High High Hopes

Happy New Year! I’d say, “I can’t believe it’s 2019!” but we say that every year. I can believe it’s 2019. I can’t believe I have to deal with another presidential race when it seems like the last one isn’t even over, but I can believe that another year passed and I’m thankful that I made it through relatively unscathed. In 2018 I voted, stood up for my beliefs no matter what, finally went to Europe (no big deal) and fought through mental illness to finish a grad program and finally find a job. This is the first year of my life where January 1 has actually felt like a fresh start.

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I find resolutions challenging, because making them, you seem to set yourself up for failure. When you fail your diet, your exercise regimen, or your shopping halt, it’s not a great feeling. So instead of strict rules this year, I’m writing a list of things I will encourage myself to do and be mindful about not doing. That’s it! I’m just going to think before I act. Pretty simple—something we tell little children to do, but something that gets lost in the shuffle of adulthood sometimes. So here are my 2019 guidelines—saving money, spending time more intentionally, taking care of myself, and being grateful.

Goals for 2019

The DOs

  1. Do work out. The most basic New Year’s Resolution. But I have a gym membership to a really nice gym and I really love it there. I no longer have the excuse of having a really physical/active job, so I can’t wait to commit to yoga and running again! I want to do yoga twice a week (Thursday nights and Saturday mornings) and I want to be able to run 5 miles by the end of the year (not holding my breath on this one).
  2. Do be kind to myself. This is the first season of my life where my accomplishments feel tangible. School is over. Service industry work is over (for now and hopefully forever). I’ve got a diagnosis and proper medication for the first time. I feel inspired to push myself beyond my limits, but I need to remember that it took so much work to get where I am, and I deserve to enjoy this.
  3. Do keep writing. I’ve written more (creatively) in the past week than I have in the past like ten years. I feel like I’ve found myself again. I’m already getting good feedback from friends. It feels like what I’m meant to do.
  4. Do finish what I start and use what I have. I posted my 2019 reading list yesterday, so first and foremost, I’m finishing that. Also, I want to watch everything in my Netflix queue. At least every movie (sometimes series are too much of a commitment. There’s so much great content out there! But books and movies are just one aspect—2019 is going to be a year of appreciating and enjoying what I already have instead of seeking new things.
  5. Do protect the earth. I’m not bad when it comes to the environment. I drive a small, fuel-efficient car, we recycle everything, and we do our best to not use plastic. But ordering online, even if all of the packaging is recyclable, is still bringing more waste into my home. I don’t think twice about grabbing a paper towel or single-use disinfectant cloth. I bought these microfiber cloths to use instead of paper towels, I used up all of my non-natural cleaning products, and I’m going into 2019 with a mission to use less. I can buy a head of broccoli instead of pre-cut florets in a plastic bag. The earth is more important than a few minutes of my time.

The DON’Ts

  1. Don’t buy clothes. I’m serious! I just got soooooo much new stuff from all of my favorite shops, and I want to live in them for a while. After the holidays, and the much rejoicing after having found a new job, I absolutely cannot afford a single additional garment. Not to mention I have zero room to store it! I’m sending out a few enormous boxes to thredUP, donating bras and extra sanitary items to I Support the Girls, and then being grateful for what I already have.
  2. Don’t buy handbags. This should be obvious, from the last category, but I have a handbag problem. I have so many I can’t give them away fast enough. Being friends with me is a trial, I’m sure, but the benefit is that you will likely get a brand new designer handbag at least once a year. Handbags are status symbols—having a nice one has always made me feel like I was presenting the aspirational version of myself to the world. But bitch, I am the aspirational version of myself. This year, I invested in some high-quality leather bags and (mostly) said goodbye to the labels.
  3. Don’t eat meat and dairy. I didn’t put this under the DOs, because “Do go vegan” is a larger commitment than just a diet. It’s a lifestyle, one I admire immensely, but not one I can undertake at this time. Not eating meat will be pretty easy—I’m already doing that—but cutting out cheese will be hard. A. Because I have an entire container of herb chèvre and caramelized onion cheddar in my fridge from my NYE apps, and B. Because I have a husband to feed. He’s enthusiastic about cleaner eating (he’s stricter about meat than I am!), but he leads a healthy life already and he deserves a treat! The meat and dairy industries are horrible for the environment and just devastatingly cruel to animals. I have to put my money where my mouth is.
  4. Don’t boredom-shop at Target. This is a killer for me. I can’t remember the last time I went to Target for an actual reason. There’s something about living in suburbia, or the post-college friend diaspora, which makes me feel really alone sometimes. “Running an errand,” in more depressed times, gave me an excuse to get up, shower, get dressed, and leave the house. But I can do better! I can go for a walk in the warmer months. I can make an effort to spend more time with my friends. I can find ways to motivate myself without spending money or inviting more waste into my life.
  5. Don’t look back. I mean, I’m writing a collection of personal essays, so I kind of have to look back for material. But I don’t have to dwell on the sins of the past. Considering myself a failure because I’m at a place in my career I feel I should have been in five years ago is not productive. I can work hard and kick ass to make up for lost time, but wallowing over how unfair the world has been to me is pointless. In 2019 I’m not holding grudges (against anyone except every member of the Republican party), and I’m keeping my eye on the prize—happiness.

