I sit cozy under the lovely English wool blanket I got at Stonehenge last year sipping English Breakfast tea in a Japanese style tea cup I bought from the artist at last year's American Made show, and I cast my gaze to the year to come. As so often happens at this time of the year I reevaluate my activities, routines, pursuits and passions, and I think of how I might tweak them for an even better year. We call this "New Year's Resolutions".
I'm sure someone has drawn a lovely graph with time on the bottom and emotions marching up the left showing how one goes from euphoric steadfast resoluteness, to anxiety at the thought of trying to live up to this monumental list, to harried just-keeping-up-with-it-all, to guilt at missing one instance of whatever but vowing not to let it bring you down, to complete and utter disgust at the time and energy wasted on resolving to change because you end up worse off than when you started! For me that cycle usually takes January through March.
As I write this post I'm having a bit of déja vu. I suppose it's not surprising that I would have railed at the urge to make (and inevitably fail at) New Year's Resolutions sometime in the last ten years of blogging. But as I don't seem able to keep myself from making them, I'll go on writing and share a couple of ways I am hoping to be more successful this year.
Start Small and Expand. Okay, (many) other (smarter) people have surely thought of this one, but it has never been in my nature to commit to do something at less than 100% so it's a new concept for me. What's not new to me is evaluating my physical state (who doesn't after the extreme gluttony of the holidays?) and deciding I need to make some changes. In the past I would join a gym, sign up for classes, plan to work out 3-5 days a week for 30-60 minutes a day and poop out within the first month. This year I am going to set a goal of working out one day a week for 30 minutes. I can do more if I feel like it once I'm at it, but 30 minutes on the elliptical once a week is enough to meet my initial goal. (I still have an LA Fitness membership that I signed up for over a year ago and haven't used since May.) My hope is that by March instead of doing nothing, I'll at least still be doing one day and maybe even have expanded to two.
Screw the Babylonians. What, who? According to the BBC, the Babylonians are probably responsible for dividing the month into weeks--the one time period not derived from the movement of a celestial body. Apparently Babylonians were all about the number seven (based on the seven heavenly bodies of the sun, mars, the moon, mercury, venus, jupiter, and saturn) and thought rituals--like resolutions--should be performed every seven days. The Japanese and the Chinese thought so too. Well I think seven is a very stressful number. It's very hard to try to squeeze a whole bunch of things into seven days and trying to repeat it is just asking for a nervous breakdown. Making things rituals or routines based on seven days has NEVER worked for me. Instead, my resolutions are mostly going to be project and seasonally driven--not regular and routine.
Project time is a better way to look at time for me. How many days does a project I resolve to do need? Days, unlike weeks, are not arbitrary. They are filled with the rhythms of eating and doing and sleeping, and even with the insomnia I've been having lately I am still physically grounded in the timing of a day as I need a certain number of hours of sleep in one, so I can only accomplish so much other stuff. If I'm smart, I can lay out a year's worth of projects and be happy and feel like I've accomplished them even as I swap one for another and let some go by the wayside.
Don't make too many resolutions. Oh well. I won't succeed at this one as there are always so many things I want to do and the thought of not being able to do them sometime in the next year is unbearable because a year seems so long and the next one so far away. That's my inner child talking. A year used to be so long it was incomprehensible: I couldn't hold the concept of it in my mind. Now I blink and a week is over (what happened to this sacred break week which every year promises a great long space of time to do things and is now over with nothing done?). I sneeze and it's the next month. But in the same way I couldn't grasp the enormity of a year as a child, I can't quite equate the brevity of a year with my adult reality, so instead I resolve to make a list of things I want to accomplish now, to revisit it often throughout the year, and to make changes as appropriate. I resolve to be F-L-E-X-I-B-L-E. Maybe I should have titled this post "Elastigirl"...