A fresh start to a new year

Staring at a blank page before typing the first word for my column this week reminded me of what I love about New Years: a clean slate and a fresh start.

Okay, so the slate of life can’t be completely clean when we begin a new year, I know that. But it can be tidied up so the fresh start is stronger.

That’s where the beauty of resolution lists come in.  They help un-clutter our minds from all the things we want to do and organize them accordingly. Yet this is where ugliness can also occur when we fail with our lists, even those with only one thing on it.

I just filmed a parody about New Years resolutions where I dole out silly advice on how to keep them, but ironically, I take this time of year very seriously. My addiction to setting goals and trying to improve has me doing what most people want to do: get rid of my bad addictions and habits that are holding me back. But what’s going to happen if I don’t?

Our propensity as a society is to grumble about the pressures of New Years resolutions and surrender to the belief that we usually fail so why bother with them at all. Of course the alternative to that is to remember that it’s not perfection that delivers our dreams, it’s persistence.

So you’ve started smoking again or you’ve gone off your diet already – so what? Falling off the wagon is just part of life. Get up, dust yourself off and jump back on again.

Can you tell I’m writing this article more for me than for you? I should paint “Get back on the wagon” with a few exclamation marks on my wall to remind myself just how important that is.

Last spring I had the word “perseverance” tattooed on my forearm. I look at it often and it reminds me to keep going and stay the course. It also reminds me to pick a nicer font with a thinner needle and double check the spelling the next time I decide to mark my body with permanent ink.

2011 was a tough year for a lot of people I know, myself included. That old saying that we learn more from our failures than our successes has me believing I’m far wiser than I once was. But I’m ready to learn less and succeed more in the year 2012 and I wish that for all of you as well.

The other thing I was sadly reminded of this past year is how precious life is and how short it can be  – another reason not to beat ourselves up for failing to be perfect.

A quote I have displayed in my office says this: “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” Add in there: “and have fun while you do” and it’s the perfect quote.

Happy New Year and good luck with whatever goals you set and remember that our fresh starts can start at any moment we choose. As long as we’re living, there are no limits to how many times we can re-set our fresh start button.

To watch my parody on resolutions please visit LoriWelbourne.com to watch the video.

The true meaning of Boxing Day

I never wondered how Boxing Day got its name until this year, when one of my kids asked me. Naturally, I had no idea. So, as I always do whenever I need to look up information, I turned to Google.

Turns out there are a few different theories as to the exact origin. One is that in England during the Middle Ages, servants who worked on Christmas Day were given the next day off and presented with gift boxes from their employers.

Another theory is that boxes were placed in churches to collect money for the poor and then distributed to them on December 26th.

But a lot of people I know seem to think the day after Christmas got it’s name because that’s the day we box up and put away all our Christmas presents and decorations. I can’t picture anyone doing that. I’m lucky if I get everything put away before New Years.

My kids thought the sport of boxing had something to do with it’s naming, and no wonder they did with all the boxing gloves used for ads in flyers and on TV. I remember these boxing images being used in advertisements even when I was a kid, when I would wonder not about the gloves, but about the reason there would be such a big sale after Christmas rather than before.

Even as a child, long before I was actually buying presents for others, I’d question the logic of such silly timing and suggested that our family have Christmas on December 27th . My hope was that my parents would be able to afford to buy us more presents with all the door-busting deals that were offered.

But my suggestion was never taken and we continued to celebrate Christmas on December 25th. I can’t recall ever shopping the next day, not even when I became old enough to make my own decisions. December 26th was, and still is, a second day of Christmas for us as we celebrate it with friends and extended family.

Caring little about Christmas gifts at this point in my life, I joke to my husband that whatever he gets me, I’m going to return to the store the next day in an effort to keep him from buying me much. If I were smarter I would have refrained from purchasing a punching bag this past summer, allowing him to put it under the tree for me on Christmas Day, along with a pair of boxing gloves. That could have been a fun gift to play with on Boxing Day itself.

Hey, now there’s an idea. There’s no doubt I’ll have an excess of calories to work off from the holiday season and it would be fun to give the day a big boxing theme. We could watch Rocky, the Champ or Million Dollar Baby and create a new tradition for our family that completely revolves around boxing.

My family doesn’t always agree with my grand ideas, but this one is sure to be a contender.

For my Boxing Day parody please visit LoriWelbourne.com to watch the video.

Preparing to prepare for Christmas

One of my Facebook friends suggested I write a column and produce a video about preparing to prepare for Christmas. I now have. But my guess is that it’s light years away from what she had in mind.

Growing up in a home that took Christmas seriously and witnessing the frazzled stress associated, I now do the bare minimum. If I didn’t have children I probably would do nothing at all.

“We’re going to Hawaii the last two weeks of December,” another friend just told me with a big smile on her face. Lucky duck. Escaping the hustle and bustle is exactly what I’ve always wanted to do, but for some reason never have. Some reason’s name is Paul.

“Going away wouldn’t feel right,” my husband has always said.

Really? It would feel right to me – lying on a beach in the tropical sun while the kids played in the surf.

“It’s not just about the weather,” he said. “It’s about being in your own home, or with friends and family.” Okay, I’ll surrender somewhat to that logic. Those are some of life’s greatest pleasures and they’re the part of Christmas I cherish. It’s all the list-making and list-accomplishing that I cherish less.

When I was younger I used to cause myself a ton of anxiety shopping for hours on end trying to find the perfect gift to reflect my feelings for the special people in my life. When the new year arrived I’d spend hours on end working overtime to pay back the credit debt I racked up from all that expression. Now I buy for the kids and hardly anyone else.

Any adult gift exchanges I’ve participated in over the last few years have felt silly, as I have given a gift card to them in exchange for a gift card to me. Maybe we grown ups should just keep our money and buy what we want when we want it.

Okay, I recognize I’m sounding like a bit of a Scrooge here, but that’s okay. When it comes to the crazy commercialism that goes on every year I have definitely become a minimalist.

Which brings me to the subject of décor.

I used to love gussying up the house with great finds that I’d collected from craft fairs over the years, but that was back when our home was much more organized. Now when I pull out the decorations I feel as though they’ll just be adding to the clutter and chaos. Naturally my family doesn’t think about any of that and they get very excited about the annual traditions of putting up a tree and scattering ornaments all over.

And no longer satisfied with the simple string of clear lights on the outside of our house, the kids have started looking at other homes to come up with ideas of their own.

“Let’s do THAT!” my eight year old daughter exclaimed as we passed a place with so many lights blazing I thought they might short-circuit the entire neighborhood.

“That’s a bit much,” I replied, thinking for the first time in years that putting up some colored lights might not be so bad.

See that spirit? I’m preparing to prepare for Christmas.

But hopping on a plane to Hawaii wouldn’t be so bad either.

To watch the video that corresponds with this column please visit LoriWelbourne.com or click below:

Preparing to prepare for Christmas