New year, new resolutions, right? Le sigh. If you're anything like me, the best laid plans fall flat before January's out. But this time I'm determined to make changes and to stick by them dammit. The first rule of resolve is to think itty bitty. Lofty goals are bound to fail.
It helps that The Happiness Project by Gretchen Ruben was waiting for me under the Christmas tree this year. Like me, Ruben wasn't unhappy per se, but definitely was aware that she could be more happy if she just got a little more organized and grabbed life's harnesses a little tighter.
And the idea resonated. Big time. Jotting things down—be it a meal plan or a novel outline—forces you to commit more than just daydreaming about how wonderful the outcome will be. If you are Type A (I am so gloriously Type A), the mere act of writing feels like a massive first step in owning your goals.
#1 Thou Shalt Not Nag
I keep a To Do List (TDL). Have done for years. I have a whiteboard in my kitchen, and I'm not afraid to use it. What I need now is a secondary TDL, which will include those bucket list chores that I occasionally think about but seldom get around to because they just aren't as pressing as the other items on my primary TDL (or TDL1). Most items on the TDL2 are domestic jobs.
In an effort not to nag darling husband, I will schedule these jobs for when we can afford to hire someone to do them. Then I'll hire said professional. And I will do nice little things, a note, a choco pain, for darling husband. What I won't do is nag. Or at least not more than once in every 24-hour interval.
#2 Lose Thy Bowl of Jelly
Saint Nick may look jolly as all get-out with that bowl full of jelly above his belt buckle; on me not so much. Besides, belly fat is a killer. For the first time I've really let go, and the fact that I look a four months' pregnant has left me feeling shamefaced. In short, the jelly's got to go. But it will take more than good intentions this time around.
My husband laughs, but I am a chronic snacker. He likens it to a Canadian disease. Come 8pm, I start to get twitchy. I'm inclined to reach for something crunchy and heavily salted to sink my teeth into. In addition to listing everything that passes my lips, snacking will be strictly prohibited, limited to weekends, and even then will only include approved items: celery with natural peanut butter or stove popped popcorn, sans butter.
#3 Look After Thyself (Better)
That means scheduling the next hair cut, dentist, massage, girls night out, etc, immediately following the last. Many appointments can be rolling. The beauty of booking things more than a month in advance is that you can always cancel. But having to pick up the phone to cancel is a pain in the ass, so you're more likely keep engagements. Well, I am anyway, because the only thing I despise more than having to pick up the phone to book appointments is picking up the phone to cancel them.
#4 Feed Thy Mommy Brain
Whether it's reading YMC's book club book each month, signing up to that hot yoga class, learning to crochet or speak fluent Mandarin, your brain is an erogenous zone and needs frequent stoking. Mine involves finishing a certain damn novel—again, by breaking down the task into bite-sized chunks, a scene here, a scene there, the damn thing might actually get done this side of 2013. I don't know about you, but procrastination only makes me feel like shit.
Care to share some mommy resolutions of your own?
Another unspeakable tragedy. This time, 20 young children will never come home to their parents. But instead of looking at itself, at its own policies, America is yet again pointing the finger at the individual. Of course it’s much easier to blame one deranged young man then for the nation to take ownership of its role in the carnage.
Already there has been speculation that the Adam Lanza was somewhere on the autism spectrum. As with the Colorado massacre before it, belief that a neurotypical person wouldn’t dream of committing such a heinous crime goes a long way to easing the collective conscience. Lanza must have lacked empathy, we tell ourselves; he must have been a loner. Rest assured, he was nothing like us. He must fit some label or convenient profile. The idea that a ‘normal’ person would never act this way gives us some warped sense of solace during a time of intense grief.
But it’s not accurate or fair to imply that autistics are inherently violent or dangerous. Yes, their brains work differently. But as this autistic blogger rightly points out: “One bad apple does not speak for the rest of us. One bad apple can fall far away from the tree. One bad apple does not define the tree it fell from either.”
It’s much easier to dodge the issue at the heart of Newtown. The glaring fact that a gun—or several guns, as it were—shot innocent children, their teachers, Lanza himself and his mother who, ironically, was said to be a gun enthusiast. (She reportedly owned an “extensive” firearms collection, and frequently took her kids to the shooting range.) More often than not guns are used against the very people who erroneously believe that guns somehow protect them. Guns get you freedom—yes, the freedom to walk into a school and shoot it up. That’s all that guns give you. And that freedom is built on fear; it’s an illusion at best. At worst, a fallacy.
Bottom line: there will always be people in the world who are troubled, people with vendettas, people with Issues. These people won’t necessarily have autism or any identified mental health concern. The truth is, guns make ending life easy. Consider if guns weren’t quite so accessible. If Adam Lanza had brought a knife into school instead… Maybe he would have hurt one person, maybe two, before someone managed to intervene. He would have been taken him into custody before so many lives were lost. Maybe. Until gun laws change, we’ll never know.
Image credit: Flickr Entropy
How do you feel about the C-word? Christmas, I mean. I know, I know, we're not supposed to utter the word anymore. It's not like we're a church-going family. My son wasn't even baptized. Still, I've always loved the rituals associated with the season. The hall decking. The carols. The sticky-sweet smell of baked goods.
Growing up, my cousin and I marked the 25th day of December with nothing short of religious fervour. For weeks we consulted. We strategized. We poured ourselves into elaborate crafts beyond the requisite milk and cookies, in anticipation for the portly bearded guy.
I had such overarching faith in the existence of Saint Nick, of the Easter Bunny. I forget exactly how or when my proverbial bubble was burst. Suffice to say, it was DEVASTATING. The betrayal! The lies! It had all the markings of a Mike Leigh movie.
It was a dark, dark day when I learned the truth about Santa, et al. Who was I supposed to trust now? Who was I supposed to believe, now that the people nearest and dearest to me had lied to my face for years? It felt like a conspiracy of JFK proportions.
Now, as a parent in my own right, I question whether it is right to perpetuate such myths and fables, whether it's fair to consciously deceive my son only to later yank the wool from over his eyes.
Belief is ultimately what gives us hope. Why else would we sit through countless dire rom coms? And belief in the existence of some pure and magical force is arguably the most precious aspect of childhood. Rue the day when we must 'put away childish things' and accept that unicorns and fairies don't actually exist—well, with the possible exception of the Pride parade, that is.
Are little white lies—like the one about the man in the red jumpsuit—a harmful or healthy part of growing up?
Do you perpetuate the myth with your own children? Why/why not?