Moment of Observation: Happy New Year!

Recently, a friend asked me if I’d made any New Year’s resolutions.  The truth is, I haven’t.  The truth is, I think they’re a terrible idea, because they mentally set us up to do something differently for the next 365 days and if we don’t…failure!  So when you miss that first planned day of going to the gym or you overindulge or don’t darn your socks in a timely fashion as part of your money-saving agenda, that’s not just a *biff*, that invites a negative moral judgment.  You resolved to do this thing, to embark on this life-changing endeavor, and you?  You failed.

Who needs that?  Mark Twain said, “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.”  In other words, Mark Twain got why resolutions are not geared toward fruition.  You don’t throw the bad habit out the window and hope it sticks the landing, because it never does; you just let it go, bit by bit.  Any advice anyone can give me about coaxing nail-biting downstairs will be greatly appreciated.

With that being said, New Year’s is…well…a new year.  A new beginning, by definition a transition point and a good time to do a self-evaluation.  Buddhists will tell you that everything is impermanent and so change is always possible as each moment is an independent one from the past, and there’s an undeniable reality to that.  But non-Buddhist Westerners (like me) like to compartmentalize and pretend that change is something to be initiated and manhandled, even if in our hearts we know that’s not the case.  I’m not saying it’s OK, I’m just saying that’s how it is.  And so, here are some things I’ve recommended to myself to do, which you may be interested in doing, too.  It’s far from a complete list, but let’s face it, neither you nor I have the time or energy to write down every little thing you observe and would like to change.  At least not in one sitting.

Or you could.  It’s your story to write, I’m just making suggestions.

If you know what's good for you...

1. Sweat more.  Your skin will thank you for it.

2. Do you want it?  Do you use it?  No?  Then throw it out, donate it, or recycle it.  Interior clutter just clutters you, too.

3. Read a book.  If you’re a student, take a break.

4. Stop hanging around with people you don’t really care about.  Find the people you do really care about, and focus on them.

5. Pay more attention to your food; it does go in your body.  Save the quota of junk influx for the aforementioned overindulgences.


6. Make friends with the question, “Now what?”  Give yourself permission to not know, but never the permission to not look for the answer.

7. Be nice.  By “nice” I mean, humane towards animals, playful but firm with small children and humble and open toward everyone else.

8. Consider other perspectives.

9. Don’t turn the TV on for “background noise”.

10. Find something you love and pursue it like you’re going to ignite if you don’t.

And there are, of course, a few other things you ought to always bear in mind, like, “The past is just a memory now, so if it’s bad, let it go” and “Stick it to The Man” and “Dax Shepard is never, EVER, funny,” but as I have worked these into my daily patois, I don’t feel like they’re my suggestions to myself.  They’re just…truth.

Not funny.

I just watched a PBS-Dr. Wayne Dyer show called Excuses Begone, and while he dances into the religious a little more than I’d like, he always offers sound advice.  In Excuses Begone, Dr. Dyer reminds us of what H. Jackson Brown, Jr. said,  to “Never underestimate your power to change yourself (oh, OK, cool!); never overestimate your power to change others (oh, crap).”  So I’m not envisioning that I will change the world with this, no matter how much I’d like to dash in and save you all with my insurmountably groovy appeal.  Honestly, I’m hoping I can follow my own advice, though with that statement I realize I have already undermined myself, so I’ll stop it.  It’s that easy to be self-defeating.  The hard part is embracing fabulosity, even though it’s what we all want for ourselves.

So go on, be fabulous.  It’s OK.  Have a delicious sandwich and I’ll see you ’round the recycling center.

Now what?

8 responses to Moment of Observation: Happy New Year!

  1. MY comment is not about your well written blog. I agree with you on your opinion on resolutions.They are always geared toward a nearly impossible personal venture. Taking small steps down the steps is a great way of looking at it. Coaxing it down the steps. What a great vision!

    I can’t stop thinking about the “y’all” definition.

