Tag Archives: challenges with New Year’s resolutions

It’s a New Year. Time to Get My House in Order.

2014-12-24 18.12.51I sort of mean this literally, and if you could see my house right now you’d think: yes! Please get your living conditions under control, woman! But I mostly mean it figuratively. For me, getting my house in order this year means getting a handle on some things that I struggled with in 2014.  Many of my friends have posted inspiring resolutions on their Facebook pages about how 2015 is going to be their year.  This is the year to travel the world, start that dream business, get back into phenomenal shape, rebuild important relationships, get the most out of life!

Unlike my publicly ambitious friends, I didn’t post anything definitive about my goals, but that’s because I’m kind of superstitious.  It seems like as soon as I put my plans on paper or make a verbal admission of intent, something goes terribly wrong.  It’s better if I let the wind carry me along and present spontaneous opportunities.  It probably makes me seem a little shifty and unreliable, but it’s a system that works for me.  So this year, I decided to be stealthy in my resolutions, take the time to reflect carefully on exactly what I want to improve before going crazy with promises of self refinement.  But here’s the thing — whether or not we like to admit it, whether we like to make resolutions or keep things loose, we all start a new year with expectations of what the future holds and what we might be capable of with our many talents and shortcomings.

"Let's spend Christmas and New Year's thi...

A Navy quarantine poster from World War II  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being a partial Type A person, I of course had expectations for Christmas and New Year’s, and as usual, my expectations failed miserably in the face of what I felt was God’s rather morbid sense of humor. The plan was that after Christmas we would pack the car and drive out to Kansas City to stay with my sister and brother-in-law for a few days.  The guys would spend some time hunting in South Dakota and be back for the New Year’s Eve party that my sister was preparing.  We would also squeeze in a belated birthday party for my husband, complete with homemade cake and splendid gifts.

I imagined days filled with craft projects, refreshing walks in the country, shopping trips in the Kansas City suburbs, and cooking adventures with my daughters and sister while the menfolk were away.  We would stay up late watching movies, cuddling on the over-sized couches in our cozy pajamas, eating big bowls of popcorn.   It would be so wonderful, and such a special way for our whole family to recharge before diving back into the chaotic routine that would come with a new year!  Best of all, my husband would  search through the house for me at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve to give me a romantic kiss and set the tone for our new year together!  Well, nothing happened as planned.  My husband and I did manage a New Year’s kiss, but how romantic can a kiss be when you are planting a smacker on your husband while holding an ice cream bucket for a puking child who has caught the stomach flu just in time for the disco ball drop?

We spent a hellish week between Christmas and New Year’s fighting off a horrible intestine churning virus.  It was like a horror movie; every night at bedtime we huddled under the covers wondering who would be next.  When we heard footsteps rushing down the hall and the bathroom door slamming shut in the middle of the night, we knew.  We knew.  The virus picked us off one by one — first my brother-in-law, then my husband, then me, and finally my daughters on New Year’s Eve.  My husband and I, still recovering from the virus ourselves, were up all night, each nursing a very sick, miserable child.  So instead of imbibing on delicious food and drink and squeezing in last minute celebrations with loved ones, I spent my final week of 2014 obsessively swabbing down the communal bathroom with Clorox wipes, running to the grocery store for Saltines and Pedialyte, sanitizing record breaking amounts of barfy laundry, and keeping a careful tally of the dwindling toilet paper supply.  By New Year’s Day, I was a sobbing mess.  Thus my plans for a glittering entrance into 2015 were ruined.  I didn’t triumphantly stride so much as limp pathetically into the new year — battered and exhausted.

My wiped out family needed a vacation from our Christmas Vacation after what we had been through!  The whole experience left me muttering to myself, “Man, I just can’t catch a break!”  But, after putting my hurt feelings aside for the moment, I managed to focus on the real issue.  My house has been out of order for some time, and I want to straighten it out.  I’d like to improve certain aspects of my life in the coming year.  And now, with nothing but my priorities laid out in front of me, I have a simple question to ask: what do I really want to accomplish?  Getting my house in order involves more than just having every thing organized neat and tidy, put away where it belongs.  It means changing my attitude, gaining a more positive outlook, building relationships, and developing better habits that will ultimately lead to the goals I want to achieve.  Sure, things like mini-epidemic viruses will change my short-term plans and temporarily slow me down, but if I allow such obstacles to prevent me from living a happy life, then there is no one to blame but myself.

