This year for Lent, I gave up music as I usually do. I also gave up excessive Internet use, which was fairly easy because I’ve been so disgusted with almost everything online these days. I also picked an unusual goal: giving up complaining, because I realized that I complain almost all the time about almost everything,* even if it’s not really a serious gripe.
I failed miserably.
As a matter of fact, I think I complained even more during Lent than I usually do outside of Lent. Or maybe I just grew more aware of how much I complained when I was actively trying to reduce the amount of complaining.
Even though it’s the Easter season now and I can technically start complaining again, I’m still trying to quit. What I learned about the whole matter is that I have to actively try to think positive. Find the humor in something that went wrong. Instead of complaining, find something to be grateful for. It’s OK if something’s not perfect or doesn’t go my way. Even my personal journal tends to be a bunch of bitchery and self-pitying melodrama, so I have been trying to write about positive things only, or put a positive spin on what I perceive to be negative things. At first, it felt unnatural, like I wasn’t being realistic or honest with myself, or like I was trying to be a happy, bubbly, super-enthusiastic person who’s all “Happy Monday!” and uses fifty million exclamation points at the end of every sentence.
Later on, the happiness started to sink in and my journal felt less fake. I remembered the old mantra that goes something like “You may not be able to control the situation, but you can control your reaction to it.” So I have tried to react more positively to things, or at least not immediately launch into Bitch Mode™. The most helpful thing has been to actively put in place what I should have learned in elementary school: If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all. (Or at least wait until you’re calm to say something. Don’t just say the first impulsive thing that comes into your head.)
Anyway, here’s to an Easter season full of happiness!!!! (Ugh, I still hate multiple exclamation points.) 🙂
*Maybe it’s an inherited thing. Or a New York thing. I’m not really sure. Doesn’t matter where it came from; all that matters is that it needs to be stopped.
I didn’t make any concrete resolutions for 2018. When people ask what my resolution is, I tell them that it’s to be a good wife. I don’t know how you’d turn that into a SMART goal (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound), and by most accounts, resolutions and goals should be SMART. But I figure that if that is my only goal, then it should be OK. It is something I keep at the forefront of my mind all the time, and I don’t need any reminders to carry it out. I realized that if I make too many specific goals, I forget them or put too much effort into trying to remember exactly what they are.
The past couple years, I’ve been feeling guilty that I haven’t completed my resolutions to the extent that I would like to have done, so this year I want to let go of that guilt about arbitrary goals that don’t really matter all that much. I figure that if I focus my attention on the one goal that does matter, I’ll do better. After all, nobody’s perfect. Not even the company that made my planner:
Almost everyone said that 2017 was terrible, what with all the shootings by those in pain, sexual transgressions by big shots in Hollywood, and hare-brained decisions by those in power.
To me, 2017 wasn’t terrible at all, unless you mean “terrible” in the old-fashioned, biblical sense of “formidable or something to be awed.” I found 2017 to be a year of perspective shifts. I’ve been away from this blog more often than I would have liked this year, and I’ve written barely any fiction at all—maybe a couple paragraphs here and there that I don’t think even added up to 5,000 words. The most writing I did was in my paper journal.
The strange part about all that is I don’t really feel much of a need to write fiction. I miss my characters, but I don’t really relate to them anymore because of this perspective shift. For the first time in my life, I feel like a true “adult,” and other adults are acknowledging me as one of them. I can relate to adults now, and I sympathize more with the adult characters in movies and books than I do with the teenagers. Yet I still don’t feel like I have the life experience needed to write great fiction or to portray adulthood accurately. I’ve been feeling as though writing fiction is somewhat pointless because all the great stories have already been told, and they have been told in much better ways than I could tell them.
I hope this is just a big stumbling block that materialized because of the perspective shift and that it will go away soon, but for now, I’m grateful to still be writing in some capacity, even if it’s not fiction.