The new year always starts out with the promise of a fresh start, a chance to set new goals and practice better habits. Finally, this year, I will be able to have the self-discipline to be a better version of myself. At least, that’s more or less how the mantra of early January always begins.

But, if the insanity of 2020 taught me anything, it was that I need to do a better job of caring for myself. Not just during a global pandemic, but all the time. My only resolution for 2021 is to learn to be kinder to myself. Part of that means not beating myself up over things like failed New Year’s resolutions. 

There’s a song I really love by Amanda Palmer called “In My Mind” that captures the sentiment of my resolution perfectly. Palmer laments about things she thought she would have done by now, like reaching a goal body weight, being in control of her life and not forgetting her keys. She adds, “But it does not seem to have happened; maybe I’ve just forgotten how to see that I am not exactly the person that I thought I’d be.” The song ends with her realizing that rather than spending so much time trying to be a future version of herself, she should just be living in the moment because life is short.

Of course, it is important to work on ourselves, but being upset about falling short may not be the best use of our finite energy. Like Amanda Palmer says, “I want to live before I die.”

So, as we kick off 2021, I thought I would share with you all my self-acceptance reading list for the new year. I do not plan to read them all. If I don’t progress on my self-improvement reading list this year, I will try to be proud of myself. I will try not to see it as a sign that I fell short, but rather to mean that I was busy with my life being the person I needed to be in that moment.

“The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are” by Brené Brown (158 BRO) – The title says it all! Almost every title by Brown could go on this list.

“You Are a Miracle” by Mike McHargue (181.1 MCH) – Podcaster McHargue explores why there’s such a gap between what we want to do and what we actually do.

“Homebody” by Rupi Kaur (811.6 KAU) – Kaur’s newest book of poetry reminds us to fill up on love, acceptance, community, family and embrace change.

“The Body is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-love” by Sonya Renee Taylor (158.1 TAY) – Activist and poet Sonya Renee Taylor invites us to reconnect with the radical origins of our minds and bodies and celebrate our collective, enduring strength.

“Highly Sensitive People in an Insensitive World: How to Create a Happy Life” by Ilse Sand (155.2 SAN) – We are expected to be resilient, to have the energy to manage a packed work schedule, social calendar, and a large network of friends. If you find yourself struggling to live up to, or even enjoy, these non-stop social expectations, then this book is for you.

“The Art of Asking, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help” by Amanda Palmer (782.421 PAL). She explores these barriers in her own life and in the lives of those around her and discovers the emotional, philosophical, and practical aspects of the art of asking.

Happy New Year and happy reading, Stillwater! Don’t forget to take care and be kind to yourselves.

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