A Brief Resolution



I’ve never been keen on making resolutions for the new year, largely because I have always broken them. Why set myself up for failing to get fitter, drink less, eat healthier, or fold my clothes like Marie Kondo?   I’m not alone.  It’s estimated over 80% of us who manage to make resolutions lose resolve by mid-February.   I get it. The very thought of a resolution nags “I must” or “I should”.  And if I don’t, I have failed, which is a lousy feeling.  It’s simply too much pressure.  What’s with all the hype if they so rarely work?

My resolution failings are in with the majority, but I wonder what percentage misses the mark within the first few hours of the new year?

Rather than making a list of resolutions, Roger and I have a slightly different tradition on the last night of the year.  We sit by the fire and explore the question:  “What are the areas we want to bring into focus in the new year?”  To do this, we each write on a piece of paper those things from the previous year we’d like to let go.  Sadness.  Anger.  Stress.  All the biggies which can get in the way of having fun.  We then burn the paper and with it, those burdens.  It may be a little new-agey to do this, but admittedly, it is very satisfying.  It’s symbolic and we both privately say goodbye to things that have been weighing us down.  We don’t discuss our regrets; we just burn them and then switch gears to forward thinking.

Next, we make a little list of a few items we’d like to do in the new year.  Again, these aren’t so much resolutions, but more guidelines.  We both agreed that we wanted to be more creative, tart up Crockern with specific projects, increase our travel, address fitness levels (okay, a little more exercise and less drinking come into this, which sounds perilously close to resolution territory), go to an Exeter Chiefs game, and try to go to the movies from time to time.  While we came up with these ideas independently, our 4-5 items where completely in synch with one another.  We’re off to a good start!

As we sat by the fire, discussing some of our plans for the new year, we both confessed that we wanted to be more patient about the things which make us nuts:   People driving up the track, climbing our stone walls, blocking our gate, or leaving poo bags in places  along the track that mean we either continue to look at them, or we have to clean them up.  It’s a big ask for both of us as our tolerance for what seems like completely oblivious behaviour on the part of the general public reached an all-time low last year.  Still, it’s not making us happy or stress free to focus on it, so we both agreed how we might go about “letting go”.

When I mentioned this intention to a friend, he quipped “I suspect it is easier for an addict to give up heroin than it is for any of us over a certain age to become more tolerant.”  Hmmmm.

Alas, he may have a valid point.  Day one of 2020.   It was a foggy holiday morning and we are enjoying a leisurely breakfast.  The morning air is chilly and there is a moody fog across the valley.   I’ve already built a fire and we are both looking forward to a long walk with the dogs after we finish a few chores.   It’s a lovely start to the new year and so far so good with our non-resolution resolutions.   Traditionally, on this day many people set out on a walk.  Eight-thirty a.m. and we could see we were in for a busy day on the footpath past our house.  Still, we were feeling positive about the new year ahead.

Suddenly, Roger flies out of his chair and shouts, “There’s a dog running in the yard!”

We are outside faster than imaginable.  Millie and Brock bark with excitement but are quickly stunned into silence when Roger roars, “NO!” at a black springer spaniel who had captured and killed our Wee-Cockerel Tommy.

We rescued Tommy several years ago.  He was a Bantam Cockerel, and about half the size of our hens.  Never once did he miss crowing his start of the day at 4:30 a.m.  Never once did he get up and about before 8:00 a.m., having woken everyone else.  When first introduced to our flock of hens, he stood his ground despite his size disadvantage.  A twenty-minute power struggle ensued between Tommy and the top hen.  After much chest thumping and chicken growling, the challenge ended.  Not clear who was the winner, but Tommy earned his wings and respect from the existing flock and us.  He was graced with black and iridescent green feathers, which upon first appearance rendered him rather drab – yet when the sunlight hit just so, he shone resplendently.  Always friendly toward us, the dogs, and our flock of hens, he never bullied, and was a sensitive little chap.   We always knew when we had a chicken who wasn’t feeling well as Tommy would not leave her side.  He was courteous and served his duty to his flock of hens with honour.  He also was fun to watch when he ran, swinging his feathered spurs left and right from under his body in a pirate like swagger. He has been a friend to all of us and to our hens and we’ll miss him terribly.

The encounter with the couple and their dog cut short our tolerance goal for the new year.     We had no patience for endless apologies.  We had no patience for explanations about how they were “unaware we had chickens,” their dog had “never done anything like this before,” and “we had no idea he could climb a fenced wall.”   No, we plummeted into resolution failure.  Our newly resolved patience as measured through limiting the use of colourful language was a fail.  We out Samuel L. Jackson-ed the man himself.

