Is it me or have the last few years been exceptionally challenging? Does it seem to you like reality feels more and more trite with each passing year? Maybe this sense is a symptom of middle age? In any case, I find myself having a harder time getting on board with conventional traditions. Even the concept of the new year seems silly to me–it’s an arbitrary date that bears no actual significance. It would make more sense if the new year aligned with the winter solstice since the days growing longer marks a new beginning.

New Year’s resolutions haven’t seemed like a good idea to me for quite a while. In recent years I’ve preferred to “set intentions” over making resolutions. I’ve spent time reflecting on the previous year and pondering my hopes for the next, focusing more on the feelings I want to experience than concrete, quantifiable goals. This practice felt more gentle than making resolutions, but it still put me in an energy of craving.

I don’t know about you but I’m sick and tired of craving. I’m over feeling a sense of lack, of perpetually wanting more, of feeling inadequate or unfulfilled.

F*ck that.

This year, I’m not setting any intentions. Instead, I’m focusing on realizations. This is about coming into the present moment and taking stock of lessons as they come. It’s about noticing and appreciating what is, rather than dwelling on what’s been or fantasizing about what’s to come. It’s about enjoying a beautiful process of awakening, and of loving myself during this unfolding.

The specificity and rigidity of resolutions tends to lead to feelings of failure. If I don’t shed those 10 extra pounds then I have another reason to feel shitty about myself. Meanwhile, the loftiness of setting intentions can lead to feelings of disappointment. If I don’t feel calmer or more at peace, then I’ve somehow mishandled energy or I’ve been betrayed by the Universe. After moving through such cycles, I’m ready to stop trying so hard to create change.

I’m ready to recognize that change is inevitable and no matter what happens, I will learn and I will grow. 

As I began to reflect on 2023, I felt sad. It was a challenging year. So was the one before it, and the one before that too. It doesn’t serve me to dwell on the difficulty. It does, however, to consider the realizations I’ve had. In 2023 I realized how to use my voice. I spoke truths I’d previously been afraid to reveal. I realized my tendency to isolate under certain circumstances. I realized expectations I tend to put on other people. I realized my connection to my ancestors. I realized that it’s not necessary to wait until you’re at the end of your rope to surrender. I realized my courage, my fear, my rage and my defenses.  All of this (and so much more) has helped me realize more self love and compassion.

As I consider realizations as elements of awakening, I feel expansive and optimistic. I want more of that, not only at the end of December or beginning of January, but throughout the year. Throughout the years. 

What realizations came to you in 2023? In your life? I hope considering this helps you feel expansive and optimistic too.

With Love & Compassion,

Adina Arden Cooper

I'm a lover, a guide and a supportive companion. An artist, an ally and an advocate. I help individuals connect more deeply with themselves and with others through shadow work. I believe that shared humanity is a powerful strength and that our stories connect us in beautiful and sacred ways. As I stumble, skip, or soar my way through this life, I invite you to join me on the journey. Likewise, I'm honored to travel with you. In witnessing one another, we find meaning.