At first, it just felt like a crazy new year. It took me awhile to realize it is something else, too.

Demi pointe: supporting your body on the balls of your feet with your heels raised. I’ve had to do a lot of them lately, not to improve my relevé, but to relieve the cramps in my calves that come on when too much tension builds On January 20th, after twenty of them, this came to me: I need to work harder at embracing the personal as well as the political differences of others 

The same thought came flooding in again not at our local Women’s March but after, at a Women’s Spa north of the city. “We deserve it!” my friend cried. I didn’t feel it was my place to object.

Watching three Korean women work hard at scrubbing our bodies made it easier to promise myself to work harder, too. As warm buckets of water are thrown on a myriad of female shapes, sizes, and colors, I think how different we are but, really, much more alike. I still think that’s how a good democracy adds up. And this vision, so comforting, is what I relied on to guide me through my 2017 mental list of relationships-I-need-to-accept-as-they-are and not where-I-think-they-should-be:

I accept my friend’s decision to take Prozac instead of leaving the job she hates. Am I insensitive? No. I’ve been bolstering my old college roommate’s confidence since we were 18. I’ve never told her, but she is the only whiner I could ever tolerate.

I accept that my friend, rather than leave her husband who has cheated, oh, I’ve lost count how many times, has joined his fundamentalist church. Last time I made us dinner, she scooped up a plate of food “in service” before we sat to eat. That’s really what she said. I won’t forget it anytime soon, if ever. Let me make this clear: the food was for her husband who wasn’t present. When she asked me to attend her baptism, I said, “No thank you, but next time he cheats, I’ll be here for you.” It was dicey on my part, but I detected more than a little relief on hers. Maybe I’ll be struck down for saying so, but you can only imagine the big fat liar her husband is.

When my 42-year-old friend who smokes pot every day says, “I’m not addicted,” I don’t shake my head for the hundredth time. Though her lungs are deceiving her not: she huffs and puffs like an old woman.

When a friend says she thinks Trump is a good man who’s been given a bad rap, I avoid the conversation-that-could-end-our-friendship. It may be just the sort of conversation our country needs more of but, frankly, I’ve lost my stomach for it.

I said nothing to my neighbor who won’t recycle because, he said, “it doesn’t help anything.” It sounded like he said it as though he liked saying it but might not really believe it, but, still, zip.

I can’t say that I’ll always remain silent when an opposing viewpoint feels like a slap across the face, but I plan on getting better at it.

And maybe it’s time to work harder at spending more time with people who make me laugh, too. Because I love feeling ... not happy, but better than happy: involved with positive people while doing the work I love. When a friend, hesitant to invite me to her wedding, prefaced by saying “I know you are insanely busy,” I responded, “no, I’m sanely busy. I do what I love.”

Fortunately, I’ve always had a fierce work ethic; this little voice inside that won’t give up.

And so, I’ve decided that 2017 is going to be a huge lesson in embracing diversity after all!

MARY LOU SANELLI is a poet, speaker and author of nonfiction. Her collection of essays, “A Woman Writing,” is available from Aequitas Books. She can be reached at www.marylousanelli.com