Turning the Page in the New Year
Back when I worked in a small restaurant, there was nothing as satisfying—or as brutal and challenging—as cooking through Sunday brunch. That shift started early, and fast, and then lingered until the bitter end, when I’d depleted every stash of prepped vegetables and was covered in sauce, grease, and sweat. Pretty picture, no? I’m thinking that 2013 has been like a Sunday brunch marathon for me. I’m thrilled that it’s over, and I feel pretty plucky about meeting some of the challenges thrown my way, but I’m more than ready to turn the calendar page and start the new year.
There’s really no need to go blow by blow and flip back through the reel of life changes and upheaval, from decisions I made, like buying real estate, or unexpected sadness, like losing some dear feline friends (Joe, and Heinz, too, whom I didn’t post about). I’m not stuffing it all down to repress it, but I’m marching on, hopeful for a calmer year.
I started working on a new 2014 frame of mind earlier in December, when I went on a Mindful Destinations yoga and acupuncture retreat, tucked away in the wilds of Michigan. My wonderful acupuncturist Kyle from Grubby Halo Community Acupuncture couldn’t make it (2013 was challenging for a lot of us!), but Jodi of Mindful Destinations still pulled together an amazing weekend of yoga, relaxation, and pins. True to my go-go-go self, I worked on the Amtrak ride to Michigan. Here’s some of what I wrote:
I wouldn’t want to call myself a stress case, but I think it’s common knowledge that I tend to run a little hyper. Intense, if you will. Sometimes, intense works. It creates an environment ripe for ideas, plans, goals, and dreams. Nothing terrible there. But I can’t claim to have a harness on any of this hyper intensity, and it’s quite easy to fall this side of off the charts. Pressure in, pressure out. If I’m not careful, my mind slips off the tracks and spirals into insomnia or just a downright state of complete and utter overwhelm.
I’m not even caring that I turned overwhelm into a noun. I’m on vacation and off the clock. I have no Wi-Fi and no connection to the Internet world except for the tiny screen of my phone, and while that might normally make me feel untethered (in a negative way), I feel light and free.
I didn’t open my laptop again at the retreat—I had four whole days of interacting with actual humans and mostly ignoring the Internet and all those written words floating in the ether of my mind. I’d say the level of relaxation I reached at that retreat was one of my biggest accomplishments this year.
We had a bonfire one night to burn tiny scraps of paper that held the ideas and concepts and feelings we wanted to let go of. Some people might call that hippie hocus-pocus, but how can you ignore the release you feel when watching your hang-ups dissolve into smoke?
I’m starting 2014 with a bang by reading an excerpt from a chapter I wrote for Running, Eating, Thinking, an anthology from Lantern Books due out in the spring. The reading is January 7, part of Two Cookie Minimum. I can’t wait to kick 2014 in the teeth with this giant dose of creativity and expression. As always, I’m hungry for more.by