Taking Tea in the Kasbah

Dear Benedict,

Now you’ve done it. You’ve gone and really solidified your gentlemanly reputation here in the kasbah by giving me such thoughtful gifts last week, the very ones I have needed all year long. How did you know? Was I that obvious and transparent? What gave it away? My constant need to write snarky, self-deprecating comments? The still-life collection on my nightstand consisting of a tidy stack of chocolate bars, a large box of tissues, and a worn copy of The Fault in Our Stars? Because I can quit those things anytime.*

Just don’t ask me to make a resolution about it. I don’t roll that way. The “R” word is thrown around way too much this time of year as people are led to believe they should look at all that is wrong or lacking in their lives and then make well-intentioned lists to resolve or somehow fix them. Personally, I’m not a fan of this way of thinking. While I adore your brilliant gift of giving up things that aren’t working, I don’t much care for the notion that just because a new year is knocking on your door that you have to create an impossible list of goals to achieve by the end of 2013.

Low Resolution-11

photo by Frank Selmo via WANA Commons

To that end, I will make an Un-Resolution List. What’s an Un-Resolution List you ask? It’s a brainstorming list of awesome ideas that may or may not be implemented throughout the year. As you know, I like brainstorming. And lists. And by naming it an Un-Resolution List, there is absolutely no pressure to do anything on it. Also, Un-Resolution reminded me of the Un-Birthday scene in Alice in Wonderland, which is way more fun to think about than a boring, old resolution list with goals like “exercise more”, “eat healthier”, and “beat last year’s record number of neighbors you scared while wearing your Bigfoot costume.”**

While brainstorming ideas for the list, I was also reminded of a conversation I overheard many years ago while babysitting two seven year-old girls. One girl asked the other girl for advice on what she should wish for as she blew out the candles on her birthday cake. The other girl considered her friend’s question for a moment and then, with the earnestness that only seven year-olds can apply to questions regarding birthdays, said, “I always wish for things I know are going to happen. That way my wishes always come true!” The Un-Resolution List applies this sound logic as well.

So, here is what I have put on my Un-Resolution List, which will begin the first week of happenstance and end whenever it becomes obsolete or I lose it (the list, that is):

++ Mail Birthday Boxes of Awesome to friends and family after I finish filling them. Ideally, this would be during their birthday month, but the laws of the Un-Resolution List dictate there’s no pressure to abide by this wacky, “time sensitive rule” that society imposes on us.

++ Travel to familiar & unfamiliar places. Take lots of photos. Repeat as often as possible.

++ Crawl out of the writing cave sans disguise more often and for longer periods of time to visit with friends and family. Bring ID in case they don’t recognize me.

++ Continue to incorporate medicinal doses of wine by trying new varietals. Ditto for sampling new brands of chocolate.

++ Capitalize on my oppositional side more often, especially when I get the urge to tell myself I can’t do something, like go scuba diving. Or take a ride in a hot air balloon. Or get up early.***

++ Create spans of downtime that I actually use as downtime without worrying about followers or subscribers vanishing while I’m not looking. Downtime can take any form including, but not limited to, frivolous internet surfing, practicing British accents, eavesdropping on conversations at the cafe to use as dialogue fodder in a story, and brainstorming new disguise options.

++ Contemplate the prospect of owning a dog.

++ Contemplate the various ways to convince my cat that he’ll like co-owning a dog.

++ Move on, in every sense of the phrase, with the grace you gifted me.

++ Not measure my worth or my success by a freakin’ list.

As you can see, the Un-Resolution List doesn’t strive to be anything other than what you need it to be in that moment. Feel free to borrow my list or make your own. Just don’t write “be all charming and classy and talented and cello-voiced and British accent-y to hypnotize Tami into revealing the location of the writing cave” on your list. You can’t put down things you’ve already perfected.

Here’s to a cheerful, joyous, and abundantly kind new year to all on both sides of the pond.

Resolutely yours,


* Not really.

** Purely hypothetical list item. Besides, I like to go out on top of my game.

*** Who am I kidding on that last one, right? Obviously.


*Editor’s note: The views, ideas, and opinions expressed in the Letters from Benedict series are works of fiction and obviously did not come from the actor himself. This series is just my way of expressing adoration for Mr. Cumberbatch and his work and is not intended to be seen or read as a true collaborative writing endeavor with him.

24 thoughts on “Dear Benedict: On the Un-Resolution List and the New Year

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Thanks, Suzanne! I’m glad to have inspired you. I’m curious about what you’d put on your Un-Resolution list. 🙂

  1. I can highly endorse the dog ownership idea. And that comes as someone who was a vetted cat owner, who thought dog owners were a little goofy. And now we have Burnsie. And I too am a little goofy. Oh, and fyi, it’s Sherlock Marathon Night here….

