107: Commitment. Act 2

(U.S. Capitol Building at sunset.  Washington, D.C.)

I will not include a resolution in this post because I want to discuss resolutions in general rather than something specific.

The disclaimer: I’m not singling anyone out.  Really.  I’m not.  I’m pondering and wondering and, perhaps, wandering while I’m at it.

When I asked about resolutions a few posts ago, a couple of you responded that you don’t make resolutions.  That’s cool.  There was a time when my only resolution was to give up making resolutions.  They are, as many have pointed out, easily made and easily broken.

(Playing in abstract.)

I’ve been traveling to a wide variety of blogs, some new to me, since the new year rolled around and have been surprised by how many people are anti-resolutionists.  (Yes, I know.  Anti-resolutionists is not a word.  I like it.  It fits.  I’m using it.)  Vehement anti-resolutionists.  This caused me to wonder about how afraid we (“we” in the general sense) seem to be when it comes to commitments and making promises to ourselves.

That’s how I see a resolution (whether it’s made on New Year’s day, the Winter Solstice, or a random Thursday in May).  As a commitment or promise to oneself.

I am good at keeping my promises to others. I have not always been good at keeping the promises I make to myself.  Usually that stems from going too big, making a promise that is unrealistic in terms of time, skills, possibility, or readiness.  Judging by the number of anti-resolution blog posts I’ve read in the past week, I suspect that there are many like me who have trouble honoring promises they make to themselves while at the same time being a success at honoring promises made to others.

Now I’m not saying you all should rush out and make a few resolutions.  While a few good resolutions that are honored and kept might change the world, I find it difficult to see that happening anytime soon.  I’m mostly thinking out loud and trying to bring it out for discussion as well.

  • Do you find it easier to keep promises made to others than those promises you make to yourself?
  • Have you given up on resolutions because of past failures?

I know some folks have decided on a word for the year.  I’ve done that too, this year and in the past, although I call it my “theme” for the year.  Same difference, no doubt.  Do you think a word for the year differs from a resolution?  How so?

My theme for this year, as you all know, is De-Clutter.  Last year it was Simplify.  The problem I had with last year’s theme is that it was too broad.  I couldn’t exactly fail at it because I hadn’t exactly focused on anything specific.  However, I do feel as though I didn’t succeed at it because my life seems more complicated this year than it did last year.  That said (and having just experienced a sudden moment of clear hindsight), it’s possible life just seemed less complicated last year because when 2010 arrived I was still encased in a bubble of grief, not yet ready to make my way out.  Simplifying at that moment in time meant getting through the grief process in my own way and at my own pace, and giving myself permission to let life and grief play out as they would without feeling guilty about chores that didn’t get done or spending the day wrapped in sadness.

Looks like there was a success there after all.  Still, I find a theme or word needs some sort of specific focus, but that’s just me.  Your mileage may vary.  I have been working on specifics for my De-Clutter theme.  More about that in a future post.

As the snow flies

I have learned that when it’s in the 20’s, windy, snowing, and you’re pretty sure you’re going to end up as frozen as a popsicle, you can’t be any place other than in the moment.  The body and mind, for once, are perfectly in sync.  My outdoor adventures this winter are almost better than meditation when it comes to mindfulness.

(Waiting for snow.)

Today’s walk was no different.  Snow, cold, wind.  The usual January conditions prevail.  We had a couple of inches of snow since I last posted.  Predictions are for 14 or more inches to fall and accumulate this weekend.  Woo-hoo!  We can go skiing again!

(Bristled.  A lump of grass in the snow.)

I didn’t wander far today.  I’m feeling a little tired.  Truth be told, I want to hibernate.  Sleep in every day.  Meditate for a while.  Curl up by the fire and read.  Stay close to home.  This is the time of year when I normally do that.  In a way, staying close to the house for my walk wasn’t such a bad thing.  It allowed me to look a little closer at things I usually pass by without much more than a glance.

(Fallen branch.)

The daily blog posts are beginning to be exhausting.  More work than fun.  But this too shall pass.  In the meantime, I appreciate your visits and the fact that you’re still soldiering on with me.  Thank you.

19 Comments on “107: Commitment. Act 2”

  1. photobyholly says:

    De-clutter – that’s what I need to do (I wish)!! Maybe someday, when my boys are a little older, we’ll be able to start….