So, I have now made my relatively simple, but very important resolutions for 2015 and kept them close to my heart.  It could take longer than expected to get my house in order, but I will follow the wind and learn as I go.

Happy New Year!

~G

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Being Resolute

Are your New Year's resolutions leaving you dog tired?
Are your New Year’s resolutions leaving you feeling dog tired already?

A new year brings the promise of a new life, new possibilities, and of course, the siren song of resolutions.  Even when we know they can be unrealistic, problematic, and sometimes ill-timed, nonetheless it is hard to resist making New Year’s resolutions.  I for one haven’t had much luck with mine in the past, usually jumping ship by mid-February due to impatience, injury, illness, or lack of funding and sponsorship.  Past resolutions have always been kind of self-centered, like trying to lose weight that has been creeping up on me.  Or a bit ambitious (paying off credit card debt and a car loan, and selling my husband’s truck, all before summer vacation!), leaving me to wonder if maybe this year I need to scale back and think differently about my goals.

As rough and woolly as 2013 was, I achieved my resolution to get our family out of debt and sell my husband’s truck to a really nice family.  I also finally accomplished the long anticipated goal of losing that  weight!  Don’t ask me how; I suspect that it might come back soon because I don’t exercise and I eat bacon and white rice all the time.  But hey, it counts for now!  The point is, my resolutions were accomplished not entirely under self imposed schedules, but after several series of circumstances had played out in my life.  This is why I think it is time for me to reconsider resolutions.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to self-improve, but maybe self improvement comes when we look at life from a different angle.

The definition of resolute is: “admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.”

Synonyms include: resolved, tenacious, firm, strong-willed, unshakable, spirited, brave, plucky, stalwart, courageous.  There are many more, but you get the idea!

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The Party Animal has left the building.

As noble as ‘being resolute’ sounds, the downside of a resolution is that sometimes no matter how resolute we try to be, we just don’t reach our goals.  For example, I spent more years than I care to count worrying about my weight and giving myself a pretty short deadline every year to lose that weight.  It never happened.  Finally, after I stopped making my weight the central theme of my life and turned my focus toward my overall health, I encountered the success I desired.  We can’t always force resolutions on ourselves and then make them happen the way we envision; sometimes the journey of self-improvement takes longer than our predetermined itineraries.  As my husband always says “timing has everything to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”  We can’t rush what Providence has planned for us, and sometimes the journey involves much more adventure, patience, and self discovery than we originally had in mind.

What I am saying here is that despite your best efforts, plan on failing at some of your resolutions during life.  I know a few readers won’t like that statement, but more often than not, we don’t accomplish our resolutions the way we think that we will.  This is where we have to reexamine what being resolute really means to us as individuals.  Being resolute does help us accomplish goals, but we also have to be flexible enough to go with the flow, so to speak, when obstacles get in the way.  For years, I tried to train for whatever 5k race was coming up in the springtime…and ended up with shin splints and messed up knees.  I had to eventually adapt to something more practical for me…yoga and long relaxing walks.

This is not to say that I think we shouldn’t push ourselves and face new challenges.  The fact that I started a blog and began writing again after a decade of dormancy (another past New Year’s resolution) is evidence to myself that I can and should push myself to the limits.  And you should too; just don’t entirely give up if it seems like you aren’t attaining your goals.  It might just be that it isn’t quite time for the triumph yet.  Remember that you are on a journey, keep trying, and be flexible.

With that in mind, my New Year’s Resolution for 2014 is to be here.  By being here, I mean not being preoccupied with what I think I should be doing, what goals I should be setting and accomplishing, but to be in the here and now, with my family, my friends, the people who depend on me, taking my journey one day at a time.  I can be resolute in my journey knowing that I am learning as I go.  If I do it right, everything else will fall into place.  If I don’t, everything else will still fall into place.

Wishing you a Happy and Blessed 2014

— G

Special thanks to Ross the Dog for being my model and not running away to hide when I put the Happy New Year headband on him.  He did roll his eyes at me and sigh like an annoyed teenager though.