Ellyn Oaksmith author of fab Divine Moves I recently reviewed, guest posts for the new year! Want to consider making resolutions before you dive right into the new year? Hear Ellyn Oaksmith out.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Will Ruin Your Life, Make a Mockery of You and Lose Your Dog’s Love… or not.
When I was fourteen, I took a trip through the Southwest glued to the back seat of my cousin’s car, which was approximately the size of a humpback whale. We ate at a lot of restaurants that featured things like sandwiches dipped in batter and fried and desserts with the words “wagon wheel” involved. Spa food it was not. Between those stops we ate ice cream, candy and whatever kind of junk we could con my uncle and aunt into buying, which was probably a lot because when we were eating, we couldn’t fill the car with fighting, blather and questions about where we were going, what we were doing and why tonight, we got the real bed instead of the cot based on a rotation that somehow no one could agree upon. My aunt and uncle probably relied heavily on cocktails to make the trip palatable.
The result of this trip was a lot of fun and great memories and one horrible moment when I, for the first time in my life, looked at myself in the mirror and said, “I need to go on a diet.” I had brought back from the Southwest my own personal saddle bags. On my thighs.
Being more of a kid than a teenager, I put this thought out of my mind. Until New Year’s Eve, when it seemed like a good time to proclaim to the world that I was going to lose weight. If you ever want your mother to wake you up in the wee hours before school to join her and her crazy friend at a local track, tell her that you want to lose weight.
I found myself huffing and puffing in the fog at an hour that I should have been safely tucked into bed. My mom was the only one who managed to drag herself around that God forsaken track., which struck me as the perfect place for serial killers to hang out. If they woke up early. Her friend always walked, claiming one ailment or another, which grew increasingly colorful (don’t ask) until she quit joining us altogether. I dragged myself home, looking forward to a hot shower that was about six seconds long because the run had put me in the flight line of my siblings, who needed the shower. My six seconds of hot water were punctuated by people banging on the door and yelling. Thus began my first New Year’s resolution.
I now found myself getting pointed looks when I took an extra piece of bread at dinner. Of course I could have been imagining it but I did find out the one rule of diet that has always held true for me: go on a diet and not only will you not lose weight, you will be miserable. I had no clue how to diet, other than to eat things I didn’t like. My mother told me that as a flight attendant, back when they were called stewardesses and had weight requirements, a diet meant eating crackers, cheese and oranges, probably washed down with martinis. I do remember a single huge cracker with melted cheese and some apples being my lunch. I probably lost and gained the same five pounds several times before the next sport season started. I abandoned my diet and promptly lost all the weight and then some without trying.
My latest New Year’s Resolution brought out gales of laughter from my sister. Inspired by a blogger who even wrote a book about it, I was going to go an entire year, not without buying anything but food, as she had done but to go a year without new clothes. My sister, when she was done laughing said, “I give it 2 weeks. 3 tops.” Have I mentioned that my sister knows me better than any person on the planet, except my husband who has the decency and survival skills to pretend that some of my lamer plans have merit? Witness: my plan to make all my own maternity clothes that ended with one unfortunate dress that Laura Ingalls Wilder could have rocked. The first person who saw me in the dress said, “Howdy.”
My plan not to buy any clothes came from a desire to live a simpler life. It wasn’t so much the money, it was the time it took to drive to the mall, shop, bring it home and often return them several times because I am a neurotic shopper. Or I used to be. Okay, I kind of still am. Had I known that my future as a mother of teen girls would mean many hours at the mall, I wouldn’t have bothered. I would have kept on shopping, which I didn’t do all that much. Still, I longed for the kind of life you see in magazines: houses that are neatly ordered with baskets and little clutter. Closets that are filled with color coordinated clothes that can take one from casual to dressy events without the shrieking and screaming one hour before I am supposed to be downtown that I have nothing to wear and I hate all my clothes. My husband’s reaction to this: keep getting dressed. Pass by wife’s closet as though deaf. Mention that we’re due to leave in ten minutes and a towel and wet hair is not “festive attire.”
My resolution about no new clothes lasted 3 weeks. I think it had something to do with something I needed. I have a walk in closet full of clothes. I needed these clothes because I needed something else. Which says more about my resolution that I’d care to discuss. Let’s just say I am not the first woman to seek happiness in a store. Spoiler: it’s not there.
So there you have my two New Year’s Resolutions. They resulted in my resolution for the past handful of years: not to make any more resolutions. I have been able to keep this one, along with a few muttered thoughts about being kinder, a better listener, housekeeper, mother and friend. I have promised my dog longer walks.
Overall I think the value of resolutions is the desire to be a better person. Hopefully we all have that. To me, if you are trying, you are alive. No matter if you voice your resolutions, light them on a paper and burn them or whisper them into the night air, it’s all for the greater good. I haven’t heard of anyone who wished to be meaner, nastier and to cut in front of people in traffic, although I have certainly met them.
So here’s to being better people in 2014. Or at least trying.
If you’re still casting around for a resolution, try this one: read my book!
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There you have it. Ellyn Oaksmith.
Check out my review of my the Fab Divine Moves.
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