Another year has begun. Every day is a fresh canvas, but for most people the beginning of each New Year brings even a stronger sense of renewal. Once again we all have a chance for a “do over”; another opportunity to “get it right”.
I rarely go out on New Year’s Eve. It is my least favorite holiday followed closely by Valentine’s Day. Both holidays are so over- wrought with romantic illusion that it seems to set everyone up for an evening that fails to meet expectations. So I simply stay at home and ignore the eve.
However, New Year’s Day is another story. New Year’s Day I like to fill my house with close friends, delicious food and good conversation and this year was no exception. As I write this I realize that unlike most years at no point did the conversation turn to New Year’s resolutions. I suspect we’ve all reached an age where we realize that it takes more than an annual declaration to change our ingrained behaviors. Most people agree that changing old habits, even when we’re strongly motivated, is one of the most difficult of all human processes.
Recently I gave up alcohol. Not because I have a problem with it but because I tried to make a deal with the universe regarding the health of a loved one and I wanted the powers that be to know I was really serious. So I decided to give up something I truly enjoy like a good glass of full-bodied, red wine (rather than the Brussels sprouts and raisins I used to give up during Lent as a child). What I learned about myself during this lengthy abstinence was that although I normally have very little discipline when following rules regarding my diet I had a great deal of discipline when I was doing it for a purpose greater than myself.
As a writer I do a lot of my living inside my brain. Not that I don’t lead a busy, active life, but I also spend a great deal of time mulling over things I’ve witnessed during the day, contemplating people’s responses to social cues, thinking about life, wondering “what if?”. This is where many of my ideas for poetry, essays and short stories come from.
I don’t know exactly why but this holiday season I’ve been thinking a lot about hungry children. I would like to do something to feel I’m helping to alleviate this problem but I’m on a very limited budget. This led me to consider how much money I spend annually on Diet Coke alone. I drink Diet Coke the way most people drink coffee in the morning. It’s where I get my caffeine and I drink several of them each day. For years I’ve wanted to quit and I’ve tried and failed to give it up many times.
It occurred to me, after my successful abstinence from alcohol, that I might combine these two very different issues and perhaps do something about them both. I decided I won’t give up Diet Coke for all my usual reasons –because I think it’s unhealthy and most likely contributes to my weight issues—rather I’ll give it up in order to help feed children. I’ll take the money I save each month from not purchasing Diet Coke and I will send it to an agency that provides food for needy kids. Hopefully this will be the winning combination that succeeds in meeting two goals.
From what I’ve read it appears to take approximately three months to genuinely change a habit. So it will be quite a while before I’ll have a proven outcome but I’ll make a note to post and let you all know if I’ve been able to contribute anything toward reducing childhood hunger.
Meanwhile, remember; if you’ve made resolutions and you find yourself slipping be kind to yourselves. Change is a process, not a decision, and as I said earlier every day is a new beginning.
I wish everyone a happy and productive New Year!