The One Best Thing

Photo 195I made a mess of this new year. No – I didn’t insist on a long list of resolutions that now lay in shards at my feet. Instead, I overwhelmed myself with good intentions.

Yes, I can see you shaking your heads mournfully and yes, I can even hear a few “tsk tsk’s” and YES, over the past ten days I have realized that setting a course of good intentions is really no different than writing a list of resolutions. And, no, it doesn’t shame me to admit that I have been duped by my very own linguistic chicanery. Am I the only one who has fumbled and fallen? No. I am not.

But I should know by now that racing into any new year with my heart and mind overflowing with promises of change that can’t possibly be kept is a bit like giving me carte blanche at a buffet table. In the same way that I have difficulty controlling my feast or famine impulses when food is involved, it’s challenging at best for me to display any sense of restraint when I begin to write the list of goals I convince myself I need to achieve in order to be the new and improved Mimm OSx55.

We were only nine days into this new year when the unraveling began. The ‘new’ Mimm – the Mimm who rises each morning an hour early to write; the Mimm who keeps a clean diet and has a morning routine that would make the most experienced Ayurveda devotee proud; the Mimm whose asana and meditation practice takes Surya Namaskar to great heights – that new Mimm was frayed and fading fast.

I couldn’t decide which felt worse – knowing I would never be able to sustain the pace I had set for myself (I forgot to mention the neurobiology course that I was enrolled in. Note the past tense.) or knowing that, yet again, I had fooled myself into setting those pesky resolutions in the first place.

But here’s the proof that maybe – just maybe – I’m learning. Yes, I had a minor meltdown and no it didn’t feel great. I wallowed around for an hour or so and then stepped back and took a good look at what I had done.

And smiled.

In my push to be a different version of who I am I’d forgotten that this version really isn’t so bad. While it’s true I struggle with envy, I suck at math and I’ve gained back half of the twenty pounds I lost last summer – I also have some admirable redeeming features. For one – I’m plucky. I have no doubt whatsoever that Chumbawumba wrote the chorus of Tubthumping with me in mind.

And so, embracing my inner pluckiness I asked myself this:

“What is the one best thing I could add to my life this year that would make my spirit sing?”

Just one best thing.

I know my answer but I’m not telling.

And now I’m asking you:

What is your one best thing?











Follow the Signs: Reconsidering the Resolution

There was a time I was the Queen of Setting Goals.  I had rigid lists, sub-lists and categories:  goals for writing, goals for yoga, goals for saving money.  A five-year-plan and – always – the goal to lose ten pounds.  A complex map for my life.  A set of instructions to follow.

That’s how this year began.  With a list of detailed plans.  Such plans.  All typed neatly, printed on bright white paper, color coded and taped to my linen closet door.  I reviewed them each day and charted my progress: word counts, workouts, submissions and queries. I knew where I had been and where I was headed.  Didn’t I?  Of course I did – it was right there in black and white on my linen closet door.

That lasted about six weeks.  I stopped looking at my linen closet door around the beginning of February.  By late spring they were history.

I thought I had failed.  The truth is I hadn’t learned the lesson.


Yesterday I was in Sunnyvale, headed back to Palo Alto.  It was the morning of the day after Christmas.  Traffic

A historical marker situated along El Camino Real.

was light and I drove north on El Camino Real.  I was content to let my CRV stroll the six miles back home, even if I hit every red light.  Until I reached the intersection of Highway 237. On a whim, I turned right.

For those of you who know the area this is no big deal.  Unless you also know me.  When I’m driving I don’t do “whims.”  The car doesn’t move unless I know where I’m going.  I need to see that the path ahead is clear.  Last September the suggestion that I should drive an unfamiliar car, on an unfamiliar freeway following an unknown route was enough to turn me into a woman on the verge of a nervous breakdown.  So turning right on 237 was a very big deal indeed.

And guess what happened?

I followed the signs, avoided heading toward Milpitas and sure enough, after taking the Middlefield exit and turning left on Ferguson I found Central Expressway – a faster, easier way to my home.

I know.  It was a simple thing, turning right on 237 instead of driving straight ahead.  But it revealed a big truth.  Narrowing our focus to a list of resolutions taped to a closet door has nothing to do with life.

There will be no list this year.  This year I have only one resolution.

This year I’m going to follow the signs and find my way home.