I’m big on New Year’s resolutions. A new year seems like a good time to implement that old cliché: out with the old, in with the new. When our kids were young, we took them out for an early dinner at our local café on New Year’s Eve. They could order whatever they wanted – usually a burger, fries and a chocolate malt. While we shared a meal, we also shared our New Year’s resolutions. I can’t remember what our pre-teens resolved for the coming year, but I do remember we all took our “resolve” very seriously. And, the reason I take it seriously is because I’ve found (for me) resolutions work. I set an intention and follow through. But, it took me a bit of time to learn that.
Let me give you a little back story.
Flashback to my early years, when I was a teen in the 1960s. Back then, I had a trim figure I didn’t even have to think about. Oh, I obsessed about an occasional pimple and worried I didn’t look like Twiggy! (Did anyone but Twiggy look like Twiggy?) Back then, high school and all its drama didn’t leave room for thinking ahead.
Skip ahead a decade, when I was in my 20s, then 30s. I looked decent enough to sit around the public kiddy pool in a swimsuit and not have to think about holding in my stomach the whole time. But was I grateful? No. There was Christie Brinkley to look like, not to mention the women’s movement telling me I should have a hot-shot career instead of being the main financier behind a lemonade stand. That’s when I started “resolving.” At year-end, I resolved to get in better shape and figure out what to do with my life beyond wife and motherhood. It took a lot of resolve just to keep up with my kids, so there wasn’t much time (or energy) to work on much else.
But, jump to my 40s. There was no need to sit by swimming pools anymore. And I didn’t pay nearly as much attention to celebrities and models, but I was filled with angst. It seemed I should be so much “more” than “just a wife” or “just a mom.” I wrestled with “who” I should be as much as I did with the 10 pounds I’d discovered along the way.
Our oldest was almost off to college, our youngest not too far behind. I had more time to devote to “me.” One year, I resolved to return to college and get my degree. It took two years, but I did it! A few years later, I resolved to (finally) write the book I had been dreaming about most of my life. It took the whole entire year, but I did it. Then I made another resolution to get that book published. That took two years, but, again, I did it.
By now I was 50 with writing contracts to fulfill. And a speaking career, too. I learned I didn’t need to wait for a new year to make changes in my life. I learned to embrace my not-so-flat stomach (just kidding about that)! Kidding aside, I did learn to embrace the writer I’d resolved to become. I learned to embrace my life stories, even the not-so-great stories about my dad’s early death, dropping out of college more than twice, my miscarriage and depression. And, I gained the sureness to talk about those events outloud. I learned there is power in sharing disappointments, disillusions and failures. I learned sharing those things brought me closer to others. More so than sharing joys and accomplishments, although there is a place for those, too.
That one resolution to write my novel opened the door for me to teach at writing conferences, and that led to helping others realize similar dreams. That one resolution brought great satisfaction and taught me that much of my purpose in life is to share what I’ve learned through this thing called “living.”
I’m in a new stage of life now, where instead of “resolving,” I more often find myself “reflecting.”
I sometimes long for the days when I was “just a wife” or “just a mom.” I attained that writing career I resolved to pursue. I love it, but sometimes I look back on the other stages of my life. They passed so quickly and I didn’t take time to appreciate who I was then, and what I was learning from that stage of my life. I didn’t see those years (the struggles and the joys) were leading me to where I am right now. To “who” I am.
I should have known, should have trusted, that God had a plan all along.
So, here’s what I resolve for 2023. (Besides vowing to stop watching so many Instagram reels! I know. I know. You don’t have to tell me there are better things to do with an hour!) I resolve to enjoy the stage of life I’m in. To appreciate the time I have to write this column. To be thankful for the opportunity I have to share what I’ve learned through my stories. I resolve to answer God’s call to live the life he gave me and not wish for something else. Upon reflection, I wish I “resolved” this years ago. I would have enjoyed the journey so much more.
Check in with me in a year, I’ll let you know how I did.
Now, I’m curious. What will you resolve to do with the 365 days ahead?
Roxane (Roxy) Henke lives in rural North Dakota. Even though life is often hectic, she’s resolving to take a deep breath and enjoy all the places and people in her life, and those include you, dear readers. Happy New Year! You can contact Roxy at email@example.com.