For at least half of my life I've had the same New Year's resolution — to lose weight. Some years I succeed, but even when I do, the weight always comes back and sometimes with a few more pounds just for spite. This year I am thinking about what is important in life. That is not to say that being overweight is something to be dismissed, but if it isn't affecting health and is only about appearance it can take a back seat.
When you actually take time to sit down and think about what is important in your life it is surprising how many things come to mind. My contemplation turned into a list of questions. Do I spend enough time with family and loved ones? Do I make enough time for friends? Am I kind to strangers? Do I give of myself to others? Is cleaning the house more important than sitting down to make crafts with the grandkids or going to dinner with a dear friend? If I die tomorrow, what things will I regret not having done? And, what things do I really want to do before leaving this world?
Several things rose to the top of my list.
I want to make memories with my grandchildren. A day at the park always makes them happy. Saddling up my daughter's pony for a day of riding with them is a sure way to make a lasting memory or two. Last year I had a craft day just before Christmas when I invited the grandchildren and a few friends for a planned day of fun. I pre-cooked lasagna for lunch so I could reheat it as we worked and we could stop for a special meal. We made ornaments the kids could take home and use — ornaments that will become memories to be unwrapped year after year when it's time to decorate the tree. We did it again this year, and in the New Year I want to do things like this more often, not just for the holiday season.
My two daughters recently returned from a nearly two week trip to South Africa with my sister-in-law. The vacation tales they conveyed amid laughter, coupled with amazing shared photos, made me realize that my husband and I need to travel more. The annual trip to Chincoteague is important and I don't want to give that up, but we should visit other locales, too. Even if we can't afford to travel to faraway places and experience other cultures we can do day trips to historic areas in the Mid-Atlantic region. I want to experience how others live and absorb the history and culture in sections of our own United States of America.
Many memories from my years of Sunday school attendance surface, reminding me that we should do things for others as we travel through this life. I worry that I don't do enough of that. So I'm making a list of ways I can help others, even when I don't have extra money to spare. There are lots of small ways we can offer up random acts of kindness on a regular basis and most of them are affordable. For many years I've made it a policy when crossing the Bay Bridge to pay for the car behind me. I always hope they pass it on. Frequently I have paid for the person behind me in the drive thru line at Taco Bell. At Aldi's grocery store you must put a quarter in a slot to get a cart. When you return the cart and re-hook the chain to their train of carts your quarter pops back out. What an ingenious way to keep the lot clear of carts, but there are times when I run in to shop only to realize I don't have a quarter in my purse — only nickels, dimes and pennies. That made me think. So, last week when I picked up my cart I dug out the extra quarters in my purse and put them in the slots of other carts. I hope giving a random quarter encourages the next person to leave a quarter, too— for the next person and the next. There are so many ways that small acts can make a difference. I am making a list that I can use in the future.
My husband Dan inspires me on a regular basis. He gives so much of himself. Whether he's picking up trash at our local park, delivering medical equipment to the needy for our Silver Run-Union Mills Lions Club, fixing something in the home of an elderly friend or vacuuming my car as a favor to me, he is frequently on the giving train. I need to give more to him in the New Year. He has some favorite desserts and meals that are time-consuming to prepare. I plan to take time to make those favorites for him more often.
It doesn't take much to make others feel good, even if only for a moment, and happy people pass joy on to others. Sometimes we don't do the little things simply because they don't come to mind. So my number one New Year's resolution is to think about those things now, make a list and use it.
I hope you find the perfect New Year's resolution, a realistic one you can bring to fruition. But mostly, I hope your New Year is amazing.
Lois Szymanski is a Carroll County resident and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.