Unresolutions {Part 1}

Unresolutions {Part 1}

unresolutionsMy family lived a ludicrous year 2023. We dealt with 11 months of recurrent-boil-raising MRSA in both our kids (and the attendant dozens of doctors’ appointments). Our older son was bullied at school, and we spent almost the entire academic year battling an administration that refused to address the problem, file the appropriate (and legally required) paperwork, or change his classroom environment. We had put our mortgage in forbearance, not knowing that would mean having to pay back a 5-digit amount all at once at the end of that period despite the mortgage company’s casual assurances. A child brought a weapon to our older son’s school, and the school administration neglected to inform the parents for over 2 weeks. The heat-wave killed all our chickens one summer afternoon when the heat index hovered at 117•F. Both cars required full brake replacements. My husband was serially harassed by a work colleague (and the administration and HRM office both refused to intervene). I fell in July in dramatic fashion and tore a hamstring, leading to time-devouring PT for the next 4 months. Our beloved pastor was transferred to a different parish at the end of June. Our younger son (yes, the one with the wobbly tooth) ran into a door jamb at school and knocked out both his front (permanent) teeth, and the single on-call pediatric dentist in all of Baton Rouge refused to treat or examine him. Finally, I launched into the month of December with a concussion (fender-bender that hit just wrong), and launched out of it with a bleeding head laceration (ceiling fan attack)!

When the midnight that transitioned us out of 2023 rolled around, our family – well, we did more than celebrate. We rejoiced. With song and dance and Christmas crackers and “ooohs” and “ahhhhhs” at the fireworks displays from various neighborhoods exploding into bright spectra across the sky. There was much rejoicing.

Also, much reluctance to let 2024 follow in 2023’s ugly footsteps.

And so, I have decided not to “do” the whole New Year’s Resolution thing this year. I could. It would be faster than reinventing this particular wheel, but I know already how that works out.

For example …

1 January: make a checklist

  • lose weight
  • go to the gym more often
  • eat more salads
  • make a real budget.

4 January: evaluate progress so far

  • I have 361 more days to focus on weight;
  • the gym is closed on holidays;
  • we don’t have any leafy greens in the fridge;
  • even just thinking about our finances makes me tired and sad;
  • fuck it, I’m pouring a glass of wine. Also, where is my chocolate.

(Granted, it’s only New Year’s Day as I write this, but trust me. I know myself. Years of experience inform this scenario.)

If I want this year to be substantially different from last year, I need to change the way I approach this new calendar page.

For one thing, it’s not just “a page.” Earth’s voyage around the sun, this time, will not be limited by a list hastily written one winter morning because I procrastinated writing it the previous 31 (365) days.

So instead of the usual tradition of making resolutions, this year I’ve decided to make a different kind of list. “Un-resolutions” is the closest to what I have in mind for this year.

So it doesn’t really have a title – that’s part of the point of this list. And I’m typing it out here because, in theory at least, writing it out for an audience beyond just myself holds me accountable to my hopes and plans for this year and, who knows, maybe I’m not the only one ready for a change. So if 2023 was a b*tch to you, too, read on!

Here is one mama’s way of handling the transition to a new calendar page.

UnresolutionsFirst, none of this “all my eggs in one New Year’s Day basket” stuff this time around. Instead, I’m dividing this thought-process up, one thing at a time. This way, each item on my list will be more visible as itself, less likely to get shuffled behind something shinier or showier. And if I concentrate more intentionally on each individual thing, I have a better chance of accomplishing what I want to accomplish over the year. Imagine an “all you can eat” buffet, where you pile as much onto your plate as the laws of physics will allow, and then don’t really taste any of the things you chose. My life is not a buffet. It is a journey, and a path; and journeys and paths require milestones and maps and intersections, the stages between here and there – wherever “there” is.

Second, and foremost, I will change my way of being this year. This means I have to take “be” as an active verb, not a static thing. Like “to run.” You can just run, or you can run slowly, joyfully, faster, greater distances, for a longer time. That’s the basis of my list: a general challenge to how to live this year. What can I do to be in a way that will make the year more meaningful – fuller, richer, more my own – that will bring more depth and connection for the next 364 days?

Here is my first un-resolution.

I will begin the day with introspective, intentional silence. All three of these terms are important: introspective, intentional, and silence.

