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Well, my freaky darlings, here we are at the end of another year. Any resolutions?

I've given up on resolutions, as I'm sure many of you have.

(The plethora of posts I see about this time every year that talk about how resolutions suck, and no-one ever keeps them anyway, seem to bear out this theory.)

If I could ask for one thing for all my readers and myself, it's the courage to actually know ourselves. One of the most valuable cognitive tools one can ever have is the skill to look hard at one's motivations, actions, and speeches, and see them without blinders, as they are, and what they say about us.

I've come to this place in my life with a lot of self-examination, and it never stops. I don't second-guess myself (okay, yes I do sometimes, and it's annoying), but I do try to look at my actions and compare them with what I say my motivations are, and see if they actually match. One of the very valuable things about journaling is the ability to look back through my posts and see what they say about me. Am I claiming I'm something I'm not? Am I insisting that I'm working towards something, and doing the exact opposite of what I need to do to achieve it? Am I completely disconnected in my view of myself vis-a-vis the way others see me?

It's been a long hard road, this life, and it has been filled with really searching questions, many of which have been precipitated by the way other people behave towards me. Sometimes it's been me that needs to adjust, and sometimes, it's simply been my task to realize that I'm doing nothing wrong, and there's nothing I can do to fix it.

In those cases, it's been my personal task to stop beating my head against the brick wall; the wall never changes, and I'm just whacking my brains about and hurting myself.

(In psychological terms, this is called "ruminating"; I describe it to my friends in the way that Bob has described my actions to me: "Death spiral of deathy deathness - pull up! PULL UP!!!".)

(His description is more colourful, I think. and so, so accurate.)

Knowing who you are, and accepting the issues that cannot change is part of the struggle - love oneself, warts and all. But the other half is just as important - are there things that can change? Do we have the emotional strength to admit that yes, sometimes, what we're doing sucks, and we need to fix it?

Take me - I am, for all intents and purposes, a textbook Sagittarius. Whether you believe in that sort of thing or not (for the record, I'm on the fence), when you read the positive and negative traits of the Archer, my picture should be right next to it. For the positive traits, that's great. I'm adventurous, quick-thinking, fun at parties, and a passionate lover. But the negative? Well, those are always the things one resists admitting, aren't they?  Who wants to be seen as careless, superficial, and tactless?  But I was.  I am - I'm just a lot better these days at keeping it under control.

One of my worst traits is tactlessness - not the kind of straight talking we do when it's needed, or being open about somtehing to stop it going wrong, but the kind of thing where I blurt out stupid stuff that's in my head at exactly the wrong time.  Such as the time I made an off-hand comment about an old neighbour's howling dogs, and the neighbour was the person giving the party (they had moved).  Or the time I blurted out that someone should really not perm their hair, because I'd heard someone else being catty about it.  Dumb stuff - the "open your mouth without thinking" stuff.  I am a master at that.  It's something I dislike in myself, and probably contributed quite a lot to my extreme unloveableness as a teenager.

(Mind you, sometimes it has its uses; when I was in college, a friend of mine's little sister was getting it on with her boyfriend, and had a pregnancy scare.  My poorly-timed "hasn't she ever heard of birth control?!" right in front of her led to a really useful conversation about condoms, and how one uses them; she in fact, had not known.  I gave her all my stash - I was overweight and depressed, and certainly wasn't getting laid.)

(Okay, probably TMI.  See?  SEE?!!  But one useful moment does not justify saying whatever is in my head whenever I feel like it.)

I could avoid responsibility for my behaviour, and claim, as I heard a person say once, "well, I'm just honest!  I say what I think!" - in other words, trying to change a vice into a virtue.  But I know too well the Tennessee Williams quote "All cruel people describe themselves as paragons of honesty", and I cringe inside.  I've learned to keep my mouth shut - if sometimes you think I'm being really reserved, it might just be that I'm fighting my inner loudmouth (it's made worse by the pills - one side effect is that they makemetalkreallyfastandREALLYLOUD for about half an hour...if I'm lucky).  But taking responsibility for that issue over the years, and as a result, taking responsibility for the hurt I've caused by my careless (and completely unintentional) dumbassery over the years, means that I don't have to apologize as often these days.

