1. breathe

The nail that holds my kitchen calendar is in the side of a bookcase, and it’s pretty tight despite the hundred times we lean on the pages hanging from it each year.  So my 2013 calendar goes up unceremoniously.  I don’t tap the nail with a hammer for good measure, a gavel bang to say that it starts right here, right now.
I’m a sunrise person.  I like the promise of a fresh start each day, a way to do good, make amends, create a thing.  So Rosh Hashanah and New Year’s Day and my birthday are favorite holidays because they are the beginning of something, unfolding like a flower, lush with promise.  
And pressure: to be better, skinnier, smarter, funner, livelier, fitter, fancier.  To be -er right now and every day.
So at 12:01 a.m., I wished the world joy, pretty hair, and loose pants—with a typo.  It was an unintentional-but-deliberate Freudian slip of a typo.  I began my wish with “My 2013,” instead of “May 2013.”  I cringed a little as I hit Enter anyway.  With that, the pressure to be perfect was off, and I simultaneously declared 2013 my bitch.
This past week, bloggers have been posting their wisdom about how to handle the coming year.  They’ve shared aphorisms and quotes by famous people.  They’ve given advice on making manageable goals.  They’ve compiled unconventional resolutions and even non-resolutions.  Someone even suggested goals that have you working out less and eating more carbs.  Skinny people suck.

For 15 years, I have battled severe insomnia.  It began with some early waking and accelerated into a complete inability to sleep.  I was on anti-anxiety meds, anti-depressants, and sleeping pills, and I still slept only half the nights.  It wasn’t until I gave up sugar that I started sleeping normally again and got off all meds.  I went from relying on lots of pills to needing none.  Before last night, my last sleeping pill was in July, while I was crying in a hotel bed during a work convention after my father died.  For the last bunch of years, I mostly need sleeping pills when I travel.

Last night, though, I was frustrated by the four teenagers awake too late in my attic, and I succumbed to the little blue pill at 3:00 a.m.

It ruined the entire year.  Unlucky ’13.  Right?  As day one goes, so goes the year? 
I took that sleeping pill, and I hugged a stuffed monkey until I drifted into unconsciousness for six blissful hours, missing the first sunrise of the year.

But I saw the sun set last night, and it was beautiful.  And I said goodbye to 2012, the year my husband lost his job, the year my father died.  A sleeping pill at the end of a very bad year is understandable.  But a sleeping pill at the end of a very nice day—one that included a good movie with my husband, my favorite sushi and beer with my best friend, and cocktails at a favorite restaurant—just is.

I have things to do this year—a novel I want to write, some work goals to tackle, some health improvements to make.  But most of the work is going to have to be done in my mind, the place where everyone’s real work gets done, sort of like that Silver Linings Playbook in the movie. 

This morning, the crows greeted me at the back window.  My husband rubbed my shoulders.  And I’m about to walk down to greet my friends and neighbors at the annual block party pig roast.  The only thing that I absolutely mustdo each and every day is breathe.  That’s tough to do right.  Breathing is automatic, but good breathing must be practiced.  My own breath catches.  I inhale, and then I hold, expelling an inaudible gust of air in a thrust.  Breath should flow in and out smoothly.

I figure if I work on the breathing, the rest of what I need—whether it’s sleep or exercise or relaxation or concentration or strength to renew, get fit, rest, write, or just get through life’s tragedies, old and new, great and small—will come much easier.

I have everything I need right here: air, airways, beating heart, and 365 fresh, new days in 2013.

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