I never fancied New Year’s Eve—conditioned early by my parents, Bunny and Leon, who set up a celebration contract with their first next-door neighbors, nicknamed Peppy and Pete. (As for the latter couple, feel free to guess—in the comments—who is the husband and who is the wife.)
These friends were quite the quartet. With such monikers, they could have appeared on any society page in a Southern newspaper. However, they chose their own society with an exclusive New Year’s breakfast as supper: country-fried ham, red-eye gravy, and flaky Hamrick biscuits prepped by Leon (greased lightning chef); eggs whipped up by Pete; coffee and chat perked by Bunny; and dry humor tossed in by Peppy.
They started at 6 p.m. and closed down at 10 p.m. That suited Bunny just fine: her circadian rhythm did not fancy midnight ball drops, and she thought Dick Clark was a shoe brand.
2017 New Year’s Eve: Early to Bed
I embraced my inner Bunny when I could no longer recognize celebs on the cover of People magazine. Last year, I started my own tradition of donning flannel-plaid PJs, watching When Harry Met Sally and toasting the New Year with a glass or two of Bogle Petite Sirah at 9:45 p.m.—precisely when the hero reinforces America’s ignorance of Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang Syne”:
“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should auld acquaintance be forgot.’ Does that mean we should forget old acquaintances? Or does it mean that if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forget ’em?”
2018: Happy Yogi Year
She packed the house—in all the right ways. Four yoga-mat rows deep, the crowd was cordial, and I had plenty of room to stretch my frame (5 feet 8 inches) comfortably in any pose as we took an easy flow into the New Year. Miriam guided us deftly as we worked every part of the body, including the core. Now that beats bellying up to a bar with a cast of inebriated characters longing desperately for a Cheers-like atmosphere where everybody knows their names. No chance. Many hunch over, engaging their cell phones in anonymity.
This yoga session earned top marks, including “A” for attitude. Why? Because Miriam embeds positive emotions and thoughts in every practice, along with clear instructions and modifications to cue beginners. Moreover, every participant can gaze on motivational handwritten quotes placed strategically above mirrors.
Off with the Negative, on with the Positive
To create a meaningful evening, Miriam led a thoughtful exercise. As each participant entered the studio, he or she chose three index cards with words that represented something to leave behind in 2017. I selected “worry,” “control,” and “confused.” Others opted for expressions such as “anger,” “anxiety,” “self-sabotage,” and “fear.”
Then we chose three cards that had a positive vibe. Mine included “good health,” “serenity,” and “strength.” Others selected such words as “self-love,” “confidence,” “courage,” “joy,” and “wisdom.”
First, we placed the “negative” cards at the top of the mat. Miriam coached us to think about what they meant and why we were leaving them in the past. It is essential to understand what you are putting in life’s rear-view mirror; that is, the negative is less likely to creep into the present or future if consciously dispatched. A pose with a simple twist allowed me to look back over my shoulder and let go.
Second, a series of poses—my favorite is Warrior II—positioned us to face the future. And then we eased into a quiet phase of meditating on our “positive” cards before closing the practice with gratitude for our bodies, community, and shared moments.
How did a roomful of blissful “yogis” react at midnight? We toasted 2018 with champagne and then expressed goodwill with handshakes, hugs, and free-form dance steps to mellow sounds.
A New Year’s resolution often becomes a forgotten one-off. Embracing the words on my “positive” cards translates to a way of being. We will periodically revisit our “positive” cards in future classes, even incorporating them into vision boards as we deepen our practice.
I wake up and wind down to yoga—the bookends of my day. My practice became a habit 17 months ago. It takes 21 days to form a habit. With Stellar Power in my present, it’s easier to find a calming center—ideal for type-A me.
What Words Will You Live By in 2018?
You don’t need a yoga class to choose words that communicate positivity. “Care,” “compassion,” and “gratitude” are easy to remember. In fact, science proves that an attitude of gratitude powerfully affects the brain. Click on Scientific American’s 60-second video proof: “Gratitude on the Brain.” It’s more soothing and productive than obsessing over a public Tweetstorm.
To appropriate a phrase from the “Good Book”: “Peace. Be still.” Now that’s a good thing.