Even before boxing day hit, I noticed it had taken a spot in the repertory of small talk. By the time I was healthy enough to go back to work, it had replaced our unseasonably sunny weather as a topic in the office kitchen. I couldn't escape it, so here's my take on the tradition of the new year's resolution. I no longer do them.
Past experience has taught me that if I fail to live up to my list of 'shoulds & musts', I feel like a complete failure as a human being, am inundated with guilt feelings for not having made a good enough effort (or any effort), and wonder why I thought I could do it in the first place. Why inflict this misery on myself when there are other, more experienced people who'd happily do it for me?
Plus, resolutions have become too competitive. No matter how thoughtfully crafted & heartfelt, there comes a moment in every resolution comparison when one of the comparees realizes the other person has raised the bar in some way; perhaps they've resolved to do more humanitarian actions (volunteering, raising money for a cause, donating a kidney) or otherwise set loftier goals (arranging for a heritage building to get a facelift vs arranging to get one themselves).
There's even reverse competitiveness. The one that made me shake my head went something like this: Person A asked B what they'd resolved. B shared. B asked A about her resolutions, to which A airily responded, "well now that I'm a ___ I know what's important and no longer see the point in superficial, self-aggrandizing exercises". Yes, that IS a direct quote. I'm not filling in the blank though, as that portion of the population would probably cry foul.
So, no resolutions for me. And according to my extremely informal poll of 20 or so people, I'm not the only one. 50% don't set resolutions, and of that group, 20% dread any discussion about it. In their experience, it's considered rude to refuse to explain your reasons for not making them, but not rude to demand to know the reasons. Who knew?
Having said that though, I do have a list to share. These aren't resolutions; they take little effort and no resolve in the dictionary sense. They are simply things I've done before, and will continue to do because they work for me. If they work for you, or there's one or three you'd add, GREAT! I'd love to hear about them.
1/ Make more stew. Years ago, when I needed a break from my deadly dull but terribly expensive university textbooks, I'd read anything I could get my hands on just so I could give my brain a break. That's how I came across my first Urban Peasant book, and fell in love with James Barber. Then I started watching the cooking show, and fell madly in love. I will forever hold in my heart his rhapsodizing on stews, especially how no evil person has ever made a good stew. Years later, I can safely say that a stew made with love and care can help melt away a bad day, gentle a broken heart, and restore a little calm to a person who's just been in a fender-bender. I consider it a spell that needs performing often.
2/ Meander. Now that the solstice is past the days ARE getting longer, and as I've mentioned before, Vancouver's West End is great for the wanderer. If you aren't sure where to start, try here and here. I've quietly admired both these websites for some time now, and am partial to the lovingly done photos of the heritage homes in the latter.
3/ Wallow. I'm a huge fan of the fireplace/blanket/good book/hot tea/warm-cat-on-lap experience. Yes, I probably ought to be exercising, building my career, saving a whale or otherwise protecting the planet, but sometimes I just need to be kind to me.
4/ Nap. We live in a sleep-deprived society. I take this deprivation personally, and combat it by napping with the kitties, preferably in a sunbeam. You can't think the world is completely bad when you hear the gentle rasp of a cat snore. Say the purring lulled you, or the sleep-inducing compound in their fur did it.
5/ Soak. Preferably in a tub full of bubbles, but plain hot water will do. I'm flexible about these things. Extras, like a good book, chocolate, your favorite cold bevy, scented candles & rubber duckies are all welcome.
And if you're part of the 50% that did set a resolution? Well, I find I have more energy and motivation to get on with things after indulging. Maybe you will too.