Old Habits Die Hard

Every year about this time I begin to make a list of what I want to accomplish in the new year. Some people make resolutions, I make plans. I focus on what I want to do versus things I want to stop doing. This has been my quiet tradition since 2015. Most of the time I write it on a plane in January. Not really sure why but I write a lot on planes. Something about sitting in one spot for hours causes me to look inward and express outward into the notepad on my iPhone. Sometimes I look back and can see the mood or spot in my life I was in during this trip or that one. At one point in my life I was commuting two hours one way to work. I started doing voice memos on my way home to catalog what was going on in my life. I stopped these the same year because when I went back and listened to them they sounded weirdly tragic. I never wanted someone to listen to them and think I was unhappy in my life. I might have been unhappy in those moments but they were just moments in the grand scheme of my life.

It is weird that I started this tradition in 2015 because that’s also the year I was diagnosed with cancer. I must have been very hopeful in January and certain if I made a list, I would accomplish the stuff on it. I never did. The monkey wrench of cancer came hurdling into my life and threw it off course. My 2015 list would have to wait. Funny enough, that list has been carried over year to year since. Small changes sometimes but always the same themes.

  • Take more time for me
  • Run a half marathon
  • Lose weight, be strong, be healthy
  • Take an actual vacation
  • Fall in love

In 2016, I added and changed a few things but the main themes remained the same. Getting my divorce was 15 years in the making. My marriage ended in 2007 but due to private circumstances I never filed. We lived in different parts of the country and for all purposes were divorced, just not legally. I am not sure why I even made a list this year because I was undergoing chemo. I think I was trying to remain life as usual despite being sick. It is my way. Just plow through and get to the other side. Regardless, this list went undone.

  • Get my divorce
  • Buy a house
  • Year of my best body/health
  • Take a tropical vcation
  • Settle down with the love of my life

Sitting on my couch New Year’s Eve, I drafted my 2017 list. Tired from cancer and moving to the other side of the country, I was feeling really exhausted in 2017. I changed my list from things to do to mantra type sayings. I was desperately trying to will myself into action.

  • I will have my healthiest year yet
  • I will buy a house and grow roots
  • I will run races
  • I will find a man to spend the rest of my life with
  • I will get my divorce

These mantras carried over into 2018. My list in 2018 was made by someone in a crappy place in her life. I was angry. Angry at cancer induced menopause and weight gain. Angry at being alone. Tired from working so much. My list reflects the space I was in at that time. I was in such a place that I did not even write the list until the end of February. After writing the list I wrote a note that basically said not sure why I am doing this because I never seem to get it done.

  • I will buy a house
  • I will lose weight
  • I will run a 10k
  • I will get my divorce
  • I will find a man to spend my life with

Something happened in 2018. I crossed two things off my list. I got my divorce and I bought a house. Two of the most liberating things I have ever done in my life. I bought the house I had always wanted, on my own. I was scared. It was crazy expensive but I did it. I got my divorce. Deciding to buy a house pushed me to file. My husband was safe and mentally fit to handle it now and I could not buy it being married. It was quick and simple and a weight lifted from my shoulders.

Deciding to share something so deeply personal was hard. A piece of me that was only mine, Ive given out today. I did it because in the end it is not about what is on my list but the fact that I made the list at all. Even in some really dark moments, I looked forward to the next year. I realize more and more that we are told we should be happy and that life should be good. Maybe its not about that at all. Maybe it is about looking forward to what comes next in the middle of the mess.

Heres to 2019! To all the list makers, keep listing. To the resolution makers, keep making them. To those who quietly propose to do better, keep doing. I will have my 2019 list done soon. It will be the best one yet.

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