Tag Archives: resolutions

Top 10 Tuesday: Goals for 2016

I didn’t plan to make a resolution list for 2016. I planned to just continue concentrating on my ongoing life goal list, but I have a confession. I love lists. I’ve written about this before. I love the way that lists present a fragmented, free-form, less intimidating way to write down thoughts.

Some people write in a linear fashion; some people, like me, write the way children finger-paint: stand back, throw a big beautiful mess at the canvass, let it sit, and then scrutinize it for the main focal point to draw out. I love the way that lists tell stories in bite-sized nuggets, fragments of narrative that we can then stich together with imagination.

I stole today’s list idea, Top 10 Tuesday, from the Broke and the Bookish via Gin & Lemonade. The blogosphere is an open market of thievery. So, here are my top 10 goals for 2016.

1. Write more for pleasure

I think I’ve forgotten how to do this since I began marketing myself as a writer; not that I don’t enjoy professional writing, but sometimes exercising my writing muscles for pure pleasure has its own rewards. It might be a blog post, or an entry in my private journal, or a fragment in which I wax rhapsodic about how looking at Colin Firth’s eyes is like looking into a river swirling with all the secrets of the world in its depths.

2. Stop feeling guilty about having fun

I work hard. I deserve to play equally hard. Never mind that my definition of playing hard consists of crashing on the couch and binge-watching the Lizzie Bennet Diaries. (Don’t judge).

3. Guard my “me” time ruthlessly

I don’t dislike people (or rather, I don’t dislike a select group of people). In general, the human race baffles me. People who know me tend to classify me as an extrovert. I prefer to think of myself as an outgoing introvert. Yes, we do exist. Sometimes I thrive on human interaction, but sometimes, I need to erect my personal space boundaries, and when I’ve had enough, don’t take it personally if I go Captain Picard on you. The line must be drawn here, if ya know what I mean.

4. Keep better track of the books I read

In 2015, I fell into a rather Emma Woodhouse-like habit of making ambitious lists of all the books I’d read. Unlike Emma, I finished them, but I typically forgot to tick them off when I did finish them. Remembering to do so would have created a more efficient indexing system and also eliminated the problem of purchasing books I already own. And I have to own them; I can’t just borrow them. Unowned books are orphans waiting for a home. I’m doing a good deed.

5. Correct people when they mispronounce my name

My upstairs neighbor likes to call me Frances. I like to pretend I have gone magically deaf when he does. I have a problem with confrontation. (5.1: confront awkward situations head-on instead of scurrying into the corner like a frightened mouse or feigning deafness).

6. Read at least 5 books on Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf list

Yes, Hermione Granger has started a feminist book club, and all the cool kids on the internet are joining, apparently. Emma Watson is the kind of feminist in her 20s that I want to be when I grow up. This might be a good place to start.

7. Stop envying people who visit England

So many of my friends and colleagues have visited England during the last few years. I love hearing their stories about trips to the British Museum and the Tower of London, but I also invariably feel a twinge of longing, like homesickness for a home I never knew. Fortunately my friends try to dull the ache by returning with gifts of Cadbury and souvenirs from the Jane Austen Museum.

8. Regularly clean out my refrigerator

Do you know what zucchini looks like after you’ve abandoned it in the vegetable crisper for three weeks? Unfortunately I do. I thought the Hulk was scary, but rotten vegetables take big green monster who a whole new level. I’d rather not relive that.

9. Drink more tea

A friend gifted me with a sampler of loose-leaf tea for Christmas. Because I’m apparently not as hardcore of an anglophile as I thought, I didn’t own a tea-strainer. I’ve since remedied that, so I might as well make it worth the investment. I also committed myself to listing ten goals, and I’m losing steam.

10. Clean out my inbox

If emails had the same perishable properties as vegetables, I’d have a Hulk zucchini situation on my hands, and the Board of Health would probably have confiscated my inbox five years ago. Most of the time, I avoid confrontational emails (see number 5). Maybe there’s a pattern developing here.

Question

What are your goals for this year?

