New Year’s Resolutions: Are You On the Bus or Off the Bus?

Following the patterns of flowers, we can see that blooming happens during all times of year, depending on the surrounding circumstances.

Following the patterns of flowers, we can see that blooming happens during all times of year, depending on the surrounding circumstances.

A lot of us make New Years Resolutions. There’s something lovely about them. A fresh start with no real conflicting feelings.

Other holidays have a different charge.

Thanksgiving can make my stomach turn thinking about the grace of this continent before strip malls and highways, Easter just feels odd and lost, Christmas can be a slayer. But the eve of New Years is pretty neutral, even though the whole year thing has something to do with Jesus.

The holiday is at least not a direct celebration of that, for those who are of different faith. It’s fun for lots of people. A fresh beginning.

People want to lose weight, to quit smoking. They want to learn French, or to send more query letters out. They want to save more money, spend more time with family, get a new floor finally. Whatever it is, they want to do it, and the first of the year is a good start because last year is shed like an old skin easily and effortlessly with the drop of a glowing ball in New York City.

This, my friends, is some magic worth harnessing.

Feelings are like Touring Bands

When your favorite band goes on tour, you probably make an effort to see them. Maybe when you are at the show, you feel painful sadness ripping the insides of your ribcage as they play the songs that tore you apart when you were younger. Maybe you dance and have fun, or just film the whole performance with your i-thing. Whatever you do, you show up, and you let yourself feel things because you paid good money to be entertained and emotionally affected.

Normal everyday feelings are like that too, except they don’t sell tickets and they don’t really give you a choice. They show up and do what they want with your ribcage or your endorphins, and sometimes you film it with your i-thing. You’re along for the ride.

One thing I sometimes do with some feelings is memorize them. It’s generally so that I can better write about it later in a book where the main character happens to be feeling the same thing. How does the floor feel under my bare feet when I’m sad, how do the walls look? How is this different when I’m happy, or during that moment when sadness fades into objectivity? Can I find that moment if I pay attention to the sadness carefully enough to catch it?

It’s fun to do this for various reasons. For one thing, you might end up writing better characters if you like doing that. For another thing, you aren’t fused with the feeling quite as intensely. You are noticing how the feeling feels, which means you are bigger than it, and that’s great when it comes to trying to live your life with more awareness.

New Year’s Eve: The Power of Letting Go

Even though New Year’s Resolutions are mostly about new beginnings, built into that goal by default is the feeling of letting go. Letting go of patterns that we want to stop, letting go of addictions we want to drop. It’s as if there’s a magic bus that pulls away from our stop every December 31st at 11:59pm, and offers us the chance to succeed with ease this time if we just jump on.

But I’ve got news, folks. That bus is always running, every half hour on the dot right on your street corner. You just have to get on.  But you can’t do that if you can’t see it, can you?

Harnessing the New Year’s Passion of Letting Go & Seeing the Bus

I can’t tell you how many rejection letters I’ve gotten from fiction magazines. But the thing is, as soon as I started putting out queries to magazines about psychology and consumer issues, I got more of a response. That’s because I have far more experience with those things. Now I’m focusing on them a bit more and realizing that I was rather short-sighted while being obsessed with fiction.

Letting go of trying to become some fiction expert relieved me of a heavy burden. The rejection letters that come trickling in don’t affect me like they used to because I’m not letting them impact my self-esteem. They used to, though, to some extent. I let go of that. Which is a surprise, because I generally find it awful hard to let go of anything.

But letting go is great. Letting go is natural. Letting go gets us places because we get better gas mileage. Celebration

So that’s my New Year’s inspiration post for you guys. Remember the letting go, remember to harness the feeling of “New Years” and allow yourself to indulge in that magic bus ride to easy-change during the rest of the year as well, because just as a passion flower blooms during November in Austin and in the summer in Connecticut, year-long cycles are always beginning.

How about you?

Do you guys have any great New Year’s resolutions that you want to publicly declare in this space?

Do you think the whole business of resolutions is rather silly?

Am I wrong about this holiday being a neutral one, is there something that should really be pissing me off about New Years Eve? I’m ready for it!

And last but not least, happy New Year!


23 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions: Are You On the Bus or Off the Bus?

  1. I never make resolutions. Because I can’t handle the pressure. Really. I don’t need the guilt feelings if I don’t follow through. I don’t make ‘deals’ with higher powers because it just doesn’t seem to work out. I do think you’re right about it being a neutral holiday. It seems that way anyway. I am always hopeful when the new year comes though. I am filled with hope for the coming year. That it will be the best one yet. I am the eternal optimist.

  2. Great post Jen. I have tried to make resolutions in the past, but often I find the whole idea to be rather disappointing. How so? Often when people make these resolutions, they announce them to their friends and family. On occasion these resolutions are on the verge of impossibility. If one fails to successfully complete a resolution, then would they not be flooded with some sense of pain and disappointment? Additionally, anyone who knew of their resolutions would also realise their failure without even having to be verbally notified about it, which would further exacerbate the pain. Maybe I’m just overly negative, but I believe it is best to avoid resolutions as to avoid unnecessary (and potentially inevitable) pain.
    Moreover, I like how you view this holiday as a ‘neutral one’. I believe that sums this event up really well! I also liked your view on ‘letting go’ of the past that we no longer wish to have holding onto us.
    Personally, I don’t think there is anything that should be angering you in regards to this event – unless you finish your celebrations before six in the morning, because no one ever has a successful, restful nights rest on such a night; and unless you are a member of the government, for it proves you are failing to do your job properly – I mean, the government where I live says how fireworks are illegal, but when you look up at the sky, with the sheer amount of fireworks blasting above you know that is one law they are not enforcing. Apart from that everything is awesome!
    Of course, there is also the fact that come the second of January, life carries on as it always has as though there was in fact no celebration at all, so one could almost question why we have it. Then again, there is no excuse not to have fun!
    Also, although I stated my thoughts on New Years Resolutions – I might suddenly find the strength to create some – after I see yours of course. That is only fair after all, right?
    Happy new year!

