I never know in advance what I’m going to write about from week to week. Usually something has to strike me on a deep, emotional level for me to care enough to want to impose my thoughts on “the world.” Some weeks the ideas jump at me from the front pages. Other weeks topics are sparked by a casual conversation. And some weeks, my idea bank is empty and I have to go trolling for topics.
Such was the case this week. My brain has been on overdrive with holiday promo events, plus working at my day job…not to mention all the Christmas frenzy faced by any modern American wife and mother. To put it lightly, I’m even more exhausted than usual, and as I contemplated the thought of Monday morning and the needs of my weekly blog, the reality that I had no topic in mind loomed larger than ever in the back of my mind.
I mentioned my dilemma at dinner with my family the other night, and as always, my older son wasn’t shy with his advice.
“It’s simple,” he said, as if it really were, “you’re heading into the new year. You have to write about New Year’s resolutions.”
I aborted an eye roll and stifled the huff of frustration building in my chest, merely saying (or whining), “I hate New Year’s resolutions!”
All three of my men threw up their hands and said, nearly in one voice, “That’s your topic!”
Really?, I thought to myself. Writing about what I hate to write? But the more I thought about it, the more I realized they might be on to something. I can’t be the only person in the world who turns a blind eye to the yearly rush to make lists of must-do self-improvement/fulfillment goals.
This could go back to my overall reluctance with goal-planning (see earlier blog for background). But I think it’s deeper than that with me. I think it goes back to a general mindset I adopted long ago of keeping expectations in check. I was never one of those kids to dream big. I focused more on making it through each day, as painlessly—and as far under the radar—as possible. I learned early in life that if you don’t have big dreams, you don’t have big disappointments. Resolutions weren’t things I made, they were things I avoided.
So far not making yearly resolutions has worked out okay for me, and I’ve apparently lucked into a pretty nice life. I’ve been blessed with a sister who’s been a lifelong best friend, a loving and supporting husband (whom I’ve been with since age 19!), two sons who amaze me daily with their abilities (and I can’t wait to watch them as they continue to grow and mature), and close and wonderful friends who have stood by me to endure life’s trials and celebrate life’s joys.
So from my perspective, there’s no need to make an annual list of self-imposed rules, no “resolutions” that will somehow make my life better.
Even the word “resolve” implies a strength of purpose that fails me, drains me of energy. I resolve to….to what? I haven’t a clue. When I try to complete the sentence, negatives tumble out. I resolve to not eat that extra cookie after dinner. I resolve to not fritter away my time looking for on-line bargains. I resolve to not lose my temper when confronted with lousy drivers on the roadway who are keeping me from getting home after a long day of work.
I know, I know. I need to turn those negatives around, make them positives. But even (or especially) flipped, they feel like punishments. Like…
- I resolve to choose healthy foods. (Ugh. That sounds pretentious and dull, and will probably taste the same.)
- I resolve to limit my on-line time. (What? I don’t deserve some fun?)
- I resolve to swallow that annoyance and patiently sit in a duck line of traffic while the drivers in front of me are too busy blabbing on their cell phones to pay attention to the fact that the light has turned green….
Aaahhh! It’s too much, I can’t do it. I can’t make that list of must-do chores or tasks (see, negative again!) that are supposed to somehow guide me through the coming year with purpose and meaning.
Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not saying I’ll live irresponsibly. I’m not saying I won’t make any plans or goals. And I’m certainly not saying I won’t dream of the future and hopeful successes. But what I am saying is that I don’t need a yearly list to live a life of purpose and meaning. I’ll take my one-day-at-a-time approach. I’ll try to field whatever curve-balls come my way with grace and compassion for others. I’ll try to view each day as a blessing from God, and I’ll try to wisely and generously use those gifts God has given me.
Now those are resolutions I can stand by.
So my hope for each of you is that, whether you make detailed resolutions or fly by the seat of your pants each day, you’ll find a path to peace and happiness in 2012. I hope you’ll find your trials easily overcome and your dreams within reach. Most of all, I hope you’ll be ringing in the new year surrounded by love and laughter.
Happy New Year, everyone!