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I herewith resolve not to make any — not a one — New Year’s resolutions for the rest of my life. I used to do it on a regular basis. Every January, I’d do an inventory of my weak spots and chose which one(s) I’d buckle down and “work on” for the coming year. Just to make it official, and so I wouldn’t forget, I’d write it/them down on the first page of the new journal that I always had ready to herald in the new year. Unfortunately, my resolutions — including the one to write in that new journal every day — seldom lasted past the end of January (which, according to one article, is the average).

Since I burned all of my old journals a few years back, I don’t have a record of what resolutions I made over the years. I would guess that quite a few years had to do with addressing my sherman_s_phantom_filter_tipped_brown_s_20_b_usaabsolute addiction to those glorious Sherman’s Phantom cigarettes (the best). I adored every part of smoking them –right from going to a Tobacconist to buy them, to the box they came in and even the rough black tobacco smell when I lit them up. But, alas, well, thankfully, fear of dying from emphysema banished them, and all cigarettes, from my life forever more. So there must have been one year when I kept at least that resolution, eh?

But why I really gave up resolution-making was the terrible way the process made me feel. Think about it, first I made myself sit down and create a list of my major weaknesses, short comings and unfinished business which I had ignored over the past year. Then, as if that wasn’t enough to erode whatever self esteem I might have been feeling at the time, the real kicker came after I failed miserably.  I would begin to beat myself up for my stupid ways, which would in turn cause my already low spirits to spiral down into a pit of self recrimination and GUILT which had me heading out the door to buy those evils that were on my list to start with.

So, quite a few years ago now — probably when I gave up Sherman’s —  I resolved  just to leave resolutions to other folks and deal with my stuff any old time of the year or not at all if that’s how it goes. I just am not willing at age 70 to load myself with more guilt and worry. Amen. But, I do admit, I’m a sucker for any short-term “challenges” that come my way. I like that someone else takes care of the what and when, the whole thing is free and it only lasts a short time. All I have to do is “do it.”

A few years ago, Deepak himself “challenged” me to take on a 21-day meditation challenge. I had meditated off and on through the years, but never on a regular basis. Would this be the way, in the sense of those old resolutions, to alter my ways and make meditation a part of my life forever more? Yes, I said, I will take on this challenge. True to his word, every day Deepak would send me a new guided meditation and chant and every day I’d be at my computer to receive it. Sometimes it would be him leading the meditation, other days one or the other of his associates. I had my favourites. At the end of the 21 days, Deepak, being wise and knowing that we really didn’t want it to end, added on a couple of more days just to say goodbye. I fulfilled the challenge and repeated the meditations on my own. I even signed up for the next challenge but that one had Ophra as part of it which didn’t appeal to my sense of meditation. After that, the invitations for free meditations stopped and, instead, my email was bombarded with special offers for tapes, DVDs and very expensive retreats out to Deepak’s glorious looking place in California.

I have been “challenge” free for a few years except for my self-imposed ones of doing the exercises Christina gives me — even if I hate them — every day, walking, which can’t really be called a challenge since I have to walk if I want to go anywhere, getting to the pool three or four times a week (I’m a little whisky-washy lately on this one), and at least acknowledging that I’m probably drinking too much wine even if I don’t do anything about it.

I was ready for a proper challenge so when I received the email for the “F_ _ K Clutter Challenge” I was ready to sign up. The challenge was clear: every day for two weeks set the timer for 15 minutes and get rid of stuff. Sounds easy enough, eh?  On Day One, January 1, I set my timer and headed for the refrigerator. It’s amazing how much you can get cleared out in fifteen minutes. Dying vegetables, out-of-date mayonnaise, beautiful moldy bread and unrecognizable leftovers were banished and the refrigerator washed down all in fifteen minutes. Someone told me later that the refrigerator is the most common clean-out target for folks who are avoiding clearing out something much more important in their lives. I knew she was probably right but, I didn’t want to think about that right then (more procrastination) and tackled a book shelf the next day.

Then, the “leader” of this challenge, in one of her five-minute talks, was jabbering on about “What is Clutter?” As she went through the things like “only own what you love” and “only keep the stuff that fits into your space,” I was feeling pretty smug about my superior ability to get rid of the kinds of things she was talking about. Then, she got to “Clutter Number Four: Unfinished Business.” Oops, there she had me. While I was cleaning out that soggy spinach, I could have been tackling that ominous “THE WILL FILE”. Sure,  I had been diligent about getting the bloody thing done before I turned 70 but then dug my heels into my procrastinating ways about actually getting everything together to give to the executors. So, here it sat, weighing me down just like dust bunnies behind the toilet (another of her clutters to be cleared). I have seven more days of the challenge to get it done. I’d rather be clearing a shelf or seeing what the cats have left under the couch lately, but I know that it’s the F_ _K Clutter that I need to deal with. I won’t make any resolutions about this — I’ll just set that timer and do it.