Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Year's Resolutions: Cliches and Whatnot

Many people may be huddled around television sets, watching the game and nursing a hangover from last night's revelries. My day is a bit different. I started out by sleeping in and then trudging twenty feet toward the couch to watch three episodes of "The Twilight Zone." Later, I shut off the TV and went to the park to exercise in the "warm" temperatures with my husband, Rob. It's almost four in the afternoon and I have not showered yet.

But, like many, I am also mulling over resolutions. Again, like many, mine are self serving. When asked what I wanted to improve on for the coming year, I responded that I would like to keep my toe nails polished more regularly. My husband's look of sincere sadness said it all. But who out there doesn't have some vain resolution? Of course I have more, and being a cynic, I expect that I will not commit to all of them for long. But it's the effort that counts, right?

Be more organized
Cook healthier meals
Spend less money
Exercise less sporadically
Travel more
Improve my home (it's still pretty bare)
Get enough sleep
Be more patient

In truth, I find that my new year will come in April, when this project comes to a close. With the exception of a couple of vacations, I have volunteered on a weekly basis for about nine months. It's hard to quantify the experiences. But I can say the experiences have added value to my life and pushed me to try new things.

My friend and colleague gave me "The Happiness Project" for Christmas. I am about halfway through, and while I find the author somewhat annoying and self centered, she does have some good advice and I am finding that I, too, am thinking of changes in an effort to ultimately make myself happier. Isn't that what the new year is all about? Reinvention.

"The VALunteer Project" is a gimmick, like many out there. Taking a year to experience something new and hopefully finding something about myself in the process has been written about in several books and movies. If anything, I have learned to appreciate my life more. My experience did not take me to tropical countries, turn me into a chef, or have me contemplating religious institutions. Instead, it has taken me to shelters and parks, walking dogs, and serving food.

At a mere twenty six, I have no authority to dole out advice, but I am finding out that having goals is the key to my own happiness. This year has been full of both good and bad experiences. I have purchased a house with my husband, and learned the responsibility of taking care of a home (OK, to be accurate, we bought it at the end of 2009). I endured a painful end to a waning friendship that had turned sour a couple of years ago, but clinged to it because of unfortunate circumstances. I have enjoyed the best relationship with my parents than I have ever had, and look forward to visits with them.

My real hope this new year, is that I will continue to learn and eke out enjoyment in even the most mundane circumstances. I will aim to surround myself with positive people and learn to accept negative situations. When April rolls around, I will take on a new project for myself. But today, I will enjoy the ending of my holiday vacation. And take a shower.

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