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Keeping resolutions under oath

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By Meaghan Downs

I tell people I never make new year resolutions.
I lie.
Which is, funny enough, the first rule of forming resolutions.
My flimsy covenants should not be considered resolutions.
They’re promises taped together only by mental commitment. Resolutions upheld by the most fragile glue imaginable.
Maybe, to pin some permanence on resolutions, I’ll eventually learn to write them down. Trap them on paper where they can’t be lost.
But paper lasts for a few more seconds than thoughts, in as many seconds as it takes to file that piece of paper in a forgotten drawer to mold in a forgotten place.
Once the air plummets to glacier temperatures and you think winter can’t possibly become more bleak, gray and funereal, that is the perfect time to make resolutions.
Mapping constructive contracts for the new year creates a little light in the dark days of January, maybe a little bit of hope to last until spring.
I believe that’s why they hold Inauguration Day toward the end of January.
(For the record, that’s not the reason at all. Since the establishment of the 20th Amendment limiting the terms of the president and vice-president, the inauguration now must take place at noon on Jan. 20. Fun fact about the inauguration: the president was actually officially sworn-in on Sunday a few minutes before noon. The Monday ceremony on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was just a formality.)
The president and I are both making promises. We’re both resolving to stick to our word in the coming months.
I feel a little relief knowing I didn’t make my resolutions in front of millions of people.
At least I won’t ever have to be confronted with a written transcript of my speech of resolutions to either be praised for keeping them or censured for failing to fulfill them by Jan. 20, 2014.
That doesn’t mean I don’t take promises seriously.
The president and I are both swear on something considered to be sacred. Him, with the Bible that Abraham Lincoln used at his presidential inauguration.
Me? I swear on the validity of my own word.
I swear to uphold the belief that I can change, that I’m capable of letting go of hate and fear, deepening my understanding of people, stretching my comfort zone and imagination to hold things I did not know I could embrace.
Yes, my resolutions are that abstract on purpose.
None of my goals include specific numbers, dates or pounds to be shed.
In the years I’ve been casually creating and then not sticking to resolutions, I’ve learned the more concrete the goal, the greater the personal disappointment.
And the less time you take in thinking about resolutions, the better.
For me? My resolutions happen in the time it takes to walk my dog.
I turn my face into the wind, dog leash in hand.
I turn my thoughts to what I want to accomplish in the next 12 months.
I am determined. I will conquer those insecurities that have nagged me for years. The professional knowledge I want to acquire. The right words to express more fully the language I wished I could use in this column.
One step, one goal.
One step, one promise for change.  
With any luck, I’ll remember those resolutions. Ponder them in my heart in a silent, solemn oath.  
But a lot can happen in the next 365 days, let alone those seconds as it takes to arrive home.