I love resolutions. I make resolutions like some people make bowls of cereal - often and with little regard for the sugary consequence. NYE, Passover, first day of Summer, first day of Winter, Thanksgiving, second thunderstorm of the sixth month of the year... basically, whenever the mood to resolve something strikes me. As you can probably imagine, someone who makes this many resolutions keeps just a small percentage of them. I know this sounds like an insane and fickle system for making life changes but it works for me. The resolutions that stick? Well, they're basically super glued. For years. A few examples of some are below and in no particular order:
- Eating one Granny Smith apple every night before bed. (This assuages the need for late night unhealthy sugary snacks.)
- Purchasing a new wallet every time I start a new job.
- Cutting out all processed sugar during the week and only indulging on weekends.
- Purchasing and arranging fresh flowers for the apartment once every week.
- Mopping the apartment every Thursday.
About two years ago I resolved to start lighting Shabbat candles every Friday night. The intent was not only to practice a ritual of my faith which I find especially beautiful but to also find a way to mark time. Life in New York was rolling far too quickly and I wanted to create a moment for myself in each week when I could really hit pause and reflect. At first, the habit was quick - I'd light the candles, say the prayer, and be on my merry way for the night. But gradually, month by month, the resolution turned into much more. I still say the Shabbat blessing but it's the moments after which I find so much more meaningful.
I always thought that if I worked a religious ritual into my life it would mean that I would inevitably ask for things. Instead, it's turned into something completely different. It is during these few minutes each week that I stop and take stock of myself. Even more surprising, I've started saying thank you. For what ever reason, this weekly habit has turned into my own gratitude journal. Some weeks there's a lot to be grateful for and some weeks less but every week without fail, I assess all the things I feel blessed with.
Lately, one thing in particular comes to mind. When we moved into this apartment I was already pregnant and my first question was in regards to the nursery. Could we paint? As expected, the answer was that we could hang anything we wanted but no painting was allowed. At first I was upset because painting my baby's nursery was a right of passage I really looked forward to. But, eventually, as one is often forced to do in New York, I found an alternate solution. Big blue decal dots, purchased on Etsy, all over the bright white walls brought the playfulness called for in a child's room.
Ben started smiling a few weeks ago. At first they were uncertain, small, sheepish grins - often in response to boops on the nose. Then, gradually, the smiles got bigger and brighter. Now every morning we're greeted with a radiant baby smile. (It's virtually impossible to wake up with a case of the Mondays, or really any other day, when there's a brightly smiling baby just beaming at you.) Then, a few days ago, we noticed that his attention was squarely focused on one big blue dot - directly in his line of sight whenever we place him on the changing table. It is without fail, tested and tried. Regardless of my baby Ben being in a cranky mood or the best of spirits, the big blue dot makes him smile so wide my heart wants to burst and break at the same time.
So, this week as the last, when I light candles on Friday night I'm going to say thank you. Thank you for our health, for the food on our table, for lots of different things. But more than anything, thank you for the big blue dot above the changing table. Because it's the first thing my son has identified in this hectic world that makes him inexplicably happy. I am forever grateful for that.