Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I am resolute about No New Year’s Resolutions

Anyone who knows me understands that I hate New Year’s Resolutions. Why should I allow this ONE DAY to be the time when I MUST make changes in my life, my beliefs and/or my actions? What an angst-causing, pressure-filled cauldron that is! Talk about a set up for failure! Maybe on January 1st I’m not ready to go on a diet. Promising myself that I will quit procrastinating and will work on my contemporary romance novel for four hours, minimum, every day starting on January 1st may not be a challenge that I wish to tackle on that auspicious date.

After all, I have a book, The House of Comprehension, for ELA middle school teachers coming out the beginning of March. Although I am done with manuscript revisions, I am sure that I could be marketing, or doing something for it…anything that will keep me from dredging my brain for witty repartee for my characters. After six months of non-stop writing and revising, my creativity, like Elvis, has left the building, my idea-rich fat lady has sung and Ms. Witty has hitched a ride on the Brain Train’s last car out of my Imaginarium.

Knowing myself as I do, the creativity bug probably won’t bite until 2:32AM on March 19th when, once again, on the morning of the 20th, I will mentally kick myself for not crawling out of my dream and stumbling to my office to add that great, but now forgotten, dialogue to Chapter Eight that had awakened me. The Diet Dictator probably won’t convince me of my eating decadences until 3:16PM on June 2nd when I really, really want to bake that to die for Chocolate Peanut Butter cake chock full of sugar, fat and calories (and incredible yumminess).

My point is, I won’t make a change that will endure until I am 100% ready to make the commitment. That might be on New Year’s Day, or, then again, maybe not. It has always rankled me no end that some ancient Babylonian philosopher/pundit (who some say is responsible for the resolution tradition) decided that everyone must be ready to commit to life changes on January 1st each and every year. Hmmm, no thank you; not for me, Philosopher Baby.

Until June 2011, my new year always began in September, anyway: First as a student, then as a teacher, next when my oldest child turned five, and then after my youngest started first grade, and, finally, as a teacher once again. Each and every one of those Septembers sang of promises I made to myself as a student, a wife, a mother and a teacher. My inner clock still seems more inclined to make personal commitments the beginning of September. This year, for instance, 9/1 was the day I smoked my last Virginia
Slim, a promise I had made to myself and had been gearing up for since June 27th. Quitting has never been so easy. My guess? I was resolved to make the committment.

For me, January 1st has been only a part of a much needed winter respite, not a day set for new beginnings, even now, a year and a half into my retirement. This New Year, I chose to find some words of wisdom to guide me though the next twelve months. Maybe a few will become resolutions to last me the rest of my life, not just for the next 365 days. My plan is to choose whichever one will reignite my usually positive outlook when I am huddled under my sadness cloak, the one that fell on my shoulders on September 30, 2012 when my incredible mother passed away at age 95. Also, I will choose one (or two) as my mantra when I am lost in a miasma of negativity due to self-inflicted moodiness that is bolstered by the thoughtless and insensitive actions and words of people I know personally, or those whom I encounter through daily life, the news and other outlets. This quote list will energize me on days when my procrastination monster is threatening to send me into my Scarlett O'Hara, "I'll think about this tomorrow," mindset.

These quotes aren’t listed in any order of importance, but are culled from those word gems that have made an emotional impression on me throughout my years and years of loving the written word. For me, they are all personal because they speak to the times that I need to “Screw {my} your courage to the sticking place,” as Lady Macbeth told her angst-filled husband. Maybe one or two of them will add meaning to 2013 for you, too.

1. The place where you made your stand never mattered. Only that you were there... and still on your feet. ~Stephen King

2. Anger is an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured. ~Mark Twain

3. Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat. ~F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. The most effective way to do it, is to do it. ~Toni Cade Bambara

5. We are what we believe we are. ~C.S. Lewis

6. Boldness be my friend. ~William Shakespeare

7. Everyone ought to bear patiently the results of his own conduct. ~William Shakespeare

8. Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough. ~Emily Dickenson

9. Man, when you lose your laugh you lose your footing. ~Ken Kesey

10. Remember if people talk behind your back, it only means you're two steps ahead! ~Fannie Flagg

11. We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be. ~Jane Austin

12. Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn't matter to me. Going to bed at night saying we've done something wonderful, that's what matters to me. ~Steve Jobs

So here is my New Year’s Day advice to my readers: Resolve to commit to changes when you are mentally, emotionally and physically ready to confront your personal Achilles' heels, not because of a high school or family reunion, a trip to the Caribbean, advice from a relative, or a date on a calendar. Let the day of your choice become your personal Resolution Day.

Whatever you decide, may 2013 bring you good health, joy, love, laughter and satisfaction in all that you endeavor.


PS. Start the year with an engaging lesson: Dynamite Resolutions for the New Year. Spark your students' analytic thinking skills after the long break with this terrific activity where they create resolutions that characters from their readings would make. After they do that, the students analyze why this is a good pledge for each person.

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