As we all know by now, New Year’s Eve is my favorite holiday. Part of my love for NYE comes from the way I spent the holiday in high school and part of it comes from my overly sentimental heart. In case we’ve forgotten, I’m the kind of person who gets excited by switching the calendar month. Switching the entire calendar is that times twelve.
Each year on December 31st, I write myself a personal letter. A “Dear Liz, Love Liz” kind of thing. I write a little bit about what the past year entailed and some things I’m hoping for the upcoming year. Mostly, though, I focus on where I am in that present moment. I talk about my relationships and my life as it stands on December 31st. I usually throw in a couple songs to see if I’m still “religiously listening to” this soundtrack or that Pandora station.
Each year, I open last year’s letter, laugh at my scribbled handwriting, write the new letter, seal it with tape and glue and all kinds of threats like “seriously, Liz, don’t open this until December 31st of the next year” and then I hide it somewhere in my bedroom.
I love my little year-end letter tradition because I’m the kind of person who thrives off writing everything down. That’s why I’ve become accustomed to another short reflection every New Year.
In 2014, it was 33 one-liners that I called “New Goals.” Some were silly - “stop being afraid of bees” and others were more meaningful – “forgive and love everybody; no matter what.”
In 2015, it was a four columned list broken into things I wanted to do less of, things I wanted to do more of, things I wanted to focus on, and virtues I wanted to live into each day.
In 2016, I think I was too busy preparing to leave for Europe, that I settled for some humble brags about The Smile Project.
This year, in 2017, I turned the “humble brags” into the year end newsletter meaning now I can give myself the time to type the first unfiltered thoughts of my 2017.
In 2017, I want to learn how to work effectively. I know I’m a hard worker, but I don’t always think I’m a smart worker. I need to find a new way of looking at things. I need to think of the big picture. I will stop swearing and I try to go to bed around the same time each night. I want to watch one movie each week and (since I have free year-long passes to multiple New York museums), I want to try to go as often as possible. I could even shoot for one hour a week. That’s reasonable, right? I want to race a 10K and a half marathon. The distances aren’t hard as I’ve already been putting in that kind of mileage, but I want to actually compete in a race of that distance in 2017. And I want to see new places. I want to explore constantly. I want to do more reading – whether that’s a chapter at night or a chapter in the morning. I want to tear through my book case and spend more time at the library. I want to continue with my study of German and Italian but I want to find a new ways to study. I want to work through ‘Le citta invisibili’ by Italo Calvino intentionally and read each chapter over and over again until I don’t need to consult my translator app. I want to take these pages and pages of writing and actually work on chiseling through certain pieces. I want to have something I would be proud to submit to a literary magazine. Then I want to submit it. I want to submit it and I want to get rejected and I want that to be okay. I would rather be rejected than to have never submitted. I want to be deliberate with my time and focus my energy on things that matter and people that make me the best version of myself.
I don’t want to waste time on heartache, pain, or regret.
I want to look forward, always.
Oh and then there’s all the goals I have for The Smile Project. That’s a whole other post.
Mostly, I want the people I love to know I love them. I want to bring joy to the lives of friends and family and strangers.
I’m pausing for a moment and realizing that my “unfiltered 2017 ramblings” have already turned into a list of “wants.” If I hadn’t pledged myself to “first thoughts” for these, I think I would change one thing. I would change every “want” to a “will.”
I don’t want to submit my writing to a literary magazine. I will submit my writing to a literary magazine.
One last thought for 2017:
I will believe in myself with everything in me. I will keep my head up with a quiet confidence that tells myself each morning, “you can and you will…you can and you will…you can and you will.”
Let’s do this.