Learning not to hate different.

It’s a whole new year. So much is still the same. So much is different. I am learning to adjust as my life shifts. I used to think I needed to stand on the rock and let the world adjust around me. Now, I understand it doesn’t really work that way. I need to work on being more pliable, more flexible. I have been reading the Tao Te Ching again and while I love to learn about spirituality and religion, I don’t claim to understand all thoughts and beliefs. I am intrigued by a lot of what the Tao talks about however. In it, it says that when you are born, you are pliable and flexible and when you die you are hard and rigid. And the process of growing older in between, we change states often. We grow less flexible with change, we learn to be set in our ways. I am working really hard to reverse that in my own life. Habits are hard to break. Change is hard to accept. So, I don’t like to look at it as change. Instead, I look at it as different. I had a conversation about this concept the other day with a close friend. She asked, “what’s the difference between change and different then?” I replied, “Good question.” I sat and thought about it for a bit and realized that, my definition is this. Change requires action. Different is just a description. It just… is. I feel there is a lot lately in my life that just… is. Neither good nor bad. Just different.

I have had many people ask me this past week how the holidays were. Standard question this time of year. I keep answering the same. “Different.” This is the first year that my mom wasn’t at home with us. But I have to say I felt a love in my family this year that was heightened because of it. So it wasn’t a good feeling not having her there, but it wasn’t as bad as I guess it could have been because of the love that I felt that day.

One of my favorite memories growing up was our New Year’s Eve ritual as a family. We often spent it together. Most of my friends would be getting together and I was home with my parents, and most of my siblings and their families. We spent all of our holidays together. We didn’t know anything else. At midnight, we would share champagne, hug and kiss each other (which in a family as big as mine often took quite a few minutes) and then carry on with the snacks and drinks until close to 2am. The part I loved the most was going outside just after the hugs and kisses subsided with mom and her pots and pans. I LOVED to make a lot of noise as a kid and standing on the front steps of the house, as many of us as possible, we would bang the pots and pans as a fun ritual. Mom always says it was good luck, to keep the evil spirits away from the new year. I just liked doing it because I was allowed to make noise that late at night.

To this day, I still go outside with a pot and a wooden spoon just after midnight and I bang the heck out of the pot, just for a couple seconds. I do it because it makes me feel closer to my mom.
This was the first year I wasn’t able to call and hear her voice at midnight. So making a loud noise on my front steps I guess was my way of wishing her Happy New Year from here. It’s still the same tradition. Even though I am on different steps with different pots, and my mom isn’t by my side. It’s different, but it’s very much the same.

Starting a new year is sometimes a daunting task. We are often so bombarded by the questions and the ads on TV about what our New Year’s Resolutions are. We feel we need to have them. We need to satisfy a tradition. Or we need to make ourselves feel like we are going to change something we don’t like about ourselves. This year, I didn’t make resolutions. I just didn’t. I made a decision that I am going to just start living the way I want to live every day instead of waiting for January 1, which only comes once a year on my calendar. I always have goals. I believe in making manageable objectives. Instead of beating myself up for the weight loss and the make more money, and the spend more time with family resolutions that grace most our lists, or maybe it’s finish the project you started or go back to school or….you get my point.

We wait for things to be perfect to start something, or we wait for the right time to work on what we “should” be doing all along. So much of life we can’t control. It just… is.
This year, I choose to take “different” head-on.
And I have decided that I don’t hate it.

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