Is it just me, or do you ever feel carried along in whatever seasonal marketing wave has hit the scene? You know how it goes. As early as October, before we’ve had time to plan our Halloween costumes and parties, those ominous bits of red and green begin to appear, with promises to make this Christmas “the best season ever.”
Then comes Thanksgiving, with the Hallmark commercials and grocery store offers for free turkeys. No sooner have we wiped the last evidence of gravy from our chins and pushed away from the dining room table, Black Friday beckons us and bam! Just like that, someone has pronounced the Christmas season upon us. (I work hard at not being all bah-humbug ‘nat, but without fail, I’m usually hit with a case of anxiety around that time of year).
Once we make it through Christmas Day (and the day-after dreaded return lines, if you’re one to brave the madness), we move on to those year-end lists – Top Ten, countdowns, etc. And then come the articles and offers and promises that are sure to set things right again: fitness center offer, weight loss plans, and 21 ways to organize every bit of our lives.
And then bam (again)! Bring on the red and pink and hearts and chocolate! Love is in the air–woohoo. And on and on it goes, this wave that sort of carries us through the year– from season to season. It’s all good though, right?
Being somewhat of a nonconformist, I don’t exactly feel the need to go along with whatever is being marketed to me. I’ve learned to purchase my planners as early as October. I might start making Christmas presents in June (yes, that actually happened one year!) I might not get my spring flowers planted by May 31 (prices tend to drop in June, and they’re every bit as pretty). And darn if I can ever manage to purchase a swimsuit when they hit the stores as early as February (which admittedly results in much moaning and groaning the week before vacation when the selection is pretty dismal).
In recent years, I’ve also tended to veer away from the need to make New Year’s resolutions. At one point, I started adopting a word for the year–which took away much of the resolution pressure. But a few years ago, I decided to give myself the entire month of January to reflect and pray and dream about the year that lay ahead of me like a beautiful blank canvas–at the same time both inviting and intimidating. My major goal this year is just to incorporate some regular times of reflection and planning–daily, weekly, and monthly–into my life.
Last fall, refusing to be caught up in the January thing (which all too often for me, ends prematurely by February), I decided to take some first steps right then. For one, I joined a gym (after scouting out a few and taking advantage of several free trials). I also started seeing a nutritionist. In reflecting on those first steps, I realize it’s true what they say; first steps are the hardest. But I also realized something else: Every first step involved someone else. Once I pushed past the pride and whatever else was holding me back, I found someone was there waiting with the knowledge and encouragement needed to make that first step just one of many. Imagine that!
So here’s to first steps and fresh starts. Any day is a good day to pause and reflect on where you are and where you want to be.