Parkites discuss the art of making attainable New Year’s resolutions
December 31, 2015
New Year’s Eve has come and gone and the streamers and confetti have been swept away. The champagne, beer and wine bottles are in the recycling bin and tablets of Alka Seltzer have done their job.
Resolutions, of course.
While it seems more people break than keep these start-of-the-year goals, many consider making New Year’s resolutions a rite of passage. Others think of them as unattainable goals.
Three Parkites singer and songwriter Elizabeth Hareza, Park City Institute Executive Director Teri Orr and Giving a Bleep Executive Director Annette Velarde discussed their take on this tradition with The Park Record.
Elizabeth Hareza: Keeping her eye on the horizon
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Hareza, whose past year included releasing a new album called "My Peeps," which was followed by her first national tour and performing a Christmas Eve concert with Kurt Bestor, falls in the group that thinks making New Year’s resolutions is a nice tradition.
"I think going into a new year and starting fresh and having goals of things you want to accomplish is a good kick in the pants because January is a relatively slow time," she said. "I found that, normally, I can get started pretty quickly on my own resolutions."
That said, Hareza doesn’t always make new resolutions.
"I don’t really sit down and say, ‘In 2016, I will try to do this or that but I do have one that I have made every single year for the past decade or so," she said. "It’s to take time to reflect what happened the year before and make sure I move forward and achieve some type of new goal in my music career and build upon what I’ve learned before."
One year, she worked on her stage presence and the next year she booked more shows that were more interactive so she could utilize what she learned the year before.
"This past year, I’ve been songwriting and wanted to help build up the musical community here in town," Hareza said. "This next year, I want to spend more time growing with these musicians, because this has been the light of my life these past couple of months."
After reflecting on past resolutions, the singer said there is another she has made on a couple of occasions — to not get caught up in the past.
"That means, if I make a mistake or do something that doesn’t work out, it won’t do any good to harp on myself about it," Hareza said. "Last year, I was a little too hard on myself. As an artist trying to make a living with a career that is difficult to make a living in, I need to remember to use the lessons and skills that I have learned to move forward."
One resolution Hareza has struggled with is exercise.
"Seriously," she said. "I mean, we live in Park City, right? I do snowshoe. I hike and do other things, but I find that I can get overwhelmed and don’t make time for these things.
"I wake up, write emails and do some phone calls and go to work for a few hours, then come home and have to rehearse," Hareza said. " that time, it’s nearly 9 o’clock and I’m heading off to a gig. So, finding time, even if it’s for three days a week, for a regular regiment is a struggle for me."
Resolutions aside, Hareza would like to see some changes in the upcoming year.
"I have been hurt by some of the things that have happened this past year and realize that we’re still struggling to get people accepted, whether they are gay, straight or of color," she said. "I do want to recognize that we have grown leaps and bounds in these issues in the past 30 years or so, but I want us to keep moving forward on the path of acceptance and that everyone is a human being. We can all work together and achieve a lot, or we can all fight against each other and achieve little."
Annette Velarde: Realistic resolutions are the key
Annette Velarde, who has seen support for Giving a Bleep, a Park City-based nonprofit that raises money for other local nonprofits through theater and other events, grow over the past four years, said it’s human nature to make New Year’s resolutions.
"No matter what we’ve done, we always think, ‘Gosh, can I try that one more time?’ she said. "We’re always looking for a ‘do over.’"
Velarde also believes that there is something cosmic about the first of the year, the first of the month and even the first of the week that makes it comfortable to turn over a new leaf.
"I mean, no one ever starts things over in the middle of the month or on a Wednesday, right?" she said with a laugh. "They either try to do something on a Monday, the first of the month or the first of the year."
Velarde believes making resolutions does help people in their lives, but doesn’t believe making them are good or bad.
"I just think we’re driven to them, because somehow plodding along with no hope is just too depressing," she said.
Still, although Velarde has always made resolutions, her focus has shifted as she has gotten older and wiser.
