“I want to make a New Year’s revolution,” Thalia announced from across her Grandma’s dinner table last night.
“I am going to try more new foods. And I am going to clean the walls and be helpful. And I am going to try not quitting.”
“That’s amazing!” I told her. “All good resolutions! But those are resolutions. A resolution is a promise. A revolution is when you make a very big change.”
She considered the difference, and nodded with comprehension. “Like Jamie Oliver.”
“Yes, like Jamie Oliver.”
This morning as I replayed the conversation in my head, I realized that Thalia was actually onto something. There is a reason that New Year’s resolutions rarely work for me, and why I’m so reluctant to make them; they’re often revolutions. They’re these gargantuan, major promises that completely ignore the essence of who I am and who I’m capable of becoming over a short period of time.
Exercise every day. Start taking vitamins. Cut out white flour. Lose 15 pounds. Use our museum memberships more. Get out with the kids, even on rainy days. Send thank you notes for every gift. Plan birthday parties in advance. Give Nate more of my time. Don’t talk with my mouth full. Hang up the coats. Get to the dentist. Organize my email. Be a better RSVP-er. Order in less, cook more.
Individually each of those things sound admirable. Easy, even. But together? They paint a picture of a person I’m not. I am never going to do all of those things, at least not all at once. And let’s be honest–once you start cheating on one, it sort of gives you permission to cheat on the rest.
I’ve been really inspired by Gwen Bell’s #REVERB10 initiative about using reflection to manifest what’s next in your life, and by Gretchen Rubin’s post at The Happiness Project about choosing one word to set the tone for the new year. The one word that stands out to me is:
I don’t have it. I want it. I need it. My family needs it. And it’s probably a big elusive daydream, a future unmet resolution.
Because I think balance, particularly for mothers, is a myth. I have owned Meditations for Women Who Do Too Much since I was just a few years out of college, and I am by most accounts, a workaholic. I can’t do nothing. I have more ideas than time to implement them. I have many things that make me happy and want to give none of them up.
And so balance might not be something I can achieve. I admit it. Balance is, for me, a revolution.
So instead I’m tweaking the assignment a little here, and I’m choosing two words to set the tone for the new year.
That, I think that I can achieve. Little by little.
In 2011, I can read more books. I can unplug a little at a time. I can trade in a TV show for a cuddle on the couch with Nate. Even if I can’t keep the whole house clean, I can make my bed every morning. Or at least some mornings. (Let’s start small?) I can turn off the phone until the kids go to bed. I can keep cookies out of the house. I can send my thank you notes online. I can say no more often, and learn to feel less guilty about it.
Small changes can add up to big change, that I know. But I’m willing not to think beyond the small changes for now. It’s as much as I can handle.
Do you have one word that you want to define you in the new year? Would you call it a revolution or a resolution?