Rethinking The New Year’s Resolution

Bonjour, mes amis!

At the end of my last post, I mentioned that one of my New Year’s resolutions was to post on this blog every Friday.

Clearly, that hasn’t happened. I apologize for that. I’m not very good at keeping resolutions in general. But on the upside, I don’t think I’m alone.

Making a New Year’s resolution is founded on a great idea: looking forward to the coming year, and trying to be a better, kinder, healthier, more organized person. However, we seem to have entered into a sad mindset where resolutions can only be made at the beginning of the year, and if they’re broken after two weeks, one week or even a few days, it’s over. We’ve failed. We’ll try again next year.

When did we start giving up on ourselves so quickly? When did we get the idea that we only had one shot to get our New Year’s resolution right, and not a whole 12 months of trial and error?

Making big life changes is difficult. There’s a period of adjustment, when we’re still figuring things out. We forget, we get lazy, we say we’ll start over tomorrow. And we see this as complete, total, unredeemable failure.

The more I thought about my own New Year’s resolutions and my successful and not-so-successful attempts at fulfilling them, the more I realized that I was putting the focus on the wrong thing. These resolutions or tasks I wanted to complete in 2016 were merely stepping stones that directed me to an area of my life that I wanted to improve upon.

For example, I am the worst at responding to messages: text, Facebook, email, snail mail, passenger pigeon, you name it. I read the message, mentally process the information, and then never respond. My thoughtlessness has received several well-meaning complaints from friends and family, and this is not something I want to carry into my professional life. Therefore, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to respond to every short message within 8 hours, and every longer message within 24 hours. Side note: I avoid answering personal messages at work, but any work-related message deserves an immediate response.

This month, I’ve had some success with this resolution, but many, many failures. My ultimate goal is not to get better at responding to messages, because I honestly find writing messages really stressful and time-consuming, like every sentence that I send out into the universe has to be perfect. Crazy writer, I know. However, I deeply value my relationships with others, personal and professional, so if answering people’s messages in a timely manner makes them feel valued, respected and loved, it’s so worth the minor stress and little time taken. My ultimate goal with this resolution is to be a more trustworthy and reliable person, and to mend any rifts in my relationships that I’ve caused by not responding to messages. 

If you’ve been struggling to keep your New Year’s resolution(s), whatever it is, don’t give up on yourself. Perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate what your ultimate goal is. Maybe you want to lose weight because you know it will avoid future health problems. Maybe you want to spend more time in prayer because you want to become a more peaceful and holy person. Don’t look at your resolution as a task to be accomplished, but as a small step toward becoming the best version of yourself.

So what’s my ultimate goal with posting on this blog every week? To sharpen my skills as a writer, and most of all, to connect with you — my wonderfully patient and supportive readers. Thank you for following me on this journey, even when I fall short. In the words of JJ Heller, “Let’s fight a good fight, train our eyes to find the light, and make this year the best one yet … starting right here, Happy New Year!

À la prochaine!

– Vicky

Question of the Week: Share your New Year’s resolutions with me in the comments! Let’s hold each other accountable. 🙂

 

 

 

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Sweet Endings: My Lenten Dating Fast Wrap-Up

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OH MY.

I HAVE NOT BLOGGED IN TWO MONTHS.

WHAT?

Between final exams, graduation and packing up my life, I never got to tell you all how my dating fast ended. Well, the short answer is that it didn’t.

True, I finished Becker’s book, did all the exercises and reflections and learned a great deal about myself in the process. But like the story of Jesus and his apostles, my dating fast didn’t end with the Resurrection of our Lord. I still have a long way to go in my walk with Christ, as does everyone else; anyone who says otherwise is fooling themselves. I’m not perfect. I still have many wounds that need healing. I’m still a hopeless romantic and there are times that I get impatient or anxious to be in a relationship. But God has blessed me abundantly in the past two months with friends, fellowship, peace and academic success.

In a sort of catch-up post, I’ll share a few of those blessings here:

1. My school’s second annual Beautiful Women of God retreat, which I helped to plan. I also got to talk about my dating fast experiences and share my testimony with 50 other women, including one of my best friends from high school, who was visiting for the weekend!

2. Solidified post-graduation plans. More on those to come later!

3. A wonderful 22nd birthday, despite it being so close to finals. Celebrating with my roommates and newspaper ed board, and the countless birthday messages from my family and friends. Thank you from my heart.

4. A fantastic senior week with friends I didn’t even know I had, which included a wine tour, jumping in the fountains on campus (a tradition at my school) and senior formal, to which I wore a dreamy pink gown that I paid 40 bucks for at a thrift shop.

5. Getting to cut off 12 inches of my hair to donate to Pantene Beautiful Lengths, an organization that makes wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer. For more information on donating, please visit their website.

6. Fruitful conversations with family members, friends, classmates, campus ministers, host family and most importantly, with Jesus. 🙂

7. A new laptop, which I am currently using to type this post. I’m officially an Apple convert. Thanks, Mom and Dad!

8. Graduating cum laude and getting all A’s and A-minuses for my final semester of college! God is SO good, all the time.

9. Spending graduation weekend with my four favorite people in the world: my parents, sister and grandma.

10. The new chapter of my life that begins tomorrow, as I head off to Philadelphia for training, and then to Florida for my summer internship. I won’t give away too many specifics because this is the internet and people are crazy.

BONUS 11: You, reading this blog right now. You are a blessing to me, whether you have followed this journey from the beginning, or have just started. Merci mille fois!

A bientôt!

– Vicky

What have been some blessings in your life lately? Share them in the comments below!

A Postcard from … Freeport, Maine

Bonne année, mes amis! Happy New Year, friends! The semester and the holiday madness are over, so now I get to give you guys some updates!

