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Inanities

A FRESH START

by Nancy Rechtman

Well, it's the new year. Time for a fresh start. Time to re-evaluate our lives. Time to decide that we will totally remake and reshape ourselves, both inside and out. Oh yes, it's resolution time. The gyms, health clubs and weight loss centers are filled to the gills with repentant revelers who are now fiercely determined to shed those ten pounds, stop eating junk food, and expand their intellect by reading the dictionary cover to cover. For these few weeks, we have promised to improve ourselves, shed our vile and derelict ways, and become all that we can possibly be.

Even entire cities have jumped on the resolution bandwagon. There was an article in USA Weekend about 5 cities whose mayors have set goals for the coming year. These goals included hotel construction and redevelopment, building a regional light rail, revitalizing downtowns, boosting college attendance and providing basic services. All worthy goals, as are most resolutions. The question is, will they follow through or will they fall to the wayside, as do most resolutions?

When I was younger, I truly held out hope at the beginning of each year that change was an attainable goal. That I could become a new me at the start of each new year. After watching the Rose Parade on New Year's Day, I would diligently record the ten things, which would send me on the path to sainthood. This list usually included things such as eat healthy, exercise more, read more, be patient, be kind, be more organized, stop procrastinating, volunteer more, etc. You get the point. I was definitely going to be one of the kindest, most well rounded, yet fit, humans on the planet. If you read last month's column, you know how well I did with the organizing resolution, which would encompass the procrastination resolution as well. And while some resolutions actually took shape, after awhile, I would just find myself falling back into the same patterns as before, waiting for the approach of the new year so I could wipe the slate clean and start all over again.

Why do we feel that we need to become completely different people at the start of each new year? Why can't we wake up one day, say, in the middle of November and decide that's the day to make a new start? Well, maybe not November since we've got Thanksgiving and all the rest of the holidays coming up with all that tantalizing food and all of those parties. How about June? Why not use the approach of summer to choose to become the best person we can possibly be? Of course, if you haven't started dieting and exercising before June, forget fitting into that new bathing suit you plan to wear to the beach. And, at that point, the kids are home on vacation and you don't have a minute to yourself to think about self-improvement. So maybe not June either. OK, I guess the beginning of January makes sense, as there isn't much else to do when you're huddled inside for months on end with frigid temperatures and blizzards engulfing you and your home. When there's nothing else to do, that would probably be the best time to think about ways to change your life. Like maybe moving to a warm and sunny climate for a start.

My kids had several friends over for New Year's Eve and I asked them if they were planning to make any resolutions for the new year. I think that their off-the-cuff responses were extremely enlightening. Please note that each response was followed by enthusiastic agreement from the others.

First response: Play more video games!
Second response: Eat more candy and junk food!
Third response: Have more fun!

The common thread here is that they're not choosing to deprive themselves of anything. These are resolutions that would be eagerly followed if parental authority were not strenuously exercised. Imagine, not one resolution being casually discarded for the entire year!

Once we become adults, we sap the fun out of everything. Our resolutions are earnest and gray. Why not resolve to add color to our resolutions? Why not resolve to do things that we can throw ourselves into wholeheartedly? Instead of 'exercise' why not substitute the word 'play?' Instead of the word 'diet' why not say 'eat brightly colored delicious and nutritious foods?' And instead of saying 'organized'well, how about saying you're going to spend more time with your family and worry about the mess later. Life is too short to worry about the little things. The mess will always be there. Your kids won't always be kids. Enjoy them while you can and have a happy new year.

Please let me know your reactions to these columns as I would enjoy hearing what bugs you, too. You can reach me at nancy@nancyrechtman.com.


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Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved. Small excerpts of the column may be republished as long as appropriate credit is given. To request permission to publish larger portions or the entire column, e-mail nancy@nancyrechtman.com.