Another Chance

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Here it is another January 1, another new year on the calendar, another chance. Each January 1, we all make resolutions regarding our behavior. It’s almost instinctual; even if we swear we’re not going to get caught up in the hype, it seems that we all stand up a little straighter, square our shoulders and try something new … for at least a few days.

I’ve never been much for resolutions. I’m a project gal. I’ve never needed to quit smoking, drinking, junk food, or anything similar. I have, however, vowed to complete items off my life list: in 1992, I vowed I would complete my law school applications for matriculation in the fall of 1993; in 1998, I vowed I would take the steps necessary toward getting a job in a large law firm so that I could pay off my law school loans and be free to do whatever type of work I wanted.

Over the years, the tasks I’ve appointed for myself have included re-reading lists of classic literature (because that’s how we nerdy bookworm types roll), learning how to use new computer software, learning how make jewelry. One year I decided I wanted to learn to knit, but the year concluded with me halfway through the front of a rather complex cable sweater which I still have not completed … 20 years later. One particularly memorable year included me determining that I would learn to belly dance. My sister and I took the class together, and she was a natural. Me, not so much, and I threw out my back trying to get my hips to move just right. It was hopeless, and all I achieved was the certain knowledge that Shakira was right: hips don’t lie. I am not belly dancing material.

This year I decided to approach January 1 with a little different attitude. One of the loveliest things I learned during 2013 was that happiness truly can be a choice.  I have struggled with depression for several years, yet in 2013 I chose to be happy and thankful, and despite all the painful things that fell upon me during the year, I was still able to maintain some sense of happiness. I found myself feeling a tiny bit better, and the fog of sadness lifted.  I chose happiness and found that happiness reflecting back at me from most of the people around me.

So instead of making resolutions, once again I have a list.

At the last minute, Ernie Hemingway and I decided to scrap our plans for our New Year’s Eve. We met up at a favorite restaurant of ours, The Capital Grille, originally just for a cocktail before we headed off to find some dinner and First Night activities. However, as I arrived about thirty minutes before him, I stood in the bar having a glass of wine – a divine glass of Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon.  As luck would have it, two seats opened up, so I sat as he was arriving and we decided to eat at the bar. The food was sensational. The company was lively and engaging. The Stoli Doli martinis were marvelous. As Ernie was driving, he only had one drink, but I was free to imbibe, and he just kept ordering them. I was reminded of the Friday nights before I was pregnant with our son and before he was born, when Ernie and I would go for dinner at the bar and talk for hours.

We headed home so that Ernie could join me in our midnight toast, and proceeded to talk about our plans, our hopes, our dreams. We talked through midnight, neither of us noticing until well past the hour. Snuggled up chatting, the more we talked about our plans to make 2014 a great year for our household, the more determined and excited we became. And hence this list was born.

1. I will be kind to myself. I will give myself a break and not expect perfection all the time. I am a perfectionist, but I’ve realized that what stresses me out more than striving for perfection is failing. As a human, I will fail, so I’m not going to sweat it.

2. We decided jointly to clean our space of clutter. Clutter stresses me greatly, makes me feel claustrophobic and as if my chest is locked in a vise. I can’t find things, and that stresses me more, which stresses him more. We are both at fault, so we will declutter together. And I will hope that our example shows The Boy that cleaning up and having your space organized can be a reward in itself.

3. I will allow myself time for exercise, even if it’s just 15 minutes on the elliptical machine in the basement or a walk out to the main road. I feel better when I move, and my head is always clearer. It’s as if my brain is a freeway with a traffic jam of thoughts, and exercise is the extra lane added to ease the volume so things can start flowing again.

4. I will yell less. Several weeks ago I had an epiphany over a bag of leftover Halloween candy: my anger frightens my child. At that moment, I determined that I would follow the example of a wonderful blogger, The Orange Rhino, to stop yelling. I made it 37 days before the holiday craziness began, and to my chagrin, I was not able to maintain it. So I will begin again. I would like to say I will never yell again, but that’s aiming for perfection, and as you may recall from the first thing on my list above, striving for perfection and failing stresses me out, so I’m going to be gentle with myself and simply try my best every day to be the best mother I can be.

5. I will be more adventurous. I will be more amenable to new experiences, and not so hung up on safety and comfort that I forget how to live life. I will be more willing to take chances, and I’m going to start with this blog. I took a huge chance last year when I began writing here, and I have been richly rewarded, and for that I am extraordinarily thankful. It’s a wonderful template to show me how taking chances and being adventurous can be rewarding.

6. I will be more spontaneous. It’s hard when you have a small child who thrives on schedules and consistency, but it gets easier as he gets older. I want The Boy to recognize that spontaneity has its place as a valuable part of a fulfilling life, and the best way to do that is lead by example.

That’s my plan for 2014. All that plus my editorial calendar schedule should give me plenty to write about. Now I need to go find the Tylenol and drink some water before I go to bed. This headache needs to be gone in the morning as we in the Northeast are expecting to get walloped by snow tomorrow and Friday, and I simply cannot operate the snowblower with a headache.

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