    • Haha I did realize after posting that I didn’t mention any of mine! I suppose I didn’t make them. I feel like I try to make changes and let go of stuff all the time, and like Jackie said above, if I “fail” at my new year’s one then I am a horrible person! But really there is no need for I suppose I don’t have any!
      Maybe the one that I have is to change all my passwords to take the 2012 out of them.. (I know, bad form. But I made them back in 2011, so it seemed fresh then). So there, there it is! I shall find a new for-everything password that does not have 2012 in it. Boom!

      • Really? Well, a promise is a promise, right? You said what your New Year’s Resolution was – if I had any, mine would be…obtain another internship, begin my post-grad course and maybe run a muck in an attempt to find a potential Mrs. Nefarious. Cheers!

  3. Resolutions are stressful to me therefore I just make wee notes of “goals”.. Realistic ones at that..Too many of us are disappointed when those resolutions are not met then we end up at square one.. So for me, it’s small goals, then on to bigger ones.
    This is a great post and wishing you a very Happy New Year!!

  4. I have not made a New Year’s resolution in many, many years simply because life, people and things happen that can always derail the thing you’re hoping to accomplish. I like the idea of a “Bucket List” more than “resolutions.” Also I look forward to every January 1 for a few reason….it brings me closer to spring and summer which I love and also events I know that will take place in the new year, welcoming new babies, weddings, family milestones. These are the things I celebrate and look forward to as the new year arrives.

    • Aw that is such a sweet way to see it, and a very good point- all the things that are coming in 2013 are that much closer on January 1st! That is a cool way to see it and brings nothing but joy and not any negative self-judgement. I have yet to get used to the idea of a bucket list but it does seem to be something that people are really thinking about a lot, I suppose I’ll make one sometime. I hope you have lots of great things to celebrate this year Nancy! 🙂 Happy new year!

  5. Nice point about New Year’s being more of a neutral holiday. Perhaps this is why we also make resolutions- there is not ulterior expectation behind the resolution to fulfill or to behave a certain way. There is no background.

    I don’t make New Year’s resolutions but I like your point about letting go. If we can let go, we can also see more possibilities.

    • Wow I didn’t even think about the overlap of why we make resolutions and it being a neutral holiday. That’s pretty cool to think about!
      Letting go definitely leads to possibilities. Like quinoa veggie burgers! 🙂

  6. I love the idea of becoming more aware of “how” our feelings wash over us. What a wonderful way to become a better writing and a happier human being. Thank you, Jennifer.

  7. Jennifer
    I was inspired by the way you considered how tactile sensations differ according to mood – I will keep that firmly in mind whilst writing. Thank you.
    I have taken to carrying an imaginary bottle in my pocket, to be used at sunsets those special and often rare moments when sheer happiness descends onto us like a soft blanket. Out comes the stopper and all those feelings are preserved, to be enjoyed at a later date.

    As for resolutions, I wonder if most people use New Year to make (and promptly forget) them is simply because New Year is a fixed event in the year and a fresh start for many things; a new calendar to cheer the kitchen or office wall, a sign that Spring is not far away, promising longer days. We could equally pin resolutions to a birthday, but that is usually a much smaller affair that a global celebration (unless you’re Madonna or J-Lo).

    That bus may leave every half-hour, but without a memoirable event to carry us onto it, will we not just drift back into our old ways?

    • I like your idea of the bottle! I think I have one too, but it comes out during times of really negative feelings, and then I take them out later on and turn them into something else. I think I have a happiness bottle as well though, I should pay more attention to it!

      I think you’re right about the momentousness having something to do with the charge of New Years. Plus, it’s a time when everyone is sharing that information publicly. A lot of my friends will share “intentions” and whatnot on a regular basis, but the people not in that circle actually only really announce their life changes around this time. It all makes sense now 🙂 Even if the old ways return, maybe we’ll all just keep getting better and better at making choices about things.

  8. I don’t’ think new years resolutions are silly at all. I however don’t subscribe to them myself. I think the problem is that most people want to wait to make a change until the new year. Why not make that change today. At least they are making goals. I prefer short term goals. I feel much more success. 🙂

  9. I love your statement, “feelings are like a touring band”. Awesome and so insightful!

    I always set goals, otherwise I don’t get things done. If I am not intentional about my self-care, family time, God time, I find it can slowly slip away into mundane everyday things. I don’t judge my goals as either done or not, I just allow myself to have a target and if I miss the target goal, Jesus can hit the rest!

    Thanks for visiting my blog today – I was blessed by yours.

    • I love the name of your blog, it was my pleasure to visit. I find it very cool that you can have those types of goals and not judge them. I bet that that is a great attitude for your family and friends to be around and to learn from 🙂

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