A common New Year's resolution includes exercise and weight loss.


In just a few days, we can say we made it through another tumultuous year. Some would call it the worst year ever.

Of course, some call every year the worst year ever. Talk about a half-empty glass. I wonder if they mean the worst year ever since the beginning of time? Perhaps they mean the worst year in their lifetime or maybe just in recent years.

I guess looking at the events of the past year, there has been some unraveling. The news reads like the synopsis of a really bad soap opera. There were the scandals, assaults, lies, greed, drugs — and did I mention lies? And that was just our politicians. If we factor in the television and movie personalities, the sports figures and the miscellaneous famous (or notorious) characters who have power or money or both, we see a very immoral, unethical and pathetic scenario.

What a year to reflect upon. But we all get to turn over a new leaf, start a new chapter, and pull up that “first day of the rest of your life” mantra. We get to put all this behind us like a bad dream. We get to click “refresh.” We get to savor all the wonderful Christmas memories. Or not.

One perfectly good way to ruin an otherwise joyful holiday season is to start making resolutions for the new year. Just when we have had a lovely time with family and friends, we start with the “I’ll never eat baclava again.”

Let’s just get them all out of the way. Hold up your right hand and read this aloud. “I am going to exercise more, eat less, lose weight, visit my mother more often, save the whales and the polar bears, stop global warming, find the cure for cancer and clean the garage.” Oh, did I miss the part where we are going to meditate, not be hard on ourselves, write a book, find romance and invent something that will make millions?

It’s a tossup between Lenten season, where people deny themselves of things as penance and New Year’s resolutions, where people fool themselves into believing they are going to exercise every day for three hours. I think both are worthy of our consideration. It’s not the swearing off of things or vowing to do things, it is the keeping of these noble intentions, and not feeling worse when we stray from our forsworn pact with ourselves.

New Year’s resolutions were seeded in religious traditions. Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year to return borrowed objects and repay their debts. In the Medieval era, knights took the Peacock Vow at the end of the Christmas season to renew their commitment to chivalry. During Judaism’s new year, one is to reflect on one’s wrongdoing over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness.

In more recent times, New year’s resolution have become more of a holistic and self-serving list of where we will travel and what we will set our sights on with purchases, job changes and, of course, weight loss.

If you are a math whiz, you realize that if you had only lost one pound a week, you would be 52 pounds lighter this year. If your area is finance, you might remind us all that if we had just saved $20 a week, we would have enough for that trip we would like to take. And gardening gurus tell us every year that if we had planted asparagus two years ago, we could be harvesting it this spring.

Human nature being what it is, the shoulda-woulda-coulda can bring us down as much as the drama and disasters we had to endure throughout the year. We can’t control the behavior of others, but we can control our response to it.

Last year, one cartoon character reflected, “I think 2017 is going to bring flowers.” When asked why, the reply was simple. “Because I planted flowers.” Flowers anyone, in 2018?

Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at kaystellpflug@gmail.com.