The Banks County News
January 3, 2001
the New Year: On being (trying to be) resolute
If you make resolutions about how to improve yourself and your
life each year in late December and early January, you are not
alone. The newspaper received a fax last week detailing how on
average each American makes 1.8 New Year's resolutions (although
I'm still not sure what qualifies as .8 of a resolution), and
that, worldwide, there are hundreds of millions of people who
take themselves to task and determine to "do better."
I've always been sort of vague about my resolutions. I mean,
I have general ideas about maintaining and improving my physical,
emotional and mental health, as well as thoughts on my personal
and work life, but I've never actually written them down. Does
that mean I don't hold myself accountable throughout the year?
I'm not sure. Perhaps this is the year to do some things a little
differently (although aside from this column and at the time
of writing this column, I haven't actually written them down
yet). I think for people who do write them down, in later days
it would be interesting to look at a collection of resolutions
made throughout the years, a sort of account of what was important
to you in the past - like an encapsulated diary, a reminder of
who you were back then and what your concerns were.
I don't think it really matters how big or small your resolutions
are; perhaps you have a mental list of things that you seek to
make happen on a daily, or at least weekly, basis. Maybe you
don't actually think of them as resolutions, but as life habits
to get started or maintain. For example, even though they are
not wildly drastic life changes, I've decided that this year
- and ideally, for the ones to come - it is important for me
to drink more water, get more sleep, eat more wisely and continue
to exercise (all lend clarity to the thought process and enhance
general well-being, and who doesn't need more of that?). Why
not throw in there to be more organized and to worry less about
the things that aren't really so important? But one thing that
is really important on my list is to spend more time with my
friends and family.
I'm not sure how these will all mix. I mean, I can sit around
and sip water with my loved ones, but "spending more time"
and "getting more sleep" seem to be polar opposites.
Anyway, they're on my list - I'm trying for things that are feasible,
but that I don't always manage.
After meeting again with Pat and Gene McMackin and Jean Slocum
and for the first time with Molly Azami Thursday morning and
hearing more about their interesting lives, I've added an idea
to my list. And that is to expand my own world as best I can
to include others and new experiences, even if it is in small
ways. (If you don't know what I am talking about, check out the
feature story about how the family was fully reunited after 10
years of world travel and mission work.) I'm not sure yet what
this will entail for me, and it will be a challenge, but I think
it is a good idea to try to remain open, to keep from getting
I could go on and on here, as it is always easy to think of ways
to improve and, once started, my list grows and grows. But I
was curious, too, about how other people view their lives and
want to make changes, so I asked around at work to see what resolutions
my co-workers have. I'm not giving names, just thoughts. Here
are some of them:
"I have to take off 10 pounds - start eating hay and straw
and pine cones and give up the good stuff."
"Quit smoking, lose weight and spend more time communing
with my husband and nature."
"To lose weight and exercise more."
"Lose some weight." Followed closely by another person's,
"Yes, that would be a good one, and quit smoking, too."
"Spending time with my family."
"If I made one (which I don't), it would be to be a better
"I don't make them. I just want to be living and healthy."
The article I read, the one faxed to the newspaper and written
by Scott McConnell of the Ayn Rand Institute in California, noted
that worldwide, "From New York to Paris to Sydney, interesting
similarities arise as shown in two very common resolutions: people
wanting to be more attractive by losing weight, and to be healthier
by exercising more and smoking less. They want to do things better,
become better people."
I guess we here at the newspaper are continuing the trend, with
a little detour into hopes for precious (healthier) time with
Keep this in mind: the tradition of eating greens and peas on
New Year's Day aside, McConnell points out the old European custom
of "What one does on this day one will do for the rest of
I guess it's a little too late to supply that maxim now, since
New Year's Day has passed, but not too late to offer wishes for
a happy and healthy 2001.
Jana Adams is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a
reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.
January 3, 2001
Floss with care
Winter is a good time to go snow skiing. Spring skiing is OK,
but you never can tell about the weather. And I refuse to go
snow skiing in the summer. It's too rocky, there's no snow, and
the chair lifts don't work so you have to climb up the mountain
So I'm pretty much settled in with taking my skiing trips in
the wintertime. With snow and chair lifts. And now that Christmas
is over, we can get down to business.
Because I'm not 18 years old anymore, I now have to "get
ready" to go skiing. That's the only part of not being a
teenager that I miss. I'm tired of having to "get ready"
to do something.
Now, instead of blowing out onto the freezing slopes with no
hat, no gloves, and a T-shirt, and skiing all day and staying
up all night, it takes me months to prepare.
First, I have to get in shape. From a muscular standpoint, I've
slipped past the point of no return. You know you're losing your
edge when you strain your neck flossing your teeth.
So for several months, I have to do ridiculously painful exercises
in the hopes that I won't be on my hands and knees after the
first day of skiing whimpering about the need to be hospitalized
for morphine injections.
Apart from getting ready physically, I have to get my clothes
ready. Whenever possible, you want to look good hanging out at
the lodge. And it's getting harder and harder to find something
that goes with a full-body cast.
Finally, there is the preparation preparation. Inevitably, once
I get fully layered with clothes and ready to head out on the
slopes, I suddenly need to use the bathroom. That entails a 30-minute
process whereby I painstakingly unlayer, take care of business
and then painstakingly relayer. Once I do all that, it's time
to start thinking about lunch.
You have to be wondering why someone would do all this. It's
a legitimate question. Particularly when there is an alternative
to all this fun closer to home. The alternative to going skiing,
of course, is to just lie on the couch and watch skiing on television.
Surprisingly, lying on the couch watching television compares
favorably with ski trips - it's great entertainment, you can
invite your friends, and you get to see as much snow as you want
without having to pay for a lift ticket.
In a lot of ways, it's even better than skiing. To begin with,
you don't have to be physically fit to lie on the couch. In fact,
the more slothful you are, the easier it'll be to sprawl out
on the couch motionless for eight hours straight.
And looking good is a lot easier, too. You could wear ski gear
on the couch if you wanted to, I guess. But then you have to
be sure you don't poke someone in the eye with your ski pole
reaching for the chips. It's easier to just dress in a house
But the best reason of all to lie on the couch instead of snow
skiing is that it's so easy on the knees. I figure if I'm real
careful on trips to the bathroom, I could probably extend the
shelf life of my knees for decades.
I could go on all day about the advantages of lying on the couch
instead of actually going skiing, but it's time to "get
ready" for bed. And that means I have to brush my teeth
and floss. Wish me luck.
Phillip Sartain is a Gainesville attorney.