When you wish upon a…

Mid-January and I’m still answering the usual question. Did you make any resolutions? I wonder at times why we hang such hope on a new year. Why we burden ourselves with resolutions and determinations that will only bring guilt or a sense of failure to our freshly swept doorstep. I confess I used to make resolutions, only to break them before the cold snows of February. It seems an unneeded stress to weigh ourselves with such expectation, especially when the majority of these resolutions do not come to fruition. Life brings enough unexpected and sometimes unwanted gifts to our door without our adding to the pressures of our daily lives.

This year, I’ve decided to try something different. I made a wish list. Now, many would argue resolutions have become just that, simple wishes. The definition of a resolution is to make a firm decision, and yet each year we fall off the resolution wagon so easily since it seems no clear path or guideline is created to maintain and reach the resolution. Possibly this failure is due to making the wrong resolutions. To me, resolutions seem to be more determined by our society or the expectations of others. This year, I will exercise more (because I’m supposed to be fit). I will eat greens and cut out sugar (because I’m supposed to eat healthy foods). I will add to my savings (because I need to be financially secure). Yes, all of these are beneficial to us, but is it what we truly want?

What if resolutions were more like wishes? True wishes. I know, I know. What is the good in wishing for something? Again, no specifics, no timeframe, or clear set goals in making a wish. Plus, wishing will not make it come true, right? Or does it?

The definition of a wish is to “feel or express a strong desire or hope for something not easily attainable.” Some define wishes as lazy because the person making the wish believes it will come true by some magical force, not by hard work. I believe there is magic in wishing, but the magic is the power the wish gives to you, the wisher. Sure, some wish for the obscure or the unattainable, but the majority of wishes come from the inner yearnings of the soul and the magic is the lifting of any self-imposed limitations. I’ve always believed dreams are achievable when you refuse to limit your possibilities.

Once upon a time, I wished to work on campus at Wichita State University. It was never an annual resolution, nor did it have a calculated plan attached. Much like the Merlin Electronic Game I wished for as a child, I opened the Sears and Roebuck Christmas Catalog of Life and circled “work for WSU,” maybe even drew a disproportionate pointy star next to it. Regularly, I opened the dog-eared catalog and re-circled the item. While as a child I made sure I completed chores to perfection and worked even harder at school to make my Merlin wish come true, as an adult I opened myself to opportunity and pushed aside limitations and self-doubt.

When my mentor suggested taking a part-time position on campus, I applied. I didn’t want to work part-time, but I knew this position might be my only chance to get in the door. I worked diligently at my 25-hour per week position while finishing my degree and learned as much as possible about the inner workings of the university and its history. As the university breathed its life into me and my passion expanded, becoming more evident, other opportunities revealed themselves and I went through those doors, even when I was a just a bit unsure. The magic was the freeing myself from limitations and pushing aside that self-doubt and creating openness and willingness for the wish. I will celebrate ten years this August.

Sometimes, it isn’t the plan, the calculations, or the check list that brings a dream or a goal to reality, but the desire itself and the understanding of how life works. We need to take those opportunities when they arise and with little or no hesitation remove any over-rationalization and self-doubt. When we engage, we better ourselves and better our path. And, it helps if we look out for one another. We need to be better at helping others recognize their potential, as well as ensure we bring to light opportunities to those whom might benefit. As we become more hopeful, more selfless, and make ourselves and others available to opportunity, it is then wishes come true.

So, no more resolutions of weight loss or joining a gym because you feel you should or simply because it’s the resolution you make each year. Instead, wish for the opportunity to spend more time with your best friend and since she loves Zumba and Pilates, open yourself to joining her for a few classes. Even if you don’t completely fall in love with Pilates, the company is worth the sweat. Instead of buying a bunch of high-priced, organic groceries from your chain grocer and stressing over learning new meals, participate in a Community Garden or Community Supported Agriculture and introduce local produce into your diet. You may discover having your hands deep in the earth was what you were truly missing and meet some like-minded people who will offer their favorite butternut squash soup recipe or how to perfect steamed asparagus. Plus, you’re supporting your local community and local farmers. Bonus.

This year, skip the redundant resolutions and make a wish. Just remember, there are no stars to wish upon, no birthday candles, and no wishing wells. The talisman is you.















Promises, promises

2011. According to the doomsday interpretations of the Mayan calendar, our final full year. And while I do not believe these radical interpretations of an ancient calendar, as I began to make my annual list of resolutions I kept this thought in the back of my mind, what if this was it? What if this was my final full year to accomplish…something. So, instead of making the usual broken-by-February resolutions of save money, start exercising, write more, I decided to go about this differently.

I divided my resolutions into categories I believe are most important in my life. For two of those categories, I decided to break it down by month so every month I’ll have two goals to accomplish.  Simple, right? And they are no longer resolutions, but promises of new, promises of faith, promises of health, promises of home.

Promises of New (year-long goal): Try new things. In so doing, the goal is to become fearless. These goals encompass everything from writing to physical activity, to locations and technology. 1. Write my novel. While I realize this is not entirely new, I’ve realized it is a fear. Fear of the new. I’m a short story writer. I find comfort in blogs. Not novels. A novel is intimidating. Face the fear. Write the novel.

2. Run. I want to become a runner. I want to start running. Why? I have no idea, except I’ve always admired people like my brother who run consistently and have for years. And Chandra has  inspired me in her new-found runnerdom. Run.

3. Visit some place new. Even if it’s just a town in Kansas I have never been, the goal is to discover. Shed the comfort zone of familiar territory. I used to love to travel, and while finances have been the downfall of our once travel friendly lives, this doesn’t mean there are not wonderful places to become acquainted just a few miles down the road.

4. Step into the world of Ipod. I’m still a CD gal. And our living room still hosts a monstrous CD-carousel that is really obsolete and truly ugly. Get an Ipod, download, get mobile. Then maybe buy a new piece of pretty furniture to replace the monstrosity. Ahhh.

Promises of Faith (year-long): Be closer to God. I have finally found a parish in which I feel welcome, serene, and most importantly, impassioned. The priest gave me my first bible. Yes, a 40+ year Catholic receiving her first bible. And I’ve joined a few of the ministries within the church. I’ve never known this presence and I want to spend 2011 knowing more.

Promises of Health (monthly goals): I won’t go into details and give each month’s goal, but this has everything to do with  health. I have felt physically lousy the latter of 2010. Fatigued, achy, heavy. Ick. So, January begins with cutting back on dairy, February kicks red meat to the curb, March will introduce running to the mix of yoga and Pilates. And that’s just the first three months.

Promises of Home (monthly goals): Both tangible and intangible. I’ve made a list of physical attributes I would like to omit, add or update in our home. Both inside and out. Plus a list of ideas I would like to incorporate to bring more of a sense of comfort and security and closeness. I confess, my husband and I spend too much time a part in our own home. He in one room, me in another. Unless we’re on the deck. Which is great. But it seems when we are indoors, we drift to different areas of the house. I’ve yet to clue him in on these “togetherness” goals, but I’m hopeful.

And with that, I begin a new year. Of course, I hope to incorporate promises to blog more, at least daily on one of my three blogs. And to actually go one full year without borrowing money from savings.

But even if I fail in all four categories, I believe the challenge will be enough to open my life to possibilities. And to hope. After all, isn’t that what  a new year is all about?