Well, happy new year! Last night I enjoyed reading on Facebook everyone’s best wishes and how they were ringing in the new year, and this morning there are many resolutions. I have made resolutions in the past but it’s never been something that I’ve put a lot of stock in. I have occasionally said, “I want to do ____ this year.” But, moreso, I have come at resolutions negatively: “I don’t want to do that again… We need to stop doing that… I hate it when we are like this…” and then usually a lengthy post each new year about how I was really going to try to love my body even though it had somehow ended up bigger than last year. Really I was not making resolutions but rather “never agains.”
I know in some ways those never agains are resolutions, but I really think that intentions need plans, and negative intentions need positive counter-plans. So that is what this year is about. Yes, still in my mind is that big list of “I wish I/we weren’t like this,” but I want to take specific and positive action and think about the positive goal rather than thing I want to stop.
Number 1. I am going to exercise regularly. I have struggled so much with weakness, exhaustion, and illness the past few months that I often worry that if I start exercising I will get sick. But I will start slow and be consistent, rather than thinking my body is something I have to conquer forcefully and violently and then have it collapse. I spent years doing what I thought was just a little bit of pointless and easy exercise, and now I see that every little bit does something. So I will start easy both physically to prevent burnout and emotionally to curb the self-loathing.
Number 2. I want to keep our house and our lives tidy and organized. I think this will involve lists, possibly for each day (which my friend Lisa has been telling me to do for years!). This will be jump started by a good clean, purge, and unpacking of the house that has already started over Christmas now that my school work is over for a little bit. A lot of this is not just about getting things done but about changing my state of mind. Things can start to feel out of control and I have a bad habit of thinking that I have run out of time before something has even started. I’m going to need to work on both, but I’m wondering how I practically come up with ways to stop my mind from feeling overwhelmed???
Number 3. (Because, while I could probably make 100 resolutions, I want to keep this somewhat manageable.) Finally, there are so many things I want to teach my kids. So many ways I want the attitudes that seem to underlie our family to shift. Bitterness, frustration, and smart-assness just come way too naturally for us. I know a lot of this is just human nature, but you look around and see families that seem to legitimately care about each other and want to be with each other. And I know we do too, but it seems to turn so, so quickly into a struggle — of wills and desires.
Really, what I want is for it to be easier. That’s probably a completely wrong desire. There is something in our family that I can’t put my finger on that makes us… oh wait. It’s dissatisfaction. That’s exactly what it is. Nothing really satisfies us. Or we have these fleeting moments of being satisfied but because they’re fleeting, we still end up dissatisfied.
On Sunday I wrote on Facebook, that we were having “Such a good day.” Within minutes of putting that up, the kids were screaming at each other. Marc called to me from another room, “Such a good day, hey?!” And I replied, “A good day doesn’t mean there’s no fighting.” (Obviously I was still flying high from the goodness of the day, but I think by bedtime I was worn down to annoyance and anger over the rest of the day’s friction and conflict.)
So, my plan to combat the dissatisfaction? Stop the fighting? Try to figure out finally and conclusively how to organize everything so that everyone will be happy? (I’m smart, but not that smart.) No, I’ve decided three questions will be asked of everyone each night at supper. This is a very practical yet theoretical step. I don’t know if it will help. But it is a start: “3 Ls.” What did you Learn today? How did you Love today? What did you Lose today?
I know that last one is kind of weird. But currently we ask at supper for each to tell one good thing and one bad thing that happenedm, so the loss thing kind of fits with that. But I’m hoping that when you put the three questions together we’ll get a clearer sense that life does not have to be perfect, it does not always have to go our way, but that we can learn and grow and love through it all.
A happy family isn’t the goal. A loving family is. And maybe the happiness will be a biproduct of the love. Or maybe I will learn not to be so disappointed when people are unhappy.
Anyway, hopefully some practical, positive, and manageable changes to be made in our lives this year that will extend beyond the four walls of this house. A very happy and loving new year to you, your life, and the lives you touch.