So This Is The New Year

“So this is the new year
And I have no resolutions
For self assigned penance
For problems with easy solutions”
– Death Cab for Cutie, “The New Year”

Mercy me, we have arrived at the beginning of 2011. A shiny, spankin’ new year where goals and projects, dreams and aspirations, tough decisions and do-overs are all possible. Yes they are, and yes we can. It sounds corny, I know, to join the world in the vague, vanilla notion of a new beginning just because the calendar tells us so. But a new month and a new year seem like the ideal time to start fresh, to turn the page and plan for what’s next. Or at least keep those things top of mind for the next twelve months.

For me, 2010 was first about the final months of graduate school coursework and, a few months later, Nerdy Thirty. The year was overwhelmingly positive with buzz and support and well wishes for the book; but the excitement meant my thesis for graduate school was all too easily pushed to the bottom half of my 2010 task list.

Which is why my first priority this year is my thesis. After a good chat with Lisa Martin over fried foods and drinks at the Dundee Dell a few months back, I have realized that my thesis won’t just write itself. I must make it a priority by carving out time to work on it every single week. Just like the eight courses I took for graduate school, I now have a weekly appointment with my Macintosh – likely at my local coffeehouse. After abandoning my thesis for the past six months, I can honestly say that I have a renewed vigor and excitement for the 75-plus-page writing project. It’s time. I want to earn my master’s degree this year.

And once my thesis receives its final blessing from my three-person committee, work will commence on my second book. Which also is exciting.

But on this Sunday of NFL games, a Peppermint Mocha from Starbucks, a comfy Estes Park hoodie, and warm sunshine, I find myself still smiling from my New Year’s Eve.

Matt and I had a loosely planned evening ahead of us this past Friday. Both dressed to the nines, we started with cocktails at the Lynx Lounge, followed by two house parties thrown by good friends. We agreed that standing atop sticky floors in overcrowded bars, sipping watered down and high priced cocktails was not our idea of a good time – especially on New Year’s Eve.

Rather, we found ourselves in the homes of friends; and the night truly exceeded our expectations. We saw familiar faces, and met new ones. We tried new wines and cocktails, my most favorite being the delectable pudding shots and alcohol-laced whipped cream atop. It was pure heaven.
We crowded into Jessica and Christopher’s stylish living room and, in unison, counted down to midnight. We raised our glasses and toasted 2011. We kissed. We hugged. We drank more. The energy of the whole home was warm and electric. Matt and I were surrounded by so many smiles, so many kind faces, so much child-like fun. It was the most memorable New Year’s Eve of recent memory.
New Year’s Day was spent in sweats, riding the couch, savoring a frozen hamburger pizza, watching past episodes of “The Sopranos,” while stealing intermittent cat naps every few hours. It felt fantastic. The quiet and calm gave my brain time and space to consider what’s next for me in 2011, including …

• Cooking more and trying new recipes
• Planning more evenings with friends, even if it’s cocktails and snacks at home
• Finding more national freelance writing opportunities
• Continuing regular visits to the gym, two to three times each week
• Making a return visit to Des Moines, where I was so overwhelmingly welcomed in 2010
• Spending less and saving more
• Making more time to read for pleasure and recreation
• Saying “no” to opportunities and projects that aren’t a good fit, to make time for those that are

Here’s to my bullet points (and yours), and that 2011 becomes a memorable year filled with happiness and love.

[Originally written for OMAHYPE: “New Year’s Resolutions: Part IV: Making Time for Reflection and New Beginnings”]

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