing or two from some of them as well. But one thing for sure is that we think about our own place in our lives. We can’t help it. It is almost as though we are forced to think about it.

I have never been one to want to profess my New Year’s Resolutions to the world. Partly because it is cliche’ and I tend to rebel against it for that reason alone. And also because, admittedly, I am afraid to fail. I would rather balk at the promise to get healthier than to fall into the lump of statistics that most of these promises become.

But I am getting older. All of the people I love are getting older. It sorta feels like I should stop joking around about it anymore. I can’t pretend that this new decade hasn’t made me examine the last ten years of my life. Realize that I have been alive for nearly half a century, which is quite possibly more than half of my time to be alive.

So rather than roll my eyes at or be jealous of or feel guilty about things, I’ve decided it is my turn. My turn to reflect a bit. To examine where I’ve been. Where I am going. What I have learned. So here goes.

Ten years ago, I was 38 and married. I lived in a big house in a nice neighborhood where I was raising two kids. I worked a nice “mom” job because it helped pay the bills, yet allowed me to have a schedule like the kids had. It was 2010. My kids were 10 and 6. I don’t really remember a lot from that year. It’s hard to explain, but I think I was on autopilot. I did things day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month. All the things I believed that I was supposed to be doing. Because everyone wanted me to be doing them.

The few years before that were about the same. The few after too. The only goals I really had were keeping my house clean, making sure my dog didn’t pee in the house, keeping the pantry stocked, and avoiding germs that would make me or my kids sick. I made meals, paid bills, and sent snacks in for my kids’ classes when it was my turn. The things that moms and wives did.

Then the big changes started. Parenting started to get harder. More cumbersome and stressful. My terminally ill marriage died. It felt like I fell down a cliff and got up. On the bottom. And lonely.

In the last decade, I learned that it is possible to start over. Climb back up from the bottom. It is possible to live on less money and with less stuff. It is possible to make drastic changes in your life, but it does not happen easily. It takes hard work. And it can suck and make you cry. It is scary. And painful. But you still keep going every single day. Because your children need you. And because YOU need you.

I also learned that it is okay to start over in love. It is possible to find love again after divorce. But don’t expect that to be easy because it isn’t. It’s messy when there are children and exes, but it can happen when you put in the work. And if you choose not to do that, then that is okay too.

In the last decade, I learned that it is okay to talk about some things no one wants to talk about. Like how I started taking high blood pressure medicine several years ago. Or that I take medicine for anxiety and depression and I see a therapist now too. I also began perimenopause. You know, that thing that has hot flashes, mood swings, hair loss and a whole slew of other interesting changes.

It is also okay if you have a grown child who doesn’t go to college or trade school. Because you can’t make someone be someone they aren’t. Not even your own child. And it is also okay to brag about an overachieving child who excels again and again. Because we can’t all expect our kids to turn out the same way, whatever way it is you think they should turn out.

In the last decade, I have learned that it is okay to take some great risks. Like leaping into the quicksand of student loan debt to prevent staying in a rut. Because maybe we were meant to do more, even when it is scary. There is no shame in taking longer than most to get a college degree. Or having a less than stellar GPA when you do it. Finding our purpose is not a race or a competition.

I have certainly lived and learned a lot in the last decade. I decided to share my New Year Reflection with you because I think some of what I have learned may help you too. Find out who you are sooner than later. Fight for it and be proud of who you were meant to be. You’ll have less to regret. Just be your best self while you do it and remember to always exercise kindness.

Write your words. Play your music. Study something important to you. Stop comparing yourself to others. And be unapologetically you. Because it’s 2020 y’all!

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