I like rituals as much as the next odd-ball, and New Year’s Day is a splendid time for them. It’s a world-wide birthday. It’s a regular opportunity to reflect on what was–and consider what might be.

For years — dare I say decades — I used this particular marker for some rock-solid rituals. I used to scrub the house really, really well before the stroke of midnight, at which time you’d find me sitting in meditation by the light of a candle. Local fireworks were my clock and told me when the hour had struck.

On New Year’s Day, I made a point of spending conscious time doing a little bit of anything I wanted more of in my year—something akin to acting on resolutions. For instance, if I wanted to get more fit, I’d schedule time to exercise. If a goal for the year was to have greater human connection, I’d write letters or make calls.

Nothing wrong with any of the above, but this year I threw ‘em out the window. Holy COW, that felt good.

Yeah, it’s great to wake up to a clean house on January 1, but clutter is clutter and dust is dust, so who cares if it’s staring at you one the first or the fifteenth day of the year?

And I’m a horrible meditator (is that a word?). I just want it to end. Maybe someday I’ll come back to the practice in earnest and let its goodness wash over me, but now’s not the time.

As for scheduling the first waking hours of the new year so they look like some kind of roadmap for the 364 days to come, let me tell you: it doesn’t do a damned thing for me.

All this busy-work (cause that’s what it is — busy-girl nonsense), never once created a memory. It wasn’t much fun. And it sure as hell wasn’t some kind of magic predictor of a good year to come, cause the past few years turned out pretty rotten if you ask me.

This year? I was in the studio painting when midnight hit, and I marked the moment with a shot of whiskey for me and a biscuit for my dog. Two days later, there are still dishes in the sink, and the joint hasn’t been cleaned since… well, none of your business.

Yesterday morning, I hightailed it over to my friends’ house. Adrienne, Josh, their kids and I jumped in the Jeep and headed to Barton Springs for the annual Polar Bear Jump. Ever done one of those before? You know, where it’s freezing outside and you jump into cold water anyway? We loved it. Love, love, loved it. I felt clean and sleepy and relaxed an hour later like I’d use gotten the Best. Massage. Ever.

I mean look at this face, right?

Jean Synodinos_Polar Bear Dive 2016

Lesson learned.

And resolved: no more rituals that don’t have the potential to generate some really good memories.

Wait… there IS one ritual to which I clung this year, but it fits the above-noted requirement going forward.  For the past eight years, I’ve joined a group of really diverse ladies for High Tea at the Four Seasons on New Year’s Eve afternoon. We laugh ourselves silly unless we’re crying. Quite memorable. A good ritual, indeed.