Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year

party hats1 2009 was a very good year for me (if you aren't nauseated by some serious horn-tooting, you can check out my recap, writing-wise, here). But it's human nature to try to do better.

That's why I'm big into New Year's Resolutions. There are usually plenty of areas in my life than can use some good resolving, so every year I draw up a list. Diligently. Thoughtfully. Some years I even write them down. (I resolve to write more stuff down, rather than rely on my spotty memory.)

To be honest, most of them, like G.M.'s, are somewhat vague. And a lot involve incremental language. I'll eat a little better, I'll exercise a tad more, I won't yell at my kids quite as much. Hard to quantify, thus hard to fail at. (I resolve to be somewhat more concrete when I make my resolutions.)

I guess if I wanted more quantifiable yardsticks, I would compile a list of goals. But "New Year's Goals" doesn't have the same ring to it, and I suppose that goals are really a whole 'nother kettle of fish when you get down to brass tacks (I resolve to use fewer clich├ęs.)

During the course of my resolution-crafting, I sometimes get philosophical. Why do we (humans) have to wait until some arbitrarily appointed time to make resolutions to better ourselves? Why can't we address our shortcomings as they crop up instead of putting it off? (I resolve to procrastinate less. One of these days, I'm sure I'll get around to doing that.)

My quest for self-improvement is not a solitary one. I'm always amused by all the ads for exercise equipment, gym memberships, and weight-loss programs that proliferate in January. Ditto for the storage containers and home organizing products. Then I'm doubly amused come February--or March for the slightly more dedicated--when the pages of eBay and Craigslist swell with treadmills (hardly used!) and unopened crates of Jenny Craig lasagnas (hardly used!). (I resolve to spend less time reading ads for stuff I don't want or need.)

Don't get me wrong--I'm all for bettering myself. Like I said, I compile a list of resolutions every year, and (pat on the back) I think I do a pretty good job of sticking to them. But during those last few weeks of the year, when my exercising has waned and I get a glimpse of the overflowing file cabinets in the basement I had resolved to go through eleven months earlier, I always question my, uh, resolve. (I resolve to stick to my resolutions better.)

Here are a few additional ones:

  • Read more.

  • Maintain my exercise regimen (I've been a little lax on the stretching component).

  • Spend my time more wisely, and its corollary, don't waste so much time surfing the Internet and cruising the blogosphere (some version of this one ends up on the list every year).

  • Take Vitamin D.

  • Reduce clutter. Simplify.

  • Eat a new food (Every year I resolve to add a new (healthy) food to my repertoire. Some winners: beans, avocados, hummus. Still can't do Brussels sprouts. And don't get me started on cheese. This year's candidates: edamame or fennel.)

How about you? Any "unusual" resolutions this year?

Have a very happy and healthy 2010!


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I like yours! And you've had an awesome year...congratulations!

I'm still working on the resolutions I made last summer. (Yes, I have to be odd and make July resolutions.)

Some of those are to say "no" more (I'm an overloaded pushover) and to stay on top of my tax receipts (which, so far, I've passed with flying colors.)


G.M. Malliet said...

You had to mention those overflowing filing cabinets, didn't you? I had forgotten that I need to tackle mine. Interesting that entire magazines are devoted to reducing clutter, thus adding to the clutter in my house.

Wishing everyone a new year full of blessings.

Michele Emrath said...

Unusual resolutions? Hmmm...I resolve to turn my Internet off while I write! Really more practical than unusual, but I've already tried fennel.


Julia Buckley said...

Good resolutions, Alan! I hope that you're able to use them all to increase your happiness in 2010.

Happy New Year.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Great resolutions! and congrats on a great year. As for unusual resolutions...well, I'd say my last one is kind of weird: "Make more noise."

At any rate, best wishes for a prosperous 2010!

Beth Groundwater said...

Now I love Brussels sprouts! The reason most people don't like them is they're overcooked until they're mushy and foul-tasting. Instead, clean them, remove dead outer leaves, cut off the stem ends and cut them in half. Add a splash of water, dot with butter and sprinkle with walnut pieces. Microwave just until they're bright green and tender-crisp, no more than 5 minutes. Yummy and healthy!

Alan Orloff said...

Elizabeth - Summer resolutions. A good idea, and a good title for a book!

Gin - It helps if you put the overflowing file cabinets in the basement (along with all the other junk that you can't quite get around to). That way you only see it when the water heater ruptures.

Michele - Turn OFF the Internet? Are you mad, woman?

Julia - Thanks! But I think the purpose of resolutions is to make you guilty somehow. Hmm. Hope 2010 is a great one for you, too!

Carolina - Thanks. I love your "Make more noise!" Have you been talking to my kids?

Beth - Well, you make a compelling case, but...I'm not sure I'm swayed. I still think they should send all those mini-cabbage thingys back to Belgium!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

I love edamame and brussel sprouts. And what's the thing about cheese, Alan? Do you like it or loathe it?

I don't have a cluttered filing cabinet, but I do have a huge closet that's been on my New Year's list for 2 years running. It made the short list again this year.

For me - exercise and eat better, which are already in the negative column; read more; focus on becoming debt free by June; and I think I'm going to adopt Michelle's internet resolution. So, see ya!

Keith Raffel said...

Alan, I had a boss in DC who would return my memos with checks, doodles, etc on them. That was his way of letting me know he'd read them. Happy new year. [checks] [doodles]

Alan Orloff said...

Sue Ann - Those are some good suggestions. I think I may have to try turning off the Internet, too. Hopefully, I won't suffer from withdrawal symptoms.

As for cheese, I believe the scientific term for my malady is "cheese-phobia."

Keith - If I had a boss hand back my memos with checks (the negotiable instrument kind), I'd still be in the corporate world, writing five - ten memos per day! Happy New Year!

Cricket McRae said...

An impressive list indeed, Alan. Congrats on your great year!

Go for the fennel.