New Year Resolutions: The Things that Matter

ice crystal on branchThe holidays come and go in a flurry of green and red and gold, Christmas carols providing a lovely backdrop to the decorating of the house, to the making and wrapping of gifts, to the cooking of pies and of roasts. We had a simple season this year, simple gifts, simple plans, and it was good and sweet and peaceful.

Still, time flies, they say, and I am finding that indeed it does for here we are at the last day of the year and I wonder what happened to December, what happened to 2014. This always seems to be the case, doesn’t it? The days are long but the years are short – an axiom applied most often to parenting, but one I’m finding to be true of life in general, as well. I get caught up in the day-to-day, in the details of life, until suddenly a date – the end of the year, or a birthday, or an anniversary – comes and gives me pause, forces me to think, and I realize my time here on earth is flying by much quicker than expected. It’s a good reminder, this is, of my own mortality, the fleeting quality of the few short days I’ve been given; when it’s all said and done, am I spending my time on the things that matter?

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New Year resolutions often focus on self-improvement, on taking some bad habit and breaking it, on finding some good new activity to incorporate into one’s days. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course; it’s laudable to make and set measurable goals, to work to bring about positive change in oneself. And yet, this year, as I was reflecting on this last twelve months and thinking about goals I might make, I found myself wondering why. Why? What am I hoping to accomplish?

(This isn’t to say I don’t have concrete things I’d like to do: running regularly makes my list, and so does writing more consistently and submitting that writing for publication, things I have been working to incorporate into my life for the past several weeks. But still, the why persists.)

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At the beginning of this summer, I looked in the mirror and saw the excess pounds around my middle, around my face, and I wanted them gone. A bit of extra weight was a small price to pay for a healthy girl in my arms, one I’d gladly pay again, but self-esteem and my own body image demanded a change. And so I ran and I walked and I watched what I ate, and, slowly but surely, those pounds came off.

In retrospect, though, my focus was wrong, and I wasted precious time and energy chasing after things that are fleeting; I want to live a healthy lifestyle, to have the strength and the energy to enjoy my family, to model good habits of exercise and eating to my daughter, but I was concerned about what I saw in the mirror, about the number that I read on the scale. In fifty years, my weight, my pants size today won’t matter, won’t even be remembered – but my vitality, my health, my presence in my daughter’s and my husband’s lives will.

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Which brings me back to the New Year and reflections and resolutions. Twenty-fourteen was a good year. One with joy, peace, healing, love. One in which I tried to be present and to focus on what really matters(though there were certainly times I failed, like the one mentioned above), one in which I clung tightly to the precious moments and memories of the early days of Katie’s life. There were pitfalls and problems, of course, rocky roads and difficulties in relationships and many, many times when I fell far short of the person God intended me to be, the person I want to be, but on the whole, I’d absolutely take 2014 over the year that preceded it.

And, while there are small habits I want to incorporate, goals in writing and running and cleaning that I’d like to accomplish this next year, these are not the most important things, not the really crucial matters. Because, when it comes right down to it, those things, while good and valuable and meaningful, are not the legacy I want to leave behind, not the things for which I want to be remembered.

Truth be told, what I want for this next year is much what I wanted for this last one:

I want to focus on being somebody who sees the small, dirty, ugly secrets in myself that are hidden from the world, and works to make them clean, even if nobody else even knows they are there. I want to be somebody who isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty, who isn’t afraid of being hurt, who gets up-close and personal with those around me, so that I might celebrate their triumphs with them. I want to be somebody who is aware and notices when those I love make the small, important changes in their lives.

When another year has passed and we are once again looking forward and looking back, I want to be able to say that I have chosen to be present, to be alive, to be intentional. May I order my days in such a way that, come the end December 2014, I can say that I have lived these twelve months well.

While there is always, always room for improvement, I’d like to think I did alright in 2014. May this be my goal, my aim, my focus, for 2015 and all the years to come: to order my days in such a way that, come the end of them, I can say I lived them well.

Happy New Year.

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