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I feel a lot of pressure when someone asks about my New Year's resolutions. Kind of like that goal-setting exercise to write a personal mission statement. Honestly? A sentence or two to define my raison d'etre? For real?? That's a lot of pressure. I feel the same way about resolutions. A few all-encompassing pronouncements summing up my goals from this year forward? Sure, I made some. How long do you have?

Every year for the past who-knows-how-many years, I resolved to quit smoking and quit swearing. Pretty standard. Never stuck with either one. So I quit smoking two months ago and have now decided in the grand scheme of things swearing isn't that bad. I mean if I don't swear at people, call people bad names, etc. It can be very empowering to scream, "FUCK," once in awhile. If you haven't tried, I highly recommend giving it a whirl.

So to make any meaningful resolutions, I had to dig deeper, pull back the layers, and find something that really mattered. I try to improve myself on a daily basis, not just when a new year rolls around, but with any new endeavor, it's nice to start with a clean slate. So here we go:

This year, I am going to make a valiant effort to stop losing my temper. To stop screaming at people--kids, husband, other drivers--and animals. Just my own animals. I don't usually scream at other people's. I don't generally scream at other people's husbands or kids either, if that was unclear.

I plan to be more compassionate, to try to help someone every single day, and never to pass up an opportunity to say something kind. To kiss my kids and tell them I love them even more--sorry, kids (I all ready kiss them quite a bit)--and to make them feel special and cherished.

I resolve to read more and varied literature. To tackle the rest of those "100 books everyone should read before they die." Nietzsche is all ready making me consider abandoning this mind-broadening goal. And yes, Mr. Thoreau, I can feel you eyeballing me; it's only January 3.

This year I will try to understand my husband better. If there is a creature on this planet who is my polar opposite, I married him. I will try to look past the snoring that's keeping me awake and causing me to entertain abusive and homicidal thoughts to the kind and loving person, who after the 42nd time I've switched positions is alert enough to stop snoring and ask, "Are you okay, baby?" before resuming the snoring.

That bubbles over into another one: Try to empathize with everyone, not just the people who are like me. Of course, it's easy to be kind and understanding to people who are like us, but what about that woman screaming at or even spanking at her baby at Wal-mart? We've all judged her. People have even made her their Facebook status. This is getting easier for me to focus my awareness on, because God usually dishes me up practice scenarios when my empathy wanes. For instance, if I even entertain a judgmental thought about that woman, you can be sure on my next trip to Wal-Mart, Lily will have a meltdown in aisle 9. "Insta-Karma."

Karma, aside, this leads to the ever-present: Treat the people closest to me with the same kindness and compassion with which I try to treat strangers. Again, this seems like a no-brainer, but sometimes I am nicer to telemarketers than I am to my husband, who has called yet again when I was just getting in/out of the shower, walking in/out the door, putting that first bite of food in my mouth, etc. Home phone, cell phone, lather, rinse, repeat.

And so it goes. One thought leads to another and another and another and before I know it, I'm so busy resolving that I can barely live, which leads to one final resolution. Be mindful and present in each moment. Be aware and grateful of the beauty surrounding me. Get past being annoyed by another interruption and enjoy Lily's asking for regular Special K cereal for breakfast and calling it "the strawberry cereal without the strawberries."

So in this moment, I am completely focused and calm, reading Beyond Good and Evil and supremely grateful for this curly-headed whirling dervish, who is dancing in circles, throwing my hand weights, handing me various articles from her toy box that the cats peed on, asking when we're going to the mall, and yelling, "FLYING CHICKEN TO THE RESCUE!" Well, I haven't yelled or sworn yet, anyway.


  1. Fortunately, no one has asked if I've made resolutions. (Either they think I'm perfect, or they've given up on me, I'm not sure which.) ;-)

    With you on the swearing. Somebody's going to have to leave me a little release valve somewhere and I can't always go chop down a tree.

    Rod McKuen's "not to walk one more time past someone I can help," impressed me in high school, but I think I might have gotten carried away with that, or either needed a better perception of when help is really help. You help me every day, just by being you.

    I finally read Walden Pond either last year or the year before. I'm glad it is off my list of things to do, but I wasn't as impressed as I expected to be.

    If your reading buddy wasn't still on Chapter 2 of the book she suggested y'all read together, she might join you in your reading quest. ;-)

  2. I peed in Walden Pond. While swimming.


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