The Old Year, The New Year, and a 30-Second Dance Party

my 2012 resolutions

my 2012 resolutions

There are less than eight hours left in 2013.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the past few days (and weeks, and months) worrying about what I’m going to do in the future. How I will continue to move toward a healthy lifestyle and a full recovery. How I will repair the damage I’ve done to my relationships. How I will push myself to conquer that which I simultaneously crave and fear. How I will manage to complete my college degree in a way that is meaningful to me. Constantly running forward, trying desperately to keep up with all the things I feel like I should be handling. 2013 has been, in short, a year of constant motion – working toward recovery, getting reinstated in school, entering and exiting a brief but significant relationship, earning (and being proud of) my first college B – without a lot of stagnancy.

I was talking to a friend about this yesterday at an old favorite coffee shop, while my unintentional tears dripped slowly into my too-hot mug of tea. She smiled at me. “Gwen, you need to give yourself a break. Stop for a minute, look around at all the things you’ve accomplished. Be proud of yourself. Have a 30-second dance party.”

I, of course, had no idea that she was referencing a Grey’s Anatomy clip, which you can watch here if you’re curious. Basically, a surgeon manages to do a difficult repair, and before she takes the final steps toward finishing the surgery, she makes her dumbstruck interns join her in a “30-second dance party.” I think I would be kind of mad if a surgeon were to do that while I was lying wide open on an operating table, but that’s not the point.

Like most people, I don’t take a lot of time to celebrate the small victories I accomplish on the way to my larger ones. There’s always something else I feel like I could be improving; a new task to work on. I stitched the heart, now time to close the chest and move on to the next surgery. No time to waste being proud of myself when I was just doing my job, right? I ate dinner today, big deal, everyone eats dinner. Why should I be proud of that?

I always enter the new year with a list of resolutions I want to tackle, and the list is always too long. More often than not, it gets me into trouble. I get discouraged when I’m unsuccessful, or I get so focused on one goal that I forget about all the other important things in my life. Balance is hard for me, and it’s hard to achieve balance when you’re never satisfied with the way things are.

So this year I have just one resolution, and it is this: have more 30-second dance parties. I want to celebrate when I do something I’m proud of, even if it’s for a short amount of time. I want to say, “You know what? It was really hard to let myself enjoy that piece of pumpkin pie, but I did, so I’m awesome.” I want to stop sometimes and look around at my apartment and be proud that a person who wasn’t allowed to flush her own toilet in October of 2012 cooks and cleans for herself in October of 2013. For 30 seconds, I don’t want to be thinking about all the ways I could still be a better person. For 30 seconds, I just want to see that I already am one.

Bring it on, 2014. My dance moves are ready.



  1. I was just thinking about you today, Gwen. Weird.

    I have a lot if these same issues with balancing things, expectations being set too high for myself, and could use some dance parties of my own. I think I’ll keep my goals simple, too. I’m ready with some dance moves, gurl. Let’s get down with our bad selves, shall we?

    Happy New Year! Xo

  2. Shake your grove thang, Gwen. 30 seconds at a time. Just remember you’re doing the best you can do. You can’t always be successful and failing isn’t the end of the world. Each failure is just one step closer to success.

  3. Loved this post! I know how it is…feeling that whatever accomplishments achieved wasn’t a big deal! But my problem is not only that I’m thinking of all the ways I could have done it better BUT that the other person’s accomplishment was a bigger deal than mine!

    I love the 30 second dance party! I could do that! So thank you for being so awesome because you decided to share this with us! (that’s a 30 second dance party..right there) 😉

    Have a wonderful New Years Gwen 🙂

  4. Gwen, one thing you accomplished in 2013 was to wow me and lots of other people with your writing. Also, I’m trying to cut my list down to one or two things this year, so I don’t set myself up for failure. We’ll see how that goes.

  5. Yes your friend was right when she said ‘you know Gwen give yourself a break and have a thirty seconds party for what you’ve accomplished’. It seems you’re finally going to do it. Congratulations!

  6. This is a great idea! I can totally relate. It’s so easy to be hard on ourselves and just keep going because we’re too involved to see the progress we’ve made. Thanks for sharing! I’ll be grooving/celebrating to “Dance Dance Dance” By the Chili Peppers.

  7. Hello!

    I recently started reading your blog and this post of yours really made me think. I especially get focused on what my life could be like or the things I can do to make it better. I am extremely future oriented. This makes me constantly forget to appreciate what I currently have in the present as well as all the gains I have made in the future. I am always thinking of the big picture and half the time do not think at all about what smaller things I have accomplished. A few years ago I abolished the whole idea of new years resolutions. Instead I now just have a master list of things I would like to accomplish. I work on them when I can while still trying to appreciate what I have now. It’s a struggle sometimes but I think everyone could benefit from more 30 second dance parties 🙂

    1. That sounds like a really good system. After all, we should always be working for what we want, not just on the days when everyone decides to change their lives! But I agree, sometimes it’s hard to celebrate things when you’re always looking at the future. Here’s to 30-second dance parties all year long!

  8. I absolutely agree with you! I sometimes struggle with being proud of myself and celebrating, too. This’ll be the year of 30 second dance parties! 😀
    Also, Happy New Year!

  9. We have to learn to celebrate the small victories as well as the large ones. Everyone wants to celebrate the large ones, because it is usually a routine stopping time. But every day we can find something positive to add to our queue to help us weather our bad spots. Of course I have several more New Year’s celebrations under my belt than you, so I have learned this through practical experience.

  10. First off, happy New Year my dear friend! Also, I had to smile at this post because my lovely roommate and I started 30 second dance parties last year late one night. And it a lovely time and I’ve never heard anyone else talk about it. it’s incredible to just give yourself 30 seconds to dance it out. Dance away lovely. Dance away…and don’t forget to leave room for the Holy Spirit ;).

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