In 1960s provincial New Zealand, conventional middle-class lives are not always as respectable as they appear. Callum Gow’s family and…
As the last strains of an incomprehensible Auld Lang Syne drift into the night we reach for our Zentangle journals and jot down these words: In 2020, I will be a better version of Me.
It feels so good to promise to be better than yesterday. Especially when yesterday we drank a bottle of bubbles after nothing but a devil on horseback and a lick of the dip bowl. The hang-over of a decent New Year’s lasts a week then we find that journal and remember the promises we made to ourselves, while we lie on the couch bingeing The Good Place.
“This year I’ll make time for myself”, we vowed, listing the must-dos. “Me-time will be essential, time to just Be.”
In the new decade the new me will start each day with acidulated water; with shots of kefir or kombucha; my good gut bugs won’t know what’s hit them. The old me barely drank plain chlorinated water, the New Me will do better. The New Me will ferment. For an hour a day I’ll tend my SCOBY, feed my sour-dough-starter, soak my legumes, sprout my grains and manicure my micro-greens.
I’ll preserve things, obviously, collect wind-fall apples, and pick-your-own-peaches. I’ll spend an afternoon a month making kasundi, just for the joy of gifting it on to others. I’ll be bountiful, grateful and smug.
I’ll take time to reflect on Mother Earth’s wonders, mindfully eating a raisin, mindfully watching a cockroach, mindfully raising tomatoes from heirloom seeds I collect myself. In 2020, Me 2.0 will commit ten minutes every day to mindfully being at one with nature.
We all have little lists like these; designing our future selves. We have time in the holidays and it’s easy plotting dramatic renovation, especially when you’re a doer-upper like me.
We tote up totals, projecting the time-costs of being Better at being ourselves. It seems a worthy investment, a little more focus, prioritising, employing time-saving tricks to put more time into Being. Everywhere we turn we get reinforcement that we need recalibrating, that we’re not enough as we are. Bettering ourselves has become a competition. To better oneself is to do one better. I’m better, beat that.
In 2020 I’ll do yoga. Every day. Hot yoga, calm yoga, yoga where you just lie still and think about yoga. An hour at a time. I’ll walk more, in nature, being mindful. I’ll walk for a really focused hour in the evening, then I’ll journal my experiences. I’ll use my journaling to practice positive thinking. I’ll spend half an hour Manifesting by Visualizing. Half an hour finding my Purpose. Half an hour Goal-Setting. Half an hour investigating my Ikigai. Half an hour nailing my Nunchi.
I’ll read self-help books every morning and actually do what they say: Unfuck Yourself, Busy as Fuck, Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Calm the Fuck Down, Let that Shit Go, Best Self: Be You, Only Better. In the evening I’ll get hygge and curl up under an afghan I’ve crocheted myself to read quality literature: Big books that win awards. I’ll spend an hour Instagramming so everyone can see how much time I’m putting into being Me.
Mainly resolutions are about weight, wealth, health, cleaning, quitting and learning stuff. Spending quality time with friends and family is high on the Top Ten too. By January doing that seems way harder than learning Spanish or going keto. Mental health know-how tells us we need to be with people, so I’ll spend January joining groups, signing up to clubs and volunteering time. Three hours a week seems fair … at the Sallies, RDA, Nourished for Nil or on the board of something not too strenuous, something wholesome that does-good, without too much financial responsibility.
Getting on top of money is high on the to-do list. I’ve resolved to spend an hour on Sundays budgeting, to ensure I spend less, save more, give more away. I’ll do a budget and a meal plan:
an organised life is a happy life. I’ll Kondo some clutter just to round off the weekend.
Weekends will also be about sleep, not any old sleep but optimal sleep with no blue light and melatonin supplements I’ll make myself. I’ll hook up to an REM sleep tracker on my Apple Watch, which I won’t look at because … blue light. I’ll plot my 40-winks topping up with power naps on weekdays.
And between home and work and home again I’ll shop consciously. I’ll buy more organic, more free-range, more ethically-produced fair trade. I’ll support Collectives and Co-ops. I’ll bulk buy because of dolphins. I’ll spend Tuesdays filling my glass canisters at the eco-kiosk, foraging for mushrooms, going to Bin Inn to use the peanut butter machine, driving out to Pure Blend to refill my shampoo, conditioner, Earth-friendly body wash bottles.
Of course, this year I won’t use glad wrap, only beeswax cloths … I’ll make from upcycled organic cotton. I’ll spend Friday Nights creating and making, and baking healthy snacks for friends to illustrate my kindness and my empathy (using chia seeds I’ve soaked overnight as an egg replacement, because free-range just doesn’t mean free-range anymore).
New Year’s resolutions have me mapping out a schedule that’s demanding but rewarding. I’m taking things on, giving things up, improving myself, prioritising Me Time to such an extent that there’s no time to just be Me. Which is a relief because that Beta Me was so last year and this 2020 Better Me is all about the new and improved.