Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy New Year!

Today is the day when everyone you know will say things like, "2012 is going to be my year!" or "Great things are going to happen in 2012!" People will also make resolutions. In fact, the internet media is already full of articles on New Year's resolutions, how to make them, how to keep them, what should yours be, etc. America is a nation of optimistic self-helpers. We love the idea of improvement.

I don't do New Year's resolutions. It's not that I'm really a pessimist. I actually consider myself to be an optimist at heart... but I'm also a realist. An optimistic realist. It's a difficult position to hold, but I'm hanging on. I know I will make all kinds of starry eyed promises to myself in the bosom of the holiday spirit, and I know that I will not manage to keep up with them for 365 whole days, and then come December 2012 I will feel bad about it. But why should I? It's an unrealistic expectation, in my opinion. I can promise to do anything for a short amount of time or until I hit a manageable goal - I lost my baby weight after Kate was born, after all - but I can't do everything right all the time.

I already know that I am doing my best. Not every minute, not even every day, but that IS the best I can do. I don't have any egregious habits like gambling away the milk money or binging and purging, so I shouldn't have to sit here and flagellate myself every January 1 with all my failings and regrets. This kid is all right.

So here's a list of things I will NOT promise to do for myself this year, 2012:

* I will not run a marathon.
I don't run unless something is chasing me. If I need to go somewhere 26 miles away, I will drive there or take the train.

* I will not start a fad diet.
I have an anthropology degree and even I don't really care how humans ate in the paleolithic period. They didn't have toaster ovens and immersion blenders, so what did they know?

* I will not read 50 books this year.
I love to read - LOVE to read - but I won't read this many books this year. Goals like this take all the fun out it. I'll linger if I feel like it, thank you.

* I will not learn a foreign language.
Who has the time? Who has someone to speak another language with? Plus, I already did this. Check.

* I will not join a gym.
Please. Give me a break.

* I will not rededicate myself to my marriage.
I'm already as dedicated as it gets. He's not getting rid of me anytime soon, so let's not get all schmaltzy about it.

* I will not have more "me time."
Let's be honest. I have an almost 3 and almost 5 year old. There's no me time. Check back in 15 years. That was in the contract all along - read the fine print.

* I will not "enjoy life more" or "focus on my blessings."
I'm actually fairly good at quietly doing this on a regular basis (see that optimistic realist part above), but I think it's just one of those things about life as a human being - we get bogged down in the day-to-day challenges and don't have time for philosophizing about joy. To beat yourself up about it just seems like a catch-22. Plus, those people who are always going on about their blessings and their passion for life and honoring their spirit are really obnoxious!

And that is what is really wonderful about these holidays at the end of the year - they give us a ritualized opportunity to stop fretting about bills and deadlines for a moment and meditate for a moment on joy and blessings and family and friends and love. To appreciate what we do have and what we have already accomplished. I've just decided I'm going to leave it there and not try to improve on it.

Call me a cynic, call me Andy Rooney if you like, but I predict that my 2012 is going to be quite a bit like last year. I'll do some stuff and I won't do some stuff, and I'll try not to regret it. It will be mostly great, a little frustrating, and a sprinkling of every other emotion in between. That's just how I like it.


  1. So true! Always enjoy your writing Amanda. Seriously, I think you should write a daily column, but of course don't make a resolution to do that! Cheers to you, Michael, Maggie and Kate for a healthy and happy 2012!
    Lots of love, Mom and Dad


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