Playing Nice and Dropping the Drama : Birthday Resolutions Worth Sticking To

Photo by Will Clayton, via FlickrI’ve never really been one for setting New Year’s resolutions. The truth is, we’ve been told to set them, then inundated with all these facts and figures about why they don’t actually work — so what’s the point? 

It’s the same mentality that goes along with, “I’ll start the diet on Monday – ya know, after the weekend.” This is a spoken hall pass of sorts – one that gives the speaker permission to eat Big Macs and a pound of fries in the meantime.

So in between February (the month when all hope of receiving fantastic results from these New Years resolutions has dissipated) and December (when it comes time to start the fruitless cycle all over again) we let ourselves wallow in the habits of last year. The same ones that will probably continue the year after — if we rely on these resolutions to spur the house cleaning.

I do, however, believe that every birthday is a chance to start fresh. Maybe it’s because birthdays are a little more personal (and less of the “one size fits all” variety). Either way, this is when I like to re-evaluate the “me” I’d like to see in the coming year.

So with the big 2-4 looming around the corner, here are my list of intentions:

1. I intend on no longer entertaining the “my world is falling apart” mentality.

If I feel like things are off track in my work, relationships, etc., etc., etc., I am one dramatic bitch. My fear is that if I don’t express the dire nature of the situation to those around me, I may never be taken seriously. So I often speak as if my world as I know it is crumbling – and there’s no hope of anything getting better. Ever.

Clearly I need to take a chill pill on this. 

2. I intend on being kinder to others (translation: not so judgmental).

Ok, so we all judge. I’m just really, really good at it. If you are ever wondering why you should judge someone, just ask me. I’ll come up with a spectacular reason — and convince you of it’s validity while we’re at it. 

I realize I can’t make this go away at the drop of the hat, but I know that if I make an attempt to be more aware of when I’m doing it, eventually I’ll slow it down — until it stops altogether.

3. I intend on staring failure in the face.

I’ve realized over the course of the year that I am petrified of being told “no” — being turned down for another job, looked over for another opportunity — the list goes on and on. So in some aspects of my life I’ve stopped trying altogether. 

Yet I know that all of those huge accomplishments come with the threat of being turned down. So if I’m not willing to experience that, I’ll be shutting the door to some really great experiences.

It’s time to go big or go home. I’ll choose to go big.

4. I intend on being more grateful (no matter how sucky things are).

Perspective is a powerful thing — and mine needs some shifting. It’s so easy to get caught up in how things aren’t going according to plan (i.e. still making only pennies when my dreams were of the millionaire variety). But in the grand scheme of things I have it pretty great: I have a home, supportive friends and family, and the chance to actually pursue something I’m passionate about. 

How can I really be upset when I think about it that way? 

5. I intend on looking towards the possibilities.

Staring at the “what is” of a situation is not much fun. Looking at what is possible, on the other hand, is magical. Like driving past your dream home and imagining what kind of furniture you’ll buy for it when it’s yours. Or thinking about what it will feel like to board a plane bound for some tropical location you’ve only seen in posh travel magazines. 

This is where I want my focus to be for the next 365 days.

Now where’s the champagne??

A Lesson In Gratitude (courtesy of a Starbuck’s barista)

After I spent a long weekend frantically searching for jobs and making a list of all the reasons why I wouldn’t have the means to do the things I want to do, a Starbuck’s barista comped my $3 drink (I suppose this is a bit extravagant for someone without a steady income, but even I have my vices), and gratitude became my goal of the day.  When I stop my insanely irrational thoughts from shouting obscenities at my usually rational mind I can see how I have been provided for in ways that far surpass another bank deposit or the cash needed to buy a new laptop. 

Over the weekend I was given a FREE photo shoot for my honey abroad through Operation Love Reunited.  This brilliant organization provides free photography sessions for families with a loved one serving overseas, and sends these pictures to them to serve as a reminder of what they have waiting for them back home.   After sobbing through their heart-wrenching online video I sent an email, not really expecting much in return and thinking that my non-married status would probably serve as some sort of red flag.  Instead I was contacted by the founder of the organization (Tonne Lawrence, a brilliant photographer and military wife) who offered to take my pictures the following day in her home.  And as we chatted over everything from which branch had the sexist uniforms (Marines, hands down) to why deployments just suck all around, I was reminded that the universe is filled with people who will go out of their way to make the world a little sweeter for those around them. 

Despite the pitfalls of military life and being attached to someone who must be more committed to the United States government then to your relationship, there is a community upholding these servicemen and women that is unlike anything I have ever experienced before.  I have been offered homes to stay in by girls that I have met only once or twice before and lent support by families that are going through the same separation pains as I am.  Last time I trekked out to the desert to say goodbye to my Afghanistan- bound honey, we all (platoon buddies and their wives/girlfriends) spent the last few days preparing together for what we were all about to go through.  We cooked dinners, made margaritas, and attempted to forget why we were together in the first place.  Being a 20 something with little money and friends that are equally as poor, I’m not used to anyone opening their home without requiring that those that enter pitch on a pizza or a keg- this experience was so far removed from what I had become accustomed to it was shocking.  Luckily, living this taxing sort of existence comes with a new family that genuinely cares.

I have always been blessed with friends that keep me stable and help to inspire me in everything that I do.  Most of them have seen me through every life stage since my awkward dark eyeliner and blue mascara phase and will continue to be there despite the physical distance between us.  Today I am deeply grateful for my seasoned make-shift family and for all those I have met through my honey’s service in the military.  And of course to the Starbuck’s barista that sparked my sense of gratitude today- you are pretty awesome too.  I am one lucky girl to have so many fantastically spectacular people in my life.