One day at a time

The sun is shining and the skiff of snow covering the ground is cold and crunchy. We’ve passed the winter solstice and a new year has begun. After weeks of suffocating fog, ice and billowing hoar frost, even the subzero cold seems a desirable alternative.

I don’t make resolutions for the new year because I lack the self-discipline to follow through with them for more than a week. Old habits are hard to change, especially if they are as comfortable as a pair of nearly worn out shoes. Even those behaviors which cause us pain, anxiety and ill health are hard to let go. One day flows into the next and by February, I usually have completely forgotten my vows to live a better life.

It is easy to look ahead and be anxious for the new year and beyond. War seems never ending. Disasters strike in a new spot in the world almost daily–floods, hurricanes, plane crashes, diseases and prophecies of rising seas and political unrest. Cruelty, injustice, poverty, hunger and hate seem a prevalent as ever. It is easy to become depressed and wonder if there is any reason to celebrate a new year.

Still, part of me that looks forward to the next year with anticipation.

My husband and others will soon make another trip to Pasquette, Haiti. It will be exciting to hear of my Haitian friends’ plans for developing their bakery and peanut milling businesses. It will be good to know that the water from their well is clean and useable. Being part of an ongoing and returning relationship with the people of this one village requires commitment and brings rewards. Maybe I will resolve to learn more Creole in case I make another trip myself.

There are a half dozen or more new books on my towering pile of things to read.There is music to be played and more to listen to. My studio looks like something exploded. Before I can do any more work there, I need to spend time cleaning and reorganizing. In the meantime, ideas for new products are piling up. A couple of knitting projects beg to be finished. Year end bookkeeping and regular writing deadlines keep me close to my desk.

I’m looking forward to gardening, baby lambs, calves and fuzzy yellow baby chicks. Growing good food and having enough to share helps me live my call to ridiculous generosity. Nothing makes me feel better than to give away a dozen eggs or some of the extra produce of my garden. Maybe I can make my garden even more productive with just a little more effort.

On further thought, maybe I do have a list of resolutions. My chances of following through are possibly not any greater than in the past. All the things I am looking forward to require planning and effort on my part. If I look at the big picture, I am paralyzed and overwhelmed. I want to pull my warm blanket over my head and stay in bed.

Perhaps this year I will tackle my list in a different way. I might be more effective in completing my growing “to do” list, or in changing the world, if I begin the work one small part at a time. We can’t change the lives of every Haitian. We can befriend a few and work with them to make things better. I can’t finish all the books in my pile in a couple months ( or maybe ever), but I have started reading one. I can take care of one pile on my desk each week. I can’t cure everyone’s hate. I can only try to understand my own fears and prejudices and try to change my own heart. I can speak up when it matters and hold my tongue when it doesn’t.

Yes, I will try to lose some weight and get more exercise. I’ll try to procrastinate less. I’ll try to count my blessings daily, to say, “Thank you,” more and criticize less, to be satisfied with enough and to share more abundantly.

I’ll do it one day at a time…starting tomorrow.

Copyright © 2014 Janet Jacobson and Sustaining the Northern Plains