‘Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions yet?’, I asked my husband this morning.
‘No!’, he said gruffly then retreated into silence. I was not upset with him. He had been battling a bad case of the flu over the last few days and the fever had rendered him exhausted.
As always, I was only too happy to fill in the gaps in our family conversations.
‘I have already made a few New Year’s resolutions!’. I told him cheerily. ‘Especially, seeing that my last year’s ones were such a success.’
Now, don’t laugh but last year my resolutions were as follows:
1. To put away the freshly laundered clothes as soon as they were dry and folded.
2. To buy a robot vacuum.
Making New Year’s resolutions is not part of my Bulgarian heritage. Or, at least, it wasn’t while I was growing up in Bulgaria. Nowadays and with the globalisations of the world, perhaps this is yet another foreign-fangled thing that has taken roots there. I don’t know. In any case, the first time I heard about New Year’s resolutions was when I moved to England in the year 2000 and all the January editions of the glossy magazines had long articles and to-do lists on the topic of resolutions and how to take them to successful completion.
Well, I never really took to the idea that each New Year should start with clear intent and a resolution or two in my mind. I have never been good at long-term planning and have never had the self-assurance that I can achieve things if only I put my mind to it. Also, and as every self-respecting women’s glossy magazine or tabloid newspaper will tell you, New Year’s resolutions seem to fail as early as 12th January. In other words, this is the day on which most people break the diet or stop going to the gym.
Yet, in December 2017, I felt that something had to change. Up until that moment, I had spent two years living under a cloud of bleak thoughts, perennial anxiety and inability to do much due to a constant fear of ‘what if’. As in, what if I try to achieve something and it doesn’t happen?! What if I make an effort and the result is not good?!
I had let these thoughts debilitate me to such extent that even small daily tasks seemed like an insurmountable mountain. I had retreated within myself, much preferring to binge on Netflix than keep the house tidy, for example, or actually make a step ahead in terms of my own wishes and desires.
So, yes, in December 2017, I instinctively felt that something had to change. And all big changes start with one very small step. Always the over-doer, high-achiever and perfectionist that I am, obviously, I decided that instead of making one very small step ahead, I would make two. Hence my two New Year’s resolutions above.
One was to help me gain control over something that is very simple but would often become a very complicated task. Namely, once the freshly laundered clothes were dry, I would fold them and place them in a neat pile on the sofa in the bedroom. I would make the effort to fold them, but not to put them away.
Three or four wash cycles later, the sofa would be covered with clothes and I would need to spend a long time sorting through them and putting them away. It’s so simple and yet it felt like such a taxing thing to do. When the bleak thoughts and the lack of energy take over even the smallest thing turns into Hercule’s labour or all twelve of them.
So, OK, on a whim, I made the silliest New Year’s resolution ever. I was to put the dry folded clothes away as soon as they were dry and folded.
Yet, when you feel down even a small action is better than no action.
To this, I added the resolution to buy a robot vacuum.
Crazy, I know! First, they are expensive. Second, we have a very very nice hoover as it is.
Still, inside myself, I knew that a robot vacuum was all I needed at that time for my own peace of mind. My reasoning was along these lines: Vicenza is a dusty city; I hate hoovering; if I have to choose between hoovering and watching Netflix, no awards for guessing which one I would choose. Yet, I couldn’t live in a disarray. It was making me feel even more down and unwilling to socialise.
So, I felt that a robot vacuum was the answer to all my issues at the time. I went ahead and bought it. I chose a simpler model that didn’t cost the earth but had some very nice reviews online. The day it arrived, my inner world lit a little bit.
I stuck with my two simple, silly New Year’s resolutions for the whole of 2018. Clothes never piled up, they would always make a smooth transition from the drier to the wardrobes. The vacuum cleaner would purr around the house every other day giving me the inner satisfaction that I was doing something right.
Gradually, I could feel a shift in myself, too. Within a few months, I had found my voice to address an issue which had been tormenting my family for quite a while (bullies can be of any age and they need to be faced and put in their place!). Then, slowly more changes started to occur.
I still had the urge to spend the day binging on Netflix and reading threads with creepy stories on Reddit but I also wrote more, did more and went out more. It was a slow progression with many setbacks. Through it all, what gave me focus was the feeling that if I could keep my environment tidy, I could keep my mind tidy, too.
Which, after a year gave me a stronger sense of myself and a slightly firmer belief in myself.
Hence, my New Year’s resolutions for 2019 are:
1. Stop wasting food.
I am tired of us throwing away shrivelled peppers or apples that have gone off just because I couldn’t be bothered to cut them in pieces and either use them when cooking or had as a snack. I want us to be a bit thriftier with money and food and eliminate waste.
2. Attract many more readers to my blog.
It would be great if I manage to make my blog a success. I mean, keeping it alive after four years is a form of success, isn’t it!? Yet, I would really appreciate it if I could expand my blog’s reach to many more new readers and people interested in tips and stories about living in Italy and travelling in Europe. If in 2019 I could triple my current blog traffic, I would be on cloud nine.
3. Travel more around the Veneto and visit Marche.
I am so eager to keep discovering more and more hidden corners of the beautiful Northern Italian region of the Veneto that I have been calling home for the past four years. I want to go everywhere and see everything, especially the places that even the locals forget about. I am also very attracted to the Italian region of Marche and I would love to see it and explore it in 2019.
4. Start my jewellery blog.
Which I have been dreaming of and planning for the past three years or so but have never had the courage to actually start. May 2019 be the year that I make it happen after all.
All this takes me to the photo that I have chosen to illustrate this blog post on New Year’s resolutions.
What you see on the photo is a Tombola board. Tombola is a game which Italians traditionally play during the Christmas period. It is quite similar to bingo in so that every player gets a small board with numbers on it. Then another player picks numbers out of a small bag and calls them out. The final aim is to be the first player with all numbers on your board called out. Then you win a prize.
It’s a game of total luck and you can have just one number left to be called and still lose to someone else. As it happened to me last night!
So, all this comes to remind me that between the resolutions we make and the whims of the world, we all have just ourselves to rely on in order to make things happen or not.
Have a very Happy New Year!
I wish you a tidy mind, a tidy life and lots of happy moments! As for any New Year’s resolutions that you make yourself, may you be strong enough to take them past 12th January! I pray the same for myself.
Thank you for reading! Please, leave me a comment, pin the image below or use the buttons right at the end to share it on social media.