Resolutions are made to be broken, some say. Still, in my world, a fresh new calendar is inspiration for a few life do-overs. I, along with other resolution-makers, believe with all our hearts that in this next year we will live healthier, fuller lives -- if only we promise to. So with that in mind, here are 10 resolutions I'll be making. And if the shoe fits . . .
1) Exercise won't be my bugaboo any more.
Yes, I hate it. But I intellectually accept that it's good for me and I'll live longer if I do it in some form. A recent study from Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital and the National Cancer Institute, found that walking just 75 minutes a week briskly added 1.8 years of life expectancy after age 40. Walking briskly for 450 minutes buys you another 4.5 years. In Goldman Sachs' circles, they'd call that a good investment.
Me? I've always hated exercising, no matter how it's packaged. I have dropped out of pilates, spin, aerobics, water aerobics and one office hip-hop class. You won't catch me in a gym, but I do like being outside and even though I have greater success as a solo exerciser, I wouldn't mind a walking-hiking buddy. The dog makes too many unscheduled stops, so she can't be counted upon to deliver.
My resolution is to find a buddy. (Baby steps, people. This could take til Spring.)
2) An article of clothing can not deliver a new lifestyle, and I will stop acting like it can.
While I wouldn't call myself a compulsive shopper (at least as defined by Indiana University, which has studied the practice, I do sometimes shop for sport. I'm not drawn toward expensive purchases; my vice is limited to bargain-hunting and thrift stores are frequently the jungle where I hunt. The issue isn't that I'm spending oodles of money, but rather what I'm buying: Stuff I seriously don't need.
In my closet are two long gowns I bought to fuel the fantasy that someone might invite us to a fancy party. In addition to the fact that we don't actually know anyone who throws fancy parties, the practical me chose to leave them home when we went on a cruise which would have been an opportunity to wear them. Why? They took up too much room in the suitcase and I'm a carry-on-luggage-only traveler.
The irony here is this: I like my life the way it is and by and large, I spend it in jeans and comfortable shoes. In 2013, I pledge to refocus my recreational shopping to shopping for others. If the thrill comes from the score of a bargain, I'm resolving to make it a bargain that someone else actually needs. Now, does anyone need a long gown?
3) I will accept that cyberhate is the new love and just turn the other cheek.
I write online for a living. I write for the purpose of informing, entertaining, and provoking a discussion. I was a print writer for decades and never thought of myself as thin-skinned until I started to read online comments. Man, when did ugly get so ramped up?
Dr. Laura (probably the perfect person to tackle this phenomenon) says that those insulting comments are being posted by faceless bored people who should "get a life." I find myself agreeing with Dr. Laura for the first time ever.
I'm fine with readers disagreeing with my views, but I don't get the need to turn it personal and make it so mean-spirited. This site, like most others, doesn't require commenters to use their real name and it is the culture of the Internet to let the trolls spew venom at will. So basically, I'm stuck with it. I keep telling myself that everyone comes with baggage and on occasion is guilty of kicking the cat. Meow. My resolution is to ignore you.
4) Karma sometimes falls asleep on the job and I promise to try to wake it up.
In the past year, I've had a friend whose mother lost her mind to dementia, a friend who worked her whole life lose her home to foreclosure, and a friend who was financially and emotionally crushed by a health issue herself. All three women are smart, lovely, giving people who conducted their lives and their dealings with a generous heart and spirit. In all three cases, I was reminded that life has never been and likely will never be fair.
In a balanced universe, surely life's evils wouldn't fall on the heads of the good and the riches wind up in the hands of the undeserving. My resolution is to lend more than an ear, step up to help those who have been stepped upon, and approach each day with an attitude of gratitude because karma's evil twin could turn its sights on any of us at any time -- including me. Can't wait to hear from some of my cyberhaters on this one -- the ones I will now be ignoring.
5) I resolve to remember that adversity passes.
Some of us handle adversity better than others. Me? I dissolve into a basket case faster than a Ferrari hits 120. I blame menopause for some of it. We can't always control what happens to us but we can control how we react to it blah blah blah. Well, some of us can and some of us can't. If you can't, seek help.
Adversity does indeed pass. Until it does, "whines with wine" with a friend do serve a useful purpose. Find a shoulder to cry on and let it rip.
6) Stress is a killer and I'd rather not die, so I promise to manage it better.
A recent study published in the journal Annals of Behavioral Medicine showed how people who don't handle stress well are more prone to heart disease and death. Since I'm one of them, I intend to get serious about stress management.
I'm going to shelve my problems at least one day a week and just not think about them. It's called "thought-stopping." You snap a rubber band on your wrist if you find yourself drifting off the not-going-to-worry-today course. The funny thing about many problems is that they often resolve themselves without our intervention.
On a practical level: I will not respond to every email the second it lands in my inbox. I will no longer allow intrusions to my family time. I will write a little more joy into my program.
6) I will walk softly and not carry a big stick.
Enough with the road rage, the playground bullies, the people on Facebook who would rather unfriend you than hear a differing view. Intolerance ruled us in 2012 and it's time to start showing a little more love.
I am resolving to pick my battles more wisely in 2013. Yell less, understand more.
I've never suffered fools well, but in 2013 I resolve to not point out their mistakes with quite so much vehemence. I'm sure my children's teachers will appreciate no longer hearing from me when they misspell words in their emails home. I may continue to be appalled, but I'll let it go and be sure and teach my kids how to use spell-check.
7) Choose more wisely who I let near me.
At the risk of sounding like an inspirational posting on Facebook, I am tired of being around angry people. They just suck the air from the room with their negativity. Their glasses are always half-full and they are quick to tell you what's wrong, not what's right.
I resolve to weed my personal garden and rid my life of them, lest I become one myself.
8) I will not waste time on people who don't value me.
The world isn't really divided into people who seek others' approval and those who don't. It's more a matter of degree. I want the approval of those I love and respect. What I want to stop wanting is the approval of those who don't matter.
I resolve to remind myself who matters.
9) I will assume less and ask more.
When I wrote a post last March about how only one in five middle-agers who needs a hearing aid actually wears one, I shared how my husband's hearing loss was impacting our family. I heard from hundreds of readers with similar stories who told me about their frustrations of living with someone who can't hear. And I also heard from the one reader who I was most hoping would listen: My husband got his hearing aid in October.
It turns out that what was stopping my husband from acting sooner wasn't vanity, as I had assumed. It was Medicare's absurd policy of not paying for hearing aids -- which are expensive. He's the kind of guy who would rather spend the money on sending our kids to camp than buy something for himself. And he never realized how hard it was for our family to live with his deafness. Our checkbook took a big hit and I couldn't be happier.
10) Figure out what I want to be when I grow up.
Life has more than one act, but at some point the curtain does come down. I'm only 63 and don't plan on dying any time soon. But I want to use my remaining healthy years wisely. Actually, that's all I've ever wanted to do.
Work must be a passion, or else it becomes just a job. Family needs to be a priority, or else it becomes a turmoil. And friendships must be nurtured, or else they drift away.
I want to polish my bucket list and start checking things off.