New Year, New Resolve

Happy 2012! It’s a New Year, and you know what that means: Resolution Time!

Why is the New Year Resolution so cliche? You know why: because no one ever keeps them. We think them up, toast to them, write them down, often just to prove to ourselves or others that we’re trying. But really we’re “trying” the way my 3-year-old “tries” to comply with my request to clean up her room: with her eyes closed, her feet in cement shoes and without using her hands.

Our mistake is not in making resolutions; I think making resolutions is a great idea – we all have things we can and should work to improve and most of the time that is not going to happen in spite of us. Our mistake is in thinking that all we have to do is declare a resolution and it will come true, like making a wish while rubbing a magic lamp. There is no magic lamp. There’s you, there’s me, and if we are going to make a resolution come true, we have to be prepared to resolve on it more than once a year. If our resolutions are going to succeed, we’re going to have to re-resolve them every month, every week, every day, maybe even every hour or minute, and at the very least every time we slip up a little and pass on an opportunity to choose our resolution.

Because it is our choice. Whether we want to be more active or waste fewer hours on facebook or create something or give more to others or love our kids better or be happier… it’s our choice.

Excuses are abundant.

Circumstances are out of our control.

People are out of our control.

Distractions are constant and support may be sparse.

And it’s still our choice.

Earlier in 2011 I decided that I should not be letting a schedule overloaded with work, kids, house, church, etc, etc be an excuse for not taking excellent care of myself. I decided it was worthwhile for all involved if I took enough time away from all the other demands in order to fit in some sort of exercise every day.

That decision had absolutely no immediate results. Toddlers are not actually concerned with how their parents take care of themselves, it turns out. Responsibilities at work don’t magically lessen, dishes and laundry don’t clean themselves, and no one even volunteered to be our Family Chef for a year. Go figure.

But after I re-decided this a few more times, I had to admit that every minute of every day wasn’t exactly spoken for. I choose how I spend a fair amount of my time, and all I really had to do was cut out 30 minutes of TV, and I suddenly had 30 minutes to run. But don’t we all “deserve” and “require” our TV down-time? Actually, no. Since I cut out that little bit of TV time, I just kept cutting TV time, and now I watch very nearly zero. (The only show I watched at all this season was Community, because it’s genius, and if they manage to cancel that then I’ll have no reason to turn on the TV at all.) And it turns out that I don’t miss the TV time or the shows or the characters. And I absolutely love not feeling obligated to catch the next episode in order to find out what happens in the pretend lives of pretend people that don’t effect me in any way.

Today was the last day of 2011. This afternoon I put on my running shoes even though my stomach was feeling a little unsettled and there were dishes in the sink and dinner wasn’t started. I popped out the door even though my toddler was protesting loudly enough to be heard well into the next block. I put in my run, and half an hour later I came back to my little man sitting on the floor working on a puzzle with his sisters and dad. Dinner still happened, the dishes got done (well, some of them, at least) and I felt better.

Some days I love running and some days I don’t. But it’s not a resolution anymore, it’s nearly a habit, and that I truly enjoy.

It’s time for a little resolve, you know, your game face. You have it in you. If you choose, and God willing, when it gets to be this time 2012 and we’re saying goodbye to another year, you’ll leave better, and leave happier.

~ Amber


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