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A Slower Approach to a New Year

quiet start to the new year

For years I started the month of January racing hell for leather for some goal like “lose five pounds” or “get glowing skin” or “workout every morning”. But when you live somewhere like the Pacific northwest the weather rarely syncs up with the energized aspirations I have come January 1st.


When I look back on the changes I’ve successfully made in my life they’ve never been from the all-or-nothing approach (with the exception of going vegan, which was supposed to be a diet challenge with a friend but now here we are 7 years later). For me, changes have always come in the form of creating new habits and routines. And because I’ve always been more of a turtle than a hare those habits must be built bit by bit.


I like to think of it like adding daylight. Since the longest day of the year is now a few weeks behind us, the days will start to get longer. But it’s going to be slow. It’s going to be building by minutes, every day a few more. I approach building new habits the same way.


When I was first in Esthetics School, I was somewhat horrified to learn of the “double cleanse”. It already felt like a big ask just to wash my face once a night, now you’re saying I have to do it twice?! But as I began working on clients in the student clinic, I noticed the residue left after only cleansing the skin once. Grudgingly, I could admit that it did make a significant difference.

I was resolved. I would need to do it.


new blooms in january

I picked one day a week, I think it was Monday, and I told myself I only had to do it that one day. I noticed it felt good and my skin did in fact look much better. I had to admit it really wasn’t all that much work because I was already hunched over the sink anyways. Slowly that one day became two and two days became almost every night. Recently I was distracted watching TikToks on my phone (admittedly not a stellar habit) and by the time I realized I had only cleansed once, I was well into the retinol phase of my night routine. I felt oddly panicky, like was my skin all the way clean? Did I get all the gunk off? Would I wake up tomorrow with a face full of inflamed pustules?

Spoiler; I was fine.

But it made me realize just how far that one habit had come. From being aghast that there was now one more thing to add to my nighttime list, to feeling slightly unhinged because I forgot to do it. It took a long time for me to build double cleansing into my daily routine. To be quite honest, it wasn’t an enormous change. I didn’t win a trophy, there was no standing ovation or messages of. But my skin has never looked better. This small routine in my life feels good. Spending a few more minutes tending to myself is something I consider a win.


I’m not going to wake up and suddenly start behaving like an entirely different person just because the date changed. Rather than starting my year with resolutions I’m unlikely to follow through on, I am adding new habits and routines just like our dawning daylight – minute by minute.


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