I spent last weekend in Freeport, Maine for a family reunion. This is the third year (not in a row!) that my dad’s family has had its Christmas shindig in Maine. My uncle, who lives there, has rented the same house on the bay every year, although this year, we had to rent two houses because there were almost 30 of us! Yep, it’s a party.

The Basics: Freeport is located on Casco Bay and is nicknamed “The Birthplace of Maine.” Today, it’s best known for its outlet shopping, which may make travel snobs groan, but many of the stores are housed in historical buildings, such as the Abercrombie and Fitch outlet that lives in the former public library. (I’m not thrilled about it either, but at least they preserved a historical site and Freeport still has a community library.) In 1912, Leon Leonwood Bean opened his first store in Freeport Corner, one of the four original villages that developed into the town. The L.L. Bean flagship store and corporate headquarters are still located in Freeport. If you’re like my dad and hours of shopping make you cringe, the town is also home to Wolfe’s Neck Woods State Park, which offers the most beautiful sunrise ever over Casco Bay.

Vicky’s Itinerary: I didn’t get to do too much tourism as I was, you know, doing family stuff. However, I will share with you a few highlights, starting with waking up at 6:30 a.m. on Friday with my grandma to catch the sunrise.

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This is the view from the first-floor dining room in the second, smaller house I was staying in. You can’t argue with this!

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The backyard of the main(e) house. Ha ha. Puns.

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I caught the sunset later from the other house. Gorgeous, right?

And after a day or two of Christmas presents and pierogis — in case you can’t tell, it’s my Polish side — my immediate family hit Main Street for some shopping!

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A view of the L. L. Bean flagship store from Linda Bean’s Maine Kitchen and Topside Tavern, founded by Leon’s granddaughter. The store has a gigantic sculpture of the famous Maine Hunting Shoe (aka the Bean Boot, not pictured.) I got my first pair of brown Bean Boots on my first trip to Freeport in 2010.

And of course, you can’t leave Maine without a nice hot bowl of …

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… CHOWDA! This bowl I had at Linda Bean’s, but there are several clam chowder and lobster places lined along Main Street. In the great debate of chowda, I am so Team New England. Sorry, Manhattan.

Hidden Treasure: Need a shopping pick-me-up? WALK PAST THE STARBUCKS. WALK PAST IT. Continue down Main Street in the opposite direction of L.L. Bean, and about 800 feet away, you’ll see a sign shaped like a donut. It’s Frosty’s Donuts, which has made hand-cut donuts since 1965. My favorite is the maple cream donut. Mmmmm.

Stay tuned for more Postcards From … as I travel in 2014!

A plus tard!

Vicky

The Difference Ten Years Makes

I’m so happy to be home for Thanksgiving break, but today was a bittersweet day in my house. This morning, my family — one grandma, two parents, two aunts, an uncle, two cousins, one me — piled into our minivans and arrived at Mass uncharacteristically early (9:17 for a 9:30 service!) at my grandparents’ church. No, this is not our usual Sunday routine.

Today was the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year. It also marked ten years since the death of my grandfather.

Perhaps it’s because I’m only 21, or because the aforementioned decade spanned all my hormonal and formative teenage years, but ten years seems like a lifetime ago. As I stood by Grandpa’s gravesite after Mass this morning, I remembered the day of his funeral. I could not convince myself that the little girl of twelve who placed a rose on a black coffin carefully for fear of falling into the gaping hole in the ground was me, had been me. I feel like I don’t know that girl anymore.

Ten years never seems like a long time. It’s a drop in the world history ocean, and when older adults talk about how they’ve been at this job or lived in this place for ten years, our limited human understanding compresses that time into a more digestible span of six months or a year at most. I’m writing this post at midnight, so I could possibly dive into a long-winded theory about how technology and the hyper-connectivity of the world have altered our perception of time, but I’m not going to.

In an attempt to grasp the change that can occur over the span of a decade, I’ve listed a noteworthy event from each year of the past decade of my life. It has been…

Ten years since my grandpa died only a few days before Thanksgiving. Before going up to bed, I called to his hospital bed in the living room, “Goodnight, Grandpa. I love you!” The next morning, he was gone.

Nine years since my parents tore down the tiny two-bedroom ranch house I grew up in and built our current house on the same property. We moved back in after living with my grandparents for ten months. When we first moved in, everything was cold and whitewashed, and I didn’t know if I could ever call that house “home.”

Eight years since my town built a new middle school and I had to leave all my friends behind for eighth grade. It was awful, but least we had our eighth-grade dances on the same night. J

Seven years since I had my first boyfriend for a grand total of three weeks.

Six years since I had the best freshman year of high school. I reunited with my old friends, made some new ones, and had a few teachers who were so inspiring that I go back and visit them to this day.

Five years since I made my NYC theatrical debut … in a tiny theatre tucked into a corner of Greenwich Village.

Four years since I attended an intensive acting conservatory for high school students for the month of July. It was a crazy thrill ride, but I ultimately decided that I wasn’t called to be an actor.

Three years since my disheartening senior year was infinitely brightened with the arrival of an acceptance letter to my beloved college. Sadly, it was not to Hogwarts.

Two years since I became heavily involved in my college’s Catholic community, where I found my second family — my brothers and sisters in Christ.

And in exactly one month and fifteen days, it will be one year since I arrived at the Orly Airport in Paris, loaded down with two huge suitcases and a fever, made the two-hour train ride to Nantes, and met my adored French host family for the first time.

It’s amazing what ten years can do.

Grandpa, I know you’re up in Heaven, and I hope you’re proud of me. Thank you for watching over me. I love you.

À plus!

Vicky