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By Kimara - Posted on 01 January 2008

            Ah, the New Year is upon us and the self-improvement industry is staffing up to accommodate the onslaught of the well-intentioned masses. We are all encouraged to become introspective and to scrutinize our lives and to resolve to “improve” over the coming year. I’m not here to dis the tradition, but rather to applaud it. Heck, who couldn’t benefit from a little personal housekeeping, HOWEVER, what I would like to do is question the yardstick we are using to measure ourselves.


            Let’s start by traveling back in time, maybe a couple of years, maybe, in my case, 30 something years, to high school. For some, it was a wonderful experience surrounded by many friends, stockpiling beaucoup memories to recount over the years, and transcending the acme of personal accomplishments. For many, however, it wasn’t a utopian society. It was a time of uncertainty and self doubt. If you weren’t a part of the “in” crowd, you aspired to be, or at the very least, tried to stay below the radar, hoping to avoid persecution and social faux pas. You looked forward to the day when your happiness wasn’t so grievously impacted by a handful of people with the power to elate with a compliment or crush with an insult. You clamored for the “real world” where your every move wasn’t scrutinized by self appointed deities! But, once in the real world you discovered a whole new clique coercing you to adhere to standards being set for you and you found yourself feeling like an awkward teenager, just trying to fit in!


            The new “in crowd” is the omnipresent media, telling you to be a size 4, to live in a multimillion dollar home, and to have aspirations of being the CEO of your own company. Compared to this perceived standard, how can any of us feel accomplished? Having all the laundry done and put away seems rather trite compared to a dream home makeover. Beating your 4 year old at Candyland is not on par with orchestrating a hostile takeover of a failing bank. Being able to zip up your pre-preggo jeans (we’ll ignore the extraneous flesh overhanging the waistband for the minute!) won’t get you on the cover of Glamour. Still, to the average person, these SHOULD fill us with pride and a sense of self accomplishment and worth. News worthy, no, financially rewarding, hardly, valuable, most definitely!


            So, with a pensive appraisal of last year, and a hopefully optimistic glance at the coming one, shun the values set by others, and establish your own set of standards worth pursuing. Is there a waning friendship worth rekindling? Has your life lost all spontaneity? As crazy as it may sound, sometimes you have to PLAN free time so spontaneous activities can occur! If you’re gainfully employed, is your career complimenting your personal life or subverting it? What can you do to better align them? Do you and your spouse need more, uh, how about SOME, alone time? Is your lifestyle, including diet, exercise and stress levels, helping you to live life to its fullest? Are mornings always stressful in your house? How can you make them more serene?


Interjecting an apropos anecdote…back when my children were 8, 6 and 3, I drove them to school every day. Mornings in our house were comparable to releasing a pig in Grand Central Station! Chaos ensued, with wild searches for misplaced backpacks, gobbled down breakfasts, and frequent tears of frustration (usually mine!) as we scurried into the minivan. A rushed kiss at school and a vow to improve tomorrow; an intolerable routine was established. On one particularly frenzied morning my six year old made no discernable forward progress. Finally, with just enough time left to get to school on time…


Mom: “Get in the car.”

Son: “But, Mom.”

Mom: “No, But Moms, just get in the car!”

Son: “But, Mom.”

Mom: “What did I just say? Get in the car!”

Son: “BUT, MOM.”



We drove to school in silence. The roads were slush covered, and with pounding temples, and an annoying twitch under my left eye, I navigated the 2.3 miles to the school. My daughter gave me a quick peck on the cheek before leaving, but my six year old remained affixed to his seat, unwilling to leave.


Mom: “Will you PLEASE give me a kiss and go to school?”

Son: “Mommy, I can’t. I don’t have any shoes.”


In our morning rush he had been unable to find his shoes, AND, most importantly, I had not given him a chance to tell me. I realized, as he sat there with a single tear traversing his cheek, that this was not his fault, but rather mine. I was the project manager of mornings, and I was failing terribly. (Or, should that be failing marvelously? Hmmm, not sure!) Anyway, I leaned over, kissed him on the forehead, and told him I was sorry. We drove back home, and I made us both a cup of hot chocolate, which we drank leisurely. We found his shoes, drove back to school, and I walked him into his classroom. When I got home, I rethought our mornings and came up with a plan. From then on I made sure we had all the “school stuff” together the night before. We started getting up half an hour earlier, and I had breakfast prepared before waking up the children. Just making these small changes completely changed the tone of our mornings and set the mood for the rest of day.


            This year, instead of making a bunch of doomed resolutions that are established by external media deities, perhaps it’s time to make some New Year’s restitutions. Are there personal or family values that have been diluted and corrupted over the past year? Are there relationships or kitchen cabinets that need revamping? Decide what is really important to you and your family and resolve to see them through to fruition. (These needn’t be huge changes either. Just a wee bit of tweaking of our mornings went a long way to changing the quality of our day!) Just remember, there isn’t just one “life race” with mandatory participation. You are judge and jury of your life’s trial. With those odds in your favor, how can you lose?


 When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, think small! Please share a change that you would like to make that would positively impact your family!

For other people, New Year can be a day to start another good things that they plan to do and to accomplish the whole year. - Dennis Wong YOR Health

My goal is to write something everyday, whether it be the opening paragraph to the next great American masterpiece, my blog, or a well crafted, but basically nasty email to all manufacturers that insist on sealing there products in hermetically sealed containers that cause untold levels of frustration, and frequently, bodily injury when trying to remove these obviously valuable and irreplaceable goods. (I happened to notice Cartier and Tiffany do not seal their jewelry in impermeable plastic wrap. Perhaps other industries should take note.) As much as anything, I need to make sure to make time everyday to write. Considering how much I enjoy the process, this is a worthy goal!

Nope - no resolutions! After the holidays... eating better aways seems like a good idea but heck that is really just because my blood sugar needs some time to level out again - nothing I would call a resolution though.

As for the morning routine... ahhh... yes that is one I both remember and can relate to now. Not being a morning person has let me slip into allowing the kids total veg mode in the morning. With school on the horizon I know that I need to find away to get myself moving first thing again and in turn them. Ugg!