Saturday, January 22, 2011

My New Year's Un-Resolution

I love the holidays. Every year I anticipate the time with family and old friends, traditions, gift-giving, and yes, food. It wasn’t always this way, of course; there were a couple of years when food-centered holidays drove my anxiety levels up to panic and the idea of sitting around a table celebrating the bounty of harvest at the grocery store was like a scene from a bad horror movie. Maybe this had something to do with the alarming size of cutting implements used in preparing the Christmas turkey, but it probably had more to do with the fact that I was struggling with an eating disorder at the time. Since the years when I dealt with the acute symptoms of my eating disorder, holidays have become a pleasant and joyful time for me again, but every season I still have to deal with two major pet peeves that without a doubt crop up again and again in group settings.

Number One: The discussion of how much food has been consumed and how much weight will be gained as a result.

Number Two: The subsequent onset of New Years and the profusion of resolutions that involve losing said weight.

And so, over the years, I have grown to associate New Years resolutions with this never-ending cycle of dieting and guilt. I know a lot about guilt, especially the kind that is largely unfounded and emerges from the persistent sense that I am a “bad” person. For me, that kind of guilt is related to my perfectionism, and the habitual sequences of self-criticism that used to dominate my inner dialogue. Every day is a step in breaking the cycle, and while it’s not always forward motion, it’s better than stasis...or so I like to tell myself.

The root word of resolution is, naturally, resolve. To me, resolve has a stronger connotation. A resolution might be a decision that a committee makes, but a resolve is a commitment, a promise to yourself. In my thesaurus, one of the synonyms for resolve is tenacity. A writer introduced that word to me at a conference I went to years ago in high school. Her mantra was that tenacity was more important than talent. I’ve heard it many times over since then, but for whatever reason, her simple message made a huge impact on my adolescent brain.

So, Alice-like, I choose to celebrate an Un-Resolution this year. The first part involves this blog: having resisted the online media phenomenon for so long, I have some trepidation. But if I am going to live as if I believe that tenacity is more important than talent (which I do) then I have to start advocating for myself. Would I like to make a living doing what I love? Yes. Will it take a lot of hard work and more than a few disappointments along the way? Oh yes. History shows that the moment I think I have my life planned out I am thrown a curveball. So, I might as well start with the failures now.

And the second part of my New Year’s Resolve? Never, ever, ever give up.


  1. "Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat"

    You inspire me.

  2. So true! The one who has great tenacity will invariably be the one who hits that curveball out of the park and then be prepared to try again.

  3. Beth - I hope you don't mind that I happened upon your blog. I loved what you wrote about tenacity. From an almost 50 mom-type who still struggles with self-doubt and self-criticism, what you wrote spoke to me. Wise words coming from a young woman who hasn't let her struggles defeat her - but has grown from them. Sue W.

  4. Sue, I don't mind at all! In fact, I am hoping that more people will find it over time, so I am so glad you did. Please pass it on if there is anyone else you think might be interested!

  5. YOU are AMAZING, ElizaBETH Marion Charles, and I LOVE you SO MUCH!!!! (= Great blog, beautiful and eloquent writing and ingenious intelligence!! It's SUCH an honor to be related to YOU!!! :) <3 All my LOVE and encouragement; KEEP it up and I will keep following and reading (=
    YOU are SUCH an inspirtation <3 ~XOXO

  6. Your blog is amazing! It is so fun to read -- you can really hear your voice come through, which always makes me smile. And true to your nature, it is interesting and insightful, so thanks for sharing it with me and letting me once again learn from you! Sorry it took me a couple of days to figure out how to sign up and follow it. I feel you on the Christmas pet peeves and "New Years resolutions" sentiment, but your post has inspired me to make some Un-resolutions for myself! :) Keep it up friend, I'm so proud of you! Love you!

  7. Yes, I can hear your voice loudly, clearly which is why it is so fun to read all of your writing.
    Please keep it up.
    And now because of your reference to Alice, I shall be hearing the song "A Very Merry Unbirthday To You" for the next day or so.
    auntie ka

  8. Beth, I'm amazed at this. I've just now read your entries-thus-far, and it's great. I've never heard you speak so candidly about all of those experiences and struggles. And you seem very comfortable talking about it in this medium, being able to write it and craft it all like the writer you are. I've subscribed to this blog, and will most assuredly continue to read it!