Monday, January 18, 2010

new year's not-resolution

I don't usually do New Year's resolutions, mostly because I never keep them, which can be depressing. I've tried variations on the theme recommended by friends, but I've never found something that worked. But every year I think about resolutions because everyone else is talking about theirs. This year when I was thinking about what my new year's resolutions would be if I did them, which I don't, an odd thought came to mind, which was: "lighten up." And it keeps coming back. Here it is the 18th of January, and I'm still thinking about all the different ways that phrase resonates for me. So I guess I do have a new year's resolution this year, and that's it. Except it's not really a resolution, so it's my new year's not-resolution.

Years ago a therapist told me something that has had a pretty profound influence on me. It keeps popping up in different contexts and different layers of meaning, although the idea is a simple one. She told me that I tend to take responsibilty for things I'm not responsible for (my children's happiness, world peace) and then not take responsibility for the things I AM responsible for (my own happiness, my own thoughts, my own little realm of chaos).

That little gem has had so many different ways of playing out since I heard it that I think maybe I should have it tattooed on the back of my hand to remind myself. I've been known to worry about what other people think more than making sure I'm comfortable with who I am. Or worrying about the number on the scale more than taking responsibility for eating healthy food. Or thinking about the grade instead of the paper.

"Lighten up" seems to me to be one more layer of this same idea. I think I've been taking myself a little too seriously-- hence, "lighten up." While in other ways, I've not taken myself seriously enough. If that makes any sense. I'm not sure I can explain it any better than that. At first it seemed mainly to apply to a couple of projects I'm taking on (about one of which: more later), but in another way it applies to this blog. When I was really wrestling with my religious upbringing, I needed to write about it. I mean "needed" literally. I seem to work things out by writing about them. I post my writings publicly here for some reason that makes almost no sense to me, but the reason I write it is for me. But now even though I'm not wrestling day-to-day with that stuff anymore, I still have this lingering sense that that's what I should post about. As if posts on other, less serious issues don't belong here. It hasn't always been that way-- I used to have a much wider range of topics. So, who knows what I will post about, but I think I'm going to broaden the field again.

Lighten up, Aunt BeaN.

Here's to a 2010 full of light.



  1. This may be difficult to believe, but until I posted this, the aspect of "lighten up" that had NOT occurred to me was the one of weight. Ha. Seems rather obvious in retrospect, and of course like most, I could stand to lose a few pounds. But that wasn't my point, and it still isn't.


  2. I don't do a good job of keeping up with your blog - I often miss a bunch and then play catch up. This one resonated with me.

    The notion of taking responsibility for things that I am not responsible for (making people happy, keeping them happy with me is key) and not taking responsibility for things that are my responsibility could have been straight out of my head.

    I take it in a slightly different direction - trying to learn to know what I want. My goal is to be a "high-maintenance woman" - someone who knows what they want and goes for it.