"I used to do what everyone else did like joining the gym, committing to lose 10 pounds, committing to read one book a week and things like that," she said. "Now, I make them so they are not self-defeating.
"I commit myself to gaining 10 pounds and never reading a book to never calling my siblings to check up on them," Velarde said with another laugh. "That way, when I fail, which is something that is more commonplace with New Year’s resolutions, it’s a win-win."
Velarde does have a resolution she has been able to keep every day for the past 21 years.
"When my son Ruli was born, I made a commitment to check and make sure he was alive every day," she said. "This was something I did and just crossed the finish line, so I’m going to adjust that resolution and check on him every week."
Velarde stays away from resolutions that sound good, but are impossible to keep.
"These usually are spiritual ones like only thinking kind thoughts every minute, meditating every day for an hour or doing something good for someone else every day," she said. "In reality, we all get up in the morning and move from moment to moment doing the best you can, which I think is itself a great New Year’s resolution."
Velarde’s hope for 2016 is simple.
"I would like to see Donald Trump drop out of the presidential race, and, if I can have anything I want, I would like to see Michelle Obama announce she will run," she said. "Maybe we can skip the elections altogether and take all that money that is going to be spent and put it towards something worthwhile."
Teri Orr: Make limitless resolutions
Teri Orr is in the middle of one of the most diverse Main Stage seasons the Park City Institute has scheduled. It started off with a video-feed night with Edward Snowden, ushered in the holidays with violinist Eileen Ivers, primed the audience with the acrobatic dance of Diavolo and rang in the New Year with singer Ann Wilson.
Not only has she dedicated her livelihood to bringing quality art and educational programs to Park City, she has also dedicated herself to making her private life more enjoyable.
That means, she has pulled back a bit on her own resolutions.
"I haven’t stopped making them," she said. "They have just changed dramatically and have become limited.
"I mean, we put these Herculean feats and lifetime goals in front of us and cram them into a tiny space and say, ‘I can accomplish all of these things this year,’" Orr said. "When we fail, we think that we are failures, and that’s just silly stuff."
So her focus now is to evaluate herself from the inside.
"What matters is not how I look, but what I’m dreaming and becoming," Orr explained. "The ones that are all about vanity become silly at a certain point of life, and I’m not sure you commit to losing weight the same way you commit to do more charity work."
However, Orr does believe that making resolutions is a good thing.
"I think it’s always good to recalibrate, but I think the idea of starting off on Jan. 1, when you have lived to great excess with any luck or misfortune or whatever over the holidays, is setting yourself up for failure," she said. "That’s why I don’t like this time of year to start the new year either. We’re still in the middle of winter. I think it would be better to make these commitments during the spring or autumn [equinoxes]."
Another tact Orr takes is to make vague resolutions.
"Instead of saying ‘I’m going to Ireland this year come Hell or high water,’ I just say, ‘I’m going to travel more’ and see where that takes me," she said. "When you’re more open to all of life, all kinds of things become open to you.
"For example, I’m happiest when I get into my car and drive for long periods of time," Orr said. "It’s very meditative for me and best when it’s in the desert and not in a city."
When it comes to failed resolutions, Orr said she "has volumes."
"A lot of them had to do with, again, things that dealt with vanity," she said. "These are different than making commitments to take better care of yourself, which I have been able to meet.
"The thing that is important to remember is that there will always be shiny things that will take you away from what you need to do," Orr said. "You need to learn to walk away from those things, so you can visit with a grandchild who says they still want to spend time with you."
Orr’s wish for 2016 can be heard in the Grateful Dead’s song, "Uncle John’s Band."
"I don’t want this to sound overly simplified, but I always go back to the refrain, which says, ‘Are you kind,’" she said. "I think the planet could get a lot kinder and it won’t take much for that to happen. It’s a big deal when it does happen, but it doesn’t take the passage of laws, financial commitments or even political decisions for us to choose to be kind."
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