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Cathy: Promises, promises

Every year on January 1st (or I should face it, at least before or in February), I write down a wish and a resolution or promise for the New Year. The wish is meant to be big, seemingly impossible, the resolution is meant for real work on self. I light a candle, and get my reluctant family in on the act. We burn the old after reading them, and write the new. They can be kept to oneself or shared, but they must be written down. I prefer to share. K prefers to keep secret. Being who I am, I usually peek at his sometime in the first week, when he’s not around. Over the years, I’ve had some very pleasant surprises unfold in my sneakiness — my favorite is the year I read “be a better big brother to S.” We place the new resolutions and wishes under the candle, blow it out and keep them there for the year, until the next round. That’s when we see if we kept promises, met resolutions and if a million dollars showed up in the mailbox. One year the wish was a house, and we got this one that year! Burning the slips of paper is a good way to not hold onto/feel guilty about what you didn’t meet, and to start fresh again. Making a ritual of your intentions gives them more heft, too.

Just making one resolution and writing it down, makes it more plausible to actually meet it. It’s too easy to make a bunch of promises and then blow them off. Mine for 2008 was/is “to be a more involved mother and wife.” I like to think that was easily met, especially after bedrest pregnancy ended. I’ve made individual time with each boy on a pretty regular basis — not in a regimented manner like “Yes, I will go to a café with K every Saturday… I will play a game with S on Tuesdays.” I hold, love, and appreciate Baby C almost constantly. My husband and I can still work on making us time a priority, but I think it’s miles away from last year’s and earlier this year’s frantic yells from my bed for my latest ‘need’ and his frantic running to and fro to help me or get the boys to help him do so. I am very appreciative of him for having put up with me in such a state. I’m so glad it’s over and I can show that to him now. Not that I’m great at doing so, but I’m trying. After all, I made a promise I intend to keep. Maybe I’ll continue this resolution into 2009, but I’d really like to make another. I’m still thinking what I’d like to focus on next. Maybe it’s actively appreciating what is great about my life: my family, my creativity and its actual production of late, and taking better care of myself. Maybe instead of wishing for a million dollars, I’ll wish for a bestselling novel. The one I’m working on will be finished by February. I better get cracking on this resolution. There’s room for improvement in every area of my life. I really need to narrow this down.

10 Comments Post a comment
  1. What a nice ritual, Cathy! I really like that. And fire is always a great ingredient in any ritual, don’t you think? Makes me feel all tribal or something.

    January 1, 2009
  2. cathy #

    thanks. I think so, too. symbolic magic, burn away the old, on with the new.

    i think i got it after mulling it for a few weeks amidst the craziness and illnesses:

    2009 marks my return to living life to the fullest, as the grand adventure meant to be lived, fearlessly.

    still long, but you get the idea. and the wish is to publish a book people will enjoy reading.

    and i just want to share: today, honey and i went shopping, and bought coats for 3 kids under a 100 smackers! that’s a good start to the year!

    January 1, 2009
  3. Damn! How did you pull THAT off?

    January 1, 2009
  4. Kristine #

    I really like your tradition, Cathy, especially the part about burning last year’s promise and starting fresh. Not dwelling on the past. I absolutely love that.

    I wish you the best in meeting your promises and goals for 2009. My goal is to also finish my novel. Maybe we’ll both be on the path to publishing bestsellers.

    For me, 2008 was all about learning how to be a mommy to a newborn daughter and not having a nervous breakdown in the process. Now that she’s a little more independent, I feel like I can get back to integrating being a mommy with also being a writer.

    January 2, 2009
  5. cathy #

    miranda – burlington coat factory.

    kristine – thanks for the wishes to meet goals and having a new baby, esp for the first time absolutely changes everything. that first year really needs the time devoted to her. i am fortunate that, as slow as my writing is going, i’ve been able to do so in bits and pieces while baby c nurses or naps or plays on my lap. she’s been getting very busy of late, not such a lap sticker anymore. i think i’ve been able to be patient with divided attentions in myself because of all i’ve learned in raising my older kids, especially s, who can be a constant stream of noise. i’ve all but mastered tuning him out as i need to, and catching the hint that maybe this is not the time to be focussed elsewhere. this works for baby, too. good luck with your beautiful babies, human and written, in 2009!

    January 2, 2009
  6. Liz #

    I love this. My best friend from High School & I used to do it every year in her fireplace. It has been years since she moved across the country, but I should really start it up again, this time with my family. It is a much more thoughtful ritual than “Let’s pressure ourselves to party big tonight.”

    January 2, 2009
  7. cathy #

    that’s great, liz! i’m waiting til my guys get back from their dad’s tomorrow to do it here. although, after 11hrs in the car, i may not think of it until lanother day…

    January 2, 2009
  8. I have always hated the word Resolutions. This year I changed it to Dreams, Hopes, Wishes and Aspirations. I have bloged about this too.
    Happy New Year and Artful Blessings,

    January 3, 2009
  9. cathy #

    good idea! resolution always had a sense of fatality to it to me.

    January 3, 2009
  10. great ritual, cathy. i might have to adopt that one. and yes, i also don’t really care for that word “resolution”. it seems to have a negative connotation in my mind. i like kathryn’s “dreams, hopes, wishes and aspirations”.

    January 5, 2009

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