Resolutions make me sweat. They’ve always felt like reprimands for things I didn’t quite get to the year before – lose weight, call my parents more, stop yelling at the kids so much, be nicer to husband, don’t let that Queen Bee mom at the school get under your skin. We all have room for improvement.
Making these sorts of promises doesn’t work for me. I’m not good at stopping or starting a behavior or habit on a dime or a dare. I end up blowing off, forgetting and just plain failing to fulfill a lot of my so-called resolutions. No more. This year I’m trying something different. Instead of resolutions, I’m going with reminders. I’m thinking of them as soft taps on the shoulder, sweet whispers in the ear: “Hey, don’t forget to…”
Forty-four years, 13 anniversaries and three kids later, my life still isn’t perfect (I know, right? I can’t believe it either), but it doesn’t need rebooting, restructuring or redecorating. It’s a beautiful, crazy, maddening project underway that’s been, well, a bit neglected. Like a toddler after 10 minutes of playing blocks by herself, it would like a little one-on-one attention now please.
So, in the spirit of tender loving care, I’ve made a list of reminders – not resolutions – for 2014:
- Say “yes” more. Whether it’s to more dessert, sex with my husband or a friend offering to take my kids for the afternoon, I need to stop over thinking it and just say yes. As long as it doesn’t do any real harm, what’s the point of saying no? I could go into a lengthy analysis of why it is I say no a lot (thank you therapy!), but I’ll spare you. Let’s just say I’m willing to give yes more time on the field. (See #2 for exceptions).
- Say “no” more. It’s okay to decline the invitation for coffee or the “opportunity” to volunteer. It’s okay to let the cell go to voicemail, ignore the non-urgent emails and texts. I manage to fill up my days with the needs and schedules of a lot of other people. I need to make room for me. Just thinking about the time and brain-space possibilities makes me two-glasses-of-wine giddy.
- Stop getting in my own way. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve convinced myself that I can’t or shouldn’t do something or that the idea that seemed so brilliant two hours ago is really ridiculous. So what if it is? What’s the worst that can happen? They say that people who take risks are happier than those who don’t. Sign me up.
- Read more. This does not include quick and dirty hits on TMZ or BuzzFeed. This does include novels, essays and articles, even ones in real-live print! Runaway Bunny and Where the Wild Things Are don’t officially count, but since there’s no foreseeable end to story time in my house in the near future, they’ll have to remain in the line up.
- Write more. I’d like to have a daily practice, but I’m not ready for that kind of commitment. What I’d really like to do is make more time for writing and be okay doing it just because I love it. I often abandon the messy stuff because I’m hung up on producing something utterly publishable and ultimately saleable. I still want to achieve those things with my writing, but they don’t have to be the priority.
- Do nothing. Not to be confused with being lazy, doing nothing is an art that takes skill and patience (at least that’s what I’ve heard). I want to let my mind wander or buzz with possibility or go completely and utterly blank. I know doing nothing is culturally unacceptable, but screw that. Once I master #2, I’ll have plenty of time to do nothing.
- Be kind to myself. Stop berating myself, both silently and out loud, when I misplace the keys/forget to sign a permission slip/gain a pound. My girls are little sponges, sopping up everything they see and hear me do. I want to be the right kind of role model, show them how to love and forgive themselves, but first I have to practice being easier on myself.
- Keep it simple. Whether it’s dinner or a family outing, why make it more complicated than it has to be? If everyone else is fine with a walk around the neighborhood and omelets for dinner, I can be too.
- Act like a kid. I often sit on the sidelines watching my kids have fun. They cartwheel, leap around, shake their booties, hula-hoop, paint with abandon, sing at the top of their lungs – all just for the sheer joy of it and without any self-censorship. Lately, there’s been a voice in my head urging me to dive right in with them. I’m all ears.
- Stop worrying and smell the roses. You know how some people are glass-half-full-there’s-a-silver-lining-look-on-the-bright-side people? I’m not one of those people. I’m not depressed or morose and I do smile quite a bit, but at the same time, I worry a lot, carefully prepping for life’s what-ifs. Thing is, I feel like I’m missing out on the awesomeness right in front of me. I want to pay more attention to that.
- Pat myself on the back. I don’t have to accomplish the domestic equivalent of world peace. I don’t even have to cross off everything on my to-do list. What I need to do is notice what it is I am accomplishing rather than what I’m not. Some days it’s as simple as having made the bed or making it to pick up on time. Other days I’ve held the hand of a grieving friend or landed a sweet freelance job. Acknowledge the daily “yay me” moment.
- Appreciate. There are so many opportunities to make good on this one if I could just tame my monkey brain. Linger longer in the brilliant, tiny moments – Lilah saying “I love you” for no reason, the itty bitty buds on the hibernating hydrangea, a good cup of coffee – and look up and out at the huge gorgeousness all around me. Take a minute to listen for the “om” in the everyday, feel grateful, say thank you, breathe deeply, celebrate.