I’m ready to crush 2019.

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Lemme see you do that yoga.

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I started going to yoga every Thursday night and Saturday morning and it is the single greatest thing I’ve ever done. Well, except this past Saturday, because I have a sinus thing, and when I went on Thursday I thought my head was going to explode from the pressure. But I mean, I’ve been getting into my practice.

Technically, I’ve been doing yoga on-and-off for over ten years. My #extremelywoke high school (lol) allowed us to choose gym class activities, so my cohort immediately chose yoga because of the promise of laying around for 5-10 minutes at the end. (I now know that this is savasana, and it’s a real posture, you guys!) At 15, I was shocked at how challenging it was—at 26, the challenge is like a drug! A super beneficial, calming drug. Walking out of a yoga class is like the first sips of wine after a long, hard day—without the calories and sugar. The more I go, the better I feel. Maybe that’s why I’m writing about it right now—I need my fix because I missed class on Saturday.

Honestly, yoga is the closest thing to religion I can experience without getting grossed out. I’m basically a she-devil/antichrist, so anything spiritual completely turns me off. That’s why yoga is so grounding—it’s about being at home in your physical body and showing gratitude for what you’re tangibly able to achieve. It’s about honoring your earthly self and your daily experience. It’s the opposite of contemptus mundi (RT if you took way too many Medieval Lit classes).

What’s amazing to me is how something so ancient and ubiquitous can still be so misunderstood. From mis-lede-ing articles to the undeniable class & race issues of many contemporary forms of practice, to an actual claim that practicing yoga contributes to white supremacy, it can be a touchy subject. But studies claim yoga helps your brain, your anxiety and depression, and your genes, all without the icky charges of cultural appropriation. Just, try not to smoke weed while you’re doing it.

So, what, if anything, needs to change?

  • Di. Ver. Si. Ty. Say it with me! DIVERSITY. There was literally one person of color in my last yoga class. That might have to do with a number of factors, like geography and race & class demographics (apparently I live in the 28th highest-income county in the United States?! Out of over 3,000?! No one told my broke ass.), but it’s still tragic. When all the media representation of yoga is impossibly thin, hot white women in $100 leggings, I get why a more diverse group (diverse in terms of race, gender, class, age, etc) would be turned off by it.
  • We need to stop fetishizing brands and gear. It’s completely counterintuitive for yogis to be so materialistic (I am the worst offender, trust me)! You don’t need to look cute in class—you’re just going to sweat through your clothes anyway! Like, these and this will do just fine.
  • The cult of yoga shouldn’t be a distraction from our real lives. It’s so easy to leave a yoga class feeling spiritually cleansed, but it’s not a stand-in for reality. Just ask this former lulu employee.
  • And finally, more free or inexpensive classes. My classes are included with my regular gym membership, thank goodness, but at studios, drop-in classes are upwards of $15! My gym membership, therefore, pays for itself in a week. A monthly unlimited pass to a studio costs as much as my car payment. Check out your local community centers and colleges to see if they’re offering classes!

Oh yeah, and this Onion article made me laugh out loud, and this list gave me a chuckle.

Some cool yoga resources I found on the vast internet:

Black Yogis

Black Girl in Om

Five Myths about Yoga

P.S. This song is so important to me.

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Do you practice? HMU with all your best knowledge.

xoxo,

c