Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:
Okay the parties and bowl games are over. Vacation time is past and
gone, and I finally got up the gumption to get on the scale, balance
my checkbook, and take an evening to look back at the wreckage I’ve
created of all of last year’s resolutions. Okay maybe not all. I did make
progress at work and got a small promotion, though no raise given the
economy. My relationship is intact, though a little stale, which is how a
lot of my life feels: not too bad, not exciting, but familiar and
comfortable. I’d like some motivation and inspiration for the new year,
hell for the new decade that’s gonna pack a bigger punch than the
usual lose weight, exercise more, and plan a vacation for me and my
sweetie. Any good ideas?
Ready for Takeoff
The best idea I’ve encountered recently is to take life in month-size
bites. This is a plan you can grab hold of now and plan, but you should
also cut yourself a little slack and allow for spontaneity, not necessarily
within a given month but between them. Here’s how it works: You
identify things that you’re willing to do every day for a month that will
influence your life. These can be things you’ll commit to doing a few
minutes a day or something more profound, but things you’ll truly
Sit down with a pen and paper. Identify what you’d like to have
different in your life. Then take some time to think about associated
behaviors that might influence that change. Here’s a few quickies to
get the gist of it: Lose weight – the usuals like eat less and exercise
more. De-stress – meditate and breathe deeply. Take a few minutes
and make your list now, before you keep reading. I promise some
ideas to round out yours, but what you come up with will help give you
perspective and scale relative to ideas from me and other readers.
(Really, try this first.)
Okay. Here’s some you might not have considered that will help your
Walk daily: Start with something short, say10 minutes. But
every day of the month, add a little more – perhaps one more
minutes or ten more steps, but add to the time you spend
Eat something different: You can decide to count calories, or
follow a diet, or simply eat smaller portions as your primary
organizing principle for food. But no matter what, try new foods
each day and expand your taste buds and palette.
Buy less: Where less is nothing you can avoid spending money
on right then. Obviously the mortgage, monthly bills, and food
are on the list. But every time you find yourself reaching for a
discretionary purchase, say you’ll wait till next month. If you still
remember, you’ll find it later.
Read daily: Not just the newspaper or a magazine, but a real
holdable printed book (or, eeek, a Kindle). You can go for fiction
or non-, or even poetry (which truly does sound better aloud).
But allow your world to expand with new imagery.
Do very little: It can mean classic eyes closed sit ting quietly
meditation, or it can mean staring at a piece of art or listening to
music, but do it without trying to multi-task. Just be still.
Journal: Buy yourself a blank book, and commit some time each
day to talk to yourself. It can be morning or evening, but get
used to allowing your own thoughts to have some space to flex
and speak. You’ll be surprised what you have to teach yourself.
Choose a book by a spiritual teacher you respect and read a little
each day: It can be Jewish (Lawrence Kushner or Shefa Gold are
great) or one of the easy to find 365 day inspirational books you
can find in January. Open your heart and soul.
Change your wardrobe: Buy a new silk scarf or a new hat,
something to make you feel new and perky. Change your look
and how other people see you. Decide what you want your new
persona to be and how you want to inhabit it.
Do tzedakah: That can be formally doing volunteer work, helping
your neighbors, or even giving to panhandlers. But do something
that takes you out of your life and into the lives of others.
Practice gratitude: Appreciate something about your life in a
formal and spoken way. Say thanks in your heart and share your
insight and appreciation with someone you love.
If you do any or all of these, or any or all of your own, or a month,
you’ll find some of them become habits. By next year this time you’ll
be happier and more optimistic.