Always Check the Pockets...And Other New Year's Resolutions

It's that time.  The start of a fresh new year.  Time to step back, or step up, and make some changes that have been a long time coming.  I've been thinking about what my new year's resolutions should be for some time now, and a certain recent "laundry faux pas" helped me to really put them into perspective.

It's been unseasonably warm here in the Midwest, and I thought the holiday break would be a perfect time to wash the boys' winter coats.  When they came out of the dryer, they had red crayon marks all over them.  They looked like evidence in a crime investigation.  It was so typically me to be in a hurry and not check the pockets, to want to just "get it done" but not do a thorough job.  I had a lot of time to think about this as I was scrubbing the crayon marks out of my dryer at 2:30 in the morning.

Certainly, the past two and a half years of my life have been no piece of cake.  First, there was my son's illness and his death.  Then there was the depression that came after it.  Then, the unexpected pregnancy.  And finally, the battle to regain any shred of my former self.  I feel like these years have been such a waste, like I've only been going through the motions of life.  And pretty half-assed at that.

But while sticking said ass out of my dryer (did I mention that it was 2:30 in the morning?), scrubbing out every last remnant of that freaking red crayon so I wouldn't have any more ruined clothes, I thought hard about what areas of my life really needed work.  I came up with my New Year's Resolution List.  Besides resolving to always check pockets before laundering clothing, in 2012 I will:

1. Get Healthy.   I have always considered myself to be a healthy person, but in taking care of five other people, I have put my health (and often my sanity) in a distant sixth place.  So now here I sit, twenty pounds overweight, at risk for diabetes, and unhappy with my appearance.  Getting in shape should be easy, right?  Just make it a priority.  I have a gym membership, a treadmill at home, and a binder full of toning moves that don't require any equipment at all.  I know how many calories I need to continue nursing my baby and maintain healthy weight loss, and I know what trigger foods to avoid.  Lose weight, exercise, get in shape. Check.

2. Try six new things this year.  This one is in honor of my son, who had a precocious spirit of adventure for a five-year-old.  He loved life and approached it with gusto.  I, however, tend to be extremely cautious and a "status-quo" type of gal. My motto has always been, 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'  But really, that's no way to live a life.  After all, life is meant to be lived.  Last year, my one new big thing was creating this blog.  Since it took me seven years to do that one, I figure one new thing every other month ought to be challenging enough for me.  I already have a few things in mind.  Check.

3. Spend more time with my kids. This one is a no-brainer.  I need to spend more time playing games, reading, riding bikes, teaching, or just being with them.  I used to feel like such a great mom, and then life kept getting in the way.  More kids, more laundry and more messes.  More problems, illnesses...and I can see the toll it's all taken on the boys.  I can see how they light up and shine when they get special attention.  It's what they need.  Frankly, I need it too, just to avoid some awful "cats-in-the-cradle" moment twenty years from now.  Quadruple check!

4. Spend more time with Hubby.  Also a no-brainer.  Sometimes I think, 'the poor man'.  The only person who takes a backseat to all this madness more than me is him!  With every baby we've had, our marriage has taken a hit.  That's five big hits (six if we count our son's death, but who is counting?).  There's always a period of rebuilding after I'm done nursing and spending every waking, and sleeping, moment with a baby attached to me.  After Joey died, we didn't really have time to rebuild before Baby E came along.  We need rebuilding on so many levels - talking, intimacy, dates, even just doing sweet things for one another like cooking a favorite meal or enjoying an activity together. Check.

5. Write more and more often.  I can't deny that writing has been my passion since I was about ten years old.  It's sad that it took me thirty years to actually start doing it!  I have to make up for lost time.  I have already begun by continuing this blog (as sparse as my posts may be).  I am also taking a writing course and am signed up for another one in February.  I want to see where my writing will take me and my readers. Check.

These resolutions are really just items on a list.  And it's not actually about the list either.  "Always check the pockets" may be sound laundering advice, but it's much more than that.  It's a metaphor for always doing your best.  It's about living life with no regrets.  I don't want to look back and say, "If I had only - " or "I wish I would have - 'If I had only eaten better and exercised more, I wouldn't be one of the 42 million women with cardiovascular disease.'  'I wish I would have tried this new class or that new hobby.'  'If only I would have spent more time with my family or tried to get my writing published.'

I once said that I am a "Monday person."  If I screw up on my goals, I can always start over again on Monday.  But I need to stop thinking of life as an endless series of Mondays.  The fact is, there may not be another Monday.  There may come a time when it's too late for a "do-over."  It's time to stop doing things half-assed and do them full-assed (and smaller-assed).  The new year is now, and every day is Monday.  It's time for me to repair the damage the last two and a half years has done to me, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  It's time to start living a life filled with love and adventure, passion and promise.  It's time to start living a life with no regrets.
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