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Tuesday 23 September 2014

What Katie did next: In which I abandon resolution making...

MOST magazines around this time of year will carry a feature in which celebrities proclaim their 2013 New Year's Resolutions. The women will invariably say things like 'make more me-time' and 'learn to practise self-love'. Although, if they were being honest, they should really say 'remove myself from my own arse' and 'stop Googling the shit out of myself'.

Then there's the maverick. The one who will smugly declare that she "doesn't do resolutions". She will point out that they only set you up to be let down, that hastily made affirmations are a fast-track route to feeling guilty when you break them... as we all inevitably do.

Now, that's all very wise and reasonable, but she isn't being honest, either.

The truth is that women shouldn't make New Year's resolutions because we already have somewhere in the region of 1,000 resolutions buzzing around our heads at any given time.

There are the long-term resolutions: support and nurture family; find love (don't compromise!); make babies (before 34); progress in career (ask for raise), acquire property; start a pension; achieve immortality by doing something of grand importance for the world; grow up (without turning into mother).

Occasionally losing weight, getting a tan and finding a pair of jeans are added to the top of the list of long-term resolutions. But generally they are placed in the medium-term priorities section, along with the likes of: exercise more; give up dairy; drink more water; start growing own vegetables; read something by James Joyce; give up smoking; learn how to play chess; clean out airing cupboard.

Finally there are the nigglers. The resolutions that will generally never be realised but that we torment ourselves with nonetheless. This list includes pelvic floor exercises, signing up for the Boots loyalty card and re-establishing contact with the pen pal you had when you were nine.

A typical 10 seconds of my background noise goes like this: "Must stop eating white bread... and Google the health benefits... oooh, he's nice... HAVE to start writing my book ... should also write so-and-so a thank you card... did I leave the immersion on?"

The female brain -- and the multitasking it is capable of -- is like Metatron's Cube. Conversely, it has been proven that the male brain is in fact the size of a very small salted peanut.

I joke, of course. Yet I think we can all agree that men think more linearly, while women think more contextually. More to the point, we women can do (and think about) 150 things at once.

When we have this power, the challenge -- or rather the paramount resolution -- is to stay sane. I honestly don't know how mothers manage to do just that when having children increases the number of ongoing resolutions to about 1,500. It's no wonder Valium was once known as 'mother's little helper'.

So I'm going to take a leaf out of the smug celebrity's book and not make any resolutions this year.

In fact, I am resolving to stop making resolutions altogether. Instead I'm going to go with the flow and put my faith in the fact that all my needs will be fulfilled even if they aren't on the never-ending to-do list that is the female brain. A January 2013 mind detox, if you will.

Easier said than done, of course.

I once went on a silent meditation retreat and I was intrigued to see that two women had to leave after just two hours.

I later discovered that they couldn't cope with the silence, or rather being confronted with the inner workings of their mind.

I, meanwhile, couldn't get the song Stacy's Mom Has Got It Going On out of my head, and spent the three days resolving that I would get up early and walk the beach on which the retreat centre was based. I never did.

The irony is that it's harder to do less than it is to do more when it comes to the incessant chatter of the mind.

For many women, 'staying in the moment' is resolution no. 1,242, even though the very essence of this doctrine is not to make any resolutions at all. Maybe I'll just learn to speak Mandarin. It would be easier by comparison...

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