...of course, I still fail to see "blindly optimistic" as a negative trait - I prefer to see it as "not letting ugly facts get in the way of my rosy worldview". 

Hey, we all have things we need to work on, right?

But having a better picture of the kind of person I am allows me to negotiate life better - I'm a lot less likely to get blindsided by something if I'm honest about my shortcomings.  A brilliant side effect of self-examination is that it also gives you a lot of insight into the way other people work.  People, and their motivations, fascinate me - I am often entertained by people who talk about themselves as one thing, and act completely contrary to their words.  It also allows me to work around their issues when I need something accomplished.  Know thyself, know thy neighbour.

It's useful.  And helpful for navigating rocky waterways, which crop up frequently in tthe SCA. 

(Sometimes, you are lucky enough to be able to help other people see the truth, which is truly wonderful to facilitate - it's part of helping people to reach their goals, and the thing I want most in the world is for eeryone to reach their full potential.  More often, though, it's not possible - it's something people have to realize on their own.  And unrealized potential is the most common story in the world, as Bob says.) 

So, for the new year, how about a little healthy self-reflection?  No magnifying your faults, though - frequently, people go too far the other way, and only dwell on their shortcomings, to the point of completely dismissing their marvellous traits (everyone, yes, even you, has a plethora of wonderfulness in themselves, and it's going unappreciated).  That kind of thinking is as useless as denial, and it's called - everyone say it with me now - ruminating.  No ruminating!! Find balance.  Appreciate what's good, and cultivate it.  Look at what's not so good, and either make peace with it, or consider ways to alter it so it's not standing in your way.

And give yourself a big hug.  You deserve it for getting through this year.  I think you're all marvellous, and I want nothing but the best for all of you.



( 21 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )
Dec. 30th, 2008 10:20 pm (UTC)
Guess that means I'm cursed. ;)
I'm not too sure I would be considered a "textbook Scorpio" or not. I mean, come on! They listed "compulsive and obsessive" as negative traits! Sheesh! ;)

Hope you have a successful and prosperous New Year!
Dec. 30th, 2008 10:49 pm (UTC)
Re: Guess that means I'm cursed. ;)

A typical Scorpio has the characteristics of self-criticism, intense concentration and a passionate drive, which results in complete success or utter failure. You also have a strong self-destructive streak along with unreasoning temper that can be triggered at a slightest provocation.

This is so me. . . my poor Sagittarius husband
Dec. 31st, 2008 02:33 am (UTC)
Re: Guess that means I'm cursed. ;)
Second that! Except in my case, it's my poor Libra husband. :)
Dec. 31st, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Guess that means I'm cursed. ;)
Boy I am! LOL! That is me to a "T"!
Dec. 31st, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Guess that means I'm cursed. ;)
"Sagittarius likes to tell people more than they may want to know, or are ready to hear".

That is so me, I keep telling people that I was born with my foot in my mouth. But I'm getting better :P
Dec. 30th, 2008 10:33 pm (UTC)
No ruminating! I so agree.

And if you have to keep your mouth shut in person let your fingers do the talking here. ;)

I hope you have a wonderful new year and look forward to another year of your deep (and not so deep!) thinkings.
Dec. 30th, 2008 10:59 pm (UTC)
I, too, am a textbook Scorpio (moody but calm, cranky but generous?? I sound bipolar!), but I take some umbrage at the text advert to the side that asks 'Why are Scorpios jerks?' with a link to a love match site. I mean, I'm not the rosiest bud in the garden, but I doubt I'm going to attract any potential mates being a JERK. Sheesh.

