On New Year’s Resolutions and Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift, rocking some dazzling (and enviable) self-confidence in the Blank Space video.

Let’s get two things out of the way up front: 1.) I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in years; and 2.) I am a big Taylor Swift fan. I’ve liked her music from the get-go and like it even more now that my kiddo is a huge fan. And her latest album, 1989, did not disappoint.

So what does this have to do with resolutions? Well, I’m not really a big proponent of them. I know they help some people to start the year off fresh, but in my experience they’re easily made and easily broken. Maybe this means I’m the weak-minded type who’d be easy prey for Jedi mind tricks. Or maybe it just means I’m realistic about my own flaws.

I’d love to drop a few pounds, run my first marathon, write every day for hours on end, and be more organized on the household front. Will I really do all of these things? I’m going to go with no. Though I always aim for good health, I haven’t been able to run in months (a frustrating health development) and I can’t possibly write every single day—I work and have a kid. As for household organization, I think I can safely admit that I err on the side of what (I hope) is friendly chaos.

So what would a resolution in honor of 2015 really get me? Other than a sense of frustration with myself—something I already excel at having—when I don’t live up to the resolution, not much, I’m afraid.

Which brings me back to Taylor Swift (no, I didn’t forget about her). The new album contains some glorious statements of self-acceptance and empowerment, from the letter to her fans about change and learning from your mistakes to the songs contained therein. And I love it as such, from start to finish.

I’ve danced gleefully to “Shake it Off” with my kiddo up and down the aisles of a grocery store, not caring a whit if neighbors, or even complete strangers, think I’m crazy. I’ve watched the video for “Blank Space” more times than I can count, talking along the way with my kiddo about how Taylor Swift’s not serious when she sings things like “Darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream.” She’s doing something remarkable, in fact: reclaiming her reputation and her sense of self.

It’s a gift to be able to accept yourself, grow as a result of your mistakes, and laugh a little as you’re doing it. And it’s important to realize, at least for me, that every day—not just New Year’s Day—is one in which you can be true to yourself. You can work for and toward something you love, whether it’s your friends, your family, your work, or a passion that you pursue despite your work. You can look forward, as Anne of Green Gables always did, to tomorrow being fresh with no mistakes in it. And then you can make mistakes and it will be okay.

So, on this first day of 2015, I wish you all the ability to accept and love yourself for who you are, to laugh at the small annoyances thrown your way, and realize that even if “the haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate,” you can choose to not let them get you down. It’s not an easy choice—haters come in all shapes and forms, external and internal—but it’s one we can all strive to make.

Because it’s time to shake off the old year, and celebrate the new one. And if you need a little inspiration, you can always watch this. Pretty. Awesome.

Running My Way to Clarity

When I was pregnant and going to childbirth classes, I was told (repeatedly) to imagine myself someplace soothing—the beach, a peaceful forest, a grassy glade—in order to work through the pain.

This did not work for me.

I had a hard time keeping my focus on something restful and quiet, even before the labor pains kicked in. What worked was to imagine myself hiking up a steep mountainside.

While this probably only serves to confirm my fears about having a Type A personality, it does help explain why I’ve not been able to stick with yoga, but instead have turned to running.

Running has slowly turned into my savior when stress starts to get to me, when I feel like my mind is in overdrive, and when taking a break by lying around is nothing but a bad idea. So, I bought myself an iPod Nano, some kick-butt running shoes, and got to work putting together an awesome running mix.

I run along the beach, with Madonna’s “Ray of Light” blaring in my ears, with Kanye West and Taylor Swift peacefully coexisting, and with Macklemore imploring me to throw my hands up like the ceiling can’t hold me. And I’ve discovered that pounding my feet on the pavement gets my mind in the right place to write—and magically erases stress.

Running gods and my left knee willing, I’ll keep going further and further every week, pushing myself to stay healthy and stay sane all at the same time.

And now I’ll stop blabbering on about running and get some of that stressful-type work done. Happy Friday!