FAMILY Blog: A “Kinder Gentler” Resolution

I have to admit I’m a New Year’s resolution hater. Resolutions seem like a good idea – eat green, exercise, organize. All good, except no one wants to do those things. We go on an annual communal diet to cut back on all things good, and as with traditional diets, we suffer through them for a while and fail. I looked up the stats to see if I had it right and Google agrees: Diets work 5 percent of the time, and resolutions succeed at a dismal 8 percent rate.

Hater that I am, I end up making resolutions anyway. The back of my mind just can’t help wondering what it could do with the blank, unsullied page the New Year offers. Maybe it’s the writer in me – a blank page means a masterpiece awaits. Turning the calendar page, we see nothing but opportunity staring back at us – the great blank page of 2015 beckoning us to be betterfasterstronger than we were in 2014.

As much as we want a blank page to re-make us, it’s not that simple – just ask the 92 percent whose resolutions remain unresolved. We have to go through unfortunate first (and second and third) drafts before we succeed – which requires more than a day’s effort.

I used to go to a gym (pre-kids, if I even have to clarify). I dreaded going from January to March when the gym would fill up with all the resolutionary exercisers, and I’d have to wait my turn for equipment. Come end of March, it’d be back to us, the old timers, with unfettered access to our machines and classes. Once the new exercisers missed a few workouts they never came back. When we say we break a resolution, we really mean it.

I don’t wish ill on resolution makers. Really. I want to see us all accomplish our goals – we just need to find a way to make these resolutions work for us.

I don’t need the New Year to remind me that I SHOULD be betterstrongerfaster. Whose idea was it to make New Year’s a holiday that celebrates the “shoulds”? I think in terms of “shoulds” pretty much 24/7/365. So I’ve decided that since, in spite of myself, I make them every year, my resolutions need to be of the kindergentler variety.

My kindergentler resolution idea came from a reread of Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Gilbert comes to understand that her suffering creates “inconveniences” for her loved ones. Isn’t that true for any of us? If we have our smile on, we’re so much easier to be around. Gilbert concludes that taking care of ourselves, specifically making ourselves happy, is the least selfish thing we can do.  

Selfish – to be or not to be – is a tough nut for us parents. So many of us are all about the kids, which leaves us sloppy and ripe for resolutions because we haven’t paid attention to ourselves for _____ years (enter age of your oldest child here). I haven’t been back to the gym in almost 16 years.

That said, I don’t want to go to the gym. That’s an old school resolution. What if I resolve to make changes that could make me happier – and less inconvenient for my family? If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy…

It’s actually going to be harder than it looks. After years of chasing the kids’ needs/wants, my happy to-dos are barely definable. Maybe my first resolution is to figure out what happy even means to me. That’s the kind of resolution we need a holiday to celebrate. After the spate of holiday joy that has left us tired, broke and chubby, we’re in no condition to pull it all together in a January 1 instant. We need the whole year – all that blank page opportunity — to get our ships shaped.

If you decide to go with an old school resolution for tradition’s sake, be the 8 percent! If kindergentler speaks to you, feel free to do a gym drive-by and have a sit at Starbucks. Sip a nice hot beverage and let yourself contemplate, well, yourself.

Whatever resolution position you take, I wish you all a Happy New Year. Literally.

Cynda Zurfluh

Special Projects Editor

[email protected]

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