Resolving to Believe…

Okay, so we’re three weeks and counting into a new year, and I can’t help wondering how many of us made New Year’s resolutions for 2007–and how many of us have kept them.

In Baltimore where I grew up, I attended an Episcopal private school from grades six to twelve. Every Friday, we broke from classes mid-morning to attend chapel, held in the cafeteria with we students filing in and sitting cross-legged in rows on the sticky floor. I have to confess I spent most of those chapel sessions zoning out, day dreaming about what I wanted to do and be in that faraway place known as my grownup future.

One chapel talk, just before Lent, though, has stayed with me all these years. The speaker was one of the teachers on staff, a spare, slender, neat woman who seemed ancient to me at the time and who was, I’m sure now, no older than thirty-five. The topic was Lent and her point, at least one of them, was that Lent shouldn’t always be a call to give up something, to deprive ourselves of some supposedly guilty pleasure. Maybe Lent, she suggested, was a time to *add* something to our lives heretofore missing. In her case, she resolved to honor the season by cooking a tasty, healthful dinner for herself each night. It seemed she was a single woman and eating dinner solo wasn’t something she looked forward to. Instead she grabbed a quick bite or sometimes skipped the meal altogether. Her thought was that perhaps cooking dinner for herself during Lent would become habit-forming, an act of self-love, an affirmation of her Divinely given human worth.

This year I made a New Year’s resolution, my first in years. It was just a small thing, really, a starter resolution. I resolved to start working out with my hand weights and exercise mat 2-3 times a week rather than once every week (or sometimes every other week). So far, I’ve kept my resolution. Now instead of a guilty binge work-out that leaves me reaching for the Motrin, I work out, feel great–and then actually am able to lift my arms the next day to dress myself. 😉 Can I keep it up? There’s no guarantee but, for now, I think I can.

Some resolutions, New Year’s and otherwise, maybe are meant to be broken. Certainly the ones that leave us feeling cranky, deprived, even bitter rather than good about ourselves are best left by the proverbial wayside.

How do we handle it when the things we once dreamed for ourselves don’t fit anymore–a relationship turned toxic, a job that no longer challenges us to create or grow, a daily routine that once made sense but now feels like a stint in federal prison.

Can we outgrow our resolutions sort of like that circa 1980 sweater with the shoulder pads and the glitter and leather patches that used to look so cutting edge cool but now seems just really sad and dated? When a dream grows old and frayed, is it time to put it aside and try on something new?

Recently I caught up by phone with a friend who moved away to Alabama. Before Pam left town, we used to hang out over dinner at her house, open a bottle of decent red wine, and have the most amazing one-on-one conversations. Pam is a big believer in making wish lists and creating vision boards. The latter are big pieces of foam board or just plain poster paper with photographs and magazine clippings and sundry small items that symbolize much more–basically what Back in the Day we used to call a collage. The purpose of the vision board, however, is to create a visual representation of how we wish our life to be–and then not just to wish it but to see and feel it. The vision board operates on the premise of the Law of Attraction. Seeing is believing. Believe it, and the good stuff will come. On the flip side, if you don’t dare ask, if you don’t dare dream, you don’t get.

On New Year’s Eve I bought a big bright red hunka foam board from the office supply store. It cost about $8 with tax, a small investment in the future. Right now it’s propped against the wall in my spare bathroom still sheathed in its shiny clear wrapper. I’m promising myself, resolving if you will, that this week I’m going to change that. I’m going to set aside a night when I’m home, open a bottle of decent red wine and sit down with magazines and books and scissors and glue and tape and, of course, my piece of big red foam board. I’m promising myself I’m not going to rush things. I’m not going to make a task of this. I’m not going to beat myself up if my vision board ends up looking like a third-grader’s C+ science fair project rather than a display object of beauty. (Did I mention I’ve never been “crafty”?). Instead I’m going to set aside the night, sip my wine, think about how amazingly fortunate I am to have gotten this far in life–and then I’m going to dare to dream and dream big. As in B-I-G. I’ll let you know how it goes.

As for my friend, Pam, she’s ramping up to make a whole new vision board. She’s already achieved most if not all of the goals represented on her old one, including a great new job, great new living situation, and brand new car. If that’s not inspiration for the rest of us, I don’t know what is.

May 2007 bring the realization of all your dreams, no matter how large or small…