Tuesday, January 1, 2008

New Year Resolutions

Each New Year resolution is a small gift wrapped in shiny paper that we give ourselves and I want to chose mine carefully. My resolutions aren't always practical or concrete or measurable. They're certainly not easy.

1. Nurture serenity.
It doesn't mean to hide out from life and avoid problems but to deal with them as they come. It doesn't mean being arrogant or cold or unseeing or not being empathic, but exactly the opposite. It means being brave and patient and showing kindness.

2. Simplify.
After spending time at my in-laws house, a house crammed full of stuff everywhere you turn, where it's impossible to focus on anything because there is just too much, my resolution includes getting rid of things that I don't need, don't want, or will never use. There are some things I will keep for sentimental reasons, others because they're practical, but I will begin looking at the things in my house with a far more critical eye. I do not want to be in my eighties and spending most of the little time I have left on this earth taking care of inanimate objects while also trying to figure out how to get rid of them.
I also want to simplify my inner life. I have a tendency to make everything much too complex. I examine things too closely, try to determine all the possibilities beforehand and spend inordinate amounts of time making decisions about things which really aren't all that important. I do that partly because I dislike unpleasant surprises, have a tendency to be a perfectionist, and want to feel in control. I need to learn to let things go.

3. Pray
I pray in bits and pieces throughout my day. I don't use long and formal prayers except when I say the rosary, which I try to do daily. I pray when I'm driving, when I fold laundry, when I cut carrots for stew, and roll out pie dough. I pray when I sweep the kitchen and water flowers and hear the little birds singing.
I make prayer a natural part of my everyday life.

4. Expect Joy
Sometimes I miss the little pieces of joy that are all around me because I am just not paying attention.

5. Accept Grace
Accepting grace is far more difficult than it seems. Ann Lamott wrote: "(Grace) is unearned and gratuitous love; the love that goes before, that greets us on the way. It's the help you receive when you have no bright ideas left, when you are empty and desperate and have discovered that your best thinking and most charming charm have failed you; grace is the light or electricity or juice or breeze that takes you from that isolated place and puts you with others who are as startled and embarrassed and eventually grateful as you are to be there."

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