There’s a character in our lives, my husband’s and mine, who is a tragic figure. We affectionately call him “our Hamlet”. He’s always wistful about life, about what it could be, “if only….” Women get sucked into his sadness, sure they can bring him real happiness. Alas, alack, it’s just not meant to be. They eventually leave with broken hearts, having lost the battle of making him happy.

As time goes on, the charm of this wears thin.

So I challenged my DH this morning.

No. More. Whining.

Neither of us are by nature cheerful, upbeat people. But we’re usually able to put a good spin on stuff. We work hard, we believe in our work, and we have a lot of energy for it.

But something changed. Maybe we just got older. Things got a little harder. It crept up on us. Trying too hard to figure out what our next steps would be in our professions. Trying too hard to figure out why the big breaks were not happening. Trying too hard to force turning points and decisions. And now….

And now, we’re just as bad as our friend.

When did we get to be “that guy”?!

It’s easy to catch others doing it. The trick is catching yourself.

My first inkling I was becoming “that guy” (metaphorically speaking, because I am, of course, not a “guy”) was when I was reciting my latest list of physical ailments and setbacks to my martial arts instructor. I related why I was finding life discouraging right now. I shared my frustrations with my aging, aching body. I was wistful about why the class was so hard.

He nodded sympathetically, and when I paused to catch a breath, he started in about the new mileage reimbursement policy at his place of employment.

It was long and involved. Very, very involved.

I nodded sympathetically, but all I could think about was, “I hurt all over and he’s telling me about how unfair his mileage reimbursement is. What’s up with that?”

Just about the point where my eyes started glazing over, he stopped and said, “And my point is, we all have our stuff. My stuff is important to me, and your stuff is important to you. But when we come to class, we have to focus on class and what we want to accomplish, and what we can accomplish–and leave the rest of that stuff behind.”

Boy, is he sneaky. And smart. It’s the first time someone has said to me, “Hey, cut that out!”

I’m at a point in my my life where the normally good advice of “listening to my body” is a two-edged sword. Because my body is very whiny right now, and not fun to be with. Giving in, however, is no longer an option–not if I want a shot at being healthy and active at age 70, 80 and beyond.

How does this relate to my art? And to this year’s resolution?

Maybe I am a whiner by nature. I can’t choose my nature.

But I don’t have to subject other people to that. I can choose not to.

I hereby resolve to not be “that guy”.

No. More. Whining.

Of course, I whine a lot in my blog, and will continue to do so.

But only to share why it doesn’t get me anywhere. And only to share with you what will get you somewhere. Things like choosing differently. Persevering. Going back to what works and figuring out why. And simply doing the work.

I have some new things to try in 2008.

Step back…

No wholesale shows, for one.

Try something different…

A new venue or two. I’m putting together a local open studio tour for this spring.

Start where I am….

Since the mechanics of making big, big, big wall hangings has proven too intimidating, I’ll focus on smaller ones for awhile–and build up again. I give mself permission to get back to what I know, for now.

Challenge myself….

I have a new challenge for my jewelry. More of my components have to be handmade by me. I resent that, but maybe it’s a good challenge. I’m already at work on it.

Move. MOVE! Even if it hurts, keep moving…

Right now, I can’t even belay, due to complications from surgery, and a hand injury. But it will get better. I’ll be belaying and climbing again soon. Maybe it’s time to walk more, and slip some swimming in there. Everyone around me is suddenly talking about snowshoeing. Maybe I’ll give that a try.

Breathe. Breathe.

I just found a new yoga teacher. I am so bad at yoga. But I’m finding it keeps me in the moment. I’m looking forward to doing more of it in 2008. It makes even something as simple as breathing seem more….profound.

And most important of all…

No. More. Whining.