January Resolutions

Squeaking in on the last day of the first month of the year I keep typing as “2013,” I’d like to muse a bit on resolutions for the coming year. It’s not so much a finger-waving to-do list of tasks I’ll probably fail at, but some ideas that have been stewing since we once again survived (and contributed to) the exploding of the Netherlands on New Year’s Eve.

January was like a tornado: half-marathon training and steps in Tim’s job search and visits from family and a second (in three months) whirlwind trip to the USA following the death of a grandparent. As I said about 100 times to my cousins at the funeral on Monday: We’re going to need more hugging.

So I hope 2014’s got some of that, and meanwhile…

Use the good stuff.

I’m recovering from a weird habit where whenever I got something nice, I would squirrel it away for “a special occasion.” It took me years to realize that this meant never using the good stuff, even wasting it. I recently gave away, nearly intact, a pretty stationery set I bought years ago. I found it perfectly preserved in its little box… covered in dust. If you gave me a fancy bubble bath or a nice perfume, younger me would have saved it, unopened, perpetually waiting for just the right moment.

And I’ve been thinking about how that doesn’t live. Use the fun bubble bath on a Tuesday. Open the good wine, and share it with someone. We have a friend who totally exemplifies this. He loves to buy nice wines—and then he hosts a dinner, and uncorks them. And you know what? They’re gone, at the end of the night. And that’s OK.

So, perhaps relatedly, this year I want to use good olive oil.

Don’t run at 15 when you could run at 11.

This particular piece of advice came from one of the trainers on The Biggest Loser, my love of which I will not attempt to justify here. A contestant, when pushed, learned that his fastest mile was actually about 4 minutes faster than he’d believed it could be. I do this with my running—underestimating myself, or not really pushing it for fear of winding up passed out on the side of the canal—but I have this theory that whatever you do with your running, you kind of do in other areas of your life. Or at least I do.

And so this year I want to run fast.

Remember the wars.

2014 marks the centenary of the outbreak of WWI, and the 70th anniversary of D Day and the Battle of Normandy. Living in Europe has made present the world wars and their baggage and their complex history and intricate aftershocks, rendering the handful of facts I might have been able to pull from school-memory woefully thin. I had a WWI reading habit in 2012 that ultimately set our feet in the trenches of Verdun—an eerie experience I don’t intend to forget.

Although my WWII knowledge still needs a tutor (see books below), I had a relative who survived Normandy, and I’ve always intended to make a bit of a pilgrimage there. It’s still on the list.


Finish the books I’ve started:

A Short Bright Flash


The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich

and, if it’s a brilliant, brilliant year, the one I’m writing myself.

Embracing the new year and the SNOW! in New Jersey last week

Embracing the new year and the SNOW! in New Jersey last week



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6 responses to “January Resolutions

  1. love this. there will be much hugging when i see you next. 🙂

  2. Use the good stuff; I couldn’t agree more! (and it’s David-the-wine-lover right?;))

  3. My (un)guilty pleasure is expensive olive oil. Good luck to Tim on the job search. And do visit Normandy! Happy 2014.

  4. Shannon

    Excellent post! As American expats based in Amsterdam, we are also experiencing the new appreciation for the World Wars. Following a recent trip to Berlin, I’ve been reading voraciously about WWII. The gentleman who wrote The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich also published his personal notes and day by day discoveries during his time as a journalist from before the war began through much of the war – he was stationed in Berlin. The title is Berlin Diary: The Journal of a Foreign Correspondent 1934-1949. It has been fascinating to read about the human experience – from an American point of view, of course – of being in Germany as the war unfolded. Eye opening in a way that many of the other WWII books have lacked. Have you posted somewhere a list of your WWI reading? That is my next topic to tackle!

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