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.

Author: Luann Udell

I find it just as important to write about my art as to make it. I am fascinated by stories. You can tell when people are speaking their truth--their eyes light up, their voices become strong, their entire body posture becomes powerful and upright. I love it when people get to this place in their work, their relationships, their art. As I work from this powerful place in MY heart, I share this process with others--so they have a strong place to stand, too. Because the world needs our beautiful art. All of it we can make, as fast as we can! Whether it's a bowl, a painting, a song, a garden, a story, if it makes our world a better place, we need to do everything in our power to get it out there.

15 thoughts on “RESOLUTIONS”

  1. Luann, just remember that when you hurt and you continue to move, you aren’t doing more damage moving than you would by not moving. It sucks getting older and hurting when you didn’t used to hurt. I’ve whined about stuff that isn’t fun, but in the end doesn’t really matter. I’m now trying to live by “No Whining” myself. Lots of luck with your resolutions for 2008, and I hope you have a successful new year.


  2. Thanks Luann for another great post, another good reminder and little kick in the pants to persevere. Your writing is so encouraging and that is a gift. It is hard to tell people what they might be doing wrong or where they could make improvements and make them feel good that you told them. You have it. =)


  3. I have had some major revelations lately, Luann. One of the biggest is that I was not born with an Entitlement Card. Some folks seem to be, but not I. I am not entitled to the things I so quickly assume I am. Since this is the case, I have come to the so obvious conclusion that I had best get about being grateful for what I do have. Therefore I have begun laying in bed about five minutes after I wake up and thanking God for all the things in my life.

    Now, here’s the interesting part. I am starting to be grateful for my troubles. What a shock. But they are the things that change me, not my blessings. I am shaped and molded, transititioned from who I used to be to who I am becomeing by my aches and pains, small budget, lonely days, etc. Because I am becoming grateful for them, I am welcoming them and change occurs more quickly and with greater ease. I’m all for that!

    (These problems of mine are starting to cheer up. They even sneak in early in the morning when I am alone in the kitchen and gather rather shyly around the table and reach trembling hands out for mugs of hot chocolate now. I caught one with a tiny little smile in the corner of her mouth yesterday. I didn’t dare point it out, of course.)

    I’ve never been any good at giving things up, however, I can sometimes replace one way of being with another. This year I am concentrating on being a grateful person who does not feel entitled to an easy life, plenty of money, great good health, a husband free of brain damage and a dozen other “slings and arrows”. Instead, I aim to be continually surprised by the many good moments in my life. I am expecting a “rebirth of wonder”.

    Thanks for the column! It was great.


  4. Oh, I needed this column this morning! Recovering from hosting a houseful of family – half of whom are card-carrying whiners – realizing that I’d slipped to the ‘dark-side’ and mimicked them all back.

    New resolutions abound – trying to keep the ‘dark-side’ to myself and not rant on and on about “my stuff”.

    Thanks, as always, for sharing your insights!


  5. I have no particular comments on whiners/negative people, other than to say they are an energy drain and I try not to get sucked in, short of being inappropriately unsympathetic when something truly bad is happening to them. I’m a “glass half full” person by nature and that’s how I want to stay.

    I would like to make a remark on snowshoeing, which is a totally wonderful thing. We had the biggest blizzard in 50 years last January here on the Canadian prairies, and the resulting wind-carved and sculpted huge drifts were beautiful. Only problem was I couldn’t get to where I wanted to be to photograph them. The ditches were totally full of snow and one step off the side of the road to get closer would put you up to your waist in snow.

    Since I’ve become quite fanatical about my photography in the last year, buying snowshoes to get to the drifts seemed the obvious solution. Worked like a darn, too. The part I didn’t expect was the wonderful feeling of freedom they gave me. I hadn’t realized or acknowledged how constrained we are in a snowbound land in the winter. You have to go where the tracks are, even with cross country skis. Not so with snowshoes. Put them on your boots (not special boots, either, just my regular laceup winter ankle boots) and off you go. I carry them with me in the car all winter so I can take off across the fields whenever the urge strikes me. Go for it!!

    PS I got the “modern” ergomonic style lightweight ones, designed for women. They’re super. Even my grandson is jealous.


  6. Dear Luann and Gail,

    So much insight! This time of year, it’s easy to get whished away and become “that guy” or to take out our “Entitlement” card. Life changes us, those around us, even our “traditions” have to adapt. And we have to become more flexible, more open minded, more loving, more supporting of others. Not easy for any of us. I miss my dear Mom/friend alot, especially this time of year. I miss holidays with my kids. But I remind myself that even so, I have such more more to be grateful for than so many children and women in this world of ours. So if I’m a bit sad, time to reach out to someone that needs my still strong arm, time to give of what I have, and send a letter to someone not expecting it.

    Thanks for this community of shared experience and ideas. We all want to be “in life” and “of life” not separated from it or others.

    I appreciate all of you. Your comments and ideas, and a sense of “kindred spirits” even if I don’t “know you” in person.

    May 2008 be a year of peace and joy. May men and women of goodwill work together toward a more harmonious world. And may all of us work to lessen the burdens of those who struggle!

    Thanks one and all. Love to you.
    Carol Ryerson


  7. Judy, thanks so much for the kind words, your insights on the “energy vampires” AND for the snowshoe recommendations. My husband tried some out and said they were “hard work”. But maybe it’s time to look beyond that, as you said, and simply see the places they let us get to.


  8. Carol, I’m so glad you found comfort in these words today, and a sense of community. I find if I focus on good energy and good works, that’s what comes into my life, too. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and your blessings.


  9. I hear you with the achy body. Me too. But all I have to do is think of my MIL, who finds 2 glasses of ice water too heavy to carry, and I go back to the gym and cherish the achy muscles after. And the ones that don’t ache because of the gym? I’m grateful I can still move them, and despite being achy all the time, they don’t limit my work-out or daily life. Keep moving!


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