Friday, December 31, 2010

This is not a Resolution Post

I don't believe in New Year's Resolutions. I figured out a long time ago that the rush of 'new' wears off in about seventeen days and all of that which we intend to revolutionize about ourselves gets crammed in a drawer to minimize the guilty discomfort of yet another failure. Instead, I have decided to issue New Years Admonitions; none of this feel good 'turning of the year' nonsense.

1. Quit wasting time whining about your body. Move for the joy of movement. Decorate it. Get yourself some color and sparkle, adorn yourself joyfully, and add up all the parts you denigrate separately into something that is worthy, uniquely yours, and beautiful RIGHT NOW. If I hear you saying "My fat butt" or "My stupid (whatever)" I'm going to call you on it. Who is policing and shaming you? Why are you letting them? Tell them to shut up. Tell yourself to shut up if you have to. There is something called 'Health at Every Size'. Find out about it here.

2. If there are things in your life that are dragging you down, making you miserable, contributing to a trapped and hopeless feeling, GET RID OF THEM. This life is to be lived. If it involves buying a box of trash bags at Sam's and filling them with all the clutter that has made you feel like you are drowning THROW IT THE HELL OUT. Negative people can be placed on the same curb. Even if you can't get them out of your life you can choose to stop buying into their misery. Inform them of your boundaries. Invite them to get over it.

3. Stop wasting your energy being perpetually unsatisfied. Do you spend most of the day complaining about stuff? WHY?? Stop it right now. You are awash in blessing. They may be small. It may take a flexing of some mental and spiritual muscles you've let go to see and appreciate them. But they are there. Don't let the world tell you what you need to be happy. The world is easily confused, distracted, and deceived.

4. You are surrounded by the fragile, the hurting, the walking wounded. Every single day. You don't have to be a miracle worker to heal them. You just have to be kind. Cynicism and indifference kills just as surely as violence, but slower.

5. Stop. Every once in a while, just stop. Practice saying the words "No", "No, thank you, not today", "Thank you for thinking of me, but no." Its better that a few get your very best effort and attention than many getting what you can spare, and resentfully at that. I promise you that the refused will get by without you.

6. Every single person on the planet including Jesus Christ has had to deal with other people who hold opinions of them that are unwarranted, unkind, and unfair. You are not a special snowflake in this. It should neither surprise nor consume you.

That's it, kiddos. Don't wait until December 31 to celebrate what's 'happy' and 'new'. You get that every minute of the day.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

The Inevitability of December

Goodness. Wasn't I just writing about October or somesuch? Next thing you know the air is full of cinnamon and commerce and snow.

I've been experiencing those pre-ruminant rumblings that normally come before a blog post; I knew it would happen eventually. Sometimes there is so much to talk about that it all becomes an inarticulate blur before I can pin any of it down. I suspect I need medication.

The tipping point was on page 4 of my holiday issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray. There she is, swathed in as much religiously neutral sparkle as one can manage while keeping a silver pashmina on one's shoulders and hefting a frosted cake with five lit candles on it AND preventing one's long, perilously-close hair from catching fire. She's a multi-tasker, that one.
Page 4, the table of contents, really, suggests that for a 'quick, cracker-ready spread, stir a crushed candy cane and cracked black pepper into cream cheese'.

Excuse me, I have something in my throat. I think its my lunch.

I'm a bush-league foodie. I'm not afraid of tofu. I know what sorts of things you could cook using rendered duck fat. I know the difference between a shallot and a leek. But I'm pretty sure serving cream cheese with crushed black pepper and candy in it would put me in the company of not the Alton Brown set but the lady with all the dolls whose yard ornamentation is two seasons behind, who gives the kids bare-handfuls of circus peanuts in their trick-or-treat bags and thinks the government has put listening devices in her Lillian Vernon catalog.

I have a tenuous relationship with December. In years past it has just been the kickoff of Ye Olde Seasone of Suck, replete with weather-inspired anxieties and holiday expectation vs. reality funk. I'm disorganized, not the best housekeeper, and gift-purchasing turns me into Cindy Brady on 'Question the Kids' (more for the blank look than the 'Swiss Miss' braids). I find myself preoccupied with people who lack a social network this time of year, whose story does not have a Hallmark movie ending after two hours of gentle misunderstanding, over-magnified danger, and clever golden retrievers. (They're all around you! Try not to think about it. Ooops! Too late.)
Some Christmases past have been very dark indeed.

This December is better. I have a job I love. My obligatory bad-weather driving has been slashed to almost nothing. My house is still messy, but I do what I can and I release the rest. I'd like to have more money for presents, but since that only triggers my standing in Target with a deer-in-headlights look and a frozen brain its just as well. And I've realized just in the nick of time what I should do every year around this time-- slow down. Breathe. Look around. Take it in. Be peacefully quiet. Receive. Listen. Love with an undistracted heart.

And if all else fails, begin at the beginning.