My New Year’s Resolution: Be Brave
January 1st, 2017
A few weeks ago, I somewhat jokingly posted on Facebook that my New Year’s resolution was to be brave. The post was in reference to signing up for an art class in a medium I’ve never tackled before, but I’ve been thinking about the idea of bravery a lot ever since.
I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions because they seem like an exercise in failure. I know perfectly well that I’m not going to make it to 5am yoga classes or give up processed sugar. But what would it mean if I resolved to be brave next year – and then stuck to it?
Some days, it seems like parenting is one ongoing act of bravery. I gave my son a bow-and-arrow for Christmas and if that decision doesn’t warrant a commendation for courage I don’t know what does. Even if you don’t arm your offspring, Christmas with children is not for the faint of heart. I spent a good thirty minutes on Christmas Day debating whether to take my firstborn to the ER after she cartwheeled into the stone wall in the stairway. At one point I glanced out the kitchen window to see my dad in the front yard perched atop a six-foot step ladder, jabbing a long piece of wood into the branches of a dogwood tree, trying to dislodge my son’s aforementioned bow. Yes, the bow itself. He had thrown it into the tree in an attempt to knock loose an arrow that had already gotten stuck.
My three-year-old was thoroughly overwhelmed by the whole day and broke down into hysterical sobs of uncertain genesis before passing out on the floor, wrapped in a blue crocheted mermaid tail blanket. She later showed up to the dinner table wearing nothing but polka dot underpants and monarch butterfly wings. When asked to please dress for dinner, she informed me scornfully that butterflies do not wear pants. Obviously.
I think we can all agree that just showing up some days probably justifies a medal of valor. But claiming the day-to-day heroics of parenting as a New Year’s Resolution doesn’t seem fair because that just goes with the territory. It’s involuntary.
Instead, my resolution to Be Brave is about pushing myself to grow – not settling for who I was last year. I think we all have pieces of ourselves that we have not fully explored. For me, that includes art. This may come as a surprise since I work for an arts organization…but I don’t have a lot of inherent talent in that arena. When my eight-year-old and I draw together, I defy an outside observer to differentiate between our pictures. But I signed up for a seven-week printmaking class anyways under the auspices of Being Brave.
Pursuing bravery also means challenging my definitions and sources of community. A few weeks ago, I accepted an invite to a solstice party at the home of someone I didn’t know all that well. And it was awesome. Dozens of flickering candles, beef burgundy for dinner, and new friends made on the darkest night of the year.
My resolution also means that I’m not going to wait until my house is ‘done’ to invite people over. It’ll never be done – but then again, neither will I. There are cracks in the ceiling and bits of wallpaper stuck to the soffit in the kitchen and unpainted drywall in the living room. So what? I’ve invited some of my friends to an open house gathering next weekend. No fear and no looking back in 2017.