I really hate making resolutions or goals for the new year, yet I seem to do it anyway, and in fact, it’s even a pretty big part of Pennsylvania Dutch culture and something we Urglaawers have incorporated into our practices between Allelieweziel (Samhain/Halloween) and Yuul (Yule). I think my hatred stems from my inability, for a number of reasons, to follow through with any resolution I make. In the last few years, I’ve made my resolutions very broad and quite vague. This year is no different. But what is different, is the way I’m going to attempt to approach them.
So let’s get the resolutions themselves out of the way:
- Buy Handmade, Small Business, direct from the artist, local, second hand, vintage wherever possible.
- Go to the gym on a fairly regular basis
- Do more spiritual work and learning
That’s it. Just three. Broad, Generalized, Vague. Just the way I like ‘em.
Let me explain about my resolutions:
- The first is directly in response to learning this last year about the incredible waste generated by the fast fashion industry (see here and here). The despicable trend of disposable fashion has led me to do more mending of the clothes I have, to make my own clothes if I can, and to buy second hand when I can’t. This of course, has led me to a general boycott of capitalism by vowing to buy directly from the artist or small businesses in my local area. I may not be able to do this in all aspects of my life, but I will do what I can where I can and when I can.
- Go to the gym. Ah, no list of resolutions is complete without a little self-hating. So here’s the thing. I’m big, fat, fluffy, obease, whatever; but I’m healthy. I get a yearly cold and that’s about it. No high blood pressure, no diabetes, nada. My only problem is, aside from some sports injuries, a genetic deformation in my lumbar which gives me chronic sciatica. The best way to manage this genetic condition is working and strengthening my core. After a really bad injury to my sciatica in fall of last year and the physical therapy that followed, I’m finally at a place where I feel physically able to go to the gym. So, in order to not be in extreme amounts of pain for the rest of my life, I have to do this, this gym thing. Blech.
- Do more spiritual work and learning: I think this is on every pagan/polytheist/heathen/spiritualist’s list. Every year. Because meditation is hard to do on a regular basis, or, like ever. So, I know I’m bad at meditation, so that’s not even going to be one of the things I’m doing. Reading, I like reading, so of the 30-50 books I’m going to read this year for my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I want around a third of them to be in my field, ie) witchcraft, herbalism, heathenry, Urglaawe, etc. I also really love my runes, so I’m going to continue a project I started last year compiling information on them from various sources into a document for me to pull from and to add my own personal take to. I might be trying a few other things, but really, what’s the point of generalized resolutions if I’m just going to box myself in like this?
Why do I generalize? Why are my resolutions so broad, vague, even? Because I have depression. It’s not a crutch. It’s a fact of life. Because I have ADD. It’s not a crutch it’s a fact of life. Because I have chronic pain. It’s not a crutch. It’s a fact of life.
These are things I have to deal with on a daily basis. My depression is going to give me bad brain days where all I do is avoid reality. Even doing everything I can, they’re still going to happen. Because my depression can’t be cured, it can only be managed. My ADD means I have problems focusing on a task, or, I get so hyper focused on a task, nothing else exists. This will happen. It may be productive, but likely, it won’t. My chronic pain means I have days where I take my pain meds and crawl right back in bed. Full stop. Nothing else is happening that day. This is my life. This suck that I must embrace, is why I have problems staying focused on goals, especially long term ones. I feel like I get so far behind by having a no spoon day, that there’s no point in trying to catch up. Right now, I am perilously behind on laundry because after returning to the gym for the first time this year, I had a really bad pain day. It’s one thing to abandon a resolution, it’s quite another to stop doing laundry altogether. This is why I do my laundry in small batches nearly every day.
So let’s take my approach to laundry, and apply it to my resolutions. Break down each resolution into small chunks and accomplish them one by one. Let’s use my desire to do more spiritual work and learning as an example.
Already above, I’ve started to break down what that goal looks like to me. Read more: I’ve decided that I’m going to read at least 10 books in my field. So I started a list. What books to I want to tackle this year? Staubs and Ditchwater by Byron Ballard. Beliefs and Superstitions of the Pennsylvania Germans by Edwin Miller Fogel. Devotional Polytheism by Galina Krassakova. Great. Start with one. Just one. Finish that then maybe read something for fun (like a book from the Wiitcher series) then do another book from this list. If you’re really just hating it, find a different book. There’s no use slogging through something that’s not doing anything for you. Live and Learn, then go buy or borrow yourself another book. Runes; this is a continuation of a project I started last year. The information in my culture about runes is incomplete, so I decided to do a survey of several sources to fill in the gaps, as it were. This is a multi year project, so any progress I make on it will be counted as a win.
What else can I do? Well, I got a pretty big hint from my New Year’s Prognostication. Apparently, I need to figure out how to carry my motivation and my inspiration forward, to sustain the spark throughout the year and to protect it from my inevitable bad days. This will be my toughest challenge. Stay inspired? Stay Motivated? You might as well ask me how we’re going to sustain human life on Mars for more than six to nine months at a time. I have no frakking clue. But, I am really good at research. I think I can find the answers, and maybe even find ones that work for me. Because that will be another challenge. Not giving up when everything falls apart. Because it will. I know myself, I will want to give up. I will want to sleep in instead of going to the gym. I will want to binge the Mandalorian instead of reading Blackthorn’s Botanical Magic by Amy Blackthorn. I will want to buy those fuzzy socks rather than making my own. Being better is hard. But being better is worth it.
This is where we check in with ourselves. Three months down the line, when January is Spring’s fever dream, where are we with our resolutions? Nowhere? Well, then. What we were doing before clearly isn’t working. Is one of those resolutions just really not feasible? Drop it. Is one of them a much bigger task than you thought? Break it down even farther, or make your original resolution more specific. Yes, more specific. Instead of read ten books in my field, change it to: read the Goddess Holle by GardenStone. Then read the everloving out of that book. Boom. Mission accomplished. Now, could you do more? Maybe, but you met your goal, that’s what matters. Give yourself the win. You deserve it.
Three more months down the road: It’s high summer and you’re seriously contemplating moving into the pool permanently. What progress have you made? Did you get a resolution finished? Want to be a masochist and add another? Keep timing in mind. In Urglaawe, we ideally want to be finishing up our resolutions by the time Allelieweziel (Samhain/Halloween) comes around. Yes. Finishing them by the end of October. Yes, only nine months to complete resolutions, not twelve. That’s because we spend October through December in introspection, part of which involves examining our resolutions and thinking of new ones. So, with three months left to wrap things up, what’s left to do? Do we need to seriously think about editing down or abandoning resolutions? Have we been so on the ball that we can get more done before the Wild Hunt begins to ride? Hey. Don’t laugh. It could happen. Maybe. In some other universe.
Three more months have passed and the Hunt is riding. Introspection and the Dark half of the year begins. What worked? What didn’t? Did you underestimate yourself? Did you overestimate yourself? Did you enjoy getting your resolutions done, why and why not? These are all great questions to ask ourselves, and they are so helpful in informing us as to how we should tackle the next set of resolutions. Yes. More. Never Ending. A wheel within a wheel. A Circle within a spiral. The the song that doesn’t end. And it shouldn’t. Resolutions are about self-improvement. Without change, we stagnate. Stagnation leads to self-hate, hate leads to suffering, and suffering leads to the dark side. Wait. Wrong universe. But you get my point. Resolutions can be toxic. I know. But I still think it’s worthwhile to set goals of self-improvement for ourselves, and what better time to start that at the beginning of a new year, ya know, besides right now?
Best of luck in your New Year’s endeavors! ~Sophia