The New Year is here. A chance to make new resolutions, set new goals. A chance to start over. Wipe the slate clean. But what happens if the slate isn’t really dirty? What if the “resolutions” you set for yourself 364 days ago have yet to be resoluted?

Retirement New Year resolutionsThe older I get (that seems to be my catch phrase these days), the more I find resolutions to be useless and anti-progressive. Most of us set our resolution level way too high to begin with. We wake up fresh and awake January 1st, and tell ourselves that this year we are going to lose 40 pounds or find a new job or quit smoking. All noble goals. Yet we all know that losing a lot of weight or quitting a long-standing bad habit or making a career change takes a lot more than the will of the moment. Those are full commitments that take research, planning, and time. I prefer to approach the New Year with something more…flexible.

I like the idea of Solstice Suggestions.

Resolutions seem so, I don’t know – engraved in stone. I am resolute. Determined. Firm. That’s not me. Not really. I am more a laid-back sort of life-changer. The solstice is older than any current holiday celebration. The Winter Solstice celebrates the march from the longest day of the year towards the shortest day of the year. It affords us less time to think about change and fewer hours to do something about it. Hence, kicks us into gear.

A Solstice Suggestion is more of a way of life. Benevolent-sounding. Like Father Time and Mother Earth. A suggestion pushes us gently towards the future, allowing us to slip now and then should we hit an ice patch. These “suggestions” reflect a choice rather than an absolute. We “choose” to improve our lives. We “choose” to change our attitude.

Years ago I made a “Solstice Resolutions” list. Now that I look back at it, I’ve accomplished almost everything I set out to do, for these were life-affirming resolutions. They were “being nice” resolutions. Things I wanted to change; things I wanted to do more of. Things I knew I could handle, yet things that weren’t always the easiest to accomplish.

So here are two of my “Suggestions” for 2014.

First, I want to exercise more. Maybe not gym level, but this creaky body needs to make a few more trips to the mailbox (I have a 700 foot driveway) and go up and down the stairs a few more times each day. The creaks from my joints and the squeals from my muscles “suggest” that if I want to keep mobile as I get older I need to keep the machine in working order now.

My other suggestion to myself is to encourage everyone who shows even an inkling that they want to be artistic to go for it. Friends tell me they “want to be a photographer” or they “want to be a quilter.” They have their ideas and their supplies yet they don’t think they ARE one, so they let the equipment collect dust and angst. I want to tell them – tell you – that if you want to be something, you already are it.

You love to create different quilt squares? You love to take pictures of sunsets or old barns? Then you are already doing what you enjoy doing. What you love doing. All you need to do it jump in with two feet and get into it. Start small, start big. Make a portfolio, make an album. Size and quantity doesn’t matter. Your creative start does.

People often tell me they wish they were a “writer.” Wish they could write like me. I’ve got news for all of the wannabe novelists and poets in the audience. You already ARE a writer. We all are. And many are much better than me. You can’t compare yourself to the “big” names in your field. I’m learning not to. They are who they are, you are who you are. They are having fun being who they are – why can’t you?

So those are some of my Solstice Suggestions for 2014.

Now tell me – what are some of yours?