I am not making any resolutions for 2018. For the last while, my resolutions have fallen into predictable patterns. The categories are always the same - there is the exercise resolution, the dental hygiene resolution, and the be-nicer-to-people resolution. There are the goals to be more mindful, do more yoga, and eat more green things. At the beginning of every year, I end up just adding these self-help tasks to my growing to-do-lists. I’m done with that.

We had a big 2017. On the first day of 2017 we moved across the country. We picked up everything from our lives in Portland, OR spent three weeks traveling east to the Hudson River Valley in New York. We started new jobs. We got married and had bi-coastal wedding celebrations in the middle of the summer growing season. There were ups and downs and some steep learning curves. By the time we got to December, we were exhausted. We spent New Year’s Eve at home, fixing frozen pipes in the middle of the coldest, darkest days of the year. I had not even begun to process the last twelve months, let alone set intentions for the following year. I didn’t want to make a list of resolutions, I wanted to take a nap.

January has been a pause. I entered it feeling thankful for making it through an exhilarating year of unknowns, however recognizing that I wanted to do this next year with more intention. There were points of the year that felt like a runaway train, and we were just trying to not steer the whole thing off course. This month has had a lot of reading, resting, and of course farm planning, and in the process I have uncovered two new strategies for saying goodbye to one year and welcoming another, sans traditional resolutions.

  1. January will be a month of rest and reflection. It’s a time of the year relatively free of obligations and is prime for journaling, processing and planning. I love the holidays, but the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are the opposite: full of (albeit fun) traditions and engagements, with little breathing room, and I would say an impossible time, at least for me, to properly reflect and make meaningful intentions for the coming year. December can stay what it is- an outward facing month, time to visit with family, friends, and do end of year reports, etc, and January will be a month for inward reflection.

  2. February 1st is the new “New Year”, where I set an intention for the coming year. After a month of deeper reflection, I come out of the month not with a list of resolutions, but a single word, or mantra, that represents some action I want to incorporate into my life more fully. I will then have twelve months to work on incorporating this singular concept into my daily life.

I have had a pretty hard time coming up with just one word, and ended up settling on two, somewhat interrelated concepts, joy and compassion. We navigated a lot of stress-inducing situations last year, and I wish I can say I met the challenges with grace and composure. But even more than that, I realized that letting the stress take over also took away a lot of the day to day joy that I want in my life, which I think everyone deserves regardless of whatever is going on in the external world of politics, work, disasters, etc. And with joy comes softening, and with softening comes compassion. There were a lot of other words that spoke to what I want to achieve this year, but ultimately I realized that I won’t have success, at least in the way I would like to have it, without more of my heart opening. So, every day, every moment, my 2018 mantra is, joy and compassion. We’ll see where it leads.