I started making New Year’s Resolutions a couple of years ago. For a long time I didn’t bother because nobody I knew ever kept them and it just seemed like a lost cause before it even started. But a couple of years ago I decided that I needed to laugh more and that became a New Year’s Resolution. If you’re going to start something new it’s pretty easy if you make it something fun. And it worked! Every time I noticed myself laughing I mentally patted myself on the back; “Good job, Jane! You’re laughing more.” That alone made me laugh even more.
So the following year I decided resolutions just might work. For 2012 I resolved to speak less and listen more. That one was a real challenge. I always have something to say and it’s always something smart and witty that will enrich everyone’s lives. You can imagine what a challenge it was to keep all my wit and wisdom to myself.
Around January 3rd I knew I would need help. I needed something to remind me to shut up. Constantly. I needed a memory aid.
I’m not a big jewelry person. For the last several years I haven’t worn much more than my wedding ring. So in 2012 I got an old ring out of the dusty jewelry box and wore it on my right hand. It was a constant reminder that something was different and reminded me to try to keep my mouth shut. I doubt anyone noticed I talked less. If anything, it would have been the way any conversation with me should always go. It was a new experience for my friends to be able to get a word in edgewise whenever I was around. I think the world appreciated my effort. However, in terms of real change I doubt anyone really noticed except me. I’m not sure I was that much better a listener that year as I was more aware of what a Narcissist I am.
Still, I was getting into this resolutions thing.
For 2013 I vowed to mind my own business. I had just finished reading Anne Lamott’s book about her son first year of fatherhood, Some Assembly Required. Trying to mind her own business was as much a challenge for her as it was for me. She was brimming over with unwanted advice for her son and learning to live with new family dynamics. I copied her words and taped them to my bathroom mirror:
“There is a zero-percent chance you will change them. So we breathe in, and out, talk to friends, as needed. We show up, wear clean underwear, say hello to strangers. We plant bulbs, and pick up litter, knowing there will be more in twenty minutes. We pray that we might cooperate with any flicker of light we can find in the world.”
Then I went out a bought all new underwear. People don’t usually talk about their underwear. When was the last time you read about my underwear here on this blog? But underwear is part of your daily life. Could there be a better memory device? And I like to think it helped me do a better job of minding my own business in 2013.
And, voila!-- my children and grandchildren survived. Even Beaven managed to limp through the year without as much advice from me.
For 2014 I think I will try to become more peaceful. As my body ages and slows I will need to find a way for my mind to likewise take it down a notch. Otherwise I’m going to have to up my meds.
I’m going to be peaceful if it hare-lips Hades. I will be peaceful if it kills me. I will be so peaceful that friends will think I am asleep. Hopefully, they might even wonder where I am even when I’m already in the room. I will put so much energy into becoming peaceful that I will be worn out by the end of the day
I can see this will be a challenge. I will need more than taping quotes to the bathroom mirror to help me. I found an app for my phone called GPS for the Soul. It’s designed to alert you to just this activity. What I like about it is that once a day at a totally random time it will send me a message. The message says, “Time to check in with yourself.” The message isn’t disruptive. The phone just send out a discrete blip and the message shows up on the screen. I take a minute to take a deep breath and evaluate things: “Am I safe? Am I comfortable? Am I happy in this moment? Am I at peace?”
A couple of months ago I got a book called, Aging as a Spiritual Practice by Lewis Richmond. I’m really enjoying it and I recommend it to anyone with a similar inclination.
Ever the overachiever, I began my 2014 peaceful efforts a bit ahead of schedule. I didn’t do much for Christmas. I didn’t send Christmas cards until a few days after Christmas, and, even then, only to old friends who might be tempted to think I had died. I didn’t get out even one of the four boxes of Christmas decorations. To the outside world we looked like either the world’s biggest scrooges, totally lazy or maybe even a different religion. But we were peaceful, dammit.
Let’s see how the year goes.