Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Middle of February Resolutions

I think I've figured something out, guys. You see, if you watch the various morning shows--Hoda and Kathie Lee, The View, etc.--during the week between Christmas and the new year, then at some point you're going to see a segment on New Year's resolutions. And how most of them fail. And they'll tell you that they fail because people make these grandiose plans that they're NEVER gonna be able to follow through on and then they'll tell you that by the end of January, gym attendance (or whatever) is back to normal, and all of that.

Now, to some extent, I think that they are right. A New Year's resolution is kind of like Lent and one very important thing I learned about Lent came from The Story of the Trapp Family Singers which is the book on which The Sound of Music was based and that is this: Maria tells the story of the approach of one Lenten season where one of the many children has this ENORMOUS list of Lenten promises and sacrifices, but she explains to the child that while it's a noble goal, it's really better to make ONE goal that really means something and stick to it. But while I do think that making a million part New Year's resolution with hard and fast goals is a problem when it comes to sticking to your guns, I also think that there's the issue of timing. At least for me. I mean, think about it…obviously, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is one of the busiest months in most peoples' year. Even if you're not traditionally celebrating the holidays, it's still a pretty good bet that there are parties and events to which you're invited by those who are celebrating. And then there's work. First of all, in most jobs, you can expect to miss at least a day or two of normal work to the holiday, so you're playing catch up after the holidays or working more than usual to try to get everything end before the end of the year. Or you're in retail or some other service industry so you're working twice as much as usual. The point is, that there are very few jobs out there where the holidays or the immediate aftermath are ideal for making any kind of plan that involves extra work, extra time, or really, extra ANYTHING. And so what do most of us do? Well, right as we're coming back to work with everything swinging back into full steam ahead, we heap upon ourselves a whole new set of goals.

Take me for example: Look, if there was ever a time that made me realize that John Lennon was 100% correct when he said "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans.", it was the span of time between Thanksgiving and now. By the weekend after Thanksgiving, which was exceptionally late this year, thus making holiday shopping and prep more fraught than usual, I was on the final weekend of performances of the second of what were essentially back-to-back shows. That lead into to holiday parties and then, going to my parents' for Christmas several days earlier than usual to be in a friend's wedding. Then there were the holiday commitments--with my parents, with the other parts of the family, with friends. Tragically, this was combined with the funerals of two family friends who happened to pass away while I was home and then, I got stuck in Alabama for two extra days because of the weather and ended up only getting back to New Jersey because I was willing to take a 5 a.m. flight. Back here it's been auditions, first rehearsal and costume work for Shrek which goes up in May--that's right, I'm performing AND helping with costumes. Production work for Master Class, of which I'm the producer and which opens in two days. All of this, of course, has been coupled with THE WORST weather I've ever seen in my nine winters in the north, including I don't know how many days of snow, three of which had the added bonus of no power.

Seriously, I had a day when I looked down at the date in the tool bar of my computer and realized that we were a day out from my mom's birthday and thought, "Wait…how the HELL did we get to February??!?!" I know that the old adage is that time that seems to creep when you're a child suddenly starts to fly when you're an adult, and not have the last couple of years made me believe it. Which is why I decided that the date I would set for my resolutions, while not necessarily arbitrary, would certainly not be this year, and if I have my way, never again be, January 1. I picked Valentine's Day because it's easy enough to remember. Also because in a normal year when there's not some sort of The Day After Tomorrow winter apocalypse going down, it's time enough to let the insanity settle and me to be able to focus. I also decided that, although I'm putting ten things on my list, none of them are "I will do Task X on Day X at Time X and I WILL NEVER EVER MISS." Instead, I'm using these more as "Get my shit together" guidelines. Hence:

1. I will be consciously kind. Meaning that instead of being visibly and constantly aggravated by slow old people in a grocery store, or little kids barreling into me as I walk through the mall, or stupid questions, or messing up my order at the drive-thru, I will remember that someday I'll be an old person, and I used to be a kid--so there's a better than fair chance that I will either be that person or have been that person and will do or have done the same things. I will remember that I have definitely asked a stupid question (yes, there ARE stupid questions) because I wasn't paying attention or just didn't understand. I will remember that I once worked in a really high stress food service environment and that it's harder than it looks and no one gets it right all the time. In other words, I will try to be understanding and patient.

2. I will stop trying to find excuses as to why I can't do things. And by "things" I mean social and fun things as well as responsibility things. Like theater board meetings--of which I'm two for two so far. Instead of thinking about how I'm really tired and just want to put on PJs and read a book and send an email saying I feel like crap, I will take a 30 minute nap and get my butt out the door. If someone asks me to go to a party or dinner with friends or brunch in the city, instead of thinking of all the reasons I can't do it, I'll think about how I can rearrange things so I CAN.

3. I will remember that I used to do things on my own rather than letting things pass by me because no one was available to do them with me. I realized when the Oscar noms happened that I had seen exactly NONE of the films nominated for Best Picture. A quick perusal of the lists back through the years made me see that this was the first time since 1986 that I hadn't seen ANY of them. And the reason I hadn't? Well, I never have anyone to got with me to the movies. What is THAT? I used to LOVE going alone. Especially to the first matinee on a Saturday morning. I can go to art museums and Tour of Homes and plays and the symphony. And here's the thing…I can do them by myself.

4. In a related goal, I won't feel like I HAVE to do everything. While I'm pretty terrible about making excuses when there's a social thing ("Hey let's all go grab drinks after Event X" and all I can think is how I can get home to my couch), I have become this person who absolutely feels compelled to go see every friend in every show, concert, musical performance, etc. that they ever do. I have a really good friend who told me that he and his wife, also a really good friend, had once been told by ANOTHER mutual friend that you reach a point where you realize that if you see every friend you know who's ever in a show, that will turn out to be all that you ever do. You spend every Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in a theater watching shows which are often shows that you don't even want to see. I understand when people can't come to see me in something, so it's reasonable to assume the reverse. I will make sure I give them every best wish and good vibe and if it's something I want to see and I can, I will do it.

5. I will try to exercise three times a week, even if that means I do the "10 Minute Ab" DVD on three days. I WANT to do more involved work outs, but if I can't, then 10 minutes it is.

6. I WON'T diet. But I will attempt to be conscious of what I eat and will try to make good choices. Sometimes life makes eating right hard. And I have to accept that and not think that since I had to eat a sandwich at 10 p.m., I might as well throw all the good work away and eat what I want for the next three days before starting over.

7. I will dress in regular, human clothes five days a week, barring unforeseen circumstances. I don't care which five I choose to do it, but it's gonna happen (hey--I'm already two clothed days on the books and it's only Tuesday). I've gotten into the WORST habit of throwing on yoga pants most days. And I have WAY too many cute clothes for that to happen.

8. I will read something at least once a week. I will write something at least once a week, even if it's a paragraph no one ever sees.

9. I hope pick at least one "project"--a closet organizing, a shelf clean out, a furniture painting--a week and I will check off that box. If I'm in the middle of a busy week, then it's okay for it to be cleaning out one bathroom drawer. But I will get something done.

10. I will try to do new things. I sit around and think of all the cool things I want to do--I want to go hiking/camping. I want to run a 5K. I want to take a pastry class.--and I end up doing nothing. I want to make myself do the things I dream about. And I have some BIG dreams. But really, if I'm too scared or lazy to do the small ones, how can I expect the big ones to ever happen? I'm on it.

Okay, so there it is. I won't freak out if I mess them up. Because let's be real--I'm gonna mess this shit up all over the place. But I've written it down. It's real. And I'm doing my damnedest to make it happen.

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