Monday, January 3 2022

the ball drop, exercise, and resolutions

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Dear Journal,

Well Monday has arrived. And now that it's finally here, it doesn't seem that bad, does it? I feel alert, calm, and mindful - pretty much the exact opposite of how I was feeling yesterday. All throughout my holiday relaxation, I was dreading this moment. I didn't want to surrender staying up late, sleeping in, and snacking at will. I loathed the thought of work, chores, and exercise. I snacked and napped to my heart's content, kicking aside dirty dishes and messes on my way to an inviting pile of blankets on the couch. But the Sunday scaries grew louder. Last night as I was waiting to fall asleep, they were deafening. Next year's problems were knocking at the door. My six thirty alarm, which had laid dormant for weeks, was patiently waiting to shock me into reality. I would wake up in a world of discipline and routine - a world that now felt foreign and unforgiving.

To hell with the Sunday scaries. Today is Monday, and they can't hurt us here. This morning, this mug of black coffee is like my holy water, and I'm using it to banish all those fears. Are you with me? Once more into the breach, friends. We boldly ride into the jaws of death - into the mouth of hell.

Sip. It's good to be here today. Even though we've closed the chapter on the Christmas and New Year holiday, the fresh memories still feel warm and comforting. We had a quiet family New Year's Eve. Rodney and I braved a bustling, understaffed Hy-Vee to pick up dinner. We grilled some steaks and shrimp kebobs. We gathered around the computer and clicked through old photos. In the past, only Marissa and I have attended this yearly ritual, but now even Rodney is old enough to appreciate how much things have changed over his brief lifetime.

Here's my biggest takeaway from revisiting old photos. Marissa and I are incredibly seasonal people. We began to notice that big projects like gutting the garage, cleaning the back corner of the basement, or replacing old windows happen at the same time (even on the same day, in some cases). These projects always feel so extemporaneous at the time, like we just decide that morning to get it done. We had a good laugh learning that these random urges to clean really just stem from finely calibrated instincts that we have no control over.

This year we also noticed how tired we look. "I have wrinkles around my eyes," remarked Marissa in horror.

"We just look like tired COVID people," I added somberly. It took some time, but judging by the photos we took, the turbulent years of 2020 and 2021 have finally caught up with us.

Before we broke out the champagne, I ushered Rodney upstairs for bedtime. We switched out his old 2021 Paw Patrol calendar with his new Dinosaurs Doing Yoga calendar.

"New Year's Eve is a special time," I commented, trying to impart some appreciation for the holiday. "People throw a big party for when the year changes. There's even a giant ball that drops, and everyone counts down from ten..."

Rodney shot out of his blanket. "A giant ball?" he asked.

"Yeah. It's a giant sparkly ball," I answered. "It lowers to the ground, and..."

My voice trailed off, noticing Rodney's lip begin to quiver. For whatever reason, the idea of a "giant ball" lowering to the ground gripped him with fear. I back peddled, trying to make it sound less scary.

"No, it's a fun thing," I said assuringly. "It's just a giant ball with lights, and everyone cheers when it reaches the ground."

"Then it explodes?" asked Rodney.

"No, it's not a bomb. Here, let me show you." I opened a video on my phone. Rodney hesitantly leaned over my shoulder to watch footage of the 2020 ball drop. He averted his eyes, recoiling back into his blanket before the crowd even reached the last half of the countdown.

"Is the ball coming here?" asked Rodney with wide eyes.

"No, it's all the way in New York," I replied.

Rodney scooted closer on the bed. His eyes welled up with tears. "I don't want to go to New York," he said quietly.

At the breakfast table the next morning, Rodney told a confused Marissa that he had nightmares about the giant ball coming to get us. "Did the ball drop yet?" he asked concerned.

"Yep, it dropped, everyone is fine, and they put it away for good," I comforted.

In other news, Marissa and I got started with our new training program. Seeing that we already had a preliminary assessment workout to do, we made a last minute errand to Walmart. The fitness aisle of the local chaotic Walmart seemed like a fitting place to start our novice weight lifting career. We bought a barbell, resistance bands, and a new lineup of vitamins. On the drive back home, I paged through our nutrition guide. "I'm... kind of overwhelmed," I chuckled nervously.

Marissa and I took our first "progress pictures". Pale, shirtless, my gut spilling over the waist of my shorts like freshly baked cake batter, I think it's without a doubt the worst picture I've ever taken. It was a humbling moment, but a powerful motivator and incentive to trust the process. The only way anyone is seeing this photo is if my "after" picture looks like a chiseled statue.

It's a good time to make new commitments. Do you have any new year's resolutions? I found a text file I made this time last year containing a bulleted list of very specific goals. I wanted to double the number of recipes documented in our family cookbook. I wanted to improve my sleep habits. I wanted to increase the amount of time per week I exercise. Even though I didn't follow up on the specifics, I'm still proud of the headway I made.

This year, I'm making qualitative goals - not things to measure, but themes to focus on. I want to grow an selfless attitude to serve people around me. I want to learn to treat social media like a tool, and less like an automatic reflex. I want to dismantle my perfectionism and learn to accept my work for what it is.

It's a good day to begin a new year. I missed you all. Hope you have a good Monday, and I'll see you tomorrow.