Resolutely resolved to make no resolutions.

Across the world, running shoes are waiting patiently in the dark depths of cupboards, whispering to each other that their time has come: not for the end of the world, but for the chink of light meaning that they will be hauled on to post-festive feet and taken out for a run a year after their purchase. The local vineyards will shortly be taken over by squads of red-faced and lycra-clad sportifs puffing uncomfortably along in their sale-price Nikes as their iPods set the pace. Then their numbers will rapidly dwindle, until the last running shoes return to the cupboard and await either a charity-shop hop or next year’s harvest of unattainable resolutions.

2012-233 Pretty Shoes

 Photo credit: mrsdkrebs

Running, swimming, smoking, drinking …. We are fast approaching the date when the human race tries to out-do itself, deciding to take up this and give up that. Sports trainers and nicotine patch manufacturers will shortly be rubbing their hands in glee across the globe as the number of miraculously motivated, gullible pigeons triples overnight.

 

 

How on earth did we dream up the daft idea that the New Year would give us the motivational wherewithal to give up smoking/lose 20 kilogrammes/get healthy/put the keys away in the right place and otherwise totally change overnight? Apparently the Babylonians were the first to imagine the impossible, and the human race has been deluding itself on an annual basis ever since.

 

I could, of course, resolve to wake up as a whole new woman on the first of January. A new, improved version of MM : an updated, organised model sporting the female equivalent of fully-chromed bumpers and leather seats, and ecologically fuelled by organic vegetables and cod liver oil.

 

Imagine MM as the new, Swiss army knife-type of mater familias who achieves everything with a smile and still has time to pop out for a facial and make herself beautiful for her other half’s arrival. Sounds dubious, but let’s imagine, just for a minute. Let’s reverse all my inadequacies.

 

Victorinox Swiss Army knife, photo taken in Sw...

Add a head, and you have Wonderwoman.

You know the type. She deals with bills as soon as they arrive, and files the evidence away within the hour rather than stuffing it into a drawer and forgetting about it. She does not consider lifting a beer glass to her lips every evening to be a regular sporting activity. She has a strict food budget for the week that she never exceeds, yet feeds her brood on balanced meals that would turn Jamie Oliver green with envy. She rigorously applies a weekly timetable that includes cleaning the fridge and ridding the car boot of smelly dog’s hair. A perfect mother, she never gets tempted by the fascinating depths of a book or WordPress to the extent that she forgets the washing machine full of soaking clothes until it is discovered by an indignant teen wearing loud lycra underpants at 6.30 the following morning. She looks like a woman rather than a combination of a Yeti and Freddy Mercury, does not leap with joy at the sight of a pair of leather boxing boots in a charity shop, and can survive more than 30 minutes in a pair of high heels without swearing and slinging them into a corner. She hasn’t poked her fingers through her tights since she was at school and never has her skirt hem hooked in her knicker elastic on her way out of the loo.

 

The list goes on and on. But if I woke up like that, I think that my family would be nonplussed and even scared by the transformation. And it definitely wouldn’t last long, simply because it’s not me, but rather the way I think people expect me to be. It’s no wonder that resolutions don’t work.

 

So does this make resolutions a no-go zone, given that so many people set their sights so high that they are sunk before they even begin? Maybe not. Maybe we should see this in a more philosophical light: Every journey starts with a first step, and each day is a journey in itself. Taking one day at a time could therefore be the key to success for realistic aims, and is easier to deal with than the words « never again ».

 

 

So this year I will continue being realistic, both about myself and others. Being happy is a long-term project. Forget taking up sport or losing weight; I will settle for just being myself. I’ll take things one day at a time, because you never know what life will dish up for you tomorrow, and small bites are easier to chew. Enjoy the smallest things that don’t cost a penny, like watching my family on the beach. Listen to my gut feelings, but look before I leap. And last but not least, I’ll take care of those I care about, but look after number one too, because as my grandma always said, « no other bugger will do it for you ».

 

What are your thoughts on New Year’s resolutions?

 

The last thing I have to say on this post is to wish you all a happy, healthy and fulfilling year, and thank you for keeping me company in the WordPress world.

 

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My body is my temple.

This morning, I actually stopped in my tracks and contemplated my reflection for the first time in weeks. I was not really surprised to see my mother’s face staring back at me. Her genetic pool took over proceedings just before I hit forty, and Little My’s demand for me to let my hair grow has aided and abetted my destiny in its cunning plan to make me into a carbon copy of my mother.

