New Year

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli
New Year

I’ve never much been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I think this is partly because I am a very sedentary person by nature and do not like to exert myself in unpleasant things like going to the gym or cleaning the house, and partly because I generally don’t like to be told what to do, even if it’s just me telling myself what to do.

To me, the typical resolutions (Lose weight! Get out of debt! Eat healthier! Get Organized!) become an accounting of all of the ways we believe we are failing ourselves. They’re not resolutions as much as they are deficit lists, pointing out with stark and glaring specificity how we are not the person we would like to be.  What kind of way is that to start the new year?

I would rather celebrate the year that has just been completed—the highs and lows, the funny, the sad, the hard, the beautiful. I would rather approach the new year with an open heart and mind, without expectations, lists, judgments. Focusing on scarcity is just too easy; I would rather focus on abundance. I would rather.  However, if I spend too much time on this line of thinking I might start to believe keeping a nightly gratitude journal is the thing for me, and then I’m right back to the whole resolution problem.

And anyway, expecting to fully embrace the year with an open heart and a focus on abundance is just as difficult as expecting to finally “fill-in-the-blank”.

Consider this scene in my house last night:

Before dinner, my 4-year old daughter decided to strip down to just her underwear and her necklace with the very large heart pendant. My 20-month old son thought that since his sister wasn’t wearing a shirt, he shouldn’t either. Together, half-naked, the two of them laughed and danced and jumped around the kitchen to some ridiculous Disney pop song. Love. Fast forward five minutes to when both were hysterically crying because there was only ONE CUP in the entire house that either of them was willing to drink their water from, and my son had gotten to it first. Horror. Fast forward to bath-time when, as I was filling the bathtub, I could see that in my daughter’s bedroom my son was gleefully banging my husband over the head with a toy hair dryer while my daughter was playing contentedly with her dollhouse. Love. Fast forward to one o’clock this morning when my son was awake and refusing to go into his crib, shouting “No! Out!” every time I tried to lay him down. Horror. Fast forward to two o’clock this morning when I finally laid down with him in our guest room, both of us tangled up together and finally sleeping. Love. (Well, that is until I woke up this morning to discover he had peed all over both of us.)

I use the story of last night as a small example of why I believe we have such a hard time keeping resolutions, in the end.  We paint a picture of what our lives should look like based on the pictures we see of other lives, but pictures capture moments, not lives. And our lives are made up of a million moments a day, both love moments and horror moments and plenty of "eh" moments in between.

As Robert Frost said, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life:  it goes on.”

Life goes on. The best we can do is simply show up, try our best, try again, forgive ourselves, forgive others, enjoy the love moments, remember that the horror moments won’t last forever, laugh as much as possible, and remind ourselves that perfection is an illusion.

So:  2013. How can you just be here for it? 


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Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.