Resolutions and Bad Decisions

Water Lilies - Van Gogh's House

This is not that post. This isn’t the post where I rehash my accomplishments of 2019. Let’s face it, my biggest accomplishment in 2019 was not going bat shit crazy.

Instead, I want to talk about resolutions. I know that there are two schools of thought on this. The first is, why wait until the new year to begin something new? Just do it now.

The second is to look at the New Year’s as a time of renewal or a reset. A time to start fresh. I’ve always liked the concept of New Year’s resolutions. There is nothing wrong with a fresh start and sometimes people need the motivation and the spirit of the New Year to aid them on their journey.

For me, however, 2019 has been all about fresh starts and renewals, but inevitably with new starts comes old endings. I’ve been trying to reconcile both for some time now.

Things moved so quickly. I’ve been legally divorced for two months and separated for a little over six. I wonder sometimes how I’m still standing, but I am. In fact, I’m moving forward. I made a ton of Christmas cookies yet I did so in the kitchen I strongly dislike. Frankie and I continue to run and play. Arya and I continue to watch trashy TV. I’ve explored my new neighborhood. Had many people over for cocktails. I went on a few dates, some were good, some were bad. In fact, I’ve already have sworn off dating 1000 times. Things are right on track as far as I can tell.

Mostly I’ve been reflecting on my choices. I chose the person I married and I chose to spend 13 years with him. I also chose to get a divorce. I regret nothing. As time passes, the sadness gets less but I suspect it will remain for quite some time.

Back in 2004, on New Year’s eve, I was standing in line with my friends to get into Fado for the midnight celebration. We had planned to meet up with a group of friends who were already inside. The line was so long and the front of the line seemed far away. My friends lied to the bouncer and said they had to use the ladies’ room. Truth be told, It didn’t hurt that they are beautiful and with a subtle head nod and wink, were let in.

I missed that whole conversation because I was talking with other folks in line, so I wasn’t aware they had left. Alcohol … amIright? It was nearly 11:30 pm already and I was standing outside in a sea of people I didn’t know. Then my phone rang. It was the guy I had been seeing at the time. I was crazy about this guy but we had been going through a rough patch. He asked where I was so he could find me before midnight and as fate would have it, he was close and found me.

There was no chance of getting into Fado so we ran down the block to the Fox and the Hound. Time was not our friend. We walked into the bar and a waitress greeted us with a tray of champagne. It felt like being in a movie because as soon as we grabbed the glasses, the countdown began. 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1.

We had just made it. Still out of breath from the jog down the street, he kissed me. I thought I could never feel more bliss than that moment. It was as if the universe banded together to give me that very special night. Our romantic relationship didn’t last, but he is still a great friend of mine. He is someone who can still make me laugh. He challenges me and I know if I needed something, he would be there in a heartbeat. We were bonded for life, thanks to the universe.

Fast forward to 2018. The ex and I went to see John Oliver at the Met. I fell asleep during the show, not because John Oliver was bad but because my marriage was suffering and I didn’t know it. I was exhausted but could never truly figure out why. On the way home, the clock struck midnight and our Uber driver pulled out noisemakers. We laughed, kissed, and became quiet. When we got home, we played with the pups and went to sleep. It was the last new years with the ex and it was very telling. In fact, my sister recently mentioned to me that my face looked great and I didn’t look tired for a change. That is also telling.

New Year’s eve in 2004 is the only truly good New Year’s eve that I can remember. In fact, they have all been pretty normal. My special day was always New Year’s Day. It always started with early morning cocktails and hanging with the Mummers on Broad Street. That was until all the controversy surrounding the mummers came to light. After that, it never felt the same.

Growing up we always had pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day. Apparently, this is a Pennsylvania Dutch tradition that is meant to bring luck into the new year. Because the ex didn’t like food like that, I always just got a hotdog with sauerkraut from a food truck each New Year’s day in an effort not to jinx myself. I reasoned it was close enough.

So this year, I started planning something magical for New Year’s eve and a full pork and sauerkraut dinner for the next day. I was going to create the most wonderful New Year’s ever. Then I stopped because while I’m not exhausted, I am still tired and really can’t put in the effort. That’s not right. I can but I don’t want to. I just wanted to sit in silence for a few days.

I wanted to ring in the New Year with zero expectations. I wanted to wake up in 2020 feeling like the previous hellish year was behind me. Another choice I made that like the others will yield no regrets.

In 2020, I’m not going to fool myself into thinking that I will create this long list of resolutions and then go down the list magnificently accomplishing every one of them. For now, I just have one – Be Happier. In order to accomplish that one simple resolution, I realize that some changes will have to be made and that starts with me being able to say no while keeping myself open to new possibilities. Closing my circle of friends yet being aware of new people that are brought into my life. It means making healthier choices for myself while still enjoying life. Everything seems to be a contradiction of one another yet it all makes sense to me.

I’ve also been thinking about creativity a lot. My past is a kaleidoscope of started but never really truly finished creative projects. Since I was a child, I knew I needed a creative outlet. Somewhere there are old videotapes of me directing shows live from my dining room where I painstakingly wrote out the credits on pieces of printer paper and lovingly held them up one by one in front of the camera. There are endless videos of musicals I appeared in and pageants I entered. I have baskets of yarn from my knitting days and many unfinished novels on the computer. I reasoned all of these unfinished projects as well. I could only create when faced with true pain.

There is a myth that all good art comes from pain. I believed this for so long. I needed to be in a space of torture in order to create something beautiful. The other day I was pondering this concept and realized something about myself. It’s not about being in pain that makes beautiful art. It’s that pain is an easy emotion to sit with and truly feel.

When we are struggling, we can stay in that feeling, believing we deserve it or that it’s warranted. We tell ourselves a million reasons why this is true. Being in a state of happiness, however, is much harder. When we are feeling joy, there is a voice inside of us screaming that this is fleeting, that the other shoe will soon drop. Because of these lies we tell ourselves, we can’t actually sit with the happiness and enjoy it and truly feel it. Imagine if we could harvest that feeling the same way we do sadness. What magical things can we create then?

The allure of the tortured artist has been taught to us from a very young age. There are countless stories about this world’s most valuable creators ending in tragedy. Are there any stories of artists who led a normal life and found their inspiration from happiness? I think of Monet and his water lilies. Sitting in his quaint countryside home in Giverny, was he just struck by their beauty or was some underlining madness associated with them? Oh, wait Monet once said, “My life has been nothing but a failure, and all that’s left for me to do is to destroy my paintings before I disappear.” Bad example.

A new year brings a time of reflection; from the things we reasoned, to the decisions we made. We have another journey around the sun to make new choices. My wish this year is to harness the power of the happier side of the universe and transform that into even better decisions, no regrets, and magical creativity.


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