Your New Year’s Resolution, by Rich Paschall

Have you given up on it yet?

You know what I mean, that New Year’s Resolution you felt you had to make.  It may have seemed like a good idea in December.  You knew you were going to eat too much and drink too much from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. You knew there would be cookies and cakes at work, at home, at Aunt Hilda’s house. You did not want to go to Aunt Hilda’s house, of course, but you were willing to eat her cookies and whatever that greenish Jello stuff was that she puts out every year.


There were candy dishes everywhere too!  You swear that some of your friends and relatives only bring out the candy dishes when the holiday season comes.  And the Holiday season can be long, very long.  That means there is plenty of opportunity to eat up the candy from the time the half price Halloween candy runs out to when the after Christmas candy sales are over.  “Fie, you devil dogs, who doll out the candy as if it was health food,” you may exclaim.  These candy tempters lurk around everyone’s desk at work and around the coffee table at those awful Christmas parties.  The unfortunate also have co-workers who are actually “candy pushers,” getting you to buy the stuff so little Johnny can go to day camp or basketball camp or Camp something.

With Aunt Mary, Aunt Sherry and Aunt Scary conspiring against your waistline, you just know you should resolve to do something healthy when the attack of the gingerbread men has ended.  You look forward to January 1 with the resolve to eat well, exercise, give up whatever vices are dragging you down.  When the New Year came it was going to be all about you, and not about extra helpings of Aunt Bertie’s Sweet Potato Casserole.  You know, it’s the one with the Praline topping you can not get enough of.  “Besides, aren’t sweet potatoes good for you?” the conspirators may ask.

If all that spinach dip, taco dip and cheese dip don’t drive you to a resolution, perhaps all that alcohol will.  In addition to whatever your favorite beverage may be, there’s eggnog and glogg (or gluhwein, depending on your relative’s background), white wine, red wine, pink wine, and champagne.  There are specialty concoctions someone found in a recipe book or online.  If you make it to the Wild West Sports Bar or some similar place, someone will probably buy you a shot of something you would never order for yourself.


If you are in the hangover den on New Year’s Day, you would certainly have resolutions on your mind.  Some of those may start with “please god” and end with “never again.”  Those are the types of resolutions that fall to the wayside first.  You may be dead serious when you make the pledges on January 1, but you are perfectly willing to forget about them on the following weekend.

So what was it?  Were you going to lose weight?  Many people adopt this promise and some even join some weight loss group to help them out.  They may get inspirational speeches and coaching.  They may order health food from the organization, spending a lot more than if they went to the health food store and bought it themselves.  Soon some chocolate mousse will cross your path, calling out your name and you will cave in to the thing you never meant to give up anyway.  I knew a woman who spent a lot of money on health food and healthy shakes from a club.  They were so unsatisfying that she also spent a lot of money on junk food “snacks” to get her through to the next “healthy” meal.

If you were going to give up alcohol for January or until St. Patrick’s day or some other lofty goal, you may soon find the birthday party, sporting event, or post season work party to cancel that idea right out of your brain.  If you were encouraged to make such a resolution based on how you felt when you finally dragged yourself from the bed to the sofa on January 1, then it will probably go away soon anyway.  Those resolutions are made in the heat of the battle and forgotten when the fight is over.

Since all that partying does not qualify as exercise, you may have decided you need to work out.  Trust me, if you were not doing much physical activity prior to January 1, the turn of the calendar may not be enough of a push to get into shape.  Many work too hard at it in the first week, causing all those unused muscles to ache.  That in turn leads you to the feeling that you must lay your poor body down.  If your tough work out leads you to a night out because you “deserve it” after all your hard work at the health club, you may be on the road to blowing two resolutions at once.

So, are they history yet?  After all it will be two weeks into the New Year and a lot of life has gotten in the way to pull you off course.  If your resolution was to stop some vice like smoking, gambling, watching porn or something I would rather not know about, it is like the other resolutions.  You did not need a specific calendar date to give them up and you will not succeed unless you are firmly resolved.


Rabbi Ben Hei says, “According to the pain is the gain.”

— Pirkei Avot 5:21 (second century)


If little labour, little are our gains:
Man’s fate is according to his pains.

Hesperides 752 (1650)

Industry need not wish, as Poor Richard says, and he that lives upon hope will die fasting. There are no gains, without pains …

— as reprinted in Benjamin Franklin’s The Way to Wealth (1758)

Jane Fonda didn’t invent it. Neither did that guy at the gym you think is god.

The concept has been lying around waiting to become popular slang for almost 2000 years. It didn’t refer to matters physical, either. It referred to your soul, to charity, to work in general. It was never intended to be taken literally.

Just because words rhyme, doesn’t make them a concept, doesn’t mean they relate to each other. Or that it’s a concept that applies to your aching body rather than your dark, mean-spirited soul.


