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Making an old habit of resolutions

It's that time of year again, when we ponder how to make better use of those glorious days in the next twelve months, that stretch out before us, promising an enticing, but effluvious, second (third, thirty-sixth, seventieth or whatever number you're on) chance to get it right.

Every year, out of habit, like a pea-brained sea turtle that drags herself onto the same shore to stealthily lay eggs in the dark of night, which will feed the same screeching, opportunistic seagulls who nullify her efforts by preying on the vulnerability of her offspring, I make a list of resolutions.

And, as 2004 rides atop the crest of a breaking wave, I again feel instinctively compelled to take inventory.

Except, this year, I'm at a loss.

Neuroticism prevents me from getting started. You see, each year, I catalog my New Year's "lists" so I can refer back to them. Originally, I believed that journaling would lead to eventual reveling in my accomplishments. I visualized page upon page of check marks giving historical testimony to my evolution.

Not so. For example, in 1999 I wrote, as one of thirteen resolutions, "To get organized." Flipping further through my folio, I discovered that the devilishly fascinating part of it is that I've written the exact same words every January since. Not one time in the past six years have I drawn a line through "To get organized."

So, I got to thinking that maybe my standards are too high. Perhaps I did get organized and have yet to congratulate myself. I do have a basket by the front door for shoes. Should it really count against me that it contains only three mismatched cleats from children who don't even live at my house?

And, a couple of years ago, I designated a small area of the kitchen counter for bill paying and paper processing. Should I continue to flog my psyche simply because the area expanded to take up an additional three feet of counter space, as well as the island?

Resolution #17 from the turn of the millennium says "To get more focused." Four additional pledges for self-development follow. Here, on the cusp of 2005, the irony of it finally whacks me in the face.

Yet, every annum, it seems, I vow to find balance, create time, sow simplicity, improve parenting, contain clutter, seek matrimonial bliss, unearth financial freedom, speed my spiritual journey, cultivate charity and grace, and ultimately prevail at perfectionism.

I suppose, when I compose these declarations, I'm still giddy from the holidays.

This year I'm going easy on myself and, instead of rewriting those worn out old dogs from decades past, I'm compiling new decrees (and only five):

To return the three shoes in the basket by the front door to their owners.

To scratch through every unattained aspiration recorded in my personal accounts so my future generations will think I actually did something.

To keep plenty of Alka Seltzer on hand; a little for me and a little for the seagulls.

To purchase a paper shredder.

To concentrate on seamlessly balancing work with leisure in order to more fully organize my home so that I can give my husband and children the attention they deserve while I simplify the acts of charity and grace for the benefit of my spiritual well-being and the good of our finances.

(Old habits die hard.)

Web posted on Thursday, December 30, 2004


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