It’s true, eighty percent of people lose their resolve to making changes within the first six weeks of the year.  Some of us in less time than that.  Tommy the Wee Cockerel was murdered by our front door by an unsupervised dog who jumped our fence.  Roger and I failed with our first effort at improving our tolerance.  Given the circumstances, it was a big ask.










Wanted: Nifty Slogan for 2013

A Vintage New Year

A Vintage New Year

There is always something about turning the calendar page to a new year, which inspires reflection of the past and planning for the future.   I like that.  I also enjoy at this time of the year endless hours of listening to the radio, or perusing the paper, for the reports covering the year’s top news stories:  famous people who’ve died, wedded or divorced, significant discoveries and the top books/bands/gossip/do-s and don’t-s.   I like lists and one of my recent favourites was The Guardian’s Worst Ideas of 2012.  I couldn’t agree more that the adult gender-neutral outfit known as the “onesie” is a stinker!

As we speed headlong towards the next twelve months, I would like to come up with a rhyming slogan to set the theme for the New Year.  There are a lot of possibilities with the number thirteen, but washing-machine, annual vaccine, full of beans, trampoline, or My Friend Eileen are all hard to work into a pithy slogan.  While we haven’t settled on one yet, our top contenders are:

  1. We’ll avoid a regressing toward the mean in 2013;
  2. There’ll be no mindless routine in 2013; and,
  3. Embrace the unforeseen in 2013.

But what would the start of the New Year be without mention of resolutions?  Across the world, millions of these little goals will be made and a good many broken.  I know I’ve done it myself.  To address the desire to both learn from the past and set forth into the future, Roger and I write on pieces of paper any regrets from the previous year and then throw them into the fire, symbolically letting them go.   It’s easier to torch them up the chimney rather than spend hours ruminating on those things we can’t undo.  Examine our mistakes and try to put our best foot forward is our hope.  For me, there is a small thrill in making a list and I’ve noticed over the years that my annual “resolutions” isn’t about making big changes as much as it is about renewing a commitment of how I want to live.   Having found comfort in my life, along with the knowledge that I know how to embrace change, my list gets tweaked a bit just to keep me on track.

Typically, New Year’s resolutions are like the famous lyrics from the Frank Sinatra ballad, New York, New York:  “I’m gonna make a brand new start of it.”   That notion of committing to a few personal goals, projects or changing detrimental habits is enticing when January 1st looms and provides a fresh start and a chance to do it better.     There are the obvious big ones for many people:  get out of debt, quit smoking, loose weight, get organized, stop biting nails, get a better job, stop being so grumpy, get smarter or do something good for the world.   Some people may aspire to be less self-centered and more helpful, while others may still embrace the more superficial and appearance goals of having thinner thighs and better hair.  But does it matter?  In the end, it’s all about getting a focus for how we choose to operate in the world.

With that in mind, I’m happy to present my list for 2013.  I wont be sharing my regrets as there aren’t many and they’ve already gone up in smoke.  Time to move on!

  1. Keep my health in order.  Yes, the nutrition, exercise and alcohol consumption make appearances on most people’s resolution list, so I’m not alone.   I’m not making any changes, just hoping to be mindful of what I eat, drink and do to stay strong and healthy (though I’ve recently discovered Hula Hoops – a UK snack item that is beyond compare!). Sadly, I must make an, long overdue, eye exam and possibly embrace the prospect of wearing that fashion accessory known as glasses.
  2. Make music every day.  Maybe I can find a piano locally or learn a new instrument, perhaps the Harmonica?  If nothing else, I’m determined to continue singing aloud when I’m doing projects.  Apologies, Roger and Sam.
  3. Continue to keep family and friends in the foreground.  What I’d like to do more is visit long-time friends throughout the globe.
  4. Make time for special gifts and any day gifts for people I love.   You can’t beat the any-day gift as it is given without expectation.  I learned this from my friend Mary Ann and try to stay on top of this one when and where I can.
  5. Creatively document life through art, photos, and writing.
  6. Keep the home improvement project list manageable and extend the time line from 5 years to maybe 10 years to avoid burnout and disappointment.  The project list for Crockern Farm is at times daunting, so I’m busy making lists of the list as a way to have it seem more bite size.
  7. Avoid lying to myself.  “These heels don’t hurt.” Or, “I’ll only have one glass of wine tonight.”
  8. Be scared – and brave – more often.
  9. On a daily basis, rediscover my purpose and joy.
  10. Remember the happy and the half-full glass in all things.  Throw in a daily belly laugh for good measure.
  11. As both of us will turn 50 this year, perhaps we’ll acquire a telescope and peer at the stars nightly.  I know I’d like to stand on a mountain above the clouds this year, too.

And so there you have it, a humble list to kick off the New Year.   What appears on your list?