5 Righteous Resolutions: 2015

*Teri’s collection of hilarious essays is up on Amazon for under $5 and a California On A Dime Travel Guide will be out soon! Happy New Year!

New Year’s resolutions often speak into some vision of how we’d like our lives to look and they appear wonderful on paper but in practice, not so much. Too often – in reality – they resemble New Year’s Day remnants of debauchery, after a hard partying  New Year’s Eve.

Today’s post strives to turn the flowery resolution of yesteryear on its glamorous little head and infuse it with a dose of reality. Hopefully this will simply be a template and encourage fellow misfits, like yours truly, to just put one foot in front of the other and grab some slices of quality life.  Let’s get it started.

1) BE FEARLESS – Nope. Not having it and I’m not sure that anyone on the face of the earth fits the fearless warrior image we all think we should be. I say, BE AFRAID. It’s ok and fear is there for a reason. I would add in BE REASONABLE and seek PERSPECTIVE. I used to be afraid of backpacking and also camping alone and I still have moments of “what was that sound!” The thing that changed for me was a little look at statistics, mainly on heart disease, depression (first hand experience with this monster), diabetes, cancer, addiction, lethargy and all the rest of the gazillion common threats. In comparison, backcountry serial killers and wrangles with bears are very uncommon. The main shift from the old me to the present me was the acceptance that being afraid was ok. I still have times of fear but I invite them in for coffee and examine them. Are my fears reasonable and designed to have me be more prepared or are they irrational and designed to derail me? Bottom line, I have not climbed Everest this year or written a best selling novel but I have very safely camped alone and written a tiny book of essays and I felt some fear through these quests but that was ok. So, join me and be a little afraid. The payoff can be stunning.

2) WORK HARD – Alright, sure. Go ahead because that sounds great and we’ve all been taught that laziness is selfish and evil. I’m going to just carve away at this one and reshape it a little and then you can take it home if you’d like. If in fact, you are feeling strangled by your life, consider getting rid of your junk and question your desire for the next sassy pair of high end jeans and expensive beauty products or sports clothing. Maybe you can replace these things with time. That’s right, get in your car and get out of town and hit the trail. This is coming from someone who logged mall time as a teen and twenty-something, had french tipped nails, and the boots with the fur and then found it just no longer fit as time marched forward. If you crave change, you can do it but toss “work hard” on its head because sometimes the grind you are locked into is a hamster wheel in pursuit of things you can live very happily (happier) without. I have not had a manicure or pedicure for ten years and my home-painted nails are holding on just fine. The untold money I’ve redirected has taken me on thousands of miles of hiking and backpacking and hostel stays. This is now what I work for.

3) GET IN SHAPE – Yep, this one is familiar at this time of the year but what should that really mean? I personally hate the word “exercise” as it sounds like “work”. Blech. I don’t belong to gyms because I loathe them, I’ve seen friends get all hopped up at the gym, arrive home about to vomit from exertion, and then stop a month later. I realize the gym works for some and if that’s you, great. If not, then banish exercise and the gym from your life forever and trade that in for fun. I hike frequently but am usually on no agenda when I do. I take my camera or phone and just go looking for things to photograph. Sometimes I ramp up the hike and that feels good and other times I stop and hang on the trail for an hour, staring at moss on a tree limb. Find a reason other than fitness to pursue health and let cardio be the by-product. If that means a quick walk in your neighborhood to see the changing of the seasons, that is great. Enjoy new snow, fall leaves, spring buds, summer lightning bugs – do it for the joy and not to “get in shape”.

4) GO ALL OUT – Or don’t. I’m going with “don’t” so you can meet me for coffee and we’ll watch everyone else go all out. This is another mantra that looks enticing but falls flat, sometimes literally. I once sprinted all out, at the end of a run (a big no, no) and wound up in a cast for eight weeks after I nose-dived and reversed the direction of several fingers when I hit. Not going all out is perfectly fulfilling. No need to run a marathon if that feels overwhelming (I barely jogged mine). No need to even do that many miles, now I joyfully hike sometimes two miles and am contented. And this choice to not go all out applies all over the place. No time to take a week in Bora Bora? Go for one or two nights nearby. Can’t afford the lodge in Yosemite? Camp for $5, yes it exists. Afraid to hike into the backcountry? No problem, take a short hike from a nature center on clearly marked trails. Don’t go all out, just go.

5) BELIEVE – Believe what? Believe that things will be ok no matter what? They might not. I think this well-intended directive just needs a tweak or two. I would rebrand it “seize slippery moments of belief”. So you want to write a book and believe it might be worthy? Yes, I’m using personal experience for this one but it could apply to any number of endeavors. Whatever you wish to take on, believing is the first step. The folly is when we think it will sustain us all the way through and never falter. It’s ok to experience disbelief. In writing a book of essays, I had moments of trepidation and when I climbed Mount Whitney and encountered freezing temps, I broke down and cried at the realization that I might not get to the top. Belief is slippery and it ebbs and flows so the trick is to lean over the belief fire and blow on the embers when the flames threaten to go completely out. And when belief is elusive, just keep putting one foot in front of the other – in a measured manner so as not to require eight weeks in a cast.

I hope some of the links here provide a sense that you have kindred in the quest for a quality 2015. I’ve been grateful for the plethora of mentors that I’ve connected with in person as well as online and happily pass along their sites for your perusal.

Happy New Year and hope to see you on the trail!  xo Teri


*For those taking on a creative project (writing) – Create Your Masterpiece, a 16 Step Guide by Joshua Fields Millburn

*For those craving less work load and more family time – On A Dime Spirit: The Real Deal by Adam Bergstrasser

*For those seeking a template on making a priorities list – Why We Moved From The Tiny House To A Small Traditional House For The Winter By Logan Smith