Old Practices For A New Year

I have something to say about resolutions.

You know what I’ll say, too. It’s not anything groundbreaking and it isn’t a novel idea. It’s just that there are such ridiculous expectations from making them that I end up detesting the very notion of making New Year’s Resolutions. They’re old, they’re tired, and they’re cliche.

I want to lose weight.

I want to make more money.

I want to give more to charity. (This comes up last minute at the end of every year due to tax deductions.)

Those are the top three I’ve heard over the course of my lifetime. People want their luck to chance and to find . It’s self-imposed pressure that sets us up for failure and, even in the making of them, we can’t stop thinking of the impending doom or crushing depression that comes with not meeting the expectations we set. Now, Life Lists, in my opinion, are entirely different than resolutions. They set out specific goals that beat out things like “I want to lose weight” because that nebulous just hovers out there in space with no definitive means to the end of “losing weight”. Who needs vague and undefined resolve like that? I say this as a person who did lose weight this year and the commitment to do that merely came after one of those moments where you see a photo of yourself and ask, “Do I really look like that? When did that happen?” It also came, for me, in the middle of the year and no where near New Year’s Eve during all that talk of making resolutions.

I’ve been vocal about losing 30 pounds and did it through strict diet, but after a while I needed an even clearer, more precise goal of getting my body the way I want. Since I love working out  and sweating, it was time to hit the gym. Since they built one directly across the street from my subdivision, I pretty much had no choice. The guilt of driving by it as I was stuffing a cheeseburger into my mouth from behind the wheel is an image I couldn’t get out of my head so I told myself I wouldn’t drive by it unless I had a plan to return to it and get in some exercise.

But my Life List was more specific than the resolve to lose weight after I saw that picture of myself. My Life List contained things like “learn how to snorkel” and “visit Belize” where I was certain to have to undress enough to show more skin than I was used to showing. All those things I mentioned take time and there are processes that have to be honored if one can expect to see results financially or physically or emotionally.

What I like instead, then, is the idea of taking each day or hour or moment to reassess life and make an immediate, if small, change.

Sometime last year I began a process with my live-in boyfriend, The Cuban, of making weekly promises to one another. The best thing I’ve learned about relationships is that they take work. (Who knew, right?) The problem isn’t the “work” it takes but the lack of motivation or positive outcomes that come along with it. My needs are vocalized as are his, but we got stuck in a cycle when we stopped paying attention when the other one was paying attention. Taking turns didn’t really work out for us.

For instance, I need touch. I like physical touch and the way I feel appreciated and loved is in the small brushing of my hair out of my face or a kiss on my neck when it’s unexpected. The Cuban listened to that and did it but then I stopped responding to it and didn’t tell him how much I loved it. So, naturally, he backed off. Then I complained and we got stuck in a cycle that pushed us further back from what we really wanted out of a relationship.

When we came up with the weekly lists they started out being funny at times. For example, he put “I will…always grab your butt when we kiss.” Truth be told, that wasn’t so much funny except when our kids or friends read the list. We keep it prominently displayed on our refrigerator so that we see it at least three times a day if not more. The kitchen is the heart of our home and a place in the open-floor plan of our house that makes it impossible to miss. Every Saturday the other person writes the I Will, You Will list and it’s become something of a surprise to see that he’s written one before I even wake up or that he goes to the refrigerator to make lunch and I have sneakily posted mine on the door.

That’s one of my favorite things to witness when he notices it, reads it while standing there, and smiles at the recent promises.

Recent weekly promises are better for us than resolutions. Resolutions are once a year, but promises happen every week reminding us that we have an obligation to always better ourselves.. Day in, day out these are what keep on going and motivate us to really be in this.

He makes me smile every day. Resolutions won’t make that change, but promising to be the best version of myself will help our relationship.

Happy new year to you and yours.

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