We’re chugging our way through January. At Christmastime I had all of these visions of all this free space opening up on my calendar in January. I’m not sure why I thought that. I think it might have been a coping mechanism to make my way through the busyness of the holiday season. But here it is, nearing the end of January and my calendar is clogged with after school activities, writing assignments and fun friend times. And it is often this time in January that I begin to lose a little steam from my New Year’s resolution high that I come into January with. The end of January/the beginning of February is where the rubber starts to meet the road and the work outs are less energizing and more grueling and the cutting back on sugar starts to meet its match with Valentine’s Day candy.
This year I found myself overwhelmed with the all of the resolutions that sprang to my mind for 2017. Maybe it was because 2016 felt like an epic fail from beginning to end or maybe it was because now that Levi is firmly entrenched in school life, I have an opportunity to focus on me a little bit more. Regardless of the reason I have a lot of resolutions this year. I want to work out more this year…or you know, at all would be a huge improvement. I want to cultivate a better prayer life…or you know, having one at all would be a huge improvement.
But the resolution I wanted to share with you today is one of those weird, lofty, vague kind of notions that I have a hard time putting a hard definition to but at the same time, feels so necessary and vital to my life right now.
In 2017 I want to celebrate more with more people.
As I chugged through 2016 and metaphorically threw myself over the finish line, I felt worn out, isolated and frustrated. And I realized that I had done all of those things to myself. The past year was difficult but, different than other difficult years in the past, the hardships I felt during 2016 were all of my own hand. Without realizing it, I spent the better part of 2016 setting up walls and fortresses around my little life. And as a result, my life got very little and very lonely. I created hoops for my friends to jump through. I set conditions to relationships. I let people know that they had “failed” me in some way. I was harder on people than I should have been because I was frustrated with the same wrongs and insecurities in my own life. I realized how dark I had become. And not in a goth-like, Marilyn Manson kind of way but in a way that made the people who came near me walk away feeling sad, about themselves or about me.
I had lost the ability to celebrate and, perhaps as a result, I had become a very exclusive person, in the worst sense of the word. I lost my willingness and eagerness to invite people into my world. I hosted fewer dinners. I said no too often. I was too critical and too self-centered. Only what was happening in my own little life was of value to me and it made me cold and wary of strangers. Happy hours went from being “cheers to surviving the week” to “let’s drink to the mess that is sure to be waiting for us next week”. (This may explain why no one invites me to happy hour any longer.)
And so, in 2017, I want to lay Reagan Dark to rest. I have been joking to close friends this month that 2017 is the year of Reagan Lite. (Ironically, I usually make this announcement after drawing everyone into a conversation about child death rates, cop killings or mass genocide. But hey! It’s only January! I’m working on it!) I want to be known as someone who invites people in, whether it’s to my dining room table or simply into a conversation. And I want my life to be marked notably with exclamation points of celebration.
Life is still hard. Bad things will still happen. Darkness still lurks in every shadow. And I have no intention of ignoring those moments and I will still enter into pain with the people that I love, when the moment calls. But on the whole, there is so much to be celebrated in our lives! There are moments that pass us every day that are yearning to be noticed and given three cheers.
Levi is flying passed milestones these days and he needs to know that making it to the 100th day of kindergarten is a moment to be celebrated and my eye rolls and heavy sighs over trying to figure out how to make him an old man for the day, aren’t helpful or necessary. (Side note: if anyone out there has a child sized cane, I’m gonna need that.)
Greg is actually making music again! New notes are floating out of his office door and life is being breathed into them! Levi is humming along to them and creation is happening in my own home! That is a moment worth celebrating. Friends are taking new risks. They are trying new things, failing at some and then getting back up to try again with more success. Those are moments that need an exclamation point!
I have feared Reagan Lite for far too long. I was worried if I smiled too much or laughed too hard I would lose my edge, that thing that makes me want to write and that gives me a voice. But harmony can be achieved if I look for it in the right places. After all, the darkness exists to bring attention to the light, right? Our world is comprised of darkness and light and spending too much time on either side can make you surreal and a warped version of you were created to be.
We are swearing in a President today who most, even those who voted for him, would admit is not known for his inclusive nature. I love that upon his election tens of thousands of dollars flooded the bank accounts of Planned Parenthood, NOW and the Sierra Club, not because I necessarily have any affiliation with those organizations, but because people recognized that non-profits that they cared about might need them to actually care now. Our President is not known to be an inclusive man, but that doesn’t mean our nation, comprised of millions of individuals, can’t be one that is known for our inviting nature. I want my dining room filled with people this year. And I want those people to come from all walks of life and with all sorts of differing opinions. I want to treat each new person I come into contact with as someone who holds value and has a story to tell me, if I’m willing to listen.
As I was looking over my lists of resolutions this year, I couldn’t help but notice how the resolutions of celebration and inclusion went hand in hand. When you invite more people into your life, you also invite in more reasons to celebrate. And when you celebrate, you need people there to celebrate with you. A celebration of one isn’t much of a party. So this year, in the midst of a leader who shuts more doors than he opens, in the midst of a weary and panicked nation, in the midst of lost jobs, illnesses and death, I want to find the hidden moments that ache for celebration! I want to find the line where the dark hits the light and I want to try my best to live with one foot on each side.
I’m throwing a party this year, all year long, and you’re invited! Just come on over.
PS: Bring snacks.