Sunday, January 20, 2008

Catching Up on the New Year

I have been spending a lot of time thinking over my New Year's Resolutions. I know, I know--January is almost over and where have I been? Working, among other things, and dealing with family issues. But I've also spent some time thinking about why I make the same resolutions over and over and why I fail to keep them.

The Resolutions aren't bad. They're usually include writing for 15 minutes a day, eating healthier, exercising more, staying in contact with old friends, getting birthday and anniversary cards out on time. If I'm really ambitious, I'll include cleaning out the garage, getting our finances in order, and scrapbooking all those pictures in boxes in the attic.

It never happens.

The thing is, I enjoy doing all of those things. I really do want to have a neat and orderly life. I love to write. I miss hearing from my long-time friends from grammar school, high school, and my early working career. I love the way I feel after a walk or after I've worked out.

So why don't I follow through?

Well, in part because when I begin a project I get caught up in it. I can't just write for 15 minutes. I can't jot a quick note to my friends, just like I can't just sign Christmas cards and send them out. Each card has to have a personal note. So I end up not sending any cards at all.

I caught myself hyperventilating at work when I was assigned several projects at the same time because I wanted to finish them all right then. When I realized what I was doing, I was able to back off a little bit and prioritize. And give myself permission to finish some of the projects later in the week.

There is a YMCA around the corner from my office and they offer an "aquacize" class from 12:30-1:10 p.m. every work day. I've been pretty faithful about going this last month, even on days--especially on days where the phone has been ringing like crazy and monthly data has just been released and I have reports due to clients around the globe. I have voice mail. I have e-mail. And FedEx doesn't pick up until 5:15 p.m. I am entitled to my lunch hour, free of clients.

But the writing thing takes me out of myself. Before I know it, an hour is gone and I am late for the next item on my list. (The same thing happens when I read as well. I have been known to miss my stop. I'm afraid to listen to books-on-tape when I drive because I fear I will become so lost in the story, I won't pay attention to the road.) It doesn't matter if I'm writing on my blog or a poem or a letter to a friend. Time slips by, unnoticed. So if I have to be somewhere in 15, 20, or 30 minutes, I dare not start writing.

And time I spend on a project is time not spent with my family. I hide away when I write; I am unavailable when I work on a project, like cleaning the garage or organizing the files for the taxes. I feel like I'm neglecting Hubs and the kids by not spending time with them, even if that time is something as simple as watching a movie or a TV show. For some reason, if I multitask, it drives Hubs crazy.

One of my favorite bloggers is Manolo of Manolo's Shoe Blog, although his blog has expanded to include much more than shoes. One of his entries was about New Year's Resolutions and he suggested that one simply resolves to make everyday a "Superfantastical day." One doesn't have to do something difficult--one can merely smile at everyone on the street, be polite to the shopgirl and the transit driver, look one's best for all the strangers on the street. Unfortunately I can't find the exact article or quote, but I do remember thinking, "I can do that!" So I laugh with the clerk at the Y who checks me in. I smile at the homeless men along the street and wish them "Good morning" or "Good afternoon." One of them always replies, "God bless!" and I can certainly use all the blessings I can get from God.

What's harder is to be polite and cheerful and to look my best for my family. I'm easily annoyed when DD#2 doesn't load the dishwasher when I ask. Or when Hubs drops his socks on the bathroom floor instead of putting them in the hamper. I forget what they have done for me, concentrating on what they haven't done or completed.

I can choose to see the glass as half-full.

So I'm taking care of my physical body (and I'm not taking away any family time doing so--a bonus!) and I'm tryin to make the world more Superfantastic one person one day at a time, and that leaves my soul and my relationship with the Almighty. For several years now I've tried to pray the Rosary during my morning commute. Again, that only works if I'm not driving--I don't know how other people can do it, but I can't. The other problem I've always had saying the Rosary on my own is that I doze off in the middle of it. Or my mind wanders off and suddenly I'm far from any of the Mysteries.

Currently, I'm relying on modern technology as a solution: I've downloaded a podcast of the Scriptural Rosary as written by Eva Hite at the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Ms. Hite goes through all four sets of Mysteries, using the familiar lead and response for the prayers. Before each Hail Mary, she reads a bible verse that relates to the particular mystery she's on. Ten Hail Mary's; ten bible verses. At the end of each decade, there are traditional petitions, and the rosary ends with "Hail Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy." The timing is perfect: the Rosary ends just as I pull into my destination. I don't worry about losing track of where I am and if my mind wanders (and it does, still) I can usually find my way back. I can foresee a day when this particular version becomes too familiar and I will need to find another podcast or other solution. Hopefully, that won't be for awhile!