“I am still learning.” – Michelangelo

‘TIS THE season for resolutions and if you are short on ideas, look no further than the sale flyers in the Sunday paper.

Based on what has been priceslashed and/or deeply discounted, we are supposed to begin the New Year by cleaning everything we own, using multiple products and recently-purchased tools. Then, we are to store it all away in plastic bins of various sizes, shapes and colors.

We are also supposed to organize our homes by buying an array of on-sale home organization aids. We are to weigh frequently (on our brand new scales) and buy exercise wear – lots of it. Once we don our gay fitness apparel, we should hop on the also deeply discounted exercise device of our choice – yoga mat? Balance ball? Stationary bike, abs torturer or Wii Fit? How does one decide? And, vitamins – don’t forget the vitamins; not to mention the diet pills and weight loss aids, nutritional supplements and miracle products “as seen on TV.” Obviously, there’s no better time than now to stop smoking, hence the nicotine gum and lozenge coupons; and, have you even considered colon health? Now is the time… After years of making resolutions and extending them over and over again, like almost-read library books or videos that put me to sleep, I gave up the idea of the “resolution” and turned to the notion of “process.”

So far, it’s working out well. “Lose weight” has become “maintain current weight” – indefinitely - obviously an element of challenge there. “Eat less” and “exercise more” have morphed into “maintain a consistent healthy lifestyle” – another not so easy task.

“Drink less wine and more water” works better as a process than a resolution, as it is on-going and over time, do-able – at least the water part; the same with “listen more,” “talk less,” and “control my temper.” Looking back over the past five years or so, I’ve made considerable progress simply by making these things part of my life, rather than something I do for the first few months of the year.

The progress, I will admit, is measured in “baby steps,” but, it turns out, you can go a long way using baby steps if you just keep putting one foot in front of the other.

There’s something about resolutions that is destined to fail. Like bad companions, they’re big, loud and lofty. They’re full of themselves and don’t really care how you and the long term fit into their equation. Quiet process, on the other hand, just keeps on ticking like a chill version of a Timex watch or a Zen version of the Ever Ready Bunny.

I took a break from browsing the resolution-laden Sunday sale papers to read some columns and they were all - as in ALL - about resolutions. Some were pro; some were con; others just rambled. One that I took interest in was about the notion of giving the New Year a word, rather than a set of expectations. Apparently, there are entire groups of people who gather this time of year to set their word and, while I like the idea of 2011 having it’s own word, I’m glad I’ve never been invited to one of those word-setting groups.

So, after some reflection, this year’s word for me is “focus” as in “a center of activity, attraction, or attention; a point of concentration.” The Germans have a term for the way I live. It’s zerrissenheit – the state of torn-to-pieces-hood. If I were younger, I’d probably have a bonafide set of letters like ADD, ADHD or whatever to describe the way I spend most of my time. As it is, I simply need a lot of Post-It notes to keep me on track because I have a hard time sticking to one task, thought, action or goal long enough to complete it.

Like Michelangelo, I believe we are never too old to stop learning, so I have high hopes for the New Year. And if I can just baby step my way along the focus path, I believe what I will accomplish by, say, 2015 will be nothing short of amazing – at least to myself. No bins, no exercise gear, no cleaning products or diet pills required – just process-oriented, resolution-free focus. I call that a win-win and 2011’s just getting started.

Lorin Sinn-Clark is a reporter for the Barrow Journal. She can be reached at lorin@barrowjournal.com.

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