New year, same old me

I can’t believe we’ve made it to 2023. It sounds so far in the FUTURE. I mean—as someone born in 1971—I grew up with the year 2000 as the shimmering threshold of a futuristic technotopia. We haven’t quite figured out the utopia aspect yet, but we truly do have a lot more tech, for better or worse.

I’ve still lived most of my life in the twentieth century. It won’t be until 2029 that I have and equal number of twentieth and twenty-first century years under my belt.

As a generally gloomy person, it is hard for me not to see this marking of time as an unsubtle countdown to death. 2023 is the year I will turn 52. When you’re on this side of fifty it is kind of hard to know just how long or short the slide down to the sheer cliff of death will be.

I’d like another fifty years. I am optimistic that I have the genes and general good health to make it to 100. A psychic once told my mother that she and I would both live well over 100 years. I don’t know if you should trust psychics you meet in the bathrooms of taverns in North Idaho…but who knows, right? We’ve had centenarians in our family.

But also. I’ve already had breast cancer once, and we all know how that statistically impacts the probability of a long life. People who get breast cancer are not very likely to be alive ten years later… but that’s just on average. It depends on how early it was detected, how aggressive it was, etc. Mine was detected early and was not aggressive, so at this point I’m acting as if it won’t shorten my life at all.

This means that I theoretically have at least a few more decades to fill up before I’m dead. And I would like to do a better job of aiming for healthy, wealthy, and wise during these decades. I’ve spent a lot of time being poor, destroying my health, and generally making iffy decisions. That era is behind me.

I’m not a resolution maker, but I do use the end of the year as a time marker to do some reflection and planning. I believe it’s vital to do a checkup on your whole life from time. And if I don’t want to spend the next few dozen years watching Netflix while drinking wine, I need to make some other plans.

For 2023, my longest list is “keep doing.” I’ve made a lot of positive changes over the past few years, and the foundation of any plan is to keep doing what’s working. For me, that includes an early morning routine of meditation, yoga, and journaling, daily long walks, mostly paleo diet, peloton rides, digital art-making, blogging, weekly reviews….etc, etc.

I’m doing well, but there’s room for improvement. I’m making a point to up my average daily exercise minutes to at least 90. With my long walks, it has been 88 minutes over the past year, so this is not a huge stretch. I’ve been slipping into comfort snacking, so that’s a habit I’m going to work on scaling down. I’ve determined how many days I drank alcohol in 2022 and plan to cut that in half in 2023.

Which is all to say, I guess I do have some “resolutions” of sorts, but they are more like continuations on a theme. More of the same, or less of the same. Steady, slow movement toward whomever I am becoming in the second half of life.

And do you know who that person is? She is still me. I’m never going to magically transform into someone who likes social situations and competitive sports. I’m probably never going to feel compelled to run a marathon or jump out of a plan. Not because of fear. Because I genuinely don’t want to do those things.

This is where I get stuck sometimes. I know what I don’t want to do. I can very definitively give you a list of career paths, hobbies, and adventures I won’t consider… but it is much more difficult for me to identify what I DO want.

I’m working with a life coach for a few months, and one exercise she assigns is keeping a notebook to log what “pings” me. What gets me excited? What sparks my interest? I’ve written down some things, but when I look at the list I just feel… not excited. I’ve written down random things like Tarot Cards and lake swimming. But what can I do with those?

I mention “same old me” in the title of this post, but that’s not really accurate. I am never the same as I was, and there isn’t really one coherent “me” in the first place. I am a continuous flow of perception of experience. I am shifting thoughts, feelings, and actions. The themes and threads of life tie me together into a person. But that person is never the same.

This year, I want to get out in the world in ways that will connect me to community. That is something I have never really had on my list before, so I’m a bit nervous about it. What does community even mean to me? Where can I find shared activities that feed my should and connect me to others? If I’m honest, I’m not sure where to start.

I like to connect with people online, and I have built community that way in the past, but an online community is ephemeral. People disappear. Platforms shut down. Sometimes trolls show up, or spambots. It is not real life.

I’ve come to realize that I cannot build community by having dinner with friends a couple of times a year. I still want to have dinner with friends, but that is a different type of relationship. We see each other simply because we like each other, but we don’t have the glue of shared goals or activities to build a real community.

It is only recently that I have started to really believe that I need other people. I have always been someone who meets my own needs in every aspect of my life. That’s what you learn to do when you don’t have parents who are able to parent.

But as I get older, I am realizing that this unit of me and my husband is not really enough. The nuclear family unit has never been good for community life, and without kids we don’t even have that connection to other parents. We don’t do church. We don’t do sports. So where can we look for our people?

This is probably the primary puzzle for me, along with what I want to do with the rest of my life in terms of career and money. This year will be a year of trying things and noticing what resonates.

My word of the year is LUCID. I don’t normally have a word of the year, but this one just sort of showed up. I was already thinking about noticing—or being AWAKE—to what resonates with me in some way. I’m not great at noticing how I feel and what I like or dislike, so this is a challenging practice. On New Year’s Eve, we were walking to lunch and I saw the word LUCID graffitied on a wall. Like the universe wanted me to wake up.

To wrap up this rambling, directionless post… I am going into 2023 with my eyes open. I am receptive to whatever the universe or my inner wisdom has to offer me, while I continue to take good care of my body and mind. And I will never be the same old me, even if I try.

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