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New Year’s resolutions for real people

Beth MarkleyLast New Year’s Day I resolved to commit time to writing every day for fun. A couple months later I started pushing some of that work out through my blog. It helps. I crave attention as much as I actually care to accomplish anything, and it doesn’t bother me much if I embarrass myself or my family.

Carving out a daily hour or two isn’t easy. Everybody’s day around here starts early, and in order to get my me-time, I have to get up earlier.

I’m not a morning person.

I’m also not a New Year’s resolution person. Those things are pretty much doomed by Valentine’s Day. It’s hard to decide on something every year that’s simultaneously important enough to do, but not so important I mind dooming it to the traditional resolution process.

But I’m on track to have written every weekday (and most weekends) from January on. That adds up to thousands of words, mostly crap, but some okay. Rather than losing steam, I’m more energized than ever. No more dreaming up a good subject, then forgetting it because it worms its way out of my head before I give it attention.

So, the making-actual-time-for-writing thing has become a habit, and I’m going to do the resolution-thing again this year.

Last year my resolution was about self-improvement. This year I’m going to change it up and focus outward. Here’s what I’ve decided:

I will be prompt. This may seem to be another self-improvement resolution, but it’ll make life a lot better for more than just me. With the kids a little older, able to put on their own coats and wipe their own butts (in theory), it’s doable. I don’t have to dress anyone but myself, put anyone in a car seat, pack a diaper bag, gather spare changes of clothing, snacks or bottles.

My chronic lateness is embarrassing, and actually only rarely the kids’ fault. In fact, they’re more likely to be on time if they’re not waiting on me. The handful of times anybody was tardy for school, it was on me.

It doesn’t help that I stopped wearing a watch some time ago when I read a magazine article that listed wearing a watch as a sign you’re old. Young people don’t need to wear a watch. They carry cell phones (they also shave their bikini area). So….goodbye watch, (hello razor burn). Youth before promptness (or a full bush), I always say.

I tell myself I’m tardy because I’m using every minute so efficiently I push the promptness envelope in order to get that ever elusive one-more-thing done. What can I tidy up on my way through the room? I’ll let the dog out once more before my appointment. Can I run by the bank on my way to this meeting?

Mostly, though, I’m just kind of lazy. And I don’t wear a watch.

I will call others by name. I have a terrible memory. I can never remember names until long after my cheery “hey there!” when passing someone on the street.

I’m also insecure. What if I have a brain fart and call someone Sam when his name is Seth? Will he hate me forever?

Mike has a group of friends who do “guy stuff” together. Two out of maybe 10 of them are bald. One of the bald guys is Steve. I’ve mistakenly called the wrong bald guy Steve more than once. Now they’re all just Steve. Or Richard. Richard with the goatee. They think I’m a dingbat, but I tell myself that it’s in a charming way, so it’s okay.

Calling someone by name conveys that you care enough to remember their actual moniker. I do care. I do. I’m also usually thinking about several things at once, one of which is how in the Hell I’m going to get to where I have to be on time.

I’m working through all of it.

But if I run into you on the street this winter and I call you Steve, and you’re not Steve, take comfort in knowing that Steve is probably the name of the bald guy with whom I’m late to meet.

And lend me your watch.

— Beth Markley

Beth Markley is a 40-something fundraising consultant, writer, runner, overcommitted volunteer, wife and mom to two boys who graciously allow her to poke fun of them and all things related to parenting in manicmumbling.com.

Reflections of Erma