By almost any account, this is a time to look ahead toward a year that is shiny and new, full of promise and expectation, with yet-unbroken resolutions. But before I bound ahead into 2016, I feel compelled to look back, with some degree of guilt, about items that did not get checked off in 2015.
- The unsent Christmas cards (see photo, above, to see what is missing from friends and family’s mailboxes). Also, the unsent birthday cards, anniversary cards, get well cards, and on-time birthday gifts. There is no excuse, really, so I will not even try. But I rank this as one of my greatest shortcomings – failing to reach out and connect more with those I cherish most.
- The unfinished blog posts, opening paragraphs to the Next Great American Novel, and other writings that exist only in my mind or in ideas scribbled down in a notebook at 1:00 a.m..
- The extra ten pounds I still carry, but am trying hard to ignore.
- The disorganized hall closet filled to capacity with kids coats three sizes too small, bins of Disney VHS tapes, and broken umbrellas. Adding to the list of disorganized spaces is the corner of my home office, stacked with boxes of mismatched memorabilia from my father’s life, delivered unceremoniously to me shortly after his death nearly two years ago. I am sure some shrink would have a field day with my inability to wade through these spaces and things. Maybe dealing with the closet and corner should be added back to the list.
I could go on, and further feed my guilt, but to what end? Is it not better to look forward with blind optimism to what can be instead of backward on what could have been?
Or maybe it is simply better to re-frame how I view the new year and its obligatory resolutions. What did I learn from last year? What can I carry forward into the new year and do again, or do better.
In 2015 I learned to be a little less afraid, a little more bold, and a little more willing to take a risk. For a 40-something, suburban mom who has spent her life coloring inside of the lines, and who has been skiing since the 7th grade and still cautiously snow-plows down a green run, this is something.
At the beginning of 2015, I had a suppressed desire to write, with no actual expectation that I could make time for it or, God-forbid, summon the courage to let any one else read it. By the end of the year, I had this blog and a few legitimate third-party publications. Last January, I resolved to run more but had no intention of running 26.2 miles, and then I ended the year by finishing the New York City Marathon. A year ago, I was wringing my hands and reaching for tissues over the idea of our daughter leaving for college, but her confidence as she embarks on her future is infectious, and over the past few months I learned that our family will continue to love, and thrive, and adjust despite change because, as she is discovering, this is the exciting stuff of life.
So, how do I frame a resolution list to build on 2015? Perhaps this: Don’t be afraid of the next set of challenges and adventures, however they may unfold. Be bold enough to express my opinion, be it in my writing or in a boardroom. Take a risk on something great, even if it means that I might fail or have to try more than once before I succeed.
And also, next year, actually mail the Christmas cards.