    I can understand where you’re coming from with your last paragraph, with this “blah” weather we keep having, day after day, finding something to photograph and blog about it has become somewhat of a chore. I still love thinking about it, but mostly, what can I do once the weather clears up a little bit! I just can’t seem to bring myself to go outside when the sky is gray, the world seems to be in black and white, and the temperature can’t seem to climb above 25 degrees…. hopefully soon!!

    • Robin says:

      Holly: It’s hard to keep the house uncluttered when there are children around. Especially boys! I speak from experience, having raised two sons. It gets worse when they’re teens. lol!

      I can sooo relate to what you wrote about not being able to bring yourself to go outside on the cold, gray days. That’s why I decided to commit to the 365 challenge of going outdoors every day. It forces me out, whether I like it or not. 🙂

  2. bearyweather says:

    Like you, it is 100% easier for me to stick to commitments I make to others than it is to the ones I make to myself. I am not sure why that is. Maybe because letting a friend down, means that I have no control over the forgiveness aspect of broken commitment … but, I can easily forgive myself for breaking a promise I made to myself.

    • Robin says:

      Bearyweather: That’s a good point. I’m the same way (finding it easier to forgive myself for breaking a promise to myself). I hadn’t thought of it from that perspective.

  3. Karma says:

    Certainly promises made to others are much easier to keep than ones to myself. If I don’t keep a promise to myself, the only person I disappoint is myself, and I’m the only one to blame. I can live with that.
    I guess I am a bit anti- New Year’s resolution. It seems arbitrary to me to pick New Year’s as a clean slate. As you said, I don’t think it matters if it is winter solstice or a Thursday in May. When the time to make a commitment for yourself is right, that’s the best time to do it.

    • Robin says:

      Karma: I agree. I think the reason people like to make resolutions for the new year is precisely because it’s new. It feels like a clean slate. But every day, every moment for that matter, we have the opportunity for a clean slate.

      As for me, my resolutions generally tend to be continuations of things already started (such as my outdoor commitment or deciding to take better care of myself). I find it helps me to carry over my commitments if I renew or recommit.

  4. Kel says:

    Isnt it interesting how as your mind sifted and sorted (de-cluttered) it was able to see the success in your simplification aim 🙂 I do hope this year that you have many more such epiphanies as you de-clutter

    Oh you have to know i heart that photo of your skis and boots
    Mr x and i were cross country skiing the other day and i was telling him how you just strap on your skis and head out across the field…(we were lamenting the fact we had to follow trails and could not go out and lay fesh tracks in wide open fields) we decided that you were very lucky to live in such a place!

    Yesterday we went snow-shoeing, with our brand new snowshoes, on the mountain that broke records recently with deepest snow on the planet, it wasnt even on the itinerary but we just decided to make it happen…..big smiles all round 🙂

    More snow than we have ever seen in our entire life!!!

    • Robin says:

      Kel: That’s one of the reasons I like blogging and thinking out loud. When I start to write things out, my mind because a little less clutter and I’m more likely to find some clarity. Thank you for the good wishes in regards to the epiphanies and de-cluttering. 🙂

      I find groomed trails to be easier than laying fresh tracks. Faster, at any rate. It’s a little more work when you have to lay the tracks.

      Your snow-shoeing adventures sound like fun!! I’m glad you’re enjoying the snow. 😀

  5. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on resolutions, especially after making my own this year. I definitely have a harder time keeping promises to myself. I think deep down in me somewhere, I believe that I am less important than the other people in my life. I would love to shift that thinking and start taking care of myself better.

    Thanks for sparking this thought in me!

    • Robin says:

      SuburbanMisfit: You’re welcome. 🙂

      I think that’s why I break promises to myself, too. It seems most women that I know tend to put others first, making them more important. Some men too. Like you, I would like to shift my thinking in that regard. Hopefully this will be the year for it.

