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Wiser, more gifted writers than I have been busy making their New Year’s Resolutions, and I am learning from them. My original list of Resolutions, posted here last week, is inadequate.

Maria Shriver, who continually delights and challenges me with her weekly Sunday Paper, has done it again.

On New Year’s Day she wrote, “I’ve Been Thinking.”

“Yesterday, I wrote down all of the things I want to bury, burn or just stop bitching about moving forward. I also made a list of all of the positive things in my life that I want to carry with me into 2017.”

What does she want to bury? That critical voice in her head, her fear, comparisons and control.

As soon as I read her words, I realized that I too have things I want to dispose of. As I have been digging out from all the clutter that has accumulated since I became a widow. (Lev could not tolerate messes and I had to share space with him, so my worst tendencies were restrained during our 46 years of marriage.) Home alone, I am messy. In fact, on the same index card where I originally jotted down my New Year’s Resolutions last month, I listed three annoying habits that are perpetual roadblocks for me. Yes! I want to bury or burn them.

I need to bury:

  • My inability to finish what I start;
  • My procrastination in dealing with “paper,” not only physical paper but also the dozens of messages and hundreds of emails that have taken up permanent residence on my various devices;
  • My tendency to stuff stuff out of sight, out of mind, instead of putting it away properly the first time.
After the Holidays

If I needed further encouragement, I found it Wednesday morning when I read Mark Leibenow’s most recent blog here. Mark, who is widowed, always imparts eloquently worded insight.

“The holidays are finally over. We partied too much. Ate too much. Watched too much TV. We’re exhausted. And if we’re grieving, we no longer have to pretend that we’re happy. [italics mine] A new and unstructured year stretches out before us like a big lump of dough. What will we do with it? More to the point, do we have the energy to do what needs to be done?

“Rather than compile a list of things I SHOULD do to better myself (the Resolution Conundrum), I want to make a list of what I WANT to do, what will expand my heart with compassion for others.

“I want to take risks and be challenged to grow in new ways. I want to confront my fears so boldly that I will go where I’ve never gone before.” And then he observes:

“Way too often I say ‘No’ to what is new and stay comfortably settled in what is familiar.

“I don’t need physical things to have a happy and full life. I need people.

“Relationships make our lives memorable. Our possessions aren’t coming to the funeral.

“I want to spring clean the sanctuary of my heart so there is space for the unexpected to enter. I want to reserve a place in the darkness where the light of mystery can burn.”

Yes! That’s it! I want to dig out, clean out—not just the physical stuff that takes up all available space but the trivial pursuits that that up all my time. I want to devote my time and space to the people and the things that bring me joy.

What about you? What do you need to bury, burn or dig out in 2017?