I've been thinking about my New Year's Resolutions the last few weeks. I normally don't make any - instead, I probably make ‘resolutions' weekly or monthly, depending on what bad habits I need to break.
I decided I wanted 2014 to be the best year I have had in a while so I thought of what I wanted to change. And there's plenty - I am the first to admit that I am fraught with neuroses, have the ability to nurse a grudge for decades and am just a mess all around.
The things I needed to change, to improve went beyond the usual "lose 15 pounds" and "get organized" resolutions.
But a girl has to take baby steps.
To start with, even though I am terribly superstitious, I think I am going to forego the collard greens. I have been eating those putrid things for 40 years and have yet to see an increase in my bank account.
"Just think how bad it may be if you don't eat them," is Mama's dire warning. Maybe so. But the smell reminds me of desperation and the taste isn't much better.
That was baby step No. 1. I went deeper with my thoughts, but that's pretty big for a girl to ditch a Southern tradition.
My friend Renee has been urging me for years to find an intention word for the year, a word to focus on that defines my year. Some years, I think my word, even though not intentional, is a cuss word that is muttered under my breath. Pick any of your favorite here - in fact, probably the worse it is, the more likely that is what I said. But I thought I really needed to find me a focus word.
"Allow," "acceptance" and "forgiveness" all came to mind. I thought of the things I wanted to cultivate in myself the coming year. The things that needed some work.
"I think I need to quit imposing my expectations on others," I commented to Lamar.
He didn't respond so I continued.
"I think one of my problems, the reason I get so irritated with people, is they don't do what I would do or what I think they should do. It makes me angry and I get all upset and disappointed. I need to stop doing that."
I thought he should have at least said something to acknowledge that I wanted to make this change but he didn't; and it irritated me, but I decided to let this one slide. I counted this as baby step No. 2. It would be good practice for New Year's.
Another resolution was harder to define - how did I put into words that I wanted to learn how to react better to things. "To not freak out" sounded like a good resolution. So did "not over-react about things and have existential breakdowns."
I would love to react from a place of centered calmness instead of the usual place of panic. Could I resolve to do that? Again, baby steps.
Did winning the lottery count as a resolution?
"I quit making them a long time ago," a friend said when I asked her what she had listed. "They never stuck so why waste the time?"
Surely we didn't go into our resolutions thinking we'd fail. Or did we? Maybe that was why we saw dozens of dozens of treadmills for sale on Craigslist by February.
We tend to think of the new year as a clean slate, a brand new start when really, we get that chance every day. I don't know why we think we have to wait until Jan. 1 to make these changes, to take these baby steps, but we do.
Maybe it gives us that fresh calendar and marks a new beginning so we can feel confident.
Maybe it's because we still have two months to hide under sweaters if we don't hit the treadmill like we promise.
Maybe it's so we have 12 whole months to make those changes.
But we have to start somewhere, sometime and Jan. 1 seems like the best day. And it has to start with me.
Baby steps, all the way.
Sudie Crouch is an award winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."