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A Year of Small Accomplishing

As regular readers of KCE know, your Aunt Toby is a big proponent of ‘Do One Thing” (if you doubt me, just search on that phrase and see what you come up with). Now, this time of the year, you’ll read everywhere about making New Year’s Resolutions and about what people have accomplished in the past year.

Now, I’m not only a big proponent of ‘do one thing’, I’m also a big believer in making that ‘one thing’ something that you can personally (or perhaps with one friend or your Significant Other) get your arms around. Sort of like Gracie Hart’s ‘world peace’ speech above: stronger laws against parole violators is something she could actually do something about at a state level – world peace? Not so much.

I am also a big believer in doing stuff that makes people happy. Now ‘happy’ is one of those very wishy-washy words that is tough to put your arms around because one person’s ‘happy’ is another persons ‘OMG – I can’t stand shopping for shoes’. But in general, I feel that when people do something that gives them a feeling of satisfaction, or of having some control over their lives, that is a fairly good stand-in for ‘happy.’ And frankly, I have some things that give me that feeling AND are activities that I can get my arms around, such as:

Cleaning bathrooms. Nothing gives me a greater feeling of internal ‘Done!” than completely cleaning a bathroom. To be blunt (anyone eating or drinking can put it down now, ok?), I’m strictly a scrub brush, hands and knees, cleanser and vinegar sort of person, so I realize that this hovers into obsessive territory, but when it’s done, it’s done. When I get the bathrooms done, I feel completely justified in sitting down with a cup of tea, cookies, my feet up and a good book or a totally trashy movie. Nothing irks me more than that nasty internal voice (which is usually my mom’s voice, actually) saying, “You know, you really should clean the bathrooms…”

Writing a letter. I used to write lots of letters. Lots of letters and lots of letters that ran into the multi-page on yellow-legal-pad paper sorts of letters. Now we have email, blogs, FB and 140-character pith flying around the internet. No letters. These days, we are all lucky to get or send a holiday card that has more than a hand-written ‘Happy Holidays” on them. If you get one with hand-written news on it, the whole thing becomes almost cherished. Now, I try to write a letter at least a couple of times a month to someone I don’t get to see often – I’m sure the recipients are not quite sure if my news clippings, photos, tear-sheets from magazines or scribbly little drawings with the words “What do you think of this idea?” written next to them constitute anything that they should be shoveling into a box with a red ribbon on it, but I know from personal experience that getting something in the mail that is not a bill or an advert just…makes…my…day. So writing and sending a letter is a ‘two-fer’ – I get great satisfaction from doing something I know I should do and I get an extra charge from the fact that I know the person receiving it is going to love getting something in the mail.

Opening up the fridge, pulling out something questionable-looking and throwing it away. Cleaning a fridge becomes an almost insurmountable job. How many times (and I do it too) do we open the fridge, see the limp celery, the questionable stuff in the take-out container, the fuzzy cheese which is not bleu, and so on and said to ourselves, “OMG – I’ve got to clean that out…” and then shut the door and walked away. Some of us get into the ‘Not bad enough, yet’ issue – my feeling is that you just short-circuit that whole feeling of doom. Just reach in, pull something out, and dump it. Down the sink, down the toilet, into the garbage. Done. You did a good thing.

Eat a new vegetable. We all know we should be eating more vegetables. We all know we should be eating less red meat. We all know we should …we should…we should. And then, day after day, we find ourselves eating french fries, burgers, processed packaged stuff. I’m not going to sit here and wag a finger at anyone (I have a food past that doesn’t stand very close inspection either, ok?), but I am going to suggest that not only will you feel better about yourself and your fam if you add a new vegetable to the dinner plates, you will actually feel better. Now, if you have kids, I’m going to suggest broccoli. Broccoli is pretty kid friendly. If you think your kids will not deal, then do what we call “a wendy’s’ and take a baked potato, mush up the insides, and cover with chopped cooked broccoli and cover that with a big honkin’ pile of grated cheddar and run it under the broiler. Very quick and I have not seen a little kid yet who wouldn’t eat it. You can use less cheese later…and less cheese until you can have barely any cheese and then move them into broccoli by itself and then you can introduce them to Chinese stir fry veggies and off you go. My goal this year, after finding a half dozen recipes for veggie burgers, is to develop my own out of beans (black, pinto, you name it) and use those to replace a dinner meal at our house, to be eaten with all the usual fixings.

Take more walks. Michael ‘Roger and Me’ Moore got into taking 30-minute walks about a year ago and it’s made a big difference for him. I usually walk to work,but I think that I will (and the DH will too) better if we take a walk every day. Now, since we live in the country, it takes a bit of creativity(use the mall, etc.) to get that done, especially during the dark months), but I think it will be a good thing.

So, what are the small things that you can think of that will add up to a real feeling of accomplishment for 2013?

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