My word, it’s February already! February always seems to sneak up on me, arriving so fast that I can hardly believe the new year is already one-twelfth over. Now is as good a time as any to reassess my New Year’s resolutions. While many people admit to forgetting theirs by February, I'm different. I always remember mine. Whether you ask me in May, June or October, night or day, I can tell you precisely what my New Year’s resolutions are. In fact, it would be embarrassing not to remember, as I've stuck with the same trusty “more and less” goals for over 20 years: exercise more, eat less, organize more, spend less, clean out the basement and rebuild the chicken coop. Oh, and keep current on the farm bookkeeping. When it comes to goal-making, you might say I'm on the 50-year plan – or the “If it’s broke, don’t fix it” system.

But this year I had an epiphany. I’ve been doing this resolution thing all wrong. My mistake has been that I keep making resolutions for myself – which obviously hasn’t turned me into a slender, organized goddess with a new chicken coop. Apparently, I’m just not cut out for self-improvement. What I need to do is start making resolutions for other people. Whoever said, “You can’t change other people; you can only change yourself” was obviously a pessimist. How about “If you can’t change yourself, go make everybody else better”?

My breakthrough idea came to me the other morning as I was driving down the road. I was headed north, and an oncoming pickup was headed south. As far as I could see, there wasn’t another vehicle coming behind either of us from Canada to Nevada. We were both approaching the same intersection, and the east-west traffic had the stop sign. Sitting at the sign was a nervous sedan, and I’m guessing I don’t even need to tell you what happened next. Instead of waiting five seconds for both of us to pass, Mr. Sedan pulled out and turned north, just like he had no desire whatsoever to live a minute longer. The pickup and I stood on our brakes to prevent a three-way collision, but the sedan didn’t even seem to notice. Oblivious to the smoke and swear words billowing around him, he just took his sweet time moseying up to speed, not a care in the world. Apparently, he was as happy as a tin can clam that he’d been able to sneak into the only break in the busy two-vehicle traffic. And that is when my first universal resolution came to me as if in a vision. On country roads, I (insert your name) will not pull out in front of oncoming traffic when there is actually no other traffic oncoming. I think it’s a keeper.

Here’s another inspired gem. I will not judge my neighbor if my neighbor is Michele Coleman. I am self-aware enough to know that people do not spend their precious lives thinking about me all that much, but still, this goal takes a whole lot of pressure off my plate. I had a friend drop by the other afternoon, and bless her heart, she saw the way we really live. Just minutes before she arrived, the dogs had barreled into the house after spending the morning helping Dave straw corrals; those two mud mops had left the kitchen floor ready for spring planting. Meanwhile, I had laundry piled up to the ceiling, and of course I was still in my pajamas. All the pants I can still fit into were in the wash. The college kids had come home for winter break, and their baggage was strewn all over the floor like an adolescent bomb had gone off. I’m not even mentioning the boots, coats and gloves thrown in every direction. When my friend knocked and then walked right in, I don’t know who was more shocked: me, when I looked up to see her standing there, or her to see me working away at the laundry mountain in my striped pajama glory. What do you even say at times like that? “I’m so glad to see you and so glad you dropped by?” I’ve decided that I need to go back to the old days when people had formal sitting rooms – those are the people who knew what they were doing. It would be so lovely to have a designated room that I could keep vacuum-sealed off from the family. Who am I kidding though? We’d probably use it for storing tools or warming calves.


I realize Dave will say that I have been making resolutions for him for years, so this “new” approach of ordering everyone else around is not all that new. Heaven knows, I have had mixed results with him. I resolved that he would not wear muddy boots into the house. That was a fail. I resolved that he would not make gastrointestinal sounds at the dinner table. Big fail – both for him and his offspring. I resolved that he stick to a budget whenever he attends an auction. Fail. And does he let me know his schedule, and tell me when he’ll be coming in for dinner? Of course not. But early in our marriage, I resolved that he should remember to put the toilet seat down. Against all odds, that has been a win. So see, improving other people can be done. By the way, I’m not the only one in the habit of making resolutions around here. Dave keeps trying to improve me too. He’s asked me to keep up with the books. Fail. Cook dinner with foods that are healthy and that he wants to eat. OK, until steak becomes a vegetable, we are going to struggle with that one. Wake up when he does? It is to laugh. Seems to me that Dave just isn’t as good at making resolutions for other people as I am. I guess we all have our gifts.