My New Year's Ritual

New Year's Eve may win the prize for my least favorite night of the year. I'm not a big drinker and the thought of going out and being surrounded by people who are completely sloppy and belligerent has zero appeal to me. Growing up, my family was always away for New Year's Eve, mostly in St. John. We would eat dinner at home (we rented a house on the island for 12 plus years), watch movies, play charades, and come midnight do poppers and bang pots on the balcony. If the TV was working, we'd stay up an hour to watch the ball drop on TV- St. John is an hour ahead of New York. For the last few years, New Year's Eve has found me in NYC. I've kept it low-key, fireworks uptown with family and friends and last year a special ride at Flywheel Sports which ended at midnight. This year, all I wanted to do was stay home and so I did. It was a cozy night of movies and reflecting on everything this past year held and all the things I'm looking forward to, and wondering about, for 2016.

I don't make resolutions. There were a few years during middle school and high school when I did because I thought that was what grown ups did and in my brain, I was just not a kid anymore :) I have no idea what was on those lists, but I do know that I didn't keep any of the resolutions. Even while writing them I knew they wouldn't be achieved, because that's what happened with New Year's resolutions, you write them down and then in a few weeks forget, give up, or both. Eventually I stopped, what was the point of declaring something I knew wasn't going to last beyond the end of January? There was also the added fact that in the Jewish tradition, we cast away our sins and resolve to do better at Rosh Hashana (for those who don't know, RH usually occurs in September though this year it will be early October), so by the time New Year's rolls around, I had already done this exercise. However, I do have two non-resolution rituals.

1.) Choosing a theme for the year.

On the eve of 2014, Shay Kostabi, a fitness dynamo -- if you're in LA find her; if you're in NYC seek her out when she's here which happens every few months; and for all of us, LA, NYC, and everywhere in between, follow her, you won't be sorry -- introduced me to the concept of picking a theme for the year (here's the first video, she's since made one for 2015 and 2016). The concept really struck a chord in me. No resolutions. No list of things you scramble to write down without fully thinking them through. No realizing you didn't do any of them and don't even know where your list went come February. Instead, you choose a theme, something to guide your actions throughout the year.

The first year it took me a little while. I wanted to find something that felt just right and I definitely put way too much pressure on it. In March I finally settled on "phoenix." I had just lost the person who, after my parents and sister, was the closest to me and the idea of rebirth and rising from the ashes was something I needed to hold on to. For 2015 I chose "radiate," my goal being to put out only positive energy. This year, my word is "now." As I mentioned in my first post, the time for putting things off is over for me. If I want to do something, I'm going to do it. Obviously this doesn't mean breaking with social mores or being rude, hasty, or unnecessarily cavalier. Rather, I will not wait for the "timing to be right" because it never is. No one can guarantee that what you want will work out, so you just have to try. Prepare, do your best, and if it works out then fabulous. Rejection (or no answer) is NOT failure. Not trying is the failure. So here goes my attempt at NOW.

2.) A Letter to Myself

My other ritual is to write myself a letter. I don't know how I came up with this as a NYE tradition but I began it the same year as I began picking themes. At some point on NYE day, I sit down at my desk and let whatever is inside spill out. It usually ends up being a mix of highlights from the year, whatever is currently on my mind, advice for myself, references to upcoming events, just a whole mishmosh. Then I save it and don't read it again until the following NYE. It's so interesting to see all that has changed, what dominated my thoughts, and read about things that I'd long forgotten about. Writing my letter yesterday, I kept thinking, 'I can't wait to see how this sounds next year.'

What are your New Year's traditions? Do you make resolutions? Do you ever write letters to yourself?