January 6, 2012
Island Living: Stupid New Year’s resolutions
to forget and a couple good ones to keep


So the New Year is upon us, and with it comes the inevitable mass swearing of New Year’s Resolutions that will typically last until Groundhog Day at the latest.

Personally, it is my practice to make about 10 resolutions at the very least, so that if by some miracle, I do keep one -- and usually it’s the easiest, like “Do the dishes more than once a week” or “Watch more Food Network” -- I’ll feel like I at least accomplished something and my self-esteem will remain intact until the next new year rolls around.

But recently, while in the process of diligently brainstorming my annual resolution list and digging up the old standbys from years past, it suddenly dawned on me.

Resolutions are really stupid.

Now, you might think this is a pathetic rationalization concocted for the sole purpose of not making or sticking to any resolutions at all this year and instead just enjoying the new year by sleeping in, eating junk food, and watching a “Next Iron Chef” marathon. You’re probably right.

But, regardless, this year I’m going to throw away my sensible, rational, and altogether stupid list of resolutions, and stick to a set of new New Year’s resolutions that, well, might actually end up making the year a lot better.

I’m sharing this list of old and new resolutions with you, my friends, because I think we all deserve a nice little rationalization to throw away that annual guilt trip that always accompanies those unresolved and dissolute resolutions and replace them with something far more fun, more life enhancing, and, most importantly, much easier to keep.

Stupid resolution that is officially retired #1: Lose 10 pounds.

This stupid resolution is one of those standards from years past that I make every single year. In fact, it has become an annual tradition of sorts to both make it with vigor and determination, and then totally drop it just in time for Valentine’s Day candy.  

But those weeks in between, where every calorie is counted and every slice of pizza is out of reach, are pretty darn miserable.  Winter is the season of “comfort food,” of football playoffs and bowl games, and of getting together with friends who actually have free time since it is the off-season and reconnecting over a home-cooked meal or a frozen pizza.

In fact, this is the main reason why this resolution is going into the trash.

There have literally been times when friends have called us up in January to go to “Taco Tuesday” at Oceana’s, go out for a flat top at Café 12, or just come over for beer and nachos, and I have turned them down because of my stupid diet and my inability to deal with any sort of temptation face-to-face.

Well, no more.  

In the interest of maintaining my relationships, making the most of football watching parties, and actually enjoying time with my friends instead of fretting how many calories a Cheeto contains, I’m just going to go out and eat, drink, and be merry.

Stupid resolution that is officially retired #2: Be more thrifty

Like most Americans, December is our big spending season -- an accumulation of presents, travel, parties, and those really expensive but tasty nutty cheese ball things.

So when the financial hangover of January rolls around, being cheap seems like a smart idea.  And, to be honest, this seems like a good resolution more than ever this year, since months later we’re all still feeling some varying degree of financial strain from Hurricane Irene.

But this is also the reason to break this resolution because every open business out there is going through this strain as well.

They lost at least two months of business this past year, after all, so if plugging a little more money into the economy by going out for dinner once a week or buying something frivolous or fun that I don’t really need (like pink waders or banjo lessons) will help our community get back in the black, then sign me up.

And besides, I’ve always secretly wanted to play the banjo in pink waders.

Stupid resolution that is officially retired #3: Do the dishes more, clean more, dust more, scrub more, etc.

There’s a reason why they’re called “chores,” instead of “awesome fun things you get to do every single day.”

And, frankly, I typically make a resolution to do one or more of these chores every year, whether it’s cleaning out the fridge, scrubbing the bathroom, or giving our dog a bath more often. (And I assure you that he doesn’t appreciate this resolution either.)

And to what end? I couldn’t tell you.

I suppose it’s so our toilet will sparkle for guests, although honestly I don’t think they inspect it that closely (At least I sure hope they don’t. That would be creepy.) or so our dog will smell like lavender for 10 minutes until he rolls around in poop so he can smell “normal” again.

Really, when you think about it, adding extra or more frequent chores can take hours out of your day – hours that you could be spending enjoying a deserted beach, or getting lost on a Buxton Woods trail, or just dropping by a friend’s house for an impromptu game of Risk or Trivial Pursuit.

What’s worse is that combined with subsequent resolutions like being thrifty or dieting, this makes life just plain miserable because now you’ve created a situation where you’re starving, eating small quantities of 25-cent Ramen noodles, and scrubbing toilets in your free time. No wonder seasonal depression is so prevalent!