Turning sideways for the ventral mugshot, I attempted to suck in my post-baby belly. It would have been more at home in the local butcher’s window alongside my chunky thighs, currently jousting for a traditional farmhouse sausage award.

I turned my back on the mirror and stepped on to the scales for reassurance. Tefla, the evil electronic demon of the bathroom, almost cackled out loud as she announced my weight. The same as when I was at University. So how come I’m two jeans sizes bigger?

I spent a while thinking this over in the shower, and by the time I’d hacked my way through the undergrowth on my legs, I had come up with what I saw as a logical and comfortingly irreversible explanation: gravity. Yes, that was it: forced downwards by the earth’s magnetic field, the padding on my upper body had simply lost its grasp on my skeleton and ended up on my stomach and behind, meaning I had the same weight but a new anatomy. I’d just swapped bosom and size ten jeans for a big butt and no boobs. Hey, world, meet a new concept:  fat transhumance.

As I towelled dry, I chewed over the term « my body is my temple ». This phrase conjures up images of self-indulgent body-builders and fitness freaks religiously veneering their own reflections and wearing out the mirror with self-admiration.

I would agree that my body is a temple – in severe need of renovation. Cracks are appearing in my weathered façade. After the perilous subsidence of the pelvic floor, other parts of the edifice slowly but inevitably started crumbling downwards, resulting in the tender beginnings of jowls, bingo wings and a sagging butt. Even my bust has begun an imperceptible migratory bid for my belly button, moving slowly but surely south. I had already jokingly explained this to Bigfoot after he sneered at my bra size in comparison to that of his chosen counterpart: I informed him that my 95B has simply stretched a little but that it can still happily fill my Wonderbra when tightly furled up like a jam roly-poly. I was concerned to see that he actually believed me.

flat stomach

flat stomach (Photo credit: emanuela franchini)

I freely admit to having problems identifying with the health and fitness crowd. I  admire their self-satisfaction, pride, self-discipline and boundless motivation to take care of themselves.  Like over-zealous believers, their health becomes their religion, and by some strange process, running 10km in the baking heat and depriving themselves of calories somehow becomes a pleasure. The only thing I could run would be the risk of viciously attacking the first poor innocent unfortunate enough to crack open a packet of salted peanuts within a 2-mile radius. Not only do these people not miss beer and peanuts, they don’t even like them to start with. I have six-packs in my fridge, whereas the only six-packs they have are tautly lined up along their abdomens, and get worked out on a regular basis.

Exercise is not only a different world, it’s a completely different planet for me. I am in awe when I see the pert-bottomed lycra brigade pounding their way through the countryside, their cheeks flushed and their poney-tails flapping back and forth as Katy Perry cheers them on through the iPods velcro-ed to their eardrums. I did try once, with a gym-teacher friend. She kept up a steady stream of health-related patter throughout our « short » run – 5 km of sheer hell during which I established that having a conversation whilst running full pelt around the Alsace vineyards was about easy as singing barbershop whilst you give birth.

Pulling on my baggy jeans, I drew the conclusion that I need a factory reset button to get a kick out of getting in shape. What do I enjoy more: the possibility of maybe fitting into that pair of jeans one day, or drinking my evening beer in the garden and nibbling peanuts as the cicadas sing?

I loaded my baguette with butter and strawberry jam in the cluttered kitchen, repeating to myself that I am in the driver’s seat. At least I will be – once I’ve booted my instinct out of the side window. For the moment, she’s the pilot. She steers me directly to the apéritif before dinner and the cookies afterwards, to the car keys rather than my trainers, to my blog rather than to the energetic cleaning of the house, and to reassuring pictures of curvaceous 1950’s sex-symbols rather than those of today’s anemic, anorexic top-models.

motivation-001

motivation-001 (Photo credit: whitehatblackbox)

I am therefore now on the look-out for Motivation, a reliable pal I lost from sight twenty-two years ago after successfully losing two stone. She then moved in with someone else, and was unfortunately replaced by a far-flung cousin called Self-Indulgence, who has been cramping my style (and my clothing) ever since. Motivation, if you’re out there somewhere, it’d be great to get together for a few months. But don’t call me, I’ll call you.