The Counter-Resolution Revolution

Happy New Year, everyone. In thinking about what to say at the beginning of 2012, I have decided to copy Harvard Business Review bloggers Peter Bregman and Dorie Clark. Instead of just divulging what they want to accomplish in the New Year, they each wrote their own lists of what they will try to ignore in 2012. Making a list of what not to do? Now, that’s something I definitely can do.

1. I am not going to rip out pages of recipes from magazines and pretend that I am going to cook them someday. I am not. Ever. Going. To. Make. These. Recipes. There, I’ve admitted it. I have a problem. I rip out about 10 recipes a month from magazines like Martha Stewart’s Living and Food and Wine because the pictures look so appealing, and I think, I can totally make that! Not only can I make it, I will, and when I do, my life will improve! Dinner conversation will elevate with that meal on the table. I will throw elegant, simple dinner parties! And then I’ll get to buy myself a new outfit! So I rip. And then I pile these recipes in a corner in my kitchen, and then I file them in binders based on type of dish (I have an entire binder of side dishes, another for main courses, one for desserts…you get the picture) and then….nothing.

Guess what? These papers do not magically turn themselves into food. No parties with snazzy apps and rosemary-infused cocktails jump from the two-dimensional glossy world into the real 3-D of my kitchen island. Knowing this, I’ve tried to cut back. Now I only let myself tear pages of things that seem do-able. Like spicy mixed nuts. That’s something achievable, right? Or butternut squash and apple soup. With the mixed nuts as garnish, perhaps. But who has the time? Or the energy? Or the fingers? Last week, I actually cooked a full-on 3-D meal three nights in a row (using an actual cookbook, not the collection of random pages, of course). The first night, I burned my ring finger when a bubble of oil from the frying pan got me. The second night, I put a baking dish in the over without a mitt and burned a knuckle. The third night I cut my hand while chopping vegetables.

In the New Year, I am ordering in and gifting my culinary magazines to the dentist’s office.

2. I am not going to pretend I read the Harvard Business Review, or any other news-related periodical for that matter, besides The Scarsdale Inquirer and the Sunday Times. When I name-dropped above, you thought I was smart, didn’t you? You thought, wow, Julie reads scholarly periodicals. Nope. Truth is, my husband, Brett, reads the Harvard Business Review and everything else, and then he emails me links to articles he thinks I would like. He’s the clever one. I am merely arm candy. And I’m tired of it. In the New Year, I am not going to sit around looking cute and getting lost in fiction the way I always have. Occasionally, I am going to curl up with the newspaper and turn ugly with frown lines.

3. I am not going to be bothered by people who do things that bother me. Like the woman near me in spin class who totally can’t get on the beat and has no idea how to do tap-backs (don’t ask). This irks me. It threatens to take me out of my zone. But I resolve to shut her out, this symbol of rhythm-lacking humanity, in order to find peace with myself.

Same with the curly-haired woman sitting in my sight line at the diner who plays with her curls. She digs deep with her pointer finger and grabs one, and then curls it around her finger and then plays with it. Then drops it – I can breathe now – and then picks it up again. I almost say something to this woman, but what is there to say? Listen, there’s no denying that I am a crazy person. But, I really can’t focus on my Greek salad because of your compulsive hair-twisting habit, so could you maybe just sit on your hands until your food comes? Thanks!

In the New Year, I will try not to say any of this out loud.

4. I am not giving up on books in 2012. I have a Kindle. But, still, I like to buy books. Real books with real pages with real sounds and scents when I hold them close and turn the pages. Ah, a book! In my hands! With a glossy dust jacket, and some heft. It’s so delish. (I know, I know, I should be reading the newspaper. Perhaps on my Kindle?)

There are definitely times when I use and enjoy my Kindle. Like, when reading a ginormous tome like Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken or Ken Follet’s Pillars of the Earth. An e-reader is perfect under such weighty conditions. Or, when going on vacation. I tend to read a lot when I’m away, and so it’s fun to load up my Kindle with a nice list of books, and then see how many I can get through while ignoring my children on the beach.

But a list on a Kindle isn’t quite the same as a stack next to my bed. Each book in that stack is filled with promise, each unique in size and feel, and, thus, each creates a distinct and separate reading experience.

Furthermore, I am not giving up on bookstores. There is something so wonderful about browsing and dwelling and discovering that gets lost with the point-and-click efficiency of Amazon. Not that I don’t love my Amazon Prime. But that’s for another article entirely.

5. I am not going to read and respond to emails during certain stretches of the day. A lot of people have this on their list, I know. In general, I am not a super-plugged in person, and I don’t feel I spend too much time in the virtual world. But, I do notice that my attention is pulled towards the laptop in the kitchen during dinner-and-homework time, which is the exact time when I should be focusing on my children. It’s become a habit that makes me seem efficient, as I can respond to emails quickly while my kids work quietly. I am nearby, so they can ask me for help when they get stuck on something. (Not that I’m much help with 4th grade math.) But, because the computer is at the desk, I end up sitting with my back to Andrew and Zoe the entire time. I have realized that this is rude, and not just because of where I sit. 5:00-7:00 at night is not my personal work time. It is my time to work with my children. I will keep the laptop closed. I shall make dinner and – no, wait, I can’t do that anymore…I shall flip through a magazine instead – no, wait, I can’t do that anymore – I shall use this time to read the newspaper! Yes. And, as for my emails? You will hear from me eventually.

I hope this inspires you to think of things to ignore in 2012. And, as long as I’m not on your list, I approve.

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