“There will be no “New Year, New Me” bullshit this year” I mutter to myself as I crunch down on a gluten free mozzarella stick and take a slurp of sparkling wine from the jam jar tumbler in my other hand.
Which is at least half a lie. I may not be starting a diet, but I did sign up for 30 Days of Yoga. And I did order two new cookbooks. And I still regularly lament my softening middle. My holiday sale impulse buying resulted in three new pairs of elastic waist lounge pants and some wrinkle-smoothing patches.
I haven’t arrived at Radical Self Love yet, but I’m reading the how-to manual.
If you haven’t read “The Body is Not an Apology” by Sonya Renee Taylor, gather up your gift cards and head to your local indie bookstore or library and get your hands on this gem. It is taking me weeks to read it because it is so intensely challenging that I read it in small doses. I need time to chew on each chapter and the author’s joyful and expansive vision for the world: full of people who have embraced radical self-love, and then extend that love out into the world.
I certainly was not the first person to ask this question, but it does roll around in my brain a lot: How are we supposed to love others as we love ourselves if we don’t actually love ourselves? A lot of the un-love (apathy, violence, hate, bigotry) gushing out into the world is really, at the root, a scorching and debilitating lack of self-love.
I can already feel the hackles rising on some of you. We are not supposed to love ourselves! We’re sinful. We are supposed to love God and love our neighbors!
Yeah. Love our neighbors “as we love ourselves”. I don’t think God really intends us to only love others so far as we currently despise ourselves. Doesn’t sound very on-brand to me.
Where could our love radiate out into the world if we embraced radical self love? Could radical self love transform the way we love disabled people? Or people whose bodies are bigger, smaller, queerer, darker, less healthy, more poorly dressed than our bodies? I hope so. That’s my prayer.
So this is how I’m entering 2022: No diet. No exercise regimen (aside from the goal to do yoga every day this year, because holy cow, yoga has helped me immensely throughout this pandemic). If I have a resolution, it’s to meditate on my chosen Word of the Year.
I will seek the light – in myself, in others, in the world, in the face of the suffering.
I will try to be the light – to my family, my neighborhood, and out there in the world.
I will trust the light – it is already out there. I don’t need to ignite anything, only seek it and recognize it. The Light in me honors the Light in you.
I’ll embrace the steady, gradual dawn. Light takes its time.
And I will try to live LIGHTLY – take myself less seriously and more buoyantly. Consume less. Demand less. Part ways with objects or habits that weigh me down.
That’s my New Year’s prayer. Radical self love, eyes trained towards the light.