January 6, 2012 at 12:31 pm (Uncategorized)

It’s that time of the year when some of us vow to make changes.

I have always loved New Year’s resolutions. More accurately, I have always loved the resolving part of the process. Following through on all my noble goals has proved to be less fun than listing the steps to the perfect me on an open, clean page.

I nearly made a list of dramatic resolutions in my journal this year, too. As the Earth was finishing its path around the sun and the year’s calendar was clicking down to its end, I sat poised with my pen above my page.

Who do I want to be in 2012? How can I make that happen? I want to be thinner and more athletic. I contemplated writing “Lose 100 pounds” to start my list. I want to finish my book. I want to pitch the finished manuscript to as many agents as it takes to land one. I want to be a terrific mother to Andrew. I want to have more energy and exuberance for my relationship with Jay. I want to build a bigger and better community through this blog. I want to connect with more people living with chronic illness. I want to beat sarcoidosis this year. I want to be well. I want to be more attuned to the needs of my friends. I want to get out more—in the community, in Andrew’s school, on hiking trails. I want to be in less pain. I want to be happier. I want to learn how to french braid my hair. I want to be a better daughter and daughter-in-law. I want to read more of the Russian masters.

In the midst of this feeding frenzy of self-improvement—that was quickly giving way to self-denigration—one beautiful, perfect, healing thought rose above the din and demanded to be heard.



It would be great if I could drop enough weight to feel healthier. Finishing my book would be wonderful. So would feeling well enough to enact any of the resolutions that rose up within me. But is it a lack of resolve that prevents me from volunteering, exercising or healing? If only a lack of trying was what keeps me from health, wealth, and happiness. Unfortunately, there is that pesky little thing called reality. And my reality prevents me from self-actualizing myself to perfection. It does for all of us.

I didn’t want to leave the page in my journal blank, though. I don’t want to give up trying. I just want to be trying for the right goals.

What would make a “good” year? Will I look back on 2012 with a sense of peace if I’m thinner and more productive, with a kick-ass braid swinging down my back? Will finishing my book—and then selling it—somehow still the swimming sharks within me?

Probably not.

But what would?

Then it hit me. The words poured from my heart, through my hand, and onto the page.

My hope for this year is that I can be fully and deeply alive in the days I am given.

It’s not much of a resolutions list, but it is resolution. It’s a moment of clarity in a complicated reality. And for that, I am grateful.

What are your hopes for the coming year?


  1. Randy Bekkedahl said,

    This is a great post for anyone with a chronic illness. Or just knows someone with a chronic illness. She has such wonderful insights.

  2. Randy Bekkedahl said,

    My first post was an attempt to post on facebook. But it didn’t seem to happen, or at least I don’t see it on facebook. Sigh.
    Anyway, my resolution for this year is that it be an interesting year. Boredom is a big problem for me and I would just like it to be interesting.

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      It did come through on Facebook, Randy, and I REALLY appreciate the shout-out.

      I hope 2012 is an interesting year for you. I’m guessing that boredom is a side effect of feeling poorly. I’ve been stuck in bed the past couple of weeks with a flare-up of neurological problems. I’ve been listening to books, watching movies when I can, and trying to stay positive. But it’s so damn boring to be trapped in bed and inside a body that isn’t behaving. Today, I hit my limit and got good and sorry for myself.

      I so appreciate your recommending my blog to others and for staying in touch.

      Here’s to 2012 being more health and more fun.


  3. Cora said,

    Wonderful reality check goal. Wonderfully and deeply alive–and present in each moment–I would add.

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Thank you, Cora. I’m glad this entry resonated with you.

      And yes, you are right, in each moment.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

      Happy New Year,

  4. Martha Kohl said,

    I usually DON’T like resolutions–because they often make me feel bad. But I did come up with a good one for this year: “More fun, less stress.” It will be hard to accomplish, because I’m a worrier, but I think having a resolution might be a touchstone to help me toward this goal.

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Hi Martha,

      At their best, resolutions can provide that “touchstone” of staying attuned to something. I think “More fun, less stress” is an intention we could ALL benefit from. But I can also see how it might not come naturally to those of us who tend towards worrying. Resolving to ratchet down stress and cultivate fun might help keep you focused on this when stress levels are rising and fun is dropping.

      Life is finite. Yes, we should lead meaningful lives and responsible lives. But your comment has got me thinking. We should also have FUN. I doubt anyone has concluded, “Gee, I wished I’d spent more of my life worrying and stressing out about events that were mostly beyond my control” on her deathbed.

      I might borrow (i.e.,copy) your resolution and take it up myself. “More fun, less stress.” Yes, I do like the sound of that.

      Thanks for reading my blog (and for many other things),

  5. Barbara Barnes said,

    Wag more, Bark less. Look for the blessing, the opportunity. Learn to ride at a canter. Have a dish free sink at night. Appreciate.

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Hi Barb,

      Thanks for sharing your resolutions. These are wonderful! I love waking up to a clean kitchen sink. I love the thought of you cantering. I hope all of these come true for you in 2012.

      Looking for blessings, barking less, and appreciating are on my list too. And in that spirit, I so appreciate you taking the time to read and comment here.

      Happy New Year,

  6. Allyson Cooper Russell said,

    Great essay! Thank you for (once again) helping me to separate the wheat from the chaff in my own life. Too bad I didn’t know about the french braid thing at Christmas, because I know how we would’ve spent that afternoon!

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Thanks, Allyson, for writing. I’m glad my blog posts have some resonance in your life. That makes writing them more fun and more meaningful.

      It was so amazing to get to see you (unexpectedly) over the holidays. Who would have thunk that we’d meet up in Alabama, of all places? I just wish I hadn’t crashed so badly and could have seen more of you (and that my kid hasn’t gotten sick).

      I guess we’ll just have to get back together soon so that you can teach me the art of french braiding.

      Happy, happy New Year,

  7. Amy Pridemore said,

    I love your resolution,… and your resolve.

    • Rebecca Stanfel said,

      Thank you, Amy. Your lovely comment made my heart warm.

      Happy New Year,

  8. Wendy Barron said,

    I’m glad you got realistic and specific about your goals for the year. Because really, reading more of the Russian masters? Kill me now. 🙂 (Or is it just me that just wants to pummel the dead Russians?)

    To “be fully and deeply alive in the days I am given” is a mission statement more of us need to embrace. I hope you get all 365 this year, and next year, and the year after that, and the year after that, and on and on.

  9. Rebecca Stanfel said,

    Oh, thank you, Wendy for such good wishes,

    No, it’s not just you. While plowing through Dostoevsky or Tolstoy might be rigorous (and even enlightening), it very well may kill me now.

    I’m glad my resolution resonated with you. Your nice comment certainly did with me. Thank you for that. I’m sending you wishes for health and lots of energy and opportunity to write in 2012.

    Take care,

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