Where did this tradition of New Year’s resolutions come from and why do we continue with it when we know that we are most likely to fail? I explore some of those questions and even a few statistics and then I arrive at a resolution. 😏 Will you make a list this year? Or will you just keep on glowing and being your beautiful flawed self? I hope this new year brings you insight, inspiration and love.
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Hello and Happy New Year. Yay, 2023! Let’s hope it’s going to be a whole new bag. Hey, a girl can dream, right? It’s just good to be getting rid of 2022 It was quite a mess still. And it’s always fun to turn a new leaf, right. So I’m glad to be here with you.
I’m glad it’s the new calendar year. Let’s kick it off right. Let’s do something different. Or maybe bring back something that we had done, and that we’d forgotten about and that we loved. So when I wrote this episode, I was sitting writing in a cafe and giving that a try again after many years. I used to go almost every morning to this little cafe in Piermont, which is the town nearest to Palisades. And that was when I was living on Woods Road with my kids when they were young. They’d go off to school and I’d drive off to the cafe thinking I’m going to get some writing done right away, first thing today. I would go in and chat up the barista, whose name was Rafi, and then I’d settle in with an enormous muffin and a latte.
Well, different times. No more absurdly enormous muffins for me. And no more lattes. I take my coffee black these days. And I only have one of them a day because my sleep is unpredictable as it is. There may come a day when I have to give up caffeine entirely but I love the ritual of it. But I guess if I’m taking it black anyway, there isn’t much ritual there isn’t the whole frothing the milk and all of that business. So I guess a tea bag plus hot water might be the same thing. Hmm, maybe that will be part of my ‘new year new me’ routine. So maybe some old ones return. I did give up coffee for a little while, so maybe I have to try that again.
This whole cafe milieu, however, right now is a bit discombobulating actually. Oh, I love that word – ‘discombobulating.’ First of all, it starts with the prefix dis-, which is something that Shakespeare invented. It has to do with the ruler of Hell. Hades is also called Dis. So this was used to turn the word upside down to imply its opposite, its negative. So when you dis-obey, you do the opposite, but you also obey the Dark Lord, right. So to disobey is to obey your dark impulses, your nastier drives. So that’s cool.
But discombobulating: I looked up, and it has so many wonderful synonyms that come from a lot of Shakespeare texts. Addle. Bemuse. Confound. Flummox. I love that one. Befog. I think Shakespeare must have also invented the prefix be- because befog and befuddle, those are Shakespearean words for sure. Bamboozle! So good. And then apparently there was the adverb ‘buffalo.’ I didn’t even know that that was used in that way. And some of the synonyms for to Buffalo someone is to cozen them, to hoodwink them, to hornswoggle them. So it has more of a cheating kind of aspect to it. So there. Learn something new. Very fun.
So today’s episode, as you can already guess, is going to be a bit of a mixed bag, starting my new year’s off, as I imagine a lot of people start their day off with, “okay, what am I going to do this year that’s different or new and fun?” You know.
First of all, little business, which is that I am going to go to a one-time-a-week schedule for this podcast for the new year. With all that’s going on around me, with my mom needing all kinds of help, and my other podcast and my job search… (I’m looking for tutoring work, by the way, if anybody knows of anything, or can pass along the word, please do that. Online or in person.) Anyway, I’m not getting any work done on my book. So I really want to squeeze some more time out of my week. So, I’m sorry, but I’m going to go to a one-time-a-week schedule, and that is going to be on Saturdays. So you have the whole weekend to enjoy the podcast, if you like to listen to it in your leisure time.
I’m looking forward to getting into a really good routine with writing and writing my book. So I hope to report that that is happening in the new year. This cafe definitely won’t be part of that. This cafe in particular – it’s one that I came to in Nyack – is just really chaotic. There was a table of very loud women to my left, and they were just leaving, thankfully, when a pouting, loud child and his family replaced them, so you know, nevermind.
What I have discovered in this past week is that Boxing Day is my favorite holiday. Boxing Day is the day right after Christmas. And this year, especially, but I think every year, the holidays are so fraught with drama and anxiety for me that the day after they are finished is always my favorite day. Ahhh, it’s a time to breathe, and just relax finally. But I looked it up, and Boxing Day started as a year-end bonus for servants in Queen Victoria’s time, because the servants in the households of the nobles had to work through Christmas, of course, so the nobles would send them home on Boxing Day with a large Christmas box, with presents in it and cash and leftover food. Oh, gee, thanks.
It’s also known as St. Stephen’s day in Ireland. And this is where the alms box in the church – you know, the little box where they take donations for the poor, and there’s a little slot to put your money in – that was open once a year on this day, and that money was distributed to the poor. This happens in a lot of countries also, not just Ireland – many countries in Europe. These days, Boxing Day is celebrated in most of the British Commonwealth with lots of shopping. It’s kind of akin to Black Friday. So there’s all these Boxing Day sales and this and that and the other. I feel like we celebrate it in the US by doing the opposite thing, which is boxing up all of our Christmas presents that were given to us and going back and returning them and getting different things. I know families who do that and say aloud “Yay, I’m going back to return all my Christmas presents!” Boy, I don’t know, that’s just nutty. I’m going to use it as my favorite holiday for just chillaxing and doing the crossword puzzle, and sitting by a fire and petting the cats. That is going to be my routine going forward.
