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with each new year comes the opportunity for a new beginning. some believe that the annual new year’s hype is unwarranted and excessive, but i have always believed in the psychological significance of starting a new calendar year. there’s something incredibly refreshing and exciting about taking a moment to reflect on the high and low moments of the twelve months you have just lived through and then wiping the slate completely clean of them. it is a wonderful feeling to reflect proudly on all the positive things that you have achieved or experienced and then file them away in your mental trophy cabinet. if you ticked even one thing off your bucket list, that deserves a solid moment’s reflection and celebration. there is also much to be gained from giving equal consideration to the mistakes you may have made and the ways that you can learn from them. there is no room for growth in your comfort zone and it takes not just trial but also error to develop yourself as a person. then there are those things that simply have nothing to do with the positive or negative choices we make in our lives. we in fact have no control over them at all and can only control how we respond to them. 2011 was all about those things – the unexpected, the unpleasant and the challenging… for me and for an unusually high number of people around me. adversity is relative and the trials and tribulations of my year may pale in comparison to some or dwarf those of others. either way, 2011 seems to have been universally crap. i like to call it an ‘off year’.

i’ve heard on the grape vine that the ‘off year’ is quite a well documented phenomenon and has something to do with the meridians of life or some other complicated worldly forces. i’m not very well versed on the deep and delicate mysteries of life, but i strongly adhere to a philosophy that everything (even the catastrophic and disastrous) happens for a reason. i also strongly believe in balance – mental, emotional, physical, nutritional, etc. so i’m not a fully fledged hippie philosophical guru but i’m fairly open-minded. to me, an ‘off year’ means it’s time for you to do some growing. life is throwing you adversity to see how you rise to the challenge and to teach you some invaluable life lesson that you may not appreciate until years later. on a small scale, this often happens to people who lose their jobs only to discover their true passion and develop it into their dream career. on a large scale, we have the ‘off year’ – you go through a heap of shit and nearly internally combust, but come out the other end much stronger, wiser, self aware and more experienced. i don’t deny that sometimes you have to look ridiculously hard to find one positive thing that came out of all the mess. but if you look hard enough it is always there. life is all about perception. an event or moment in your life carries the meaning you accord to it. if you choose to focus on the positives even if they are realistically minimal, you are that much better off than the person who sees only the negatives and becomes consumed by them. same goes for new year’s. if you choose to see the new year as a turning point, then that’s what it will become for you – a turning point. if you simply choose to let it pass, then that’s what it will do – simply pass.

so now more than ever after battling my way through an ‘off year’ (the unpleasant details of which are now irrelevant and nowhere to be seen on my squeaky clean slate), i have left 2011 behind and spent the festive season reviewing, re-evaluating and regrouping. most new new year’s resolutions take the form of discrete, specific goals but this year mine are somewhat different. i don’t see my resolutions as separate goals, like exercise more, eat better, be more fiscally responsible, etc. i see it as one goal – to make 2012 about the good life. good health, good food, good friends, good thoughts, good wealth, good everything. great everything, in fact. to make sure i actually see my resolution through since resolutions are notoriously hard to stick by, i have decided to spend 5 minutes or 10 minutes or however it long it takes me to find one thing that contributes to the good life for each day of the year (my own version of the 365 day project, or should i say 366 day project for 2012) – a good recipe, a beautiful quote, a feel-good song, an energy-boosting exercise, a new product, something that made me laugh, anything that makes life better. i decided to use my old blog name ‘plus est en vous’ because it means ‘there’s more to you (than you think there is)’ and i think part of the good life is discovering that. then i figured since i’m going to all this effort, why not share the love? another part of the good life is sharing it with others. of course, i’m realistic – life will not always go smoothly and it would be unbearably boring if it did. but why not aim high? you can’t attain a goal if you don’t aim for it. let me start with something that helped me start off my year and this project, but by its nature it has value whenever you read it: “nobody can go back to the start and make a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” welcome to 2012, everyone. i hope yours is amazing.

ps. thank you to my amazing other half for putting it all together for me :)