Making a New Start: or, How I Discovered the Wisdom of Bridget Jones in a Fortune Cookie

Several weeks ago, I met a few friends for dinner at a local Chinese restaurant, and as usual, at the end of the meal, each of us broke open our fortune cookies to read aloud, between crunches, the nuggets of wisdom tucked inside. I generally put about as much faith in fortune cookies as I do in my weekly horoscope; neither have ever contained phrases like “A million dollars,” “You’ve won an all-expenses paid trip to England,” or “full time employment.” They’re slips of paper baked into a hard pastry shell, after all, not the Amazing Kreskin. This time turned out much the same. “Welcome the good change coming into your life soon,” my cookie prophesied.
“How suitably vague,” I mused. “That could involve anything from winning the lottery to ‘The Big Bang Theory’ returning to Thursday nights and thus restoring order in my universe.”

On the drive home, I found myself chatting with my friends teenage daughter about relationships. In a mojito-inspired burst of Bridget Jonseian wisdom, I suddenly heard myself declaring, “Never settle for someone who makes you want to do everything they want to do. Don’t sacrifice your identity for anyone. (unless he’s 6’1 and English. Then maybe you can negotiate, but just a bit). Nobody makes you whole. You’re an individual with or without anyone else. You don’t need anyone to make you a whole person.”

“Why,” I wondered as I got ready for bed, “is it so easy to give advice to others and not follow it ourselves?” Everything I told my friend’s daughter I’ve learned from my own experiences. My bruised, battle-scarred heart tells a story of resilience. I’m proud of those bruises. They remind me that I’m brave enough to fall in love and strong enough to survive and climb out from beneath the rubble of crushed dreams. I thought again of my flimsy fortune and suddenly recalled that this month, I will celebrate what I’ve affectionately termed my “Bridget Birthday.”

Anyone who’s seen the 2001 film adaptation of Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones’s Diary knows that it all began for her in her 32nd year, and by “it,” she means everything. Between losing and gaining a job, losing and gaining a boyfriend, and learning how not to climb a fireman’s pole, Bridget learns that being a woman of substance doesn’t mean getting it right all the time; rather, it means learning how to fall, and how to brush yourself off when you do so you can try again and maybe, or maybe not, land on your feet the next time.

Bridget Jones writing in her diary
“It is a universally acknowledged truth that when one area of your life starts going okay, another falls spectacularly to pieces.”- Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001), image credit Miramax

As I thought about Bridget’s story and how much I’ve learned from her about how to be a woman in a world that seems full of wrong turns and roadblocks, I made a resolution to make this year, my 32nd, the year of Bridget. So, to start things off right, I’ve made a list—not exhaustively long because I’m nothing if not practical—of my Bridget year resolutions.

1. Stop obsessing about your job

You have one. Many people don’t. It will lead to bigger and better opportunities in its own time. Life is a marathon, not a 50-yard dash.

2. Stop comparing yourself to others

When you set other peoples’ lives up as the gold standard for your own, you set yourself up for disappointment. Tell your own story. Live your own life.

3. Stop obsessing about being single

Just because you haven’t gotten married, bought a house, or had a baby, you’re no less of an adult than anyone who has. (Re: stop comparing).

4. Stop thinking of your heart as broken

Your heart may be bruised, but it beats, and it feels, and it remembers how to love, if you’ll let it. You’ve been hurt, yes—badly. So have a lot of other people. Your heart is whole, beautiful, and full of love. Your love is a gift; give it where you know it will be treasured.

Before you offer your heart to someone, check to see if he’s holding out his hand, ready to take it. If he’s not, it doesn’t mean you’re unworthy; it just means he’s not ready to hold something that precious and cherish it the way it deserves to be cherished. Don’t stand there thinking one day he’ll decide to hold out his hand and take it. When and if he’s ready, he will come to you and ask you to share it with him. If he never does, someone else will, because you’re worth it. Your heart is a one-of-a-kind, limitted edition jewel. It deserves to be treated as such.

5. At least once a day, tell yourself that you’re a strong, confident, woman of substance, comfortable with who you are, just as you are

Tell yourself this as many times as you need to until you believe it, and even when you do believe it.

Question

Do you make birthday resolutions? What have you resolved to do this year?