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Crazy No More

A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other.
 ~Author Unknown

I was in my usual bind when New Year’s Eve came around. It was time to assess the past year and, if there was something I felt needed improvement, to resolve to do better. The familiar candidates came to mind: keep my office neat, stop procrastinating, and get organized. They were familiar because each year I made the same resolutions and each year I broke them. My office was still chaotic, I still waited until the last minute to do things, and organization has become a dirty word.

I remembered hearing somewhere that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results — exactly what I have been doing.

My office was a testament to the craziness. There were piles of papers on my desk and more scattered on the rug. The club chair I placed in there for reading or for the convenience of an occasional guest was dysfunctional. It was more of a magazine rack, laden with so many back issues there was no room to actually sit in it to read. My friends had to sit on the floor. It wasn’t pretty.

I assured myself I could — and would — finally clear it up… starting today. I would make my resolutions and stick to them! But first I needed to go to the market before it closed for the holiday. Then on to the cleaners. I promised I would meet my friend later in the day. And somewhere in there I had to make time to work on the writing assignment I had accepted and whose deadline was racing uncomfortably close.

By the time I returned home, I barely had time to put everything away before getting dressed for the evening. My husband and I were going out for dinner with friends. “Let’s go,” he called. “It’s getting late.”

I left a cascade of discarded outfits on my bed and rushed out to the car. We came home after midnight. I was too tired to put my clothes away so I pushed them onto the bench at the foot of the bed, tossed the bedspread over them, and crawled under the covers. I was asleep instantly.

In the morning, on the first day of the New Year, I knew I was already in trouble. I took out my journal and wrote the same three resolutions: I will clean my office, I will stop procrastinating, and I will get organized. As I looked around, though, I realized I had already broken all of them. I closed the journal. What was the use? I was overwhelmed by the resolutions. I would never follow them. It was too hard to change old habits. I took my cup of tea upstairs and apologized to my office. “I’m sorry,” I told it. “I love you but I just can’t keep you neat.”

I resented the pattern I had created for myself yet couldn’t see my way out of it. In my guilt-ridden wanderings around the room, I brushed against the chair and some of the magazines fell to the floor. Underneath, there was a book I had bought the year before. It was a how-to book on getting organized. I said I would get around to reading it, but not surprisingly, I put it off and eventually forgot about it. Now I suddenly could not wait to read it. It helped me to see that I didn’t need to do it all immediately. I could tackle one small thing at a time. I could make a schedule and follow it. I could get organized!

I would start slowly. I could do one project each day instead of trying to do it all at once. I finally knew I could break the pattern. I ran for my journal and crossed out what I had written before. Then I wrote not three, not two, but one resolution. My only resolution this year is to be crazy no more.

~Ferida Wolff

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