I’ve never been someone to journal. (Full disclosure: I’m the particular breed of grumpy that rather balks at the use of journal as a verb.) List-making, however, I can get behind, and resolutions in particular. Jotting them all down with pen and paper is even better.
James and I have a tradition of writing our New Year resolutions in a tiny shared notebook. It’s the same notebook where we keep a list of could-be baby names and a running list of places where we might travel one day. It’s a hoping book, if you will, and though the contents will no doubt be different for everyone, it’s a genre of notebook that I recommend everyone tuck into a sock drawer or a bedside table, or some spot for secreting away semi-secret things.
(There’s no reason in particular that it needs to be so tiny, but I’ve never been very good at filling up adult human-sized notebooks. And I love tiny things best of all.)
Yesterday, Ashley Ford mentioned that she’d made a list of “firsts” that she’d experienced in 2016 and it struck me as the perfect kind of list for adding to our tiny book. The past year has gotten a fairly universally bad rap as a crappy year, but while I appreciate the impulse to slam the door firmly behind us, I also think it’s nice to acknowledge the complexity of a given year. It wasn’t all bad and it certainly wasn’t all good. In that spirit, here’s to compiling, along with our hopes for self-improvement going forward, a list of accomplishments looking back.
Maybe most appropriate for a year that felt difficult is that compiling a list of firsts doesn’t necessarily mean making only a list of triumphant moments—it can also include storms weathered, limits tested, strengths demanded. If there’s anything that might help inspire action and change and forward momentum, it’s recognition of what we’ve already done. A list of firsts can as easily be an ode to survival as it can be a list of successes. And of course, as anyone who’s survived anything can attest, to survive is to succeed.
So, here’s to making resolutions and taking stock, warts and all.