Start with silence. I don’t mean just the pre-coffee monosyllabic grunting of the working parent who never gets enough sleep. This silence isn’t casual or caffeine-dependent; it’s a chosen, cultivated state meant to promote inner connection, tranquility, and joyful energy for the day ahead. And it’s a lot harder, damn it, than spilling coffee grounds while grumpily trying to juggle the kids’ 800 early-morning needs. To achieve this silence, I will do the following two essential things:

  1. Turn off the phone. Not just “vibrate” or “Do not disturb.” It has to be off. It’s good for devices to power down completely from time to time. Reset the battery life, clear the cache. I, too, need to clear space – let my mind “unplug” and reset. I will forget. (Again, I know myself.) That’s OK. I’ll do it the next time.
  2. Find a space in the house I can make my “morning space.” It has to be clean and clear of clutter; it has to have either some light early in the morning or the kind of darkness that feels like velvet. It has to be sacred: this is my space for creating the day I want to live. Once I have the space established and arranged, I’ll find a way to be within it. Sitting on a cushion? Shavasana on a yoga mat? Legs up the wall? Eyes open, eyes closed? Maybe I’ll spray a little scent of some sort: lavender works magic, but the scent that throws me lately is a fairly simple Balsam cedar with its overtones of honey, mint, and myrrh. Whatever your favorite scent is – the scent that gives wings to your soul and unfurls your wings in delight – bottle that, and spray it around the oxygen cells of the room. Fill the space with light and freshness, beauty and holiness, however that happens. Candles, blankets, a favorite stuffie …

unresolutionsHal Elrod’s Miracle Morning offers an approach based on a strategy called SAVERS, an acronym for the following steps: Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, and Scribing.

I don’t know if I will use Elrod’s method or a different one or a combination or just my own techniques, but I plan to make my mornings more about positive and productive preparation for the day – and so, less about the stress of getting clean shirts/socks/pants/shoes on and coffee brewed and kids fed and safely buckled and beating the carpool chronometer so we make it before fine-o’-clock. There are many ways to go about making early mornings matter, to make them foundation instead of frustration.

And … It’s OK to do this imperfectly.

That’s the real “resolution” behind my un-resolutions; because a New Year, before it becomes a series of promises I am almost certain to fall short of, is a year. 365 (or, in 2024, 366) days to try and try again. I’m coming back to this post on 29 January 2024. Yep, 28 days after I began it. I had it all mapped out, and then … January happened. Have I made an “intentional morning”? Not so far. Too many nights I’ve stayed up past 3 am, past 4, taken a hot bath to calm my mind down, fallen asleep in the bathtub, and woken up in cool water at the hour I had planned to get up and begin my intentional morning. It is frustrating, and discouraging, but: I will forgive myself, and start now. Today is not too late to begin a new way of being. Tomorrow won’t be too late either. So my “resolution” for this and every “un-resolution” is: it starts now.

Spoiler: I haven’t made one of those magical mornings happen yet. But I came across this beautiful quote about self-forgiveness, or self-acceptance, recently:

“Do not keep stopping to look back, because he who looks back cannot hasten forward. Do not content yourself with beginning this year. Begin every day, … each day and for each hour of the day. If I should fall even a thousand times a day, a thousand times, I will say immediately, Nunc Coepi [Now I begin].” (Venerable Bruno Lanteri)

I listen to Father Mike Schmidt’s Bible in a Year podcast, and part of his intro to today’s episode was this sentence, which hit me in that same perfect way: “the hardest day to pray is the day after you don’t pray.” It’s the same with a new approach to being, I think; probably the same with any habit or rhythm you’re trying to establish. The hardest day to keep a promise to yourself is the day after you break it. And the thing is, if I say “well, I screwed yesterday up, now the whole thing is ruined,” I’m giving in to self-fulfilling defeat.

It’s the end of the first month of the year 2024. I am starting again, today.

And again, today.

Rosemary Peters-Hill
Rosemary is Associate Professor of French Studies at LSU. She is a proud member of an unusual family in which she mothers two small humans whose intelligence and sweetness astonish her daily. She married the love of her life, twice, and is grateful for the chaotic, beautiful journey they have undertaken together. Rosemary's hobbies include photography, mystery novels, Candy Crush, improv piano, crossword puzzles, and crafts … she also makes soap. She has 58,567 photos on her phone and has been known to play violin and try aerial silks in public – not usually at the same time.


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