Did you write resolutions this year?
Despite the fact that I often find it more helpful to reflect on what I’ve learned in the year prior, I usually do — informally, oftentimes enumerated briskly and non-verbally as I am en route to pick up fixings for New Year’s Day lunch, which has, for the past ten or twelve years, always and invariably been reubens toasted in a cast-iron skillet with pickles and chips, on rare occasion featuring corned beef that Mr. Magpie has himself corned at home, and more than a handful of times accompanied by a gin-based Bloody Mary with all the accoutrements, which remains one of the best cocktails ever.
Occasionally, I elect a nebulous “mode” for the year in lieu of formal resolutions. I have gone with “gentleness” in multiple years past, with the goal of going easy on, well, everyone–myself included. (I have a thing for the word gentle, I guess.)
Almost always, I keep the intentions list brief. It’s too difficult to keep more than a handful of priorities or “modes” in mind–something I learned firsthand from being a manager to many, many employees in the course of my more traditional career. Anything prolix will be too dilute and inactionable, shuffled away in that drawer that houses old remotes and expired batteries and the take-out menu from a Chinese restaurant two homes ago.
When well-written, resolutions feel to me like doorways — entry-points, thresholds, intentional movement.
This year, I thought I’d share my resolutions, in part because saying them out loud makes me feel more accountable to them. I’d be curious to hear yours, too, if you’re not too private to share. Whether you do or
1 // As a parent, be present and patient. Major corollary to this objective: keep cell phone out of arm’s reach as much as possible. I have fallen into horrendous habits caring for a newborn, when so many of my responsibilities are repetitive to the point of perfunctory and often handled while an infant is in a state of half-repose. (In fact, handled while I as a parent am in a state of half-repose…ha!) As an example, I nearly always bring my phone with me while feeding my boy his five times a day — because, well, I treat those 15 minute feeds as opportune times to tick things off the list. But then that 15 minutes spills over or could be better passed engaged in dialogue with my inquisitive toddler who just this past weekend asked to take her phone (one of those noisy plastic v-tech ones) with her to the grocery store when we were dashing out to buy eggs to make blueberry muffins. I hesitated. Do as I say, not as I do flashed through my mind. And I resolve to do better. To spend more time sitting there in the dark in silence, no phone, with my boy. To get down on the floor and play with my daughter, phone free. I have struggled with this since mini was born, and so I know I will be a work in progress, but for the past few days, at least, I have made a point of stowing my phone far enough away from me that I won’t grab for it at the first sign of quiet.
Patience, too — oh Lord, how the toddlers will try your patience. Mini’s lollygagging can occasionally make me feel I will blow a gasket if I don’t exit the room and take a deep breath and preferably a large swig of wine. And the whining! Mini is not particularly bad, but the occasional bouts of whininess are knee-bucklingly challenging to muscle through…
So, presence and patience. Those are the modes for the year.
2 // Be an adult. Rather vague and ambitious, but this is rooted in my recent adoption of the “do things to completion” mentality. I am trying to do things as my mother and my mother-in-law would — that is, spot clean stains immediately; hand wash delicates rather than rolling the dice in the washing machine; sweep the floors with regularity (ideally, nightly, but that’s a bit far-fetched for me right now); wash hands upon entry into the apartment; place shoes in closet rather than letting them pile up outside; break down boxes fully; etc. The basic idea is that I feel like I’m too old to leave things in disarray, to be handled later.
3 // Cook more for mini and micro. Mr. Magpie and I eat very well and widely but I have long struggled with variety in mini’s diet, in part because she’s just getting through an irritatingly picky stage and in part because it’s been challenging syncing up our dining schedule so that we all eat at the same time and so I often cook for her separately. I am trying my hardest to sit down and map out her meals in advance so that I’m not resorting to buttered noodles and fish sticks and sliced cucumber for dinner as often as I have in the past. I am also trying to be better about feeding micro what we eat — trimming a small piece of steak to puree with mashed potatoes or feeding him the soupy part of chicken pot pie or what have you. I am determined to be more on-the-ball about this, because food is important to Mr. Magpie and I, and I need to see that through with our children. It takes time and energy, but honestly, there are other areas I can trim in my life to accommodate their nutrition and I continue to remind myself that time is a tool to express my values…
4 // Take more risks with my writing. I have been deeply encouraged by occasional Magpie inquiries as to whether I will write a book and the generous responses to more memoir-style posts like this. More to come…
All of these resolutions are despairingly diffuse. After all, the cardinal rule with goal-setting is ensuring measurability — and none of mine are easy to assess. In fact, they are wildly ambitious and I am likely doomed to disappoint myself BUT — Mr. Magpie had a clever contrivance that I’ve been exercising: before bed, pause and ask whether I’ve done anything in each of the categories. He encouraged me to think of it as a pulse check — a diagnostic or even mnemonic rather than a rubric, though I already find myself grading my own actions. So far, so good. Keeping an optimistic outlook on 2020.
What about you? Please share if you’re feeling loose-lipped…
+Tres chic and tres functional. I am stuck midway between the practical navy and the fun peony pink.
+I know I’ve been talking about a storage bench for Hill’s room forever, but I think I’ve finally found a winner: this. Versatile enough to be used elsewhere…I came across it while scouring The Real Real the other night; did you know they also sell furniture? Too bad the bench was sold out already…but seriously! Great new resource for “vintage” home scores.
+You will never ever regret buying this sweater in either the cream or heather brown color. (On super sale!)
+Only a handful of this beautiful dress left in stock (on sale!) — OBSESSED.
+Love a good leopard print. This is an easy way to add interest to a sleepy-feeling work wardrobe.
+OBSESSED with the fit of these jeans.
+Love the look of this top. I own one very similar in shape by the Brock Collection that I die over.
+Love these for a little boy’s room.
+THIS NEMO HELMET. OMG.
+And these bloomers…! Too cute.
+Gave this as a gift and was super impressed with the quality…I think I need one, too…