13 days after making those pesky New Year's resolutions

Mom and I doing our best Rosie at the aSHEville women's museum

Mom and I doing our best Rosie at the aSHEville women's museum

On New Year's Day, I wrote:

2017 had its incredibly high highs and blanketing lows, but I ended it with the three people I cherish the most. I don’t normally care much for New Year’s resolutions, but I’m finding the idea of a rejuvenation rather therapeutic this time around. In 2018, my wish is that I cultivate (and advocate for) more empathy for our fellow world citizens and fight for justice to continue to prevail. May I laugh more and cry as often as I need. May I set reading and writing goals and actually stick to them. May I hold my loved ones tighter than ever, open my heart to new friends, rid myself of any toxicity and learn to forgive old ones. May my darkest days not be swept under the rug but instead used as fuel for personal growth through self-reflection and creative expression. May I find strength in seeking help and saying “no.” May I tackle each day with the same sense of hope and optimism that inadvertently captivates me every New Year’s Day. Cheers to a better, happier 365. Happy New Year, everyone.

Today, I'm happy to say, I haven't yet fallen off track. Granted it's only been 13 days since the annual countdown expired and it feels like it's been months, but I'm determined to stickwitit.

I am staying brutally on top of global news, more than I feel I've ever been. I've caught myself laughing more and I definitely cried as much as I needed right at the start of 2018. My family and I were in Asheville, North Carolina, for the New Year's holiday. The four of us sat in a circle and, for the first time in ages, just patiently listened to each other. I relinquished my innermost demons and admitted to the depraved thoughts I'd recently quarreled with, leaving tear-soaked pillows strewn along the couch. It was one of the most healing experiences I've had in a very, very long time.

I've also spent time each day re-cultivating this blog as well as my professional website, fizapirani.net, and a new website for Lifeline Primary Care, a family medicine practice with four clinics across metro Atlanta. My folks, who run the practice, were so impressed they gave me a side gig as Director of Digital Strategy. The process has been unexpectedly therapeutic and has rekindled my love for basic web design. I'm now taking an online course to really get my hands dirty.

And, of course, here I am, still writing away.

Though I'm far behind on my Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge of 100 books, I've started sampling 20-30 books on Kindle to get a feel for which ones I want to purchase. If you have any recommendations, please let me know! I'll publish my incomplete, growing list soon.

I think the best thing I've promised myself so far this year (seriously, it's only been 13 days?) is my commitment to really holding my loved ones close. This is something I severely struggled with in the final months of 2017 as a cloud of depression drove me deep into isolation. I have been the most honest version of myself with the ones who love me most, and with whom I love the most. I feel I've had a decent share of heartbreak and betrayal in my short 26 years, and I guess I taught myself not to lean too far on anyone I know. I often shrug that off as a symptom of my self-diagnosed introversion. And while I enjoy my quiet, alone time, I can't ignore that I do in fact *need* people. Beautiful, inspiring and reliable people. The fact that I have even a few gems I know I can unleash my wrath on and they'd love me the same (Y'all scared?) — that's just the most wonderful thing. Because beautiful people make the world go 'round. And let's be honest, they're more valuable now than ever.

As for new friends, I unexpectedly met someone within the first two weeks of the year who I feel will be a very important part of my life. But even if our friendship doesn't go beyond our first interaction, I'll cherish that rare rush of an "automatic click."

Forgiveness, on the other hand, has always been a bit of a battle for me. The inability to forgive, oft rooted in my stubborn apathy in ego-deflating situations, is probably my worst trait. I blame this stubbornness on my father, who blames his father and who, like many a middle-aged man, uses the excuse "this is just who I am" to evade any personal growth. But not I, dear father. Not I.

Instead, I've found myself inadvertently releasing any immediate visceral reactions of anger or frustration, taking a deep breath (or a walk) and letting logic play its game with my tangled-up heart. And it's actually working.

Lastly, I don't feel I've had a "dark day" in the less than two weeks of 2018 so far. And I really do believe this medium of creative expression has helped keep the gloom at bay.

Unapologetically yours,