Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Resolution Rebellion 2012: Where's your picnic?

My picnics need wine. Definitely wine.

It's happening. All those "be your best in 2012" messages are buzzing.

The experts suggest that you need a theme for the new year. They urge you to make a list of specific goals for the coming year and use metrics to determine your success. Essentially, they're selling you the idea that if you can just get the formula right, you have an 80 percent chance of having a year you can be proud of.

Awesome. Except that 2011 blew apart any sort of plan I could have made in 2010.  

This year, I got schooled in shame.

I learned a lot, but mostly I found out that there were no lessons. The word "lessons" implies that there's some take-home idea you can apply should you encounter a similar situation so you don't have to face it again. Most of us are wise enough to know that lightning rarely strikes in the same place or the same way, but we still wanna believe we have the power and foresight to troubleshoot our way out of pain. Not so much a believer on that one anymore.

This year, after a dozen years of building a life we loved and trying to shrug off difficult people, the bad guys sorta won. A demeaning boss and coworker got to see Hot Husband play nice guy, then walk out the door and out of the community. Toxic neighbors who wasted our time and money trying to force us to get rid of our livestock saw us sell everything.

We had to listen to well-meaning folks say things like, "A lot of people can't make it work here. Guess I'm one of the lucky ones."

It was brutal.

And while things are good and getting better all the time, one word or memory can bring it all back. Then I'm not here, in this beautiful house by the river with the boys I love. I'm sobbing on the driveway that we had to build to get the effing neighbors off our back. The U-Haul is loaded, the kids are silent in the back seat, and the sunflowers will bloom for someone else.

I am shitty at forgiveness and patience. I resist authority and Band-Aids of positive thinking.

But I am learning how to move my picnic.

In the heat of seething over the layers of injustice over this situation one day, I got a little pick-me-up from Shit My Dad Says: "Don’t focus on the one guy who hates you. You don’t go to the park and set your picnic down next to the only pile of dog shit."

Of course. I can move. The whole park is my playground.

So this week, instead of charting goals and quadrants of success organized by season, I'm mapping my park. I'm filling in the landscape with reminders of laughter with friends, a good book, a date with my husband, a feel-good flick, and tickle fights with the dudes.

When I'm feeling overwhelmed, angry, fearful or lost, I can look over at my map of my beautiful world, and choose where I'm going to spread out my blanket.

You'll find me dangling my feet in the fountain, my face to the warmth of the sun.

More Resolution Rebels:
Great antidote to the usual resolution talk by Leo Babauta here.
Danielle LaPorte on trading hope for action.


  1. I'll be finalizing mine next week. Lots in the hopper but still working on the lists

  2. You are so incredibly amazing, inspiring, real....

  3. Go, Rab go! Thanks, Kathryn. You're one of my heroes.

  4. My husband reminded me earlier this fall that when you are lost in the woods, you can either just stand there or you can start walking. That's what we are doing, taking one step at a time. We're not sure what's going to happen but we've taken the first really big steps.

    I'm actually pretty happy about our decision. I think you and I have been struggling with some of the same issues. My husband and I kept hoping that when the economy gets better . . . and engaged in our share of self-blame but really we know, its about where we live. It really is. We planning on making good things happen this year.

  5. What shall we bring to this year's picnics my love?
    Some sunshine, lots of two-wheel trips, perhaps some skis, and most definitely a new hope for peace, space, possibility......and far less dog shit at the park!

    Love you!

    Your hubby!

  6. The best form of revenge is to live a happy, successful life! From what I have read in your blog in 2011 you are there already. Have a wonderful 2012 ...

  7. She Rides--I really, truly want to hear what you have cookin'! It's so encouraging to hear from other people who will not be bowed by their circumstances. For more encouragement . . .

    Getting there--Thanks so much. It helps to know people are pulling for us.

  8. Just catching up with you this morning, girlfriend. Great post, and I LOVE that quote from Shit My Dad Says. Happy New Year to you :)