And yeah, I have that bad habit of ruminating on my faults like a cow with crack-laced cud. It's like an addiction; 'How do I fail today? Let me count the ways!' And of course, then I wind up in a low spiral of 'and I can never, ever fix it so why BOTHER?' and then you see posts in my other journal (for those really Bad Days) going on and on about my failings. Joy. >.<

I need to print out your post and tape it to my bathroom mirror as a reminder to avoid that downward spiral of deathy-deathness. Yesh.
Dec. 30th, 2008 11:27 pm (UTC)
I like horoscopes as a way to provoke some good introspection--but I don't think it goes further than that.

I'm a Pisces. While some parts of the sign are definitely me (creativity being a big one) there are other parts to that textbook definition that are just plain wrong. I have never been drawn to any of the "caring professions". I wasn't talented enough to be a ballet dancer or a musician, although I do have a deep and abiding love for music. I've made pretty damned good choices in romantic partners--after learning what not to do with the first one.

But for me, what's missing in that description is my flexibility, but especially my passionate nature. Pisces are supposed to be dreamers. They always sound very passive, very reactive. I'm not that way at all. I don't believe life happens to you--you make it happen. I'm all about making dreams reality. I'm a big picture thinker, which means a lot of introspection because I don't see in black and white, but it's not just idle dreaming.

And I sure as hell don't like mauve and sea foam. There is a reason all of my cars have been red, and it's not because they were out of sea foam.
Dec. 30th, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
That Bob is a wise fellow. I hope he won't mind me quoting him about the death spiral of deathy deathness. It is the perfect description of what I put myself through on a regular basis. Also bout the unrealized potential.

May we all be blessed with some awareness in the coming year.
Dec. 30th, 2008 11:45 pm (UTC)
Textbook Taurus here. :D Stubborn and an appreciation for the finer things in life (not just materialistic).

I do a lot of the self-evaluation, but I'm never sure if I see myself clearly or not. Part of being a teacher, the whole self-evaluation thing. Being shy, I sat back and was a people-watcher for many years and saw how other behaved and were perceived, so that has probably influenced my actions, too.
Dec. 30th, 2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
This is interesting to read, as I'm also reading Bringing Yoga to Life, which is very little about twisting yourself up in a knot, and very much about knowing your Self. There's quite a bit of discussion about letting go of old, dead stuff, and living in the moment, but I'm a textbook ENTP. I tend to be iNtuitive rather than Sensory, and ruminate a LOT instead of sensing the world around me.

A couple of things that really got me thinking: Self-realization isn't about not experiencing pain. It's about not ruminating on it and turning it into suffering.


There are some things in life that we just can't do anything about, and learning to accept that lets go of the stress that we spend worrying about it.

I am making a resolution, though, this year. NO DIETING.

Edited at 2008-12-30 11:59 pm (UTC)
Dec. 31st, 2008 12:14 am (UTC)
Death spiral of deathy deathness - pull up! PULL UP!!!

For the win!!!!! Bob rocks and so do you. :-)
Dec. 31st, 2008 01:34 am (UTC)
One friend just wrote her 2008 resolutions. Retroactively. To reflect the new stuff she did this year. :)
Dec. 31st, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC)
That's a good idea :)
Dec. 31st, 2008 01:47 am (UTC)
I like resolutions. I like having goals. Maybe it's my Gemini personality that doesn't mind not keeping them. :-)
I am a textbook Gemini in 97.5% of the ways it's possible to be a Gemini.
But then, in other ways, not so much. As one of my dear friends asked me upon learning what sign I was, "So how come you aren't a flake?" Dunno. Haven't figured out that one meself. Maybe it's being born on the cusp of Taurus.
Translated: Stubborn flake. :-)
But there was one book that I read that described the personality of folks born on the day I was as "Energy Transmuters"... taking in the energy around us and calming it, or hyping it up, whichever needs to happen... the downside was holding on to the negative of that energy. Now that _is_ me.
Dec. 31st, 2008 03:02 am (UTC)
Resolutions shmezzerlutions. Last New Year's I smugly proclaimed that 2008 was going to be my year and I was going to accomplish the big goals. I was going to lose the weight, and get the management transfer, make a big SCA comeback (a la Britney Spears minus the scatological cooing) etc.

