“Mom, do you make New Year resolutions?”
I paused. Resolutions are not easy for me. Enough Januarys have gone by to know that something I promised myself on January first is likely to be forgotten by the fifth.
This is the kind of question that kids ask parents in order to glean knowledge and learn about life, whether they know it or not, and I would have to form a real answer beyond the “HA! No way! Resolutions are for suckers!” jokey one that was on the tip of my tongue.
Because I am a parent, and parents need to teach while being honest and avoid steering children down a path of apathy, entitlement, and laziness, which I would imagine a knee-jerk response like this one would do, and so I measured my words.
“Not really. But I like the idea of starting out a new year on a clean slate, and I sort of try to do things right and well, which includes taking care of myself, and not procrastinate, and get my work done instead of leaving things unfinished.” I thought of my ongoing to-do list, last dated October 27th, and the cupboard door that I still have to replace. And make an appointment for the car to be fixed. And another year has gone by and I still need to clean up the household filing system that I vowed to do last year.
Resolutions are for suckers.
* * *
The past two years I picked a word to guide me through the year. It’s the new resolution, picking a word as a personal theme for the year instead of making promises that are too easy to break. You let this word infiltrate your psyche, and adopt it as sort of a personal mantra. If your word is focus, it reminds you to stay on task instead of being so scattered all the time. If your word is love then you have sex a lot. Or stop kicking puppies. I don’t know. Every person does her word in her own way.
My experience is that it works.
A couple of years ago I picked the word Reach and applied it to my blog and that year for my blog was the biggest one yet. I submitted and was published everywhere and made loads of new blogger friends and people read my blog like nobody’s business, and I went to a writing conference and met Phil Donahue and felt like a rock star.
Last year I picked Pray and I prayed like a mother. Like I hadn’t prayed before. I felt centered and zen and like a cool customer all year long. Pray was a good word for my heart, mind, and soul. And Pray was a good word for 2015, which was a crappy year. I had plenty to pray about.
The weird thing about having a theme word is that I don’t even try to make it work in my life. I write the word on a post-it and stick it on my wall and voila! it happens.
This year I picked Let Go. I know – it’s two words. In the past this little detail might have offended my sensibilities. But not this year. This year, I am letting things go that don’t matter.
Like the fact that my kids never make their beds. Or put their towels in the hamper. Or open their blinds or put their laundry away. My kids are slobs I guess. For the most part, I’ve let go a lot of things already. Age brings a natural sense of this. But having this word in my arsenal this year also means that I am going to practice letting go the things that plague me.
Like hanging onto old things that are no longer meaningful. Feeling badly that I can’t do more for someone. The guilt that I feel when I say “no” to something just because I don't want to do it. Taking too long to write a thank you card. Feeling awkward and weird after I say something awkward and weird. Not fixing the cupboard door or the filing system. The feeling of failure I have when my kids become double booked for activities during the two hours a week that they have to be somewhere and they miss something because FOR SOME REASON EVERY ACTIVITY IS SCHEDULED AT THE SAME TIME EVERY SINGLE WEEK FOREVER OMG ARE YOU SERIOUS IS THIS A JOKE
I am going to practice letting it all go.
Practicing my word takes very little effort. But it works. Maybe the act of writing the word down and making it somewhat permanent is enough to make a groove in my soft head. Maybe that it lurks just out of my line of vision but is mos def in the periphery for hours a day is enough for me to act upon it subconsciously.
Who knows what’s going on here. I’m letting go the fact that I don’t know. Life is full of things I can’t explain. I’m old enough to be okay with that. I’m going to unfurl my fists and splay my fingers wide, and feel the air dance through my fingers.
*This post was in no way sponsored by Disney's epic animated masterpiece Frozen or its theme song Let It Go, which is an amazing song. I consider myself #blessed by having older children when this movie came out, which means that Let It Go is a favorite song of mine instead of one that makes me scream in agony when hearing it for the zillionth time. It's a great song, people. I'm humming it right now. And so are you. You're welcome.