Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Only New Year's Resolution I've Ever Kept (And Why You Can Keep This One Too)

Act #365:  Keep it going.

Exactly one year ago, my husband Adam and I were laying in bed in the early morning hours, staring at the ceiling, lazily contemplating the power and lure of the clean, blank slate that was before us.  New Year's Eve:  the one day in the entire year that the world gives us permission to hit the re-set button on life.  Never mind that you just ate half a jam cake eight hours ago, tomorrow the allure of the other half will pale in comparison to your new found willpower.  There may be dirty laundry piled high up to the ceiling, but tomorrow it will all be freshly cleaned, neatly folded and organized along with the rest of your life.  Today, you may feel burned out, yet resigned that the place you spend eight hours every day depletes you to your core.  Tomorrow, however, you will either see that same place in a brand new light, or you will finally have the strength to access an untapped source of motivation....and you will seek out a different kind of place that replenishes your soul.  Over the next 12 hours, we will magically transform from a wandering, indulgent, chaotic species to determined individuals with new found purpose, intention, and focus.  And within a week, the clock will strike midnight again, and the majority of our golden chariots of possibility will turn back into comfortable, ordinary pumpkins of our own habits and routines.  For the last 20 years I have been desperately trying to figure out a way to harness and store the power of possibility that only reveals itself during those precious final hours before the new year begins, in hopes that it might feed me for the next 365 days.  And every year, within a few weeks, sometimes a few months, I find my new stair stepper shoved in a corner, my resume still untouched, my child still staying up past his bedtime. 

But this past year was different. 

My single resolution evolved from despair and grief for a future world that my son would inherit. My single resolution evolved from desperation, helplessness, even fear, that as his mother, the best I could do for my son was to settle....to pass on to him an unkind, unjust world of dissent, discord, and separation.  The best I could do was to continually succumb to the rich, indulgent jam cake and the piles of dirty laundry, day-in, day-out, without even trying to make things better.  And so I resolved to live the next 365 days with intention, and purpose, and focus, but this time, not for myself.  I knew that 365 days later I'd still not be able to fit into that royal blue size 4 dress I ordered from Modcloth a year ago.  But that was OK.  Liberating, actually.  Because for once in my adult life, I had resolved to embrace being myself: you know plain, kinda boring, painfully ordinary.  But instead of fighting tooth and nail to change those things (like I have been for the past 20 years), this time I embraced them.  I accepted them.  I celebrated the fact that there was probably a world of kindred "ordinary" spirits out there who also believed in a kinder, gentler world.

And so on December 31, 2012, I harnessed the energy of New Year's Eve possibility and I became a plain Jane, one who finally decided to believe in her own simple power to make things better.  One who finally stopped spending her life trying to figure out how to save the big, wide, broken world...or her big, wide, broken self.......and who finally saw that it was indeed those small, seemingly insignificant, but intentional every day acts towards others that truly mattered in the large scheme of things:  acknowledging someone's existence, giving voice to someone who lost theirs, speaking out against injustice, protecting those most vulnerable, and returning personal power to every living being.   A year ago, I resolved to be ordinary.  To care.  And to do my little part in making the world a bit kinder, a bit gentler, a bit safer.  Can you imagine what would happen today, if all 7 billion of us resolved to do the same?  Let us ponder that as we indulge in our final piece of cake of the year.


A Personal Note:  Thank you, from the bottom of my heart for joining me on this year-long journey.  For your public comments and dialog, for your private e-mails and messages, for including me in your book chapters, for letting me contribute to your on-line publications, for publishing my op-eds, for believing in me enough to think I should write a book?...or a journal....or to continue this blog.   I am humbled that you have been willing to listen to my simple, ordinary voice.  I see the world differently now that I've discovered that so many of us share the same extraordinarily ordinary voice despite our different journeys, paths, backgrounds, and yes, even political parties.  What next, you ask?  Besides learning to play the guitar and finally trying to fit into that Modcloth dress, I plan to contribute to this blog on a weekly basis, or as I feel so called by the universe.  I'm confident that a year from now, I'll at least be able do an Old McDonald sing-along with my son, and there's at least a 50% chance that I'll be wearing that royal blue dress to a swanky New Year's Eve party.   If not, for the remaining future New Years of my life, I will simply celebrate, the year I became ordinary.  The year I learned to care for something other than myself.


  1. SO Proud of you, Mae! Your posts have made me laugh and cry... PJ has made an impact. Well done.

  2. Mae, you could never be ordinary. Thanks for your gift of a year that made us think. Connie B.