Instead it has been one long trial by fire. I'm more proud of what I survived this year than by specific goal achievement.

Company had a hellish year in every possible way. Lurid media disasters. Boss fired, new boss on board. Won the job transfer, but during the longish transition period (while bosses were changing places) decided I didn't want it (!!!) and retreated to my cozy overworked domain. Just as well, all things being equal. Office decided to move locations at the height of the summer, and I found myself running a 3-day off-site conference, coordinating the office move and writing a 130 page presentation all at the same time.

My personal nadir was the Sunday before the move, a multi-purpose trip to the Big Smoke which found me frantically sorting through 15 years of files and babysitting my infant daughter in my new boss's office while my husband and son whooped it up at a Jays game down the street.

The grand weight loss campaign that started so well was derailed 2 months into the new year by the upheaval at work, and was buried by April.

What little SCA work I did wasn't bad, definitely not in the suck category, but shall we say limited in scope.

One sister had a premature baby (thankfully apparently healthy) while the other sister went on a one-year tour in Afghanistan.

Then my father spent 3 months in ICU on a ventilator in isolation, and only just made it into a regular ward for Christmas. Everyone pilgrimaging back and forth as my mother can't drive. Whole family on Defcon 1.

So I guess I'm thankful instead of proud:

- marriage in good shape and children very happy
- father still alive, rest of family still alive and stable
- still employed (working stupid hours to keep the demands at bay)
- didn't gain any more weight than I lost
- didn't quite disappear from my friends and SCA hobbies
- didn't have any major alienating freakouts under stress

So for 2009 I'm keeping my damn fool mouth shut.
Dec. 31st, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
Score one more for the Sagitarians! (Triple in fact - sun, moon, and rising signs)
Dec. 31st, 2008 05:02 am (UTC)
Oo, I think I'm also a triple. Maybe just a double with a third thing that is "almost as bad as." I can't rightly remember.

Being a Sagitarian is so much fun, I don't know why anyone would bother to be born under any other sign!
Dec. 31st, 2008 01:25 pm (UTC)
My poor hubby is a tripple sag too. I say poor because I'm a Leo. =)

This particularly cracked me up:

"Death spiral of deathy deathness - pull up! PULL UP!!!".)

I used to work on a program for Ground Proximity Warning Systems where our warning was "Pull up, Pull up!" and we joked about different lines we could put in like: "Our father, who art in heaven..." or "Hey stupid! You're crashing!" But I think Bob's entry is the winner!
Dec. 31st, 2008 05:00 am (UTC)
I am also a textbook Sag. I have a fun little book called "The Dark Side Zodiac" and it focuses soley onthe negative traits of each sign, even showing how the so-called-positive traits could be perceived negatively. It's a fabulous book!

Anyway, in each zodiac chapter, there is a little vignette that says something like, 'If [your sign] were stranded on a deserted island with representatives of all the other signs, you would . . . ' and for Sag, it says, " . . . hide when the rescue helicopter arrives because being rescued is No Fun!"

So. Me.

As for Tact, I can't say I've mastered it but I made miles of progress after working in customer service for several years. I can now tell people, in a gracious and cheerful way, to f*** off, and they think I've complimented them! More difficult is having to tell one of my friends, "We need to have a chat about your hair."
Dec. 31st, 2008 02:52 pm (UTC)
I'm trying to remember who of my acquaintance (it may have been my sister reasie) who had an excellent ramble about the virtue of Humility being self-awareness. It's not about down-playing your strengths and saying "Aw shucks, t'weren't nothin'" it's about being aware of how much you have done, and how much you have not.

*Insert long ramble about self-awareness and humility here, too humble is half-proud, etc.*

Sorry, that's as eloquent as I get before coffee ;)
( 21 brains — Leave a chunk of brain! )

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