New Year; Old Habits

I always have a lot of items on my to-do list. I've tried as many organizational planners/calendars/apps as I have diets. There's a feeling of optimism and hope buying a new planner and filling it with plans, dates, to-do lists, reminder alarms, shopping lists, more to-do lists. I get the same feeling when I mentally swear off carbs or subscribe to the food plan du jour. The first few days are good. I am driven, organized, focused and hopeful.

And then, just like that, I am on the other side of the apex. Sliding down into a vat of disorganization and macaroni and cheese. I look at my planner and it actually looks blurry to me (I will not get reading glasses, damn it. I will squint until 50 if I need to ). So then I commit to writing in different color ink, because that must be the root of all cluttered, flustered, disorganized people: monochromatic ink. So now my planner looks like Franklin Covey on psychedelics. And every time I open it, all I feel is anxiety about how every single day has something written on it (in a vibrant color) and then I just want to take a nap.

With dieting, it's quite similar. I am excited and hopeful about this new food plan. The first few days go smashingly well. I am on fire. I feel good. I chastise myself for waiting this long to eat clean/count points/swear off gluten/eat like a cavewoman/drink my meals. I judge those who haven't been as enlightened. I mean, how could they put such toxic crap in their temple? They must not have gotten the memo I got three days ago.

And then...

There I am again, in free fall, diving into a bowl of Honey Combs. Why is cereal so goddamn perfect? Whoever thought of cereal is a hero and I salute them.

So here I am, starting 2015 the same way I started the last 25 years. A disorganized, cereal-loving, overwhelmed, overweight, psychedelic planner owner.

How can I make a lasting change this year?

The answer is I probably can't make a big change. People usually don't. Our habits and neurons are so rigidly programmed by now. But I can probably make a small internal change. Just one. It's the idea of "radical acceptance." Accepting myself and all the annoying habitual thoughts and feelings that incessantly float into my head. Sitting with them and saying, "Oh, hello fear. So good to see you again. Welcome home." Accept it and sit with it... and watch it pass. And then 11 seconds later, when it comes back, welcome it again. And again. And again. Eventually, I think (and hope) it disempowers it. It sets you free.

Tara Brach in her book Radical Acceptancewrites all about this in a way I can never do. Because she's been meditating with Buddhist monks for years while I've been doing it in the car for a few days. But the crazy thing is... I think it works. And coming from a very cynical, negative critical woman- that's a pretty strong endorsement.

Here's to 2015.