January 4, 2010

Maybe It's Me: The Ten Resolutions, or, Man vs. Himself

I understand that some people see certain holidays as moments to do what we were too delinquent to do the rest of the year.

I agree with that attitude towards some of our “holidays,” like Valentine’s Day, for example. Which is the worst day of the year to me. As if we’re a shallow enough people that we designate one day of the year to “celebrate” love. It’s predictable and commercial and abundantly thoughtless. None of which screams romance to me. If you love someone you should be glorifying that love daily, after all . . .

New Years, however, is a “holiday” I’m strangely a fan of.

To me, there is something wonderfully symbolic and charming about having an entire year laid out ahead of me like a beautiful empty canvas or an infinite amount of negative space in which, as cliché as it is, for one brief moment, I actually feel like I’m in control of. There are no triumphs or defeats, no mistakes or heartaches or memories, nothing yet to distort or define the course of another year of life lived.

Resolutions are a large part of the appeal of New Years to me. New Years is an opportunity to reflect upon annual self-improvement and discovery; an opportunity to commit or recommit positive change in our habits or to a specific part of our lifestyle.

I know, I know! Statistically, most people don’t keep their resolutions.

But I’m not most people.

When I was seven Santa Claus wrote me a letter at Christmas to inform me that both he and Mrs. Claus were unimpressed with my messy room. Horrified that I had upset the lovely couple to the North, my New Year’s Resolution that year was to keep my room clean. Come February, I was the only second grader who had stuck to their resolution.

Decades later and that’s a resolution I never broke.

If I can keep that one going strong all these years, than I’m practically an unstoppable force!

Right?

I think that if you’re going to make a pact to yourself to change for the better, than you need to stick with it, regardless if you’re seven or seventy. Goals are important to set for ourselves, they help us grow as people and keep our hearts and minds focused on the meaningful things to us and in life.

The past few years have been incredibly important to my character. I’ve seen high highs and low lows, the borders of my being have been stretched out to capacity, but it’s all been for the best (even the worst moments of it all). My resolutions, as a result, have been mostly simple, things to help me stay focused on what’s important to me.

This year is special though. It’s 2010! And I have a feeling that big things are in the works for me. As a result of that suspicion, I’ve decided to go big with my resolutions. It’s time to step-up the desire I have of constant self-discovery and appreciate; and also to push the boundaries of my ability to expand as a person. So, for this year, I thought I would make Ten Resolutions, to correspond with this New Year and the start of a new decade, and keep progress of them.

So, the 2010 Ten Resolutions are . . .


1. Go somewhere I’ve Never Gone – One of the two resolutions I’ve actually practiced for the past few years. It’s simple enough – to travel to a place, no matter how big or small, I’d never explored before. This resolution is simple and usually ends up taking care of itself within the first quarter of the year. It’s an easy goal to achieve (and sometimes setting simple and achievable goals can do wonders to our confidence).

2. Try Something I’ve Never Tried – The second resolution, and it really ties in well with the first. Doesn’t matter if its food or an experience, this is all about doing something I’ve never done before. Again, it’s a relatively easy resolution to stick to, as it has a way of being a non-stressful and fun goal to achieve through the year. Over the course of the past few years this has applied to everything from the first time I tried sushi to playing my first open mic night.

3. Read More than I Read Last Year - A resolution I had last year was to “read more.” Which wasn’t specifically defined, it was what it was, just to read more. And in comparison to years before, where reading – something I’d always loved – became a chore and not something I actively made time for – I did well. I read twenty-four books. So, for this year, the goal is to read more than twenty-four books.

4. Read the Bible in a Year – I’ve read the Bible cover to cover three times now. I haven’t in a few years (tried to an failed epically towards the middle of the Old Testament when the pages are filled with endless measurements), and thought I would give it a go again this year. It’s good for my heart and soul to be dedicated to something like this. I’ve been kinder in the years where I kept to this resolution; and more self-centered in the years where I didn’t. Coincidence? I think not.

5. 365 Project – A 365 Project is a daily photo journal from one year of your life. A lot of photographers who did this choose a theme, or a thing, or an idea and take a picture every day. I'm no photographer, but I am in artist in my own right, and was completely inspired by the idea. So, I decided to do my own 365 Project. For this year, I'm going to take a picture of me at dinner every night. I know this seems odd, but I thought it would be a GREAT reflection of my life over the course of one year. Who I ate with, what I ate, where I ate, etc. How many times was I alone? Who did I eat with in January that I had stopped talking to by December? Did I travel? Did I try a new food (which ties in with Resolution #2)? I think it's going to be an amazing social-commentary of an American twenty-something's dinner rituals.

6. Write Every Day – I’m a writer who doesn’t write much. This is bad news for my heart and head. Writers, in order to stay sane, I think, need that outlet. So, in attempt to stay rooted to my art, I’m going to write every single day and post the word count.

7. Stop swearing as much – This may seem trivial, but I swear like a sailor. The original goal was to stop swearing altogether, but I don’t think that this is feasible. Anyway, most of my friends think my potty mouth is hysterical (if you saw a travel-sized freckled girl dropping the “M.F.” swear you’d laugh, too, I promise), I think it’s disgusting. I don’t care if other people swear, but, gosh darn it, I’m a writer (see Resolution #6). I know there are much better words out there to be used to express myself. And if there aren’t, well, then, I’ll resort to awkward silences or frightening facial expressions.

8. Read All the Kids Books in my Library – I have a slew of wonderful children’s books in my library, most of which haven’t been read in decades (they’ve just moved from house to apartment to apartment over the past few years). It’s time to read these books. There are remarkably profound things in children’s books that adults could stand to learn a lesson or two from.

9. Volunteer – I made this resolution last year and it didn’t work out in my favor. I think volunteering our time is an incredibly important thing to do. Those of us who have, those of us who can, should be giving back in some form or another.  It's really as simple as that.

10. Be a Woman of Action – I think a lot. I think a lot of us think a lot. But we don’t do. We don’t actively do the things we’re thinking. And, I feel like by not acting on these thoughts I’m having, I’m losing the opportunity to live. I’m overanalyzing everything far too much and as a result am missing out on simple joys borne of emotion bubbling over.

Maybe it’s me, and maybe I’m crazy, but I truly believe we all need a good self-inflicted challenge once in a while, even if it’s something as simple as a slew of silly resolutions. Some of the greatest stories of our time were man vs. himself, after all.

Besides, it's like being the good guy and the bad guy at the same exact time!  Who will win?!  Will Steff come out triumphant over the evil schemeing . . . Steff?  Or will . . . Steff defeat our fearless heroine . . . Steff.

Stay tuned.

"Oh great intentions, I've got the best of interventions . . ."