    Growing up in Texas, I heard and used that term frequently. I even remember it being a spelling tests! IN my memory, I never recall using it in the singular, for “y’all” is short for “you all”. I personally never said it to an individual, unless I was describing a gathering that was to happen later. For instance, if my friend asked me over for dinner, I would reply, “What are y’all having for dinner?”
    I always understood “y’all” was plural. The term “all y’all” ( as incorrect it already is ) was meant as a “multiple plurality”, ( sounds like a twilight zone episode , which many parts of Texas seems to be like ). It was spoken by beer gutted gym coaches to the pre-pubescents sitting in lines on the gym floor like rows of corn. ” Now ALL Y’ALL boys gots ta run in a square circle 10 times befo we goes outside in the rain to run some mo… ”
    My father was an anchorman in Texas, and a radio journalist for many years. He would always correct my brother and me with our grammar and diction of the english language. Off the airwaves, he would occasionally use “y’all”, and it was always in terms of a plural statemnt for my brother and me. “Y’all need to go to the backyard and shovel up that dog sh**”.



    • beyondpaisley – Author

      For those who didn’t read this blog from a link in an email I generated, the above “y’all” discussion refers to this, the text of the email I sent introducing this month’s blog:

      I know, I know, I was on an extended holiday hiatus. But believe me…It lives. Happy New Year, all y’all.

      (Grammar nerds, you’ll be delighted to know that “y’all” is actually singular and “all y’all” is plural. I kid you not.)


      So, no, you didn’t miss anything.

      And all (plural) those all boys ran in gym class, didn’t they? 🙂 XO


  2. deb slade

    Thank you for the great quote … “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.” I would add that it never hurts to coax gently and lovingly with an awareness that one might take another (right? left?) path at any time. You could pull a muscle if you move too quickly … without awareness. As you say, it’s YOUR story. Go for it. Fabulous!


  3. JP

    I’m coming late to this party (and HAPPY NEW YEAR, ALL Y’ALL!!) but I have to weigh in and say, having been schooled by two Southerners on the subject on two separate occasions, the singular-y’all but plural-all y’all IS without a doubt a real thing in the world. Interestingly (to me at least), though from different places they both had some pretty hardcore Appalachia background. So I wonder if there is perhaps a class or culture difference in play? Re: Burton’s assertion that it’s only something “beer-gutted gym-teachers say”; is it poss that the usage is more prevalent on the other side of a “redneck/hillbilly/white-trash” demarcation?

    I’m with Terri that you don’t need to flip the calendar to take steps to change things you don’t like in your life, but I don’t thing it’s bad to use the official start-of-a-new-year to assess, either. I for one am glad to be starting 2012 pounds lighter and way happier than I’ve been in a handful of years. (Plus even more fanatically devoted to my bike, but that goes with the lighter and happier!).

    Some time in the fall I determined to understand, really understand The Big Bang. I guess I will continue in that goal–does that count as a resolution? Thinking about “the singularity”–that moment (although moment is a misnomer, a convenience of grammar, because TIME did not exist) when there was NO matter, NO space, No heat, NO time, nothing that we can comprehend by the physical laws of the universe as we know them, snaps my brain around like a rubber band.


    • beyondpaisley – Author

      A friend from college with an Oklahoma-raised daughter says her daughter freely uses them interchangeably. I’ve certainly witnessed and participated in “y’all/all y’all” in common use. I’m still trying to figure out why this is even a part of the discussion, since it wasn’t in the blog but rather in a private email that went out to about twenty people.

      As for understanding the big bang…LOL Good luck with that! And then you can explain it to me, because once I think I have a handle on all that proto-universe stuff, my brain explodes and I blither, idiotically. I don’t think you need to tag it as a resolution (as I will refer back to my original notion that I think New Year’s resolutions are a terrible idea), but why not just make it a goal?


  4. JP

    **why not just make it a goal?**
    We’re on the same page there, Twister…I started this in Oct-Nov.
    By the way that Sister Hazel song can, at the right (or wrong, depending on ur pov) make me weep. Kudos!


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