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      I’m a tried and true cat owner but lately I’ve been giving some serious thought to being a dog owner, too. I may be joining you in the Goofy Dog Owner club.

      It’s Sherlock Marathon Night you say? I’ll be right over… 🙂

  2. I love the Un-Birthday scene in Alice in Wonderland and equally adore yor Un-Resolution list. I too am inspired to create my own … Including borrowing your item to one day own a dog again. I will have to hide said list from the cats, but whatever.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I’m a bit worried about incorporating a dog into my cat-centric home, but we’ll see. It will force my cat to grow and become better version of himself, right? 😉

      • As long as you give your cat extra more attention so she/he doesn’t feel replaced by the dog you will be fine. Also, getting a dog that likes cats is crucial. It’s often better to get an adult dog that has established behavior. A puppy is very chaotic for a year or more. But you’ll know the right dog when the time comes!

        • on ,
          Tami Clayton said:

          All good points. Yes, I plan to look at an older dog adoption or a rescue. I don’t think my cat would tolerate the crazy antics of a puppy. 🙂

  3. Awesome, what a great idea. And yes get a dog, then you can go for walks guilt free, best downtime ever. HNY!

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Thanks, Catherine! I was thinking the same thing about downtime and walks with a dog. Getting a dog who is good on a leash (or can be easily trained) will be key for me.

  4. Between this and your “Giving up and Grace” post, you are a powerhouse of inspiration! I have been thinking about and talking about what you’ve written. Thank you.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Aw, thanks, Ben! Greatly appreciate the kind words. Glad to hear I’ve given you some inspirational things to think about. 🙂

  5. I love to read your blog – it’s amusing and food for thought, two attributes that are hard to combine. Those are great un-resolutions! I’m considering a dog too. A most attractive website but the links on your navigation bar (home, about, get outa dodge,…) are not live, did you know?

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Thanks for the compliments, Karen! I strive to have a good mixture of both amusement and thought-provoking content so I’m thrilled to hear that’s how it’s coming across. 🙂

      (Thanks for letting me know about the tabs. I will check into that and see what’s going on.)

  6. What a great list! I need an un-resolution list. Love the idea of the birthday boxes, and I think it will be ok as long as you get it out in the half of the year they were born in. Happy New Year!

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Thanks, Fringe Girl! Your idea of getting the birthday boxes out in the half of year the person was born in is EXACTLY what the Un-Resolution List is all about. I like the way you think. 🙂

  7. A dog is a great excuse for downtime. I had a dog who was a tireless walker and during an incredibly stressful time in my life our time winding through the trails in the park during all kinds of weather were the best kind of de-stressing one could imagine. My present dog is older and slowing down. I miss rambling with her, but she’s really enthusiastic over short stretches. So, yes, get a dog.

    I love the idea of your un-resolutions. I may steal a few and adapt them to my life, especially the ones about spending more time with/on people you care about.

    I’m reading The Fault in Our Stars right now. Don’t tell me how it ends.

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      It’s comforting to hear so many votes in favor of getting a dog. I’ve pretty much decided to go for it and am hoping my cat is as optimistic about the family addition as I am. 🙂

      Loved, loved, loved The Fault in Our Stars. Such a well-written book. I won’t say how it ends. Just be sure to have some tissues nearby.

  8. I think it’s fairly safe to predict that there’ll be a few un-resolution lists popping up on the interwebs in the next few days! Love the idea, and your list too.

    Adding to the dog discussion: I am also a cat person, but in many ways it’s because of my lifestyle. I’m not home a lot, and cats are remarkably resilient and self-sufficient. I would LOVE a dog, but I couldn’t bring one into my current situation. I have promised myself that if I ever work from home I will get one. 🙂

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      Oh, I hope there are a few Un-Resolution lists created out there and that some of them get shared! I’d love to see what others come up with for theirs.

      I know what you mean about cats being a lot easier to co-habitate with if you are not at home a lot. It is the only other thing that is making me hesitate just a little bit in getting one. But I’m on a fairly regular daily schedule anyway having kids so I’m thinking it might not be too much of a stretch to accommodate a dog’s schedule. I am more worried about finding a reliable dog sitter for those times I’m traveling. 🙂

  9. The idea of an un-resolution list is great and one that I will do! Thanks for that 🙂 I will be consulting 2 books that I bought long ago: 100 Things to do Before you’re 12 and 100 Places to see Before you’re 12
    We can forget the fact that I’m over 12. Right?
    Happy New Year, Tami!

    • on ,
      Tami Clayton said:

      I believe adventures shouldn’t have an age limit, so wherever your next one is I hope it’s every bit as fun as you’d hoped it would be. I’m curious to read what you’d put on your Un-Resolution List. Where will you go? What will you do? So many possibilities out there.

      Cheers to you and your family on an adventurous new year! 🙂

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