So instead of spending time making the house much more presentable for friends, I’m just going to use that time to, well, actually spend with friends. And hopefully, in the midst of getting a particularly difficult science and nature question correct or conquering Russia on the Risk board, they won’t notice that my toilet is not the most admirable and sparkling in the world.

New New Year’s resolution:  Spend more time at the beach

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

It’s July. It’s sunny and 90 degrees outside. And the ocean is a clear Caribbean blue, lapping onto a lovely white shell-lined beach. The water is so refreshing that as soon as you duck your head into a barreling wave, you’re refreshed, happy, and ready to doze on the beach for a few hours with a cold beer in hand.

Or at least that’s what you’ve heard because you’ve been much too busy to actually experience this for yourself. There are toilets that need to be scrubbed, after all.

Then winter rolls around, and there’s a whole new batch of excuses to stay at home and not even bother with the great outdoors. It’s windy, there’s nothing biting, it’s cold, I’m tired, I haven’t watched enough Food Network today.

And this cycle repeats itself until after a while you kind of forget that there is this awesome big blue thing on the east side of Highway 12 that thousands of visitors spend thousands of dollars every year to come enjoy. Who knew?

I’ve been guilty of taking our amazing locale for granted so many times that it’s ridiculous. During one exceptionally busy year, I even got into an argument with someone about who had been to the beach the least because of being so busy. And that’s just sad.

So this year, I resolve to go to the beach, that fantastic place that happens to be located in my backyard, as often as I can. And I’ll do whatever I can to make every trip enjoyable -- whether it’s swimming, shelling, strolling, or “fishing,”  which I define as glancing at a well-placed rod every 30 minutes or so while I read a trashy romance novel.

I think, somehow, I can man up and make this New Year’s sacrifice.

New New Year’s resolution:  Go forth and explore

Given that the island is about five miles across at its widest point, you’d figure that after a decade or so, you would know everything there is to know about your home turf.  But, sometimes, you’re surprised to find out that you are fabulously wrong.

Case in point: A couple weeks ago my friend and I were enjoying a “we’re broke” Saturday afternoon by checking out the library, followed by browsing at Lee Robinson General Store in Hatteras village, when all of a sudden we noticed a flyer for the Hatteras Village Nature Trail.

Well, we had never heard of such, and having no concrete plans, we awkwardly followed the map to Eagle Pass Road and this new-fangled “trail” that, until this moment, neither one of us knew existed.  

And you know what? It ended up being a lovely surprising way to round out the day.

So once we stumbled upon this secretive trail that was in plain sight all along, we wondered “What else is out there that we didn’t know about?” And this question led us to weird and unevenly paved paths that drifted towards the beach, woodsy trails that popped you out into a world of giant ancient sand dunes in the middle of nowhere, and a big lake in the middle of Buxton (Jennette’s Sedge) that I didn’t even know existed.

Lesson learned:  Exploring is fun!

And in the winter, when there’s not that much going on and you’re saving your money for important expenditures like those banjo lessons, exploring is a fantastic way to spend a weekend wandering around and filling up those precious daylight hours with something fun, free, and just a few steps away from home.

New New Year’s resolution:  Spend time with your friends, family, and neighbors

Yes, you guessed it. All those other resolutions were leading up to this one.

And when you cut out those crappy resolutions and replace them with the infinitely more fun new ones, this resolution is easy to do.

After all, discovering new nature trails is more fun with a friend, restaurants are better when you have a group of people crammed into a small table and eating elbow to elbow, and a banjo-playing band would be pretty darn awesome.

I’m bad about doing this one as well. Sometimes I’m so wrapped up with the serious aspects of life, like eating well, saving money, and doing run-of-the-mill tasks, that I leave my friends behind and concentrate my efforts on being a better, more efficient person.

But you know what? Your friends and family don’t really care if you’re 10 pounds overweight, buying some tacky waders that you don’t need, or have cups, old napkins, and half-read trashy novels scattered about your entire house. This is why they’re your friends.

So this new year, let’s all stop trying to be better people by the classic definition and let’s all make a resolution to not improve ourselves in any responsible way whatsoever.

Instead, let’s resolve to enjoy ourselves, appreciate the people who love us for our faults, and go forth and enjoy our fabulous island home.

And I promise you, this will be a resolution you’ll want to stick to, even after Groundhog Day.

(Joy Crist is forgetting her stupid New Year’s resolutions and making new, really important resolutions at her home in Avon.)

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