As we all look back at 2018, I think the first thing that we should do is absolve ourselves from any 2018 resolutions that went neglected or abandoned. What is the point of beating ourselves up? As Carlos Castaneda wrote, “We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”
Last January I had the audacity for the first time in many years to write down my new year’s resolutions: clean clutter, read more books, create more, save more money. Notice that in my non-accountant, right-brained way, I didn’t set any quantifiable goals for these, with “more” being a highly subjective quantifier. So here is my highly subjective scoring for how I kept these resolutions:
Clean Clutter: C-
Read More Books: A-
Create More: B+
Save More Money: F
Can I offer excuses for resolutions not kept? Hell, yes! Saving more money is the easiest. It’s nearly impossible to save money in a year when your daughter gets married unless you are either a hermit or a miser.
There was some success with clutter – a person can now walk through our basement without having to wade through a flotsam of boxes, discarded small appliances, outdoor furniture, and an island of misfit toys. But our attic is quite literally another story.
The act of creation for me this year expanded beyond what I thought would involve just writing. I certainly could score myself high if it meant creating moments to remember. My trip to Greece, Grace’s shower and wedding, our service week in Dunlow, West Virginia, and countless visits with dear friends at holidays and throughout the year enabled me to keep that resolution in spectacular fashion. I did mostly keep up with my monthly blog posts and I have done some writing for my non-profits, but big writing projects remain works in progress, so that’s one mark against me. However, 2018 gave me the chance to create bridal shower centerpieces, non-profit videos, and Shutterfly photo books, so all in all I would claim that resolution was more than kept, just not the way that I originally intended to do so.
As for reading more, I read sixteen books in 2018 and though I didn’t track my reading in 2017, I know that was significantly more. The books that I read, from nonfiction like Hillbilly Elegy and The Hidden Life of Trees, to fiction like Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine to Circe, reminded me again and again of the power of writing to transform your day, your year, your life.
Reading that takes you to a unique place and time or a totally author-created fantasy world has the power to teach and inform and inspire. One of my favorite authors is Anne Lamott and her book Small Great Things was the first book I read in 2017. I love her writing, especially this:
This is what grace looks like – amazed gratitude and relief at my plain old gorgeous life.
Remembering to be grateful every day for “my plain old gorgeous life” is a resolution I intend to keep in 2019.