Pain is a body’s way of warning us something is wrong. Ignore it at your own risk. Acknowledging there are minor pains we all typically ignore because we know what they are, know they aren’t important, there are plenty of others you ignore at your peril.

How about the pain in your chest that signals heart trouble? How about that pain in your breast that says “don’t ignore that lump?” Or the shooting pain down one leg when you knock your spine out of alignment? How about the searing one when you dislocate a shoulder? Or the one, accompanied by an ugly snap which says “Hey, you just tore your Achilles tendon!”

Before you go ignoring a pain, make sure you know what that pain is trying to tell you. Try not to replace thinking with a motto.

I hate clichés. They are the latest fad in the long advance of stupidity.

Daily Post: Pains and Gains



I’m not one of those people who romanticizes the 1950s, but there are some truths worth remembering and revisiting.

I grew up in a very different world. Play meant using imagination. It mean physical activity. Jump rope, hide and seek, tag, Stick ball (no one owned a real bat). Stoop ball, jacks. Building a “fort” or climbing a tree. Cowboys and indians. Toys were simple, not electronic. Getting a new doll was a real thrill. She never needed a reboot, unless you count having to find her lost shoe.

If you were having a hard time with the bullies in school, you got up, got dressed and went to school. It didn’t mean you weren’t scared. I was plenty scared. It simply wasn’t a parent problem … it was mine. Yours. Ours.

Marilyn - Senior YearYou didn’t get a lot of pats on the back for “trying hard.” You might get an “attaboy” for doing exceptionally well, but you were expected to do your best. Nothing less was acceptable. Doing your best was your job. You took it seriously.

You learned your lessons in elementary school so you could go on to junior high school and then high school. You had to do well in high school because if you didn’t, you couldn’t get into college. We all knew — with 100% certainty — if you didn’t go to college, you wouldn’t go to heaven.

My son commented the other day we are raising — speaking of my granddaughter’s generation — a bunch of weenies. We are protecting from them everything, effectively from acquiring the coping skills they will need to survive when mommy isn’t there to bail them out.

I said this to my granddaughter too, because she needs to hear it:. No one gets a free pass. Even being rich doesn’t guarantee bad stuff won’t happen, that you won’t get sick, lose a loved one, a child, or for that matter, your own health. Nothing prevents life from happening. Pain is part of the package. Learning to deal with adversity is called “growing up.” If you don’t learn to fight your own battles, when you get “out there,” you won’t survive.

Just about every family has some members who didn’t make it. The ones who never got a real job, formed a serious relationship, accomplished anything much. If they happen to be our own kids, it makes us wonder what we did wrong … and usually, we have a sneaking suspicion the problem isn’t what we didn’t do. It’s what we did too much.

I don’t think we should be mean and uncaring. Nor am I an advocate of corporal punishment. But I think it’s important to recognize we didn’t get strong by being protected from every pain, every hurt. We didn’t get everything we wanted the moment we wanted it. Or at least I didn’t. If I got one really cool present, that was a big deal. Now kids get so much, it’s meaningless. They don’t appreciate anything because there’s always more where that came from.

P.S. 35

So, in memory of the good times, the bad times, the hard times, the great times. The schoolyard battles we fought and sometimes lost. The subjects we barely passed or actually failed and had to take again. The bullies who badgered us until we fought back and discovered bullies are cowards. Getting cornered in the girls’ room by tough chicks with switch blades, wondering if you can talk your way out of this one.

Being the only Jew, Black kid, Spanish kid, fat kid, short kid or whatever different kind of kid in a school full of people who don’t like you. Getting through it and out the other side. Being the only one who used big words and read books when everyone else was watching American Bandstand. Being the klutz who couldn’t do those dances and never had the right clothing or hairdo.

Then, finally, getting to college and discovering the weirdos and rejects from high school were now the cool people to know. Magically, we were suddenly part of the “in crowd.” Metamorphoses. No longer were we outsiders. What had made us misfits were now the qualities that made us popular. And eventually, successful.

The fifties and early sixties were not idyllic. Especially if you weren’t middle class, white and Christian. Yet it was a great time to be a kid. Not because we had more stuff, but because we had more freedom. We had time to play, time to dream. Whatever we lacked in “things,” we made up for by having far fewer rules. We were encouraged to use our imagination. We didn’t have video games, cable TV, cell phones and computers. Many of us felt lucky to have one crappy black and white television with rabbit ears that barely got a signal.

We learned to survive and cope, and simultaneously, learned to achieve. We weren’t scared to try. We screwed up enough to know if it didn’t work out, we’d get up, dust ourselves off and try again.

When we got out into the world, for at least a couple of decades, we had a blast.

Here’s to us as we limp past middle age into the laughingly so-called golden years. We really had great lives. We’re still having them.