Decisions: 2012. (Nothing political, I’ve decided.)

January 3rd, 2012

Don’t look back the spirits cry
Just be glad to be alive
Everything that you need is right here
Everything that you need
–Mary Chapin Carpenter

Happy New Year. Out with the old, in the with new and all that. Should the Mayans have gotten it right, and this is the end of the world as we know it (obviously you’re singing REM by now), I plan to make 2012 a good one.

No resolutions for me, no siree. See, I’m a Language Geek, and I’m unhappy with the term “Resolution.” Aren’t Resolutions made to be broken?  Resolutions are just waiting to be discarded like last year’s Christmas cards. Sure, you’ll hang onto them for a month or so, revisiting them and trying to figure out a way to keep the really lovely ones available for perusal all the year through, but….by the end of January you’ll be thoroughly Christmas-ed out (dammit, still we’ve got pine needles on the floor? They’re worse than stink bugs or Easter grass!) and the cards will decorate the recycling bin. Resolutions are the same way: you begin the month energized, but by the last week of January you’re irritable and depressed that your overenthusiastic self had higher hopes for you than are actually attainable, so you scrounge around for full-sugar Coke and Cheetos and skip the gym.

You can deny these particular circumstances, but you can’t deny the overall scenario. Oh, I was born at night, but not last night.

No Resolutions. I’m going to make Decisions. The language might be a bit groovy, but the idea is this: I can decide to do, or not do, something new or better or healthy or edifying or erudite every day. I can choose to be a Good Example, a Paragon of Health, an Optimist, or Responsible every morning as I start the day. I can be resolute in my decisions, because I’ll make them every day. And make them again (or not) the next day.

I feel better already.

In 2012, I’m going to decide to do, say, or be lots of things. Here is a partial list. (It’s partial, because I’m a Decision-Maker-in-Progress. As are you, by the way.)

I will decide:

  • to keep my room and bathroom clean. It only took me 18 years of cohabitation to determine that my husband is not of the same “leave it where it lies” kind of mind as me. (I kept hoping he’d change, but as we all know: you can’t change a husband.) Therefore, I have decided to make a concerted effort to be tidy. I expect the same of my children, so fair is fair (at least in this case). I will make this decision every day.
  • to exercise better, and perhaps more. It’s clear to my dedicated Team of Fitness Professionals (yes, sadly — or happily, I suppose — it takes a team effort. I’m weak, but more in that moral turpitude kind of way. Physically I’m pretty damn strong, thanks so much.) What does” exercise better” mean? I think it means to arrive at the gym with a better attitude, in addition to cute tops that highlight my eyes and sneakers that are tied. Pretty fundamental (but don’t get crazy: I’m still not going to do walkouts, Luis). What does “more” mean? I’m not certain yet, but I suspect it might have more to do with getting to the gym on my own, as opposed to going only because I’ve paid for the privilege of meeting with the dedicated Team of Fitness professionals. I will make this decision at least four times a week, and perhaps five.
  • to take my vitamins. And Lipitor. And calcium. And the rest of the pharmacological display that takes up one drawer of my bathroom cabinet. I’m looking for a shiny coat and bright eyes. I think it’s there in that drawer somewhere. I will make this decision nightly.
  • to slow down. In all the ways that this can happen: in the car, while I’m reading, when I’m visiting with the children after school, when I’m on the phone. Life’s moving too fast. I don’t need to contribute to the speed of LIfe. I will make this decision every day.
  • to keep my kitchen tidy between 3:30 p.m. and 7 a.m. For some reason during the day, the kitchen looks lovely — hmmm, related to a lack of small people at home? — only to deteriorate into chaos by 4 p.m. It shouldn’t be that hard to keep everything under control, but to date I’ve not been able to do so. Several years ago I lurked around on a site by a woman named “FlyLady” (“ Your personal online coach to help you gain control of your house and home”), and her first suggestion to get a handle on things was to NEVER go to bed with a dirty sink. At the time, I thought “huh?” but now I get it. Ms. FlyLady said that there was little more joyful in life ( I paraphrase) than a sparkling clean sink in the morning. I agree. (There are few things more gross in life than that gunk stuck in the drain trap which requires cleaning at 6:30 a.m. Ick.) I’m going to make this decision every day around 3:30. And probably again around 4:30, and hourly until I go to bed and there’s no one around (read: me) to mess it up.
  • to be a better example for my children in a variety of ways. I talk The Talk a lot; I know that I walk The Walk also, but there are many moments when I can do better. For example, I might make the solid decision to refrain from (gasp) certain kinds of profanity. (I will reserve the right to use “Soft Cheeses!” or any other expressions that Phil uses on Modern Family, because they are both effective and funny.) I will choose to be a better example for them of the powerful action of philanthropy: what giving can do for others, what giving can do for your own self. It’s obvious there are a million little actions we take as parents (and I do mean the little actions — the ones that we do without thinking as a matter of course) that do, in fact, leave a shadow or an imprint that our children can pick up on: what they overhear on the phone, or read over my shoulder on my email (oh, how annoying is that?), or misinterpret when I talk to another adult. I will make this decision over and over and over again every day.
  • to choose joy. Sometimes I think that it is the Irish in me that’s programmed to wait for the other shoe to drop, or the ax to fall, or whatever cliché you’d prefer to communicate that sense of “this all can’t be so good right now….something’s got to mess it up.” I do believe strongly in instinct, as evidenced by my darling Doodle who must must MUST convey his excitement with the world by retrieving something. Anything. It’s just in his nature. And at the same time, I’d like to think I’m more highly evolved than my Doodle….while we’re both lovely ginger-colored creatures, I do have the ability to see the water bowl half full  (AND the ability to choose to leave the gloves in the glove bin rather than carry them into the kitchen [thus interfering with my earlier decision]). I can slow down, choose joy and revel in it. I will make this decision every day.
  • to give attention to only that which is worth my time. If all this connectivity between and among us has fostered anything, it has fostered a million-fold increase in the number of voices Out There who are at times whispering and shouting at us and at each other. For some reason, we seem to believe that we have a right to be heard by everyone we choose to send (whisper, yell, scream) our message to (at). And yes, I recognize the irony of this as I write on a blog entry that will be sent off into the ether to be read by, presumably, one or two others. But don’t you think there are voices, and then there are Voices? I don’t need to (nor do I want to) listen to everything that anyone wants to tell me. I listen to the few voices out there who have demonstrated that they are educated or funny (hopefully both), and who have messages (again, educational, funny, or both) grounded in a sense of integrity and morality. I will make this decision daily.
  • to head off The Blues before they settle in. If you get migraines, you’re often aware of the triggers. If you get heartburn, you can usually figure out what brought it on (buffalo wings? Good choice, not). If you get The Blues, you can often sense their impending arrival. From the Life is Too Short file, I will choose to head them off at the pass: put on loud music and dance, head out on a walk, drink 4,000 oz of water in an attempt to wash The Blues away. It is not fair to those whom I live with to allow The Blues to unpack and visit — we’ve got too much life to live. I will make this decision at the first sign of malaise — and hopefully this means only a few times a year.
  • to get my gall bladder out. It’s probably time to stop playing “Is this a heart attack or just my gall bladder acting up?” because I’m not able to choose the time or place of the game, and my Gall Bladder-y friend wants to play with increasing frequency. The game’s not fun (imagine that). Plus, I suspect that I’m wearing out my late-night welcome (well, cyber-welcome) from my own personal neighborhood physician, who is on the receiving end of “do you think I’m having a heart attack?” texts at 1 a.m. (And, just like when the smoke alarms beep only when I’m the only adult in the house, this gall bladder v. heart attack game seems to be best played when I’m the only over-21 in the house and in desperate need of codeine. Not ideal.) I will make this decision once, hopefully before June.
  • to say what I mean and mean what I say. I find this age that I’m at (ugh, bad sentence, sorry) to be a good one, in the sense that I’m finding it easier than ever to say what I want and mean it when I say it. Nope, I can’t go to that meeting. Yes, I do like that Andy Gibb song (a lot). No, we’re not free that night. I keep learning over and over and over that Life is Too Short. Too short to do things you don’t want to do, too short to be places you don’t want to be, to be in the presence of people or things that don’t make you feel whole or valued or sane. I’m not doing any of that anymore. I will make that decision every day, many times every day.
  • to keep the ugly stuff to myself. No, you’re not going to hear about my weight, or the disagreement I had with my husband (because we never disagree, duh!), or the rest of the dirty laundry of my life (literally and figuratively. I’ve done more laundry in these past couple of weeks than I’ve done in years. It’s just terrifying). In the Age of Khardashian, I choose discretion. (Join me, won’t you?) I will make this decision every time I decide to engage on a blog, on Facebook or (how refreshing) in person.

Got any decisions of your own you’d like to share? Happy 2012: here’s hoping the Mayans were wrong and just ran out of stone tablet space…

One more trip around the sun.

December 16th, 2011

Hear ’em singing Happy Birthday
Better think about the wish I made
This year gone by ain’t been a piece of cake
Every day’s a revolution
Pull it together and it comes undone
Just one more candle and a trip around the sun

I’m just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it’s good to know it’s out of my control
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go

No, you never see it coming
Always wind up wondering where it went
Only time will tell if it was time well spent
It’s another revelation
Celebrating what I should have done
With these souvenirs of my trip around the sun

I’m just hanging on while this old world keeps spinning
And it’s good to know it’s out of my control
If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from all this living
Is that it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go

Yes, I’ll make a resolution
That I’ll never make another one
Just enjoy this ride on my trip around the sun
Just enjoy this ride …
Until it’s done

[My favorite birthday song, written by Al Andersen and performed by Jimmy Buffet with Martina McBride.]

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