**Guest Blogger Laura Lee Hathaway. Posted on her tumblr blog here , shared on the Ginger Zone.
New Year, Same Old Crap
New Year ’s Day of 2014 was the first time I ever made a resolution. It was to really focus on being successful that year in everything I did and try with all of my might not to screw up.
Easier said than done, I assure you. I’m not a classic screw up, but I have had a higher percentage of things-gone-wrong situations than anyone else I know. But not this new year. Nope.
About a month in, things started going south. Then it picked up speed. And then the snowball effect kicked in. By the end of the year, the snowball had tripled its body mass and slammed me into the mountainside. 2014 was not the best year I could have had.
New Year ’s Day of 2015 arrived. I swore that I wouldn’t be caught dead making another stupid resolution. Just look at the disasters that happened last year: I was unhappy at my job, my fantastic neighbors moved out and I got stuck with hillbilly neighbors from hell, my daughter needed surgery, my car broke down several times, the guy I was seeing suddenly disappeared without warning, I met someone else who turned out to be a bona fide stalker, and my wonderful great-aunt on my mother’s side passed away and no one told me until months later when I went to see her since none of my calls were returned. Plus, I gained 10 pounds.
A definite “WTF” moment that lasted for 365 days.
Inviting Change without Changing
So without any new rules, promises, or changes in lifestyle for 2015, I simply went about my daily life. Things began to change slowly, and mostly of their own accord.
I was unexpectedly offered a new job with a higher salary, I found a wonderful little rental house surrounded by neighbors who mind their own business, took a family vacation with my children who live on opposite sides of the nation so we don’t see each other often, we visited my favorite great-aunt (on my father’s side) and her fabulous husband, both who are in their early 80s.
Oh, and I also graduated college with a master’s degree. Did I mention that I lost 15 pounds?
When and how did all of this happen? Beats the hell out of me, but I’m glad it did. Last year, I was miserable. I felt fat, lazy, lonely, and unaccomplished. How is it “happy new year” if nothing happy happens?
Get off the couch
I spent a lot of time on the couch in 2014. Winters in the north can be fierce. And exhausting. Sub-zero weather sucks the heat and the life right out of you. After sitting at my desk freezing all day, I’d come home and cuddle up on the couch to get warm. The problem is I’d stay there until bed time.
Under the stacks of clothes and random things I didn’t feel like putting away was a treadmill I never used. Around February of this year, I decided to either use it or sell it.
I don’t know why, but I got on it one day for about 20 minutes. Then again the next day, then the next. It was a great way to warm up after being miserably cold all day.
After that, a nice hot shower. I wasn’t on the treadmill to lose weight. I was doing it to get my blood pumping and shake off the dreaded winter chill that settled in my bones. The weight loss was just an added perk at the time.
Learn Something New
A new year means new year activities. I joined a book club at the local library, too. It’s free and meets once a month. The great thing is that they post the reading list months in advance. I check the book out, read it, and return it.
If I feel like attending the book meet, I do. If not, I get the next book on the list. The point of doing this is that these are books that I normally would not choose to read on my own.
It forces me to expose my senses to different authors and their way of writing (good or bad), and focus on new aspects of topics I would probably never voluntarily expose myself to.
If You Think It, You Can Write It
With an overactive imagination, I am always enhancing the books I read with alternate endings or changing up a scenario. A friend, who I annoyed with a critique of a book she loved, told me that if I couldn’t find a book I liked to read, then I should write my own.
So I did. About $100 later, I had a website (www.lauraleehathaway.com) housing my novel (A Highlander’s Home), short stories (The Stranger, Naughty Navy Girl, Daily Pleasures) and I’m in the process of developing a children’s book series about rescue dogs (Kilo the Pit Bull Princess).
Who would have thunk it?
Focus on Yourself, Not Others
Yes, having a significant other is wonderful sometimes. But if you’re single like me, hoping to find that “special someone” can drive you insane. It’s exhausting to always be on the lookout for your soul mate just in case he/she happens to be in the same vicinity.
Focus on yourself and the stress will evaporate immensely. Think of it as letting Nature take its course. Go the store for groceries, not to meet men. Go to the gym to workout, not to creep around the locker rooms hoping to meet your future wife.
Read a book because you want to, not because you hope someone will notice the cover and realize that you’re the nerd they’ve been waiting for their whole life.
If you focus on keeping yourself occupied and intellectually stimulated, the forces of nature will work their magic. Let them do what they do best while you stop interfering. Focus on taking care of you, and let the world focus on itself.
What’s in Store?
Where will I be next New Year’s? How the hell should I know? It’s only halfway through the year. I have five more months to go. But after last year, I’ve learned that for every curve life throws at you, there’s some kind of workaround. Sometimes all you can do is pull up your big girl panties and trudge forward.
So I’m changing the rules. I’m making a New Year ’s resolution in July. Find the silver lining in every situation.
Difficult? Yes. Impossible? No. Do you have to make changes in your life in the beginning of a new year? No. Make a new year resolution any time of the year that you feel like it.
My father always said that no matter how bad you think you’ve got it, there’s always someone else who has it worse. Trying to stay on the bright side isn’t easy. But it’s better than wallowing in the dark.