By Mahshid Hager
I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions. I’ve never started a diet or an exercise routine on New Year’s Day. It’s always seemed like too much pressure, especially after the hubbub of the holiday season. Instead, I like to take a look at the past year and do a little inventory. How was it? What did I like about it? Who was in my life and what was their role? I also like to take a look ahead and see what intentions I want to set for the new year.
As 2017 comes to a close, I notice how tender I have been feeling these past few weeks. One of my friends used to call this feeling “raw”, like everything penetrates sharper that it usually does. The past few days have been a struggle as I navigate the edge of panic or tears, seemingly all the time. Of course, that’s not the case 100% of the time, but often enough to make me pause and ask “What exactly is going on?”
When I step back and take good, hard look at 2017, I have to admit that it has been a difficult year. It’s been a year of many goodbyes, and new waves of grief, a year of dear family members in serious health crisis, a year of the Trump presidency with all of its cruelty and atrocities, a year of hurricanes and mass shootings and wildfires, a year of women fighting once more to be seen and heard. It all adds up to this feeling of being out of control and spiraling forward, not knowing whether it’s going to be a hard or a soft landing. A few days ago, I was listening to The Daily Podcast, which offered a summary of 2017 in soundbites of the biggest news stories of the year and suddenly, it wasn’t so surprising that I, and many others, are feeling this way this holiday season. It’s been a rough year.
As with all things, this year has not been all bad. There have been countless happy memories made, lots of travel, both for work and for pleasure, new achievements and adventures and plenty of “firsts”. The intention I had set for myself at the beginning of the year was to live my life more authentically, meaning doing more of what I feel called to do and less of what I feel “obligated” to do. It also means living with more integrity and with better boundaries. I wanted to honor my capacity and take on only as much as I could handle. As a result I have said “no” more often than I typically do. But this has also allowed me to say “yes” to things I normally wouldn’t have considered.
2017 has challenged me and changed me. It has taught me that health is in fact, most precious and that tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone. It has taught me that if I want something to change, I need to to speak up, and that when I do speak up, there will be those who agree, those who challenge me and those who attack. And so I’ve had to learn how to stay present in those conversations without losing myself and without losing my mind (this lesson will surly have to carry over to 2018….). This year has taught me who my friends are, who my allies are and once again, it has shown me what an incredible man I’m married to! I’ve learned that my kids are growing up and that’s hard but I can handle it. 2017 has also been the year of letting go and learning to get comfortable with the discomfort.
A new year is around the corner. If I have learned anything in my 46 years here on earth it is the fact that life keeps going on. It keeps moving forward, with or without our participation. I intend to participate fully. I will continue to surround myself with people I can learn from, people who support and encourage me and people who are engaged in making this world a better place. I want to continue learning and challenging myself. I want to continue living an honest life and speaking my truth, even if it scares me sometimes. I want to spend more time learning and participating in racial and social justice issues. I feel like I dipped my toes in this year but I want to know and learn so much more! I have recently become curious about what happens in the quiet spaces in between. The spaces between my hectic travel and training schedule, the spaces between busy work weeks and kids’ schedules. I’ll admit it: I’m not great at routine. But as I navigate a rising need for a simpler life, I do want to learn how to become better at the routine of every day. I want to be kinder to myself and to others, more mindful of the impact of the words that leave my mouth and the impact of messages I send to myself silently.
Today’s world is not what I want it to be. There is so much senseless pain and suffering, so much injustice. I can’t ignore that and I won’t. But given that this is today’s state of affairs, and given that I cannot change all of it at once and/or by myself, I wonder where I might find the smallest bit of coherence? Where might I find the pieces where, with a little encouragement, some shift can take place? That’s where I want to spend my energy. For me this goes hand in hand with gratitude. I live a privileged life. I have a roof over my head, I am healthy and able-bodied, I have enough money to cover my basic needs, I have an education and a job, I have a loving, supportive family, my kids are a joy to be around and our home is a peaceful one. When I connect with all that I am grateful for, I can tap into peace, I can tap into joy and I can feel the anxious buzzing inside my brain subside for the time being. From this place I can tap into my capacity and notice it growing. The world is not always kind, but I can be, more times than not. Life is not always fair but I can try to be. People make mistakes and I can have compassion and forgiveness.
2018, I welcome you! May you bring us peace, more good news than bad, time with family friends, fun adventures and lots of heartfelt laughter. If you are reading this blog post, I want to thank you! Thank you for your support and thank you for the role you have played in my life this year. I have loved connecting with you through this format and I have learned a lot in this process. Whether you are family, a friend or a reader unknown to me, I hope 2018 brings you peace, good health and time with loved ones.
May you be safe,
May you be happy,
May you be loved,
May you be free of suffering.
Happy New Year!