There is something freeing about starting anew: wiping out past mistakes, and pressing reset to create a fresh beginning.  As a recovering perfectionist, the concept of flawless achievement is an enticing endeavour.  However, with the messy realities of life, the idea of perfection is truly an impossible pursuit.

My holidays, which are usually hectic, were even more chaotic this year.  Two days before Christmas, I got an urgent call from my father to visit my dying uncle in Barrie.  This was the first time I had even heard about my uncle’s condition. That night, I was working at the clinic much later than I usually do and instead of rushing home to my second job of ubering children and meal prepping, I knew I had to make every effort to drive to Barrie to say goodbye. My sister and I made it to the hospital just intime.  He passed away only a few hours after we said our goodbyes. The really hard stuff followed in the days after.

Growing up in an Asian household, there are Korean rituals of duty and obligation where there is a heavy burden to take care of each other, especially of those younger than you. Korean tradition demands community and family above self.  Observing my father grieve as he mourned the loss of his younger brother was a heart-breaking experience. Watching him struggle with many feelings of guilt and regret for all the ways he failed his little brother, and worse, all the ways he would never be able to show up differently again in this lifetime.

Throughout this emotional holiday, death gave me a chance to reflect on the precious gems and abundance of light that I have around me and deeper reflection on my own life and relationships. No matter how dark the night, light always follows.

Perhaps this coming year is not about striving for that unattainable goal, or even a dry January.  How about starting a new year that gives you the space to create more momentum of continued growth and transformation?

Goals are temporary, even if they are achieved. It only takes the next moment to undo the results. Take, for example, the athletic weekend warrior, who trains for one race and then stops running after the event, or the dieter that aims for that magical number on the scale and only when reached will allow herself to indulge again.  This is the well-known yo-yo effect of deprivation and self-punishment – a series of momentary goals and an ever-fleeting pursuit.

Hormone, brain, heart, liver and bone health are not “healthy” after a 7-day detox, they require continuous cultivation of care and maintenance.  Over the years, I have adapted my approach when working with my patients to really listen and hear what they want. This helps me to encourage and support a sustainable wholistic process of caring for themselves and surrender unrealistic goals.

Perfectionism, abundance of choices, and too much information at our fingertips,  makes decision-making challenging, especially for someone like myself  (I am an avid researcher who desires making the “perfect” decision).  I am working on re-programming my persceptive on mistakes as the cost of learning (a.k.a. the tuition of life), which is helping me to overcome my “over-analysis-paralysis” issue.  Over the holidays, I was caught up in booking a hotel for my family to have a night-away from Toronto before they head back to school.  My husband who makes much faster decisions than I, helped me pull the trigger by simply saying to me “Mary, just pick. We aren’t buying the place”. The idea of non-permanence helped me to stop deliberating and click on the book now button.

It’s cliche to think that we should live each day as if it was our last, because most people would likely select indulgence and hedonistic behaviours in our remaining hours.  If we knew when our time was coming to a close would be keep attempting to pay down the mortgage or engage in healthy liver practices. It’s so easy to get caught up with the automated mantra of “I failed. What’s next”? or even feel paralyzed in contemplation with no action at all, for fear of failure. The only known absolute we know is death.  For me, my uncle’s passing was a very timely reminder to appreciate the process of life and attempt to live without regret.

The past few years my New Year’s intention has been about action. It still is. What helps me action my ideas, dreams and wellness is I look to my future self to help me make my decision today and ask: “will I regret my decision if I do not take action now”?  (YOLO = you only live once).  I am learning to feel comfortable with the growing pains of embracing failure or that right can be fluid and ever-changing or even, that my right is not everyone’s right.  Fall in love with the process, build the habits, take care and maintain this beautiful body and life that you get to experience.  There is no pass or fail on healing. It’s all one continuous attempt.

I am grateful to work with such enlightened humans that want more from their lives who spend energy, time and resources to feel strong and vibrant.  Thank you for allowing me and all of us at Soma and Soul to be a part of your growth and healing.  And even more so, thank you for being a part of ours.

Wishing you a 2024 of continued healing and transformation.

New year, new better me.

With much love and kindness,

Mary Choi