The Power of Indulgence

By Piper Bayard

Nicotine patches are flying off the shelves and personal trainers are working overtime. And every gym across the nation is filled with the January Resolutioners.

People on treadmills at gym US Air Force wikimedia

image from US Air Force, wikimedia commons

The Resolutioners are easy to spot, and the gym rats know just how long each of them will stay.  The overweight guy who’s straining to press his maxed-out set of three? He’s done now because he just hurt himself. The lady sitting on the mat gossiping between her two sets of 10 stomach crunches? She left January 4th. January 5th if she’s with a friend. But the aging realtor in the power training class who ran out, vomited, and came back? She’s the one to watch. Ask her name. She’ll have the bikini bod by July. The difference? She wants to be there.

The hard fact is that people do what they want to do. Period. Most resolutions are about “should,” and shoulds never pan out.

I took an aikido class where I was almost the only woman with a lot of hot babes. None of them smoked. I did. When faced with the clean-living martial arts Chippendales, I was ashamed of that fact. I decided I needed to either quit or come to terms with my vice. Since quitting was difficult, and I didn’t like difficult, I chose to make peace with my choice.

I watched myself objectively. I discovered that I first justified the cigarette. Then I lit up and enjoyed the first third. That’s when the self-recrimination kicked in. . . . Why can’t I just quit? Those hunka hunka aikido guys would never want an ashtray-mouth like me. . . . I vowed it was my last cigarette forever and felt strong for a while because, in the words of an old friend, “Junkie always strong afta he fix.”

Since my resolution was to smoke proudly, like Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not, I short-circuited that cycle at the point of self-abuse and turned off the negative talk.

I told myself to just smoke or don’t. It worked, but not like I thought it would.

When I used smoking to beat myself up, I felt like a loser. When I felt like a loser, I thought I was a loser. When I thought I was a loser, I had an excuse to fail in all of my goals. When I removed that self-abuse, I no longer had the Lame Loser Excuse. Smoking lost its appeal. It became nothing more than a dispassionate choice. I chose to quit and never looked back. Good thing since I could never afford it now.

Since then, my only resolution has been to do what I want. I vowed to be a secretary forever if I wanted. One year later, I started law school. I vowed to eat all the sweets I wanted. I lost 30 pounds. I vowed to only write when I wanted. I now have a publisher. That’s because something deep inside of us wants what’s best for us. If we surrender to that voice, we rise above self-destruction.

Chocolate donut John wikimedia

image by John, wikimedia commons

In that spirit, these are my 2013 resolutions.

  1. I will eat all the donuts I want. Especially chocolate donuts.
  2. I will sleep in any time I want instead of going to the gym.
  3. I will yell at my children whenever I want. (Looking forward to that one.)
  4. I will buy every pair of shoes I want, even the ones that don’t fit well and serve no purpose.
  5. I will only write when I want.

And as for the January Resolutioners at the gym? Good for you! I’m rooting for you and hoping you will only come to the gym when you want. I’m hoping you will want often, and that I will see you on the beach in July.

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Which One Are You?

By Piper Bayard

Do you ever get ticked off at the strangers around you for doing things you think are thoughtless, rude, or stupid? Yep, I do it, too.

So today I’m going to fess up.

  • I’m the one who spends three minutes balancing the grocery cart in just the right crack so that it won’t roll into a parking space or hit another car, when I could actually take 30 seconds and return it to the cart corral. In my own defense, I do that on purpose. People with infants in car seats or old people who need to lean on those carts and can’t get into stores if they don’t find one in the parking lot that’s closer to the door than the cart corral.
image by Stilfehler, wikimedia commons

image by Stilfehler, wikimedia commons

  • I’m the one who does not keep an answering machine, but leaves a five minute message on yours. I have no defense for that.
  • I’m the one who orders the California bacon avocado burger, “But could you please leave off the lettuce and tomato, and sauté that onion? Oh, yes, and could you please make it with chicken instead of beef? And can you put it on a gluten free bun? . . . No, wait. I’ll have the crispy chicken salad, instead. Ranch on the side.” I tip very well if the waitress is polite about it.
  • I’m the one who slows down when you tailgate me. Hey, if you’re going to crash into me, I would prefer it be at a lower speed, thank you.
  • I’m the one who will be late to her own funeral.

So now it’s your turn. Which one are you?

Please tell me so that the next time I see someone doing what you confess to, I will remember you, and I will be patient. Thank you for making me a better person.

All the best to all of you for surviving your own pet peeves.