A Blog for the Turn of the Year

We’re officially 1/52 of the way through 2023.

Did you feel shocked (like I did) when trying to process that statement? And also a little anxious about how fleeting time is? And yet also, maybe, a little relieved in knowing we’ve already made it through a week of this rocky adjustment?

The start of this year has felt rough. These past couple weeks, as 2022 wrapped up and as the new year began, I’ve had a striking number of conversations about mental health with people who are struggling. And I count myself among that lot.

It doesn’t help that it’s been cold and rainy — and at times snowy and icy, or that many of us settled in to enjoy a major Monday Night Football match-up only to watch in horror as Damar Hamlin collapsed, or that that hardship hit Buffalo (a neighboring city here, home to many loved ones) right on the heels of its devastating blizzard, or that this is the fourth calendar year in which the COVID-19 pandemic looms over our lives…

Many of us are feeling shaken, discouraged, and simply exhausted. We want to start this new year with hope and resilience but are reminded of our own mortality and how quickly life can change.

Beyond those recent and (hopefully) unusual factors, the holiday season can often stir up grief and longing. I love Christmas, easily caught up in the giddiness and magic like a child would be, and yet it makes me miss my beloved fur baby so badly that hanging up her stocking still brings tears to my eyes, 3 years after her death, and the pangs of nostalgia I feel for childhood Christmases can sting, wishing that somehow, just for a few minutes, I could be back at the top of the stairs with my brothers, waiting for our parents to be settled with their coffee and video camera, ready for us to come down and see what wonders await.

Just as the complicated mix of merriment and sadness of the Christmas season winds down, here comes the new year — a time when we put extra pressure on ourselves to feel festive, to reflect on accomplishments, to set goals, to do better. It can be exhausting!

Several years ago, I received as a gift the book Tape for the Turn of the Year, by A.R. Ammons. It’s a long, journal-like poem that he typed on a roll of adding-machine tape, written between December 1963 and January 1964. I was enthralled by the concept, Ammons challenging himself (a) to fill the roll and (b) to be forced to wrap up the piece within the confines of its medium. Returning to the page (as it were) routinely over the course of those days gives Ammons’s writing a meditative quality, finding beauty and room for contemplation in ordinary moments of ordinary days — which seems to me a beautiful way to think about time.

…all day
life itself is bending,
weaving, changing,
adapting, failing,
  succeeding

A.R. Ammons, Tape for the Turn of the Year

Ever since first hearing the book’s title, I’ve found a sort of comfort in thinking of the arrival of the new year this way, a turn. It’s not merely a beginning (and an ending) but a continuation, a wheel that will keep carrying us along.

Sometimes, making the turn is hard. Sometimes, we long for stability and familiarity, and sometimes that means acknowledging that what was once familiar is now gone, or that we’re not entirely comfortable in our current circumstances.

And that’s okay. This is but a moment of our journey.

If you are struggling:

  • please be patient and gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to feel your feelings and work through them with time.
  • remind yourself that this is a temporary state — one of my favorite mantras I’ve learned from my counselor.
  • know that you are not alone and do not need to navigate the tough times alone. Reach out to a loved one — to me! — or to a counselor or doctor or online community.

If you should choose to make any resolutions for the year, I hope they’ll be ones that truly feel good to you — things you want to do, not things you feel you should do or have to do. In my mind, the shoulds and have tos are immediately laced with anxiety and negative self-talk. (Why haven’t I done that yet? Will I really do it this time?) No one needs that sort of energy to start off the year. Or ever!

Among my resolutions this year is to dedicate more time to self-care. A friend recently told me she takes a self-care day at least once a month, and THAT is the energy I need for 2023! Self-care too often gets bumped to the bottom of the list — which leaves us less equipped to tackle everything else on that list.

Wherever this new year finds you, and wherever it may lead you, I hope you can find ways, old or new, to help yourself feel rested, refreshed, and renewed. To let go of things that no longer serve you and find more things that do.

May your 2023 be whatever you need it to be.

Muse, I’ve done the best
I could:
    sometimes you ran out
    on me
    & sometimes I ran out
    on you:
 
        I know you better now:
        you’ve come closer:
            will you
            confer the high
grace of your touch?
come & live enduring with
me:
            I’ll be faithful:
            I won’t trick you:
            I’ll give you all
            I’ve got:

A.R. Ammons, Tape for the Turn of the Year
Photo by Sumit Rai, downloaded from Pexels

Author: Valerie Dimino

I have a lot of words to get out.

12 thoughts on “A Blog for the Turn of the Year”

  1. Love this, per always! 🤗

    This year I am setting goals rather than making resolutions. Somehow goals sounds more positive, more “user friendly” to me than resolutions. 🙂❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great piece Val! Over the past few months, I have connected with many people who have cried during our catch-up conversations. Life has presented so many challenges in recent years! Your recommendation to focus on being rested, refreshed, and renewed is wonderful. I would say that we need to add meaningfully “reconnecting” to the list! Yes, it is work to maintain our close relationships in meaningful ways. However, the benefits of this are undeniable. Great friends are allies who support our need to rest and renew. They become accountability partners in the journey. They help us build perspective, lift us up when we are down and celebrate our victories. Here’s to great friendships that help us thrive in 2023!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks Val,  this is all ringing so true with me right now with the passing of my Wife in Sept.  I never thought I really had any type of mental issues of any kind until now and though I am working through them it has been very, very hard.  I am trying to sell my home here in TX right now so that I can move back to NY and basically start my new life as a widower as I am about to turn 60yrs old.  It is just not how I expected things to transpire but here I am……………….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kurt, it both warms my heart and makes my heart ache to know that this post resonated with you. Thank you for reading and for leaving this message. I hope you find some guidance and comfort in it, especially in knowing that it’s okay to feel your feelings, in your own time and your own ways, and that you are not alone. You are going through a major life transition right now; you will find your way, but it will take time. Please know that you mean so much to so many of us, and we are always in your corner! I’m really looking forward to reconnecting with you when you’re back in NY. Take good care of yourself!

      Like

    1. I will be rereading this at least three more times. You have hit the nerve in me that has been inflamed for a long while now. I’ve dried some tears while reading this and inside, I’m yelling “yes! Yes!” Thank you for stating so succinctly how I myself (and obviously so many others) am feeling, and the struggles I face each day. What a gift. Xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, Ann, thank you so much! This means a lot. I’m sorry you’ve been struggling but glad to know this resonated in ways that I hope will be helpful. There is great comfort in knowing we’re not alone and are on this crazy journey together. I’m grateful for you!

        Like

    2. Thank you, Chris! Your continued support means so much. I appreciate knowing that you could relate to this and found it helpful. Sending all my best wishes your way for the year ahead!

      Like

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