Life Store

December 31, 2013 by Ellen Stimson in New Year's Resolutions

2014There are people who hate new year’s resolutions and then there are people like me whose whole lives are colored by them. We were the kids who loved all those fresh new notebooks every September. The sense of possibility and promise of a new year is irresistible. I am a new year’s resolution partisan. It’s like getting a free trip to the lifestore where I can wander through the aisles and see what’s on the shelves and take home all the shiny stuff that appeals.

I have written down these lists for many years in an old Filofax I keep now just for the purpose. I review last year’s list and do an accounting of the ones I accomplished and the ones I didn’t before I make the new one. I also note other things not envisaged back in January but accomplished anyway. Very few of the failures get carried over. Some do but never for more than two years. I figure if after two years I still haven’t done a thing I wrote down intending to do, then I probably never much wanted to do it in the first place. Cursing was on there for one such two-year period. But the thing is, I enjoy cursing. I like the feel of a bad word in my mouth. I like the way a word can astonish or make an exhilarating point. I don’t know why I ever thought to give it up.

The annual stock taking and accounting is the concrete framework for my year. Last week I had a dream about something that felt Big and Important and I realized the second I woke up it was probably in anticipation of the list. Apparently even my subconscious is in on it.

This resolution thing seems a little out of character for someone who seems to live in constant spontaneity. My newer friends are always surprised when somehow in December or January it comes up and I reveal that I do it. In fact have done it now for years and years. Our move to Vermont was hidden inside a list of resolutions in 1994 nine years before we actually moved. The line item was “live somewhere beautiful … like Vermont”  Lots of things got in the way …”buy a business” took over for a while. As did ‘ sell the business”. Then it morphed into “find a bigger house” “move closer to the kid’s schools”, and then came back in 2002 as “move to a beautiful place and live closer to the natural world…Vermont?”  The grand themes are only obvious in retrospect. The patterns emerge as the years roll by. We moved to Vermont in 2003. And I am telling you– it was the list.

Lots of our family life events are here. If you look also at the year-in-review lists practically our whole lives are recorded. You can easily see where life intervened and new plans took urgent precedent over old ones. “Cancer” for example was most of one year in review. The next year “forget about the cancer” was number one.

The coming year there may be big rumbling changes afoot. You can almost smell the ozone in the air like just before the storm. Clearly it is time for a new list.


  • karenJo

    I make them too. But I am always bombarded by people who loudly proclaim that they never make them as if to do so is childish and irrelevant. I loved this post.

  • Molls

    I do the word thing..take one and keep it for the year. Last year it was security so keeping my job, even one I do not just love, was a part of the word journey for me. This year I am thinking about abundance. I need more … more money, more fun just more

  • Abigail Mae Hudson

    Those of us who thrive on the appearance of whimsy often have much planning behind what goes on in the front of the house Those big parties with the wonderful food and decorations where the music is good and the conversation flows do not happen by accident. Or they don’t do very often.
    Of course you are a planner. How else to get such a big wonderful life as they one you are making over there in Vermont! I have made resolutions every single year for the last fifty or so. Although as a former school teacher i still make mine in September when the leaves begin to turn. I intend now to make one today in your honor. I already have number one in mind. It will have something to do with getting a kitten I think. Who knows? Maybe even a dog!

  • Lois Alter Mark

    Great post. I love the idea of the life store, and I will always love my Filofax! Here’s to filling next year’s with fantastic memories.

  • Susan wadlow

    I had a dream of traveling last night and this might be part of my resolution or plans.

  • Lynn Silence

    For the last 20 years, I have made the same resolution: do NOT make resolutions. And since I’ve kept it each year, I guess I’m a failure at resolving. I recently told a friend who was reading MUD SEASON that when we became friends during your book wholesaler days, you said that you wanted to live in Vermont. I thought it was like saying that you wanted a pony–but you’re one of the few who actually get a pony. 2014 is shining with possibilities, friend.

  • beesknees

    I never make them. This is becasue back when i did I never kept them. I would resolve to eat healthy and exercise regularly and I never did. Maybe like you suggest I never really wanted to do those things in the first place.
    I really do like to be surprised by life. I don’t plan more than a week in advance except during honey season. I have quit three jobs just so I could take some trip I wanted to take. I may never have a retirement account but I do have a lot of great photographs

  • jessie

    Me neither. Althoogh I admit you make it sound useful.
    I loved your book. Looking forward to more

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