We all know the drill. Or at least, I do. I make these stupendous new year’s resolutions the week before the clock chimes 12 on the 31st, and I’m struggling to even remember what it is I promised myself to do by mid February. Ish.
The idealism sets in around Christmas time when you’re in the warm embrace of Michael Bublé crooning that he’ll be home for Christmas, peaks when it’s an hour before midnight on New Year’s Eve and you’re almost feverish with a burning desire to get your 26″ waistline back next year WITHOUT RESORTING TO SAUSAGE-STUFFING SHAPEWEAR… and then grows sorta desperate when you’ve entered the first week of January and you haven’t finalised your list.
Or that’s me, anyway.
Tony regards New Year Resolutions with a bit of an eyeroll and a yawn. I am much more starry-eyed about it. There’s something about (thirty) second chances that I’m an absolute sucker for. Something about the lifelong desire for personal improvement. Something about a clean slate, a fresh canvas, and innocence reborn.
In terms of resolution-making, I’ve tried a variety of forms and tactics.
I’ve done the vanilla Listing Method, where you go “1. Go to the gym more regularly. 2. Take up baking.”
I’ve done the General Zen Self Improvement ones, like “Listen more. Do less. Eat healthy. Champion underdogs. Seek purity.”
I’ve made long lists. I’ve made short, manageable ones. One year, I made just one resolution for the whole year, which I half kept because I went to the gym twice a week for half a year before the irony of getting takeaway dinners after gym classes set in and stuck. I even made a New Year’s Theme, which isn’t so much a resolution as a mantra or motto one keeps for the year ahead. Mei Ann, who first put the idea in my head, had chosen something like Carpe Diem. I went with Cool Bananas – something I had my work team chant to me whenever I found myself near losing my stack because of idiocy.
I’ve read the articles that bang on about why New Resolutions Don’t Work. Hasn’t fazed me yet. Because ultimately, I’m an idealist. And I love lists. And I love new beginnings. And I never want to stop trying.
So here’s to trying.
Velle’s New Year Resolutions 2013
The following list is more “thematic”, ala the Cool Bananas of 2008 (see above). It’s the 3 rules I want to remember for the year, because I want to be able to apply them to situations I encounter frequently.
Be my own mum
I find myself comparing our family to everyone else’s constantly. A part of it is benchmarking, but most of it is due to insecurity. I’ve always been competitive, but since I became a mother, the competitive streak has grown a mile wide, taken over my cerebral cortex, and now mentally karate-chops every other kid and mother I encounter whose way of living differs to mine. It is a horrible disease.
It also swings the other way. I question my parenting constantly. I know it’s healthy to evaluate what we’re doing as parents, and to seek God and others to plug the holes. But my gut is telling me that I veer towards grabbing a whole bunch of “parent molds” in an effort to stuff our little family in them.
Fact: I am a new parent. But I’ve also been me a lot longer than I’ve been a parent. So I should probably stick to what I know best.
Fact: Arddun is a little individual with a growing personality that is All Hers. She will struggle with certain temptations, and yet sail through others. Comparing her to other kids who are better/less behaved in any given scenario just isn’t fair to her OR to me.
Fact: There will always be other parents (and non-parents!) who will judge me, Arddun, and Tony. They will do the comparisons, they will whisper behind our backs, they may approve or disapprove. I cannot change any of that, but lugging my family along to appease someone else’s Golden Standard is both impractical and ridiculous.
We need to set our own bars according to the gifts, character traits and resources made available to us.
I need to stop trying to grow the perfect kid on the off-chance that someone might award me a gold star for good parenting. Even if that gold star comes from the people I love and whose good opinion I desire greatly.
And I need to grow thicker skin.
Live in the moment
How many times have I been “playing” with Arddun while mentally listing things I “ought to” be doing at that moment? How many times have I depended on her to play quietly while I rushed around with housework and tomorrow’s worries and tonight’s writing assignment? How many times has Tony talked to me about something important to him while my mind has drifted on to Saturday’s church potluck?
This resolution isn’t about turning into a helicopter parent and filling Arddun’s every waking moment with All of My Quality Time. But it is about being wholly present in each moment – heart, body, soul. I am so much more distracted and distractible now as a parent than I’ve ever been. My mind is like dandelion sometimes- 18,000 different directions as soon as the wind picks up, even though the body is present and still.
I want to remember that I’m not a child-minder – I’m a parent. And I’m not a housemate – I’m a wife. It’s time to live each moment more purposefully and give the people in them the respect they deserve.
It’s time to get grounded.
The glass is half full
I used to be such an optimist. It came with the territory of being a ditzy arts student, seemingly unencumbered by something as weighty as facts and realism. I am, of course, being slightly facetious when I say this. But that’s my problem right there.
