And here, at long last, are my New Year’s Resolutions. In a roundabout way.
At the end of November my Grandmother died. It was sudden, but not really unexpected. It was a tough time, but, as with all aspects of her life, there were blessings in the sadness. She died in her sleep: no muss, no fuss, no messy stroke or drawn-out decline. Just peacefully, she fell asleep and never woke up. She had her pearls on. I think that was a bit of a metaphor for her life. She’s the only one I can think of who would wear pearls to bed, because she felt like it.
She had 11 children, and I think we decided 26 grandchildren. Lots of us were here for the funeral. There was a lot of purposeful reminiscing that went on before that funeral. Lots of tears, but lots of good stories as we brainstormed material for the eulogy. Lots of memories of her and how she lived her live, the choices she made. One thing that kept cropping up was how she was always content, always interested. She was the most glass-half-full, silver-lining person I knew. No matter what she was doing, where she was, she enjoyed herself. Her most often-heard phrase was, “Isn’t that interesting?” and would be stated about anything from gay marriage to the moon landing. To go along with the eternal optimism, she was open and welcoming to any person, opportunity or circumstance. Besides the 11 children, the family also had something like 22 foster children over the years. There was always enough soup in the pot and anyone was welcome. She set a remarkable example of patience, kindness, and generosity.
I have decided to frame my New Year’s Resolutions with Gramma Betty in mind. I think the whole world could stand to be a little more like her, so here is how I plan to do my part.
I need to worry less about the “small stuff” and the unchangeable “big stuff” and more about the stuff I can actually do something about. I can’t make my kids do what I want them to do but I can set good examples and guide them into developing a set of skills that will carry them into adulthood, educated and successful at whatever they want to be. This year, I will keep that agenda in mind as I make those day-to-day decisions that seem so portentious in the making. I will practice patience and acceptance. I will look for the silver lining. I will bitch less and do more (that will be tough, I think). I want to be more satisfied with the situation I find myself in so that I can enjoy what is good about it. I will try to encourage my fledgling faith that everything will work out into a full-blown life attitude and action-guiding philosophy. I want to make a habit of framing things in a positive light rather than a negative one. I want to wear my metaphorical pearls to bed.
I also have some run-of-the-mill resolutions, the kind I vow weekly. The new year just seems like such an appropriate time to throw them from the Preparation phase into the Action phase, so I will put them down on (virtual) paper and see in six months how I have done. They all go to making life as good as it can be, in their own ways.
I want to eat more healthy food. I feel good when I am eating well, so this should help me psychologically as well as physically. I want variety in my diet. I want to try new recipes more often, say, twice a month.
I want to run the half marathon in 2 hours. Nothing like a good, finite, measurable goal to work towards.
I want to vary my physical activity by swimming and cycling more. I want to keep fit but I also want to enjoy myself and set a good example for my kids.
I want to write more. I found some cute kid quips I had written from 3 years ago when Jack was just learning to talk. I want more records of things like that around. And on that note, I want to finish and mail the Christmas letter, darnit.
I’m sure there are others. There is nothing like a public forum to shame one into keeping one’s resolutions (although it did not get me to write a novel in a month…). So I’ll meet you back here in a few months and we’ll assess my progress. I’ll be honest if you will.