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New Year's resolution revolution
New Year's resolution revolution
by Jennifer Vanesco - Special to the SGN

Every year, with determination, I do NOT make resolutions.

I don't believe in them, I say airily. Why make a promise when I won't keep it? After all, I don't really know of anyone who does.

But this year I've changed my mind. Because I think I've figured out the trouble with resolutions.

The biggest problem, I think, is that resolutions are usually focused on something we really don't want to do, which is why we wait till the New Year to announce that we're doing them.

After all, no one resolves to eat more french fries or sleep in till the last possible moment before work. No, we resolve to stop smoking, stop eating, work out vigorously, clean out the closet that we've been avoiding so long that we can't remember what color it's painted.

We're going to stop dating the wrong types of woman, or give up goofy novels and get to War and Peace. We're going to walk to work every day, even when it's 25 degrees and the sky is heavy with that chilling combination of snow and ice and rain that I call snush. We're going to go back to church, meditate every day, speak only kind words about everyone we meet, and think only nice thoughts.

We're going to do only those things that are good for our brains, our bodies, our hearts, our souls. But somehow those good things always seem to deprive us of our very favorite pleasures. Resolutions are always about STOP or NO or YOU CAN NEVER, NEVER HAVE THAT EVER AGAIN or DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT DOING THAT, BUSTER.

But maybe resolutions should be about yes, instead. Maybe resolutions should give us the permission we need to do the things we really want to do, as opposed to doing the things we think we ought to do.

Because sometimes we feel like we need permission, right? We want our Gay fairy godmother to swoop out of the sky with a clack of heels and a tasteful, sparkling wand and whisper in our ears, "You know, dear, I think you really should take that trip to Paris. And sign up for that tango class you've been thinking about. And approach that darling man in the next cubicle for a drink - because he's been eyeing you, too."

So think of me as your Gay fairy godmother and let's make some resolutions together. For example, resolving to be a nicer person probably won't work - but resolving to be nicer to yourself? You can do that. Go get a massage.

Right now.

I'll wait.

You feel better already, right? You're now all set to tackle that big project at work. Or, OK, maybe you're not quite ready to tackle that project at work, but at least you feel darned good.

When you say yes to resolutions, you give yourself permission to do stuff you really want to do - stuff that can relate somehow, at least tangentially, with bigger, more amorphous goals.

For example, losing weight, going to the gym every single day or not eating any more sugar or transfats all sound like chores. You can resolve to "lose weight" but you probably won't. Or you won't keep it off.

But maybe you've been wanting to get better at tennis. Voila! You can sign up for a weekly tennis class! Or maybe you've yearned to get back into skiing, or horseback riding, or rollerskating, or whatever. Think about you should do - and then think about something that relates to it that you really want to do, and resolve to do that.

Me, I want to dance more. I love dancing and I don't do it nearly enough. So my "lose weight" resolution is actually a resolution to let myself dance whenever I feel like going, whether or not I can get other people to go with me - and if that means dancing naked in my bedroom, well, I know I'll enjoy it. I give myself permission to dance - in fact, I HAVE to dance, because I've resolved to do it!

Once I started saying yes to resolutions, I found myself flooded with them. The thought of going on more first dates is disheartening - so I won't resolve to date more. I'll resolve to kiss more girls. And "eating healthy" sounds awful. That's OK - instead, I'll resolve to eat fresh tomatoes whenever I can get them, and cook more whole artichokes and learn to make homemade multi-grain bread. Yum.

So now, instead of avoiding resolutions, I LOVE resolutions because a "resolution" can be just another way of giving yourself permission to be happy. And that's a New Year's resolution we should all make.

Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning, syndicated columnist. Email her at She blogs daily (more or less) has a weekly video blog on the Gay political site

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