I don’t know how I’ve allowed this part of me to change, but I think I’ve lost this optimism. This ability to look at the world Sunny Side Up. This quickness to give others the benefit of the doubt. This courage to emote daringly. To look for the laugh. To brave the weather with a smile and some sass. To walk in and add sunshine to a room.
I’ve blamed lots of things over the years. A church that has traditionally frowned upon emotions as something of an inferior worship to an intellectual discourse on God our Father. Hurtful accusations of leading with my heart and being emotional, as if this part of my femininity is something weak to be suppressed or cured from. An emphasis overall on analytical skills over instinct, on quantitative over qualitative. Pessimism couched as realism. Optimism couched as the product of a fanciful, childish mind.
But the truth is, I’ve allowed myself to become cynical. And cynicism comes from a hardness of the heart.
And so here’s to softening it again, and to considering others as better than myself. Here’s to living joyfully, to embracing my Inner Dork, and to charging ahead like a child who knows she’s safe because her Father’s always watching.
Velle’s 2013 Goals
This bit reads like a linear list of New Year’s resolutions. But as they say with project management and strategy, the trick is to make things bite-sized and specific.
- Monday Meditation
Pray for half an hour on Mondays
- Weekday Devo
Read a short devotional on my iPhone on weekdays
- Write , Write, Write
Blog twice a week, write 4 magazine articles, write and finish a novella. This is probably the most difficult to achieve, I think.
- Attend 80% of Writer’s Club meetings
I’d stopped attending my writer’s club since I was pregnant with Arddun. Time to get back on the horse, get inspired, and work those muscles.
- Read 10 books
Have been talking about starting a book club for AGES. Finally time to get off my backside and make it happen.
What are your New Year Resolutions? Care to share?
2 January 2013 at 5:41 pm
I get so annoyed with myself when I make new year’s resolutions … coz I just never keep them!! BUT, after having been at camp, there are some things I DO want to put into practice this year, and with the help of my family, it WILL happen …
As a family:
Meditation … choosing 2 verses per week (to start with) and just spending short spurts thinking on the verse, then, over dinner, chat about our thoughts on the verse.
Prayer … I do so need to improve my prayer life. I want to spend time with the girls each day doing this … helping them to develop good ‘habits’ and helping me to get back into it … along with reading my Bible more regularly. I NEED to pick up my game here.
Every year I say I want to lose weight, and every year I fail … I wonder what will happen this year?!
2 January 2013 at 6:37 pm
Hahah! If you’ve noticed, I didn’t add a resolution this year about exercise! I think I’ve given up on that one myself. :(
Those resolutions are good ones! The verse idea is good. I had this thing for a while where I taped a memory verse to my shower door (on the outside looking in, so it doesn’t get wet!) and I managed to memorise these verses over the week. Unfortunately, that’s fallen on the wayside too.
TOTALLY hear you about needing to read the bible more regularly, too. Wonder if we can tee up somehow? Get an accountability thing going?
2 January 2013 at 7:56 pm
Sounds like a good idea, Velle. Will have a think on how to put it into action!!
2 January 2013 at 7:52 pm
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. – Judy Garland.
2 January 2013 at 7:52 pm
Ooohhh I liiike! Will keep that one somewhere I can see it!
3 January 2013 at 12:32 pm
well exercise is good for you no matter what… i’m a terrible eater and taco bell people pretty much know me by name… but even so the actual act of exercising is what matters… i know i always feel better when i do… so don’t get deterred just because you may still have other unhealthy habits… i’ve been meaning to get back to the gym… my big problem is i’m afraid to go alone… yeah i have issues…
I think the main problem with new year’s resolutions is the same problem with any decision to change your life… the moment a person slips they’re like look i messed up i should just give up… instead of getting back on the horse and pushing on… plus people tend to want to jump straight to big stuff… like the common one of losing weight… instead of starting small they want a big change right away… it’s better to make a step by step plan… and not just one big leap…
and as i’m saying all of this… i have never managed a single resolution and i suck at sticking to anything… i’m lazy though… but i love giving advice…
4 January 2013 at 7:58 am
Haha! I love giving advice too. It’s my one weakness. Okay, one of very many. :)
Totes hear you about aiming a little lower for resolutions. It’s nice to be able to exceed even one’s own expectations! I’ve taken to scheduling some of mine in my diary – with alarms and alerts and everything! A date with myself and my resolution. Hee!
4 January 2013 at 2:16 pm
I stopped making resolutions this year. Every year i would make a mental list and not putting it out there so I am not responsible for breaking them. Yes, denial. This year, however, I did not even make a mental list of resolutions. Maybe because I was focus on caring for a sick baby. In fact, I ushered in the new year with lessons that my baby has taught me. For one, she showed me that I can be a very patient person. Very patient. ONLY when it comes to her. :)
4 January 2013 at 6:07 pm
Oh dear! Hadn’t realised that Esme has been sick. Is it something viral or more severe? Hope she’s much better now!