I no longer see it as the wasted month of dreary weather and post-holiday boredom.
In fact, I've been using January an opportunity to improve my life, improve my happiness, and get a grip on my finances.
I was plowing through all of my bills and setting up auto-pay on the computer and then my health insurance company hit me with this ridiculous message and I honestly wanted to throw in the towel.
Change Username/Password PLEASE NOTE: Changes made here only affect the login on the Claims Inquiry System. If you wish to change your PIN on the Investment Inquiry System you will need to make changes after logging in to the Investment Manager. Your Password has expired and you must change it before entering the website. Your new Password must:
Contain at least one uppercase letter (Annoying, but reasonable.)
Contain at least one numeric character (Fine.)
Contain at least one special character, excluding # - * ( & % (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Be 8 to 18 characters in length (Who has an 18 character password? I will slap you.)
Not be the same as your Login Name (Not sure I needed to be reminded of this, but thanks.)
Be different than your previous 10 passwords (TEN passwords? TEN? bang. head. against. desk.)
First ensure that your login name value is in the Login Name text box then enter your new password, confirm it (re-enter the new password in the Confirm New Password text box) and click "Save Changes" below. (Yeah, yeah, yeah.) You will be required to enter this new login name/password each time you subsequently enter the website. (I hate you all!!!!!)
For as long as I can remember, I've hated the month of January.
After the hustle and bustle and anticipation of the holidays, the month always feels like a let down. Like a sugar crash and a hangover combined.
The weather around here has felt like a metaphor for January - dreary and cold, cloudy and rainy.
A huge downer.
That is, until last weekend, when an blast of warm weather - I'm talking 70-degree temperatures - blessed us. I went from feeling like there was nothing to do, to feeling empowered by endless possibilities.
With no plans and nowhere to be, there was time, on a unseasonably warm Saturday, for golf.
GOLF?! During what I once considered the worst month of the year?!
Even as my golf game fell a part on the back nine, I had to consider that maybe I've been wrong about January.
Sure, the anticipation and preparation for the holidays is gone, but so is the stress, the endless commitments and end of the year hooplah.
January is like a clean slate - an entire month to unwind, decompress, take a breather. A chance to reinvent ourselves, embrace a routine, and decide how we can make this new year better than the last.
Yep. Definitely wrong about January.
Having absolutely no plans meant that after our golf game, Jacob and I looked toward Saturday night.
You can imagine with my indecisiveness, there was a lot of shrugging shoulders and "I don't knows" being tossed back and forth.
He suggested the Emeli Sande concert at the Variety Playhouse - a show he'd talked about several days before.
I'd done some research on her when he first mentioned it, and I was surprised that he was so interested - Emeli Sande is a good singer, but her music was nondescript. Not the kind of show I'd want to spend serious money to attend.
Lucky for me, the concert was sold out. But I agreed to go to Little 5 Points to see if anyone was selling extras at the door, secretly hoping that no one would.
To my delight, in the 20 minutes I stood outside the Variety, not one person walked by. I figured we'd give up and head home, but then Jacob, aka The Ticket Whisperer appeared from parking the car, and within seconds had scored two tickets.
Suddenly, my attitude took a sharp turn and I went from being up for whatever to adamantly not wanting to go.
I write about my life and my friends because I like it and it makes me happy. That others have found some interest in what I have to say (172 followers, baby!) is the extra sweet icing on an already sweet cake.
Yet there is always a desire, at least for me, to connect my life's experiences to the larger, more universal themes that exist in the world. The posts that seem to garner the most reaction and feedback are those that are less specific about me and my life and more about the world and the common experiences we all share.
This is not one of those posts.
I spent New Year's Eve with many of the same characters that also traveled to Elizabeth's wedding on the ranch. We had fun and I was so happy to see them. Hearing all of the stories and sharing more laughs also made me feel guilty that I never finished blogging about the ranch.
If you have no idea what I'm talking about, feel free to catch up (ranch, part one & ranch, part two). I thought about delving into a long post full of inside jokes, offensive stories and pretty pictures that only my friends could appreciate.
But in the spirit of making this blog less about me and more about all of us, I thought I'd share some universal truths I know to be true thanks to Elizabeth and Kristof's wedding day.
Universal Truth #1: Driving through the windy terrain of 17-mile drive with a car full of less-than-thrilled participants who may or may not be experiencing "motion sickness" after a late evening is a bad idea. It will create hilarious stories and make unforgettable memories, but it is a bad idea.
Universal Truth #2: Pebble Beach is gorgeous, but not necessarily an appropriate hangout for 30-something hoodlums who think everything they do and say is hilarious.
Universal Truth #3: Not having a date at a wedding means you can attach yourself to your friends' husbands. Your friends love it. The husbands love it. Everybody wins.
Universal Truth #4: Other people's vacations, wedding parties, life events, are better told with pictures and good music and videos.
Apologies for my absence from the blog space - my family spent Christmas week in the Dominican Republic (go ahead and hate me; more details on that in a later post), so getting back to reality and feeling happy about being back at work and not looking at beautiful beaches has been a challenge.
See what I mean?
I have made a host of New Year's resolutions that include the usual --
Workout more, eat less (or just better).
Spend less, save more.
Write more, rot my brain with Bravo and TLC reality shows less.
If this list makes me sound annoyingly ambitious, keep in mind it's only January 3 - I'm sure these lofty goals will fade.
But then again, when I think about "auld lange syne," or "times gone by," in 2012, I am so very grateful to tell you that I managed to stick to last year's resolution to be more present. There were a few moments of crazy that involved obsessing about the past or worrying about the future, but for the most part I was, as I'd hoped, locked and loaded on the here and now.
Living presently has forced me to become more in tune with what my body and soul need; I have learned how to embrace the moment. But I fear in doing so, I have lost my spark a little bit. The spirited nature that moved me to do 365 new things before I turned 30, start this blog and set my sights on a book was tabled in an effort to quiet the storm inside of me.
I know that I had to do it, and I feel like I'm a better person - happier and healthier - because of it. But if a balance exists between living presently while still exercising my ambition and finding the courage to pursue my talents, my resolution for 2013 is to find it.
New Year's Resolutions - be them to lose weight or get out of debt or stop smoking - are really just vehicles we use to help us arrive at our ultimate goal to simply be happier.
I gave my mom a book a few years ago called The Happiness Project. She gave it back to me on my 31st birthday and I finally started reading it on our Christmas trip.
It's such a great book for this time of year - about how being a better friend, better parent, better partner, better employee will all lead us to the outcome we all want - to be happier. Gretchen Rubin, the book's author, goes on a year-long journey to become happier, by becoming a better friend, better parent, better spouse and better employee, and she writes about her journey with examples, practical and measurable actions that I've already started to apply to my life.
I'm not quite done, but if you're looking for a way to get happy - or rediscover your fire like me - I highly recommend it.
I wish you much peace, love, health and happiness in 2013!