by Winona Post Editor-in-chief Sarah Squires
Every few years, somebody in the newsroom wants to write a story about New Year’s resolutions. I smile. I say, “Go for it. Good luck! And, you might want to have a little back-up plan in case your idea of walking around town and asking people doesn’t pan out.”
I was once that reporter, wandering around downtown, stopping people on their way to the dentist or coffee shop. “What’s on your New Year’s resolution list?” I’d kindly ask. They’d get thoughtful, and then they’d get bashful. The best I’d get were a couple quotes about being kinder or something like that. Few people, it seems, want to open up about their secret wishes to get rid of dimply saddlebags, or admit that they eat their entire weight in cheese curds annually. A lot of resolutions are an attempt to remove from our lives the things we find the most embarrassing, the least attractive. They’re not the kinds of things we really want to see on the front page of the Winona Post. “I’m going to be nicer,” they say, and scurry off for that sugar-free latte.
I’ve never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. I don’t show up at the gym on January 2 and then slowly fade away. I don’t invent grand ideas about what each year will bring, but I do ponder each passing year and how I might look differently upon the next. And, I have spent the last year thinking long and hard about my life and who I am without my husband.
One of the things that I have embraced over this last year is the idea that I want to do more. Sounds simple. But I think one of the things that I have struggled with, and that many struggle with, is that we spend a whole lot more time thinking about the things we’d like to do and the people we’d like to be than we actually do doing and being. It’s easy to think about the troubles facing our community and our state and country; it’s easy to think about how we need more volunteers for this or that, or how we need to be kinder to one another, to our neighbors — how we need to exercise and eat better and spend more time in nature — the list goes on and on and on. We think about these things endlessly. And it’s often while we’re laying on the couch, cheese curds squeaking between our teeth.
I’ve been trying to consciously change this in myself. For months, as I was training for my big bicycle ride to Minneapolis, I had a banner stretched out above the TV (in front of my indoor bicycle) that read “You are training — Make him proud!” I have adjusted this mantra (although the “making him proud” part is always at the top of my list). I bought some chalkboard paint and made a little chalkboard, and the motto that’s been scrawled across it for the last few months is “Make dreams reality.”
I am still guilty of lazy days on the couch, but I am making some progress in my mission to do more. I’ve volunteered for a number of things this year — I’m on the SELCO library board, and I recently joined its finance committee; I’m part of a new coalition aimed at ending homelessness in Winona. I’m hell-bent on exploring the world of foster care and connecting families with the resources they need to help. And I’m eating better, and I finally got a winter jacket that is warm enough to spend more than five minutes outside in the winter without hating it. And, friends, I broke out the novels that I had shelved after Kong died, and I’m working on them again.
I’m trying to live the life that I dream about, and maybe that’s the kind of resolution that actually lasts past January 15. I invite you to join me! (And, well, you might see me at the Y this January; I do have one rather traditional New Year’s resolution — I’d like to swim my winter blues away!)