  6. penpusherpen says:

    Hmm, I for one try my damnedest to keep my commitments with friends and family, and if I fall short I can only say I did try … as to myself It’s not that I know I’ll fail it’s just I try to ‘do’ everything I need to do all the time, not make it a New Year habit.. does that make any sense at all?… I’ve been almost re-born these past three years, I’ve faced up to the fact that my marriage was over as loving partnership, we’re …um… like unusual friends who lodge together/separately ’til we can sort things out.., that I needed to visit my hometown and lay some ghosts by paying my respects to my grandparents and mothers grave,… You see I’ve been de-cluttering without knowing it… I was tied in knots and I’ve cut myself free …but I can’t forgive myself for the hurt caused because I should have acted sooner… BUT then that’s in the past and now I am at peace with myself and my need to ‘speak out’ . I’ve found I can write and do so with total enjoyment, isn’t life wonderful sometimes? I have found my voice…
    I love your term, simplifying life, as I think that’s the nub of how to live on this planet… simply and honestly as best you can with the cards that are dealt your way…
    More wonderful Photo’s, cold, but beautiful.. Mother Nature wearing her white cloak of sleep, and I do hope the tiredness does wear off after time and blogging becomes easier and more enjoyable, because I for one do enjoy reading them…xPenx

  7. Marianne says:

    Hey Robin. I decided to take Saturdays mornings to get caught up on my blog reading.

    I’m recognizing, I have a tendancy to get myself involved in too many projects. I am interested in many things and I want to do it all, now. I start new projects without finishing the previous ones I started. Then I feel bogged down. (No pun intended.)

    In thinking about my theme for this year, maybe I should make a resolution to resolve the projects I’ve already started before commiting to new ones. I think I’m going to have to find a way to make myself accountable to this before I find myself going off track again. Maybe I should make a sign (a huge sign) for my office.

    • Robin says:

      Hi Marianne! Good to see you’re still out and about in Blog World. 😀

      We have that in common — getting involved in too many things/projects at once. (I like the pun. lol!)

      Resolving some of my projects is on my list of resolutions. I have three in particular I’d like to complete before this year is out. I am motivated and determined so hopefully I’ll get ’em done. 🙂

  8. […] concept of “One Little Word” has been around for a while I think.  Some folks, like Robin over at Life in the Bogs, choose a theme for the year. In essence, this is what Ms. Clark asked us to do today: choose a […]

  9. Kathy says:

    Robin, how very interesting that you just wrote this post. I have been thinking about commitment a lot lately. About what it teaches. Its strengths, its weaknesses.

    Whenever I have undertaken a commitment, there have been spells of absolute hating it, not wanting to continue, frustration. (Right now I am feeling that way about my 30 day gratitude challenge. Stupid gratitude challenge! Whoever thought of that stupid idea anyway? What a pain to do this every day. Wouldn’t it be easier to just forget it?)

    However, there seems to be something so precious gained by commitments. The mind/emotions are always going to be doing their “thing” liking and disliking. I want to go beyond the space of liking and disliking, the surface waves of the mind. To the place deep under water where different lessons arise.

    It’s interesting how much we can learn about ourselves when the dislikes of commitment rise to the surface. To see what we’re resisting in life, in the moment, in Presence.

    I think commitment can be holy and sacred because it forces us to know ourselves better. Whether in a marriage or a 30 day gratitude commitment or a year-long outdoor commitment…we will learn so much about what we resist and what we embrace.

    From a fan of commitment who is always both sad and delighted when it ends. (And learning about what exists deeply within us beneath the fluctuating feelings and thoughts.)

    • Robin says:

      Hi Kathy. 🙂

      I know what you mean. Some commitments almost guarantee ambivalence, having to keep up with something day after day after day. One day I’m loving being outdoors every day and the next I’m dreading having to go through the ritual of layering, putting on boots, hat, gloves, and going out into the cold. I seem to appreciate more on those days I have to force myself to comply with the terms of my commitment. I always come back feeling good about having gotten through the negative thoughts/self-talk and gone outside.

      I think you’re right about how commitment can be holy and sacred, and about how it forces us to know ourselves better. I’ve also learned that we have to cut ourselves some slack when it comes to messing up. Sometimes we make commitments with the best of intentions only to find we can’t keep them, either because we took on too much or something in life has changed our circumstances.

      As a side note, and in keeping with your gratitude challenge, I am grateful to you for having inspired me to take on the outdoor challenge. I am amazed at the changes that have occurred as a result. Thank you! 🙂

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