New Year, Better Me

IMG_5280Standing in line at the grocery store checkout, I often peruse the magazine rack, mostly for fodder to contribute to conversations about celebrity gossip. I also look at the lifestyle magazines, in search of new recipes or fun-looking craft projects. At the end of the year, when the magazines put out their January issues, I can’t help but notice the frequency with which the words New Year, New You! are splashed across the covers, complete with flawless-looking models with perfect clothes and promises of weight-loss and money-saving secrets within the pages that follow. Even Runner’s World jumped on the New Year, New You bandwagon this time, punctuated with an exclamation mark to get us all excited.

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Why do people want so badly to become new every year?

I think I understand the intention behind these four words, but they irk me. They make me wonder why I need a New Me, implying that there is something is wrong with the Old Me. Without the Old Me, and all of the things that go with it, good, bad, or otherwise, I wouldn’t have made it to this New Year. I’m 35. Nothing about me is new, and I don’t want to reinvent myself with a New Me; I want to continue being the same person I am, but in a better way.

New Year, Better You! 

That’s what they should put on the magazines. But then I suppose we would lose the literary charm of the repetition of the word new.

Yesterday, I wrote about the insight one can gain about a person by looking at his or her shoes, and how running shoes especially have a story to tell. Today, I opened my box of brand-new shoes, a bright blue pair of Mizuno Wave Rider 18s, and a Christmas present from M. Much like we so often view the start of a year, my new shoes represent a new beginning, a blank slate. They are ready to become dirty and worn with travels and adventures on foot, in the same way a new journal is ready to be cracked at the spine, its pages filled with handwritten words. Once again, my magic shoes are ready for some wear and tear, as new possibilities and achievements await in the year 2015 and I work on becoming a Better Me.

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My new shoes, ready for wear. They won’t stay this clean for long, and I wouldn’t want them to.

I don’t quite have my complete list yet, but here are a few goals for the year that have been percolating in my mind over the last couple of weeks.

Learn Latvian. I love languages, and I enjoy studying them. With our upcoming move to Riga in May, it would be nice to arrive in country and actually know how to say something. I don’t expect to become fluent, but being able to have a basic conversation and shop for groceries with words rather than hands would be helpful.

Stay in Touch. This was on my list last year and is more of a lifelong goal. In this foreign service life, staying in touch with family and friends is especially important. Even if I don’t hear back very much, I want to do my part.

Stay Healthy. In 2015, I want to stay healthy in body, mind, and spirit. That means flu-free, injury-free, negative thoughts-free, and stress-free (as much as possible).

Explore. With a few months of our time in Washington, D.C. remaining, I plan to continue rediscovering this town that I called home for many years. Moving to Latvia will give us new opportunities to explore new places as well. I am setting a goal to see at least two places new to me each month.

Cover 2,015 Miles on Foot. I signed up for the Run the Edge Challenge. Organized by two professional long distance runners, the challenge is to run 2,015 miles over the course of the year. At an average of 5.5 miles a day, every day, this is a little daunting to me (especially as I aim to stay injury-free), but I was relieved to learn that walking miles count toward the challenge. I’ve set my running goal at at least 1,600 miles for the year, an increase of about 200 miles from 2014, and will see if the remaining 415 miles come in the form of walking, running, or some combination of the two.

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My Mile 1 bib number to get me started for the 2015 Run the Edge Challenge.

Improve my 5K and 10K Times. In 2015, I want to run a 5K under 22 minutes and a 10K under 46 minutes.

Sit Cross-Legged. Yes, that’s right. I want to sit cross-legged. Without pain. I haven’t been able to do this in more than seven years. As I recovered from knee surgery in 2007, I had a hard time bending my knees. I got so used to going about my day with minimal bending that I lost that flexibility in my legs. I didn’t even realize it until last summer when I noticed that my knees felt frozen when I tried to bend them past a certain point. With an arsenal of stretches and strength-building exercises, I am working on getting my full range of motion back. Nothing would please me more than to be able to write my 2016 goals next year at this time sitting on the floor, cross-legged.

Run Two Marathons in Two CountriesAs of today, I am registered for the Riga Marathon, to be held May 17, 2015, about a week after we are set to arrive in Latvia. I’d like to run a second marathon, likely in the fall, in a different country. Poland? Estonia? Lithuania? Any of those will do.

Grow Professionally. This is vague, I know. Whether trying something new in my classroom, writing a new curriculum, or doing some action research, I want to apply something new and different this year in my work. I am thrilled to have just signed a two-year contract with the International School of Latvia as an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) teacher and coordinator and look forward to many opportunities for personal and professional growth when I start my new job in August.

Worry Less. About everything. If you know me, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

And there they are, ten goals to get me on my way to a New Year, Better Me.

What goals do you have for 2015?

Happy New Year, and thank you for reading!

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Happy New Year! I’ve got my first 4.5 miles for the year on my feet.

5 thoughts on “New Year, Better Me

  1. I enjoy your blogs, great job. You are a wonderful writer, writing about what a lot of us are thinking. There is so much hype around the new year, with people trying to sell their products or services. In my view I believe most people are trying to do the best they can under their own unique circumstances.

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    • Thank you so much, Phil. I agree that most people are doing the best they can… which is why the phrase “new year, new you” bothers me. It implies that there is something wrong with us, even though I know that’s probably not the intention behind the phrase. Happy new year to you! I love you!

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