It was January 1st. The beach bar across the street was still pumping music and with the squint of one eye I hit my phone: 6:13 am. The bars in my Spanish coastal town close at 6am so any minute the soundtrack of the night would finally give way to the standard metronomic crash of waves. I rolled over in annoyance. My stomach churned. My skin prickled. I was full of regret. I wanted to start the new year off running, literally. Or riding or swimming. In my physical condition, that wasn’t happening.
I didn’t have any wild stories to reason the state of my body; I hadn’t had a single drink or taste of celebration. In completely unfabulous and life-isn’t-fair-fashion, I rang in 2017 with my stuffed elephant, the two bears on my slippers and the stomach flu. Par-tay.
In a haze of sunrises and sunsets, I had the worst fever of my adult life, barely being able to talk at one point. The 48 hours of hot chills, body aches and nausea gave me no energy to ease the worried look on Edward’s face when he came in to encourage me to drink even a sip of water, dare he mention I attempt food. “You’ll be healthy again,” he would sweetly whisper, with an undertone of complete belief I just couldn’t accept. Just as the sun rose and set, Edward would come and go, always leaving me in my preferred state of solitude and balled-up lump of fleecey pyjamas.
The New Year had come and gone. The next day passed just as unnoticed. The fog of illness only started to lift on the third day. On my first venture out of bed, despite the queasiness after merely seeing the bottle of fizz in the fridge, the thought of celebrating a new year occupied my mind; but, as I climbed back under the duvet regretting my decision to even move in the first place, it didn’t feel like New Year’s. Not just because I had been sick. Not just because the moment had passed. It was because New Year’s was a month ago. My 2017 started the first day back to training after my off-season. I had assessed the year, written goals, made plans, and gotten back to work. I was motivated, refreshed, and excited to have a fresh start on a new year. I had already celebrated and gotten a move on…on the 5th of December.
I thought of my first day back, smiling as I remembered how reality (a.k.a. lack of fitness) hit my inspirations. I huffed and puffed through my first run, struggling up hills (and on flats), but I had decided it was the first day towards a better version of myself, a fitter one at least, and that gave me the energy to keep going (for 30 minutes, which felt like a millennium).
December 5th reminded me of the power that a new year can have. Actually, the power that New Year’s inspires us to grab. We have the power to make our own starts, whenever and wherever we want. We have the ability to draw a line, wipe the slate clean and decide on change. The tradition of New Year’s simply helps those who believe in and want the opportunity to have it. Whether you choose to believe in New Year’s resolutions or fresh starts or whatever, believe that you don’t have to wait for the countdown or the flip of the calendar. December 5th was as good of a day as any. So is today.