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  • Laura

New Beginnings

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

Fall is, by far, my favorite season. I grew up in Michigan, where the leaves turn brilliant colors and fall to the ground in a sea of colors amongst the brown. Nothing screams fall like a cider mill, where fresh cider, apples, donuts, apple pies, and caramel apples abound. Fall is far and away my favorite season – pumpkin spice is my happy place.

Between memories of returning to school and celebrating the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, fall is the season of new beginnings, but you can apply this to January 1st, should that be a better fit for you.

I so vividly recall shopping for new school supplies, new clothes, and shoes, etc,. etc., every fall. Fall (at least briefly) lulled me into believing this was the year I would be more popular (it didn’t happen until undergrad). There WAS, however, one place where I always belonged - the barn, with my horses and my equally horse-crazy peers. The fall also marked the end of the show year and the beginning of the next.

On Judaism: I didn’t grow up Jewish, but I knew from the second grade that I wanted to convert. Our teacher took us to a church, a mosque, and a synagogue. I related to the last far more than I ever had the first; Judaism just seemed to make sense. Despite this realization, I waited until many years later – when I was no longer living in my mother’s household (my mother taught church school for upwards of 40 years and was the head of the church school advisory board – I did not want her to be judged or mistreated because of my decision).

So, does my fall-as-the-New-Year resonate with any of you? I imagine, at the least, you experienced going back to school as a new start. When I was discussing this blog post – and the trouble I was having writing it – my therapist posed a question: “Is every day a new beginning?”

I didn’t have an immediate answer – I was preoccupied thinking about the fall season as a new beginning, a new start. So, I turned my attention to the thought of every day being a new opportunity, a fresh start.

At this point in my life, I have probably more had trips around the sun than I have left; that’s a sobering thought. I believe far more than I used to in new beginnings – to me at this point in my life, I put a lot more stock in each day being a new opportunity to begin anew.

You may see each new dawn as the harbinger of another miserable day, one stacked upon the last. Or, you can see it as a fresh start – even if you believe the coming day will only bring pain – it’s just one day.

If you’re like me, a new beginning once a year is merely a setup for failure. Contrast that to starting fresh with the new dawn. Then you have 365 days to start over, not just one. Don’t expect a new year to bring significant change all in one day; instead, give yourself a break. Let change come gradually, and maybe by the time the next new year rolls around, you’ll realize that breaking your resolution down into 365 steps sets you up for success more than a single day’s (often unrealistic) goal. If you don’t break it down into baby steps, it will likely be just another failed resolution – and will bring about the self-judgment that you are a failure.

Successful resolutions are more likely not to be a product of one relatively random day (insert New Year’s, Rosh Hashanah), but slow and deliberate change – not one major resolution made on the first day of the new year. A race to the finish. And, most importantly, regardless of when you celebrate the new year, give yourself 365 to explore your options and then make changes (that don’t require you to lose 50 pounds or work out eight days a week) that you are proud of.

Trust me, you’ve got this. If you struggle with the Beast that is suicidality, broken New Year’s resolutions can seem like wasted years. Why, exactly, we “only” make resolutions once a year seems silly to me. Wouldn’t you rather make a contract(s) with yourself that you can renew every day versus making a once-yearly resolution (especially a difficult one) that you feel you have failed at – one that you believe you must wait a year to try again??

Remember – you feeling like a failure is music to the Beast’s ears. It loves nothing more than for you to doubt yourself, hate yourself, and feel like a failure. So don’t let him win. Instead, allow yourself to think of tomorrow as a new dawn, a new opportunity. Now, I recognize that some people are successful at making New Year’s resolutions – for most of us, however, we do better with day-by-day goals. Baby. Steps. It’s all about baby steps.

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