In other news, I just had a fascinating new experience. Before I came to this cafe, I got fingerprinted for the first time in my life at the advanced age of 61. It’s something you need to do now to work in public schools, and I have been applying for substitute teaching jobs so it’s a requirement. I guess it wasn’t a requirement the last time I worked in schools in person. I just looked it up and they said that they only required fingerprinting for school teachers in 1994. So it probably didn’t affect my little Montessori school until after I left. These days they take your fingerprints electronically, of course, like everything else. They even have a special wipe, like a handy wipe kind of thing, that enhances your fingerprints for screen capture.
The fellow who helped me told me some very interesting things about mine. First of all, he said, “Oh, you’re a lefty, huh?” And I was like, “No, why?” And he said, “Oh, because the pads of your fingers on the left hand are much more worn down than your right.” How weird. Why would that be? He had no idea. Perhaps I was left handed in another life? In fact, I had to get the fingers on my left hand redone multiple times, until finally there was an acceptable print. Although he said that they would accept as few as six fingerprints in total. I guess that Brendan Gleason’s character in The Banshees of Inisherin would have been red flagged in that case. (If you haven’t seen that movie, I do recommend it. But be warned it is very dark, but so beautifully shot.)
Okay, back to my fingerprints. I also have the type of swirls that go up in a parabola pointing to the top of my finger rather than the usual elliptical swirls. Apparently, this is quite rare, and only occurs in 5% of people worldwide. So I said to the guy who was doing my fingerprints, I guess I shouldn’t commit any murders then because they could find me too easily. And he laughed. So it was a fun experience, actually.
So, at the top of my list of new year’s resolutions is 1) Commit no murders! Hopefully that will be an easy one to keep. Okay, you should put a resolution at the top of your list that is easy. Do yourself a favor.
But I was thinking about New Year’s resolutions and how ridiculous they are because nobody cares about them. Right? There was a report in 2014 about resolutions, and 35% of people said they were unrealistic. This was at the end of the year after they were asked to assess how they did on their New Year’s resolutions. 33% of people didn’t keep track of their progress at all. 23% of people totally forgot about them. And 10% said that they made too many resolutions. And all of these percentages actually add up to 101%. So somebody messed up somehow, anyway. And in a new poll on YouGovAmerica, 46% of Americans this year said that they will not be making any resolutions at all. Hopefully, that whole farce of kidding ourselves is going out the window soon.
I came up with three resolutions that were sort of anti-resolutions, and my first one “commit no murders,” yay, that’s an easy one to keep. (I do like that show Only Murders in the Building, by the way.) So it was sort of that spirit of tongue in cheek murders that I was thinking about. Number two, and pardon me, but I need to use this language is 2) Fuck cleaning up other people’s messes. And that means not the shmeer of gravy that’s left on the counter not by me. And also not cleaning up people’s messes in terms of their own love life or their personal life. I forgot about this practice, but I’m going to bring it back, which is the practice of saying to myself, “It’s not my business.” Yeah. And number three, also a little salty here. But sorry, is 3) Forgive someone for being a twat. They can’t help it. And they won’t change just because I’m mad at them. So see number two, it’s not my business. Those kinds of people I just need to let go anyway.
So I wonder where this whole new year’s resolution thing came from anyhow? Is it a reaction to our excesses of December? Is it that we had too much drinking and eating and general gluttony and sloth, and that makes us all think we can turn that ship around with a measly handwritten list generated in the fog of a serious hangover? I mean, here’s what you say on the morning of New Year’s Day, right: “I’ll say anything you want, if you just make this headache go away!!” And then of course, you say, “hair of the dog! That’s the ticket! I can start sober January next week anyway. Right?” I mean, it’s all crap. It’s all bullshit.
I was looking at all of those lists that people are talking about New Year’s resolutions of 2023 and I have narrowed mine down to five more meaningful ones. And my first one is 1) read a book every month. It’s good for my brain. Learn something new. See someone else do the craft of writing. Apparently, only 11% of people this year are going to do that.
Number two is talk to myself as I would to a best friend. Be kind, be loving, be less critical. Take care of myself.
Number three is start a new hobby. I listened to a wonderful podcast about mushrooms the other day, and the guy said there’s lots of mushroom clubs – 130 mushroom clubs all over the United States. So maybe I’ll join a mushroom club? I’m also going to try to pursue my master’s degree. Is that a hobby? I don’t know. Apparently only 7% of people put this as a resolution.
Number four is stretch every day. My daughter said you are only as young as your spine. I was like, okay, yeah, that means my spine needs to be a little more limber. It is not. So stretch every day.
And lastly, but not leastly at all, is stay in touch with the people that matter. I was doing that over the course of my trip through postcards, and emails and texts. And I realized that that group of people that matter got a bit smaller over that period when I was out of the country and gone. But that’s okay, because the people that really mattered hung in there. So I have a small group of friends. I have my wonderful children, and I have you my listeners. So I will be here. I’ll stay in touch. And my one weekly podcast episode will be chock full of wonderful things, I promise, and I’ll pick up with my story as well. So thank you for being here. Thank you. You are some of the people that matter to me most. I appreciate you always. I’m grateful for you being in my life. Thank you. Happy new year! I’ll see you next week