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  Tuesday January 27th, 2015    

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In all honesty (01/01/2005)
By Janet Lewis Burns

Inappropriate behavior is shunned. Never pick your nose in public, don't floss your teeth in a restaurant, and don't gift your office manager with soap on a rope, an Emeril cooking apron, or one of those black and white spotted, Holstein cow caps, especially if there's no "Lookin' good cupcake" and "Yoh big guy" goin' on.

Successful New Year's resolutions don't honor leeway. Let's fact it, sneaking stashes of chocolate, hidden in the john's linen closet, is grossly against the "giving up chocolate" intention - big time!

I am determined not to use the words "anal," "convert," "moderation," "time out," "no brainer," "go figure," and "deep doo doo" (which is really not difficult, because these words don't work for me).

I have failed many times to refrain from wisecracking or spouting off to a telemarketer. I've had to reason, each one is someone's sonny, auntie, sister, sugar daddy, or precious pet owner, after all.

Not exactly resolutions, there are things most of us would like to improve about ourselves. All bets are off! To make a wager on one's sincere intention's success seems to trivialize the effort.

Way back, from Shakespeare's "King John" (c. 1596), a line in the play indicates that making an excuse for yourself implies shirking responsibility. So says Shakespeare, "Oftentimes excusing of a fault doth make the fault the worse by the excuse." Say what?!

Responsibilities and resolutions go hand in hand. To be the best that you can be, it seems, is a responsibility, in all aspects of life, and for self-esteem. Ancient advice continues to guide humans with its wisdom.

Saint Augustine, I have read, is attributed as saying, "In doing what we ought we deserve no praise...because it is our duty."

You know those best things in life that are free? Well, they're not always the best things. Our lilac bushes fully bloomed only once in fifteen years. I won't whine to Pat again this spring. We'll wait and see if they do better since he cut them to the ground last fall.

Then there's that scrawny, sickly, front yard ash, barely sturdy enough to support a bird feeder, which was to replace our striking, dancing weeping birch, lost to an ice storm. Who knew? There are things one has to accept in life.

As we live and learn, our previous blunders make it to New Year's resolutions' lists. Next fall, I hope not to buy that "one more bag" of Halloween candy, or three packages of dried bread crumbs for Thanksgiving dressing, when I never use more than two, and to take inventory before I buy holiday wrapping paper, bows, and cards.

Admitting our faults must come before resolutions. The common remark, "The first step's the hardest" seems to have leaped from the 1600s, in France, as the act of beheading followed that mournful, dreaded stroll to the beheading block. Chill out!

Bugs Bunny often warned Elmer Fudd, as he tottered on the brink of his doom, "Watch that first step, Doc. It's a lulu!"

In times of distress or desperation, one is often tempted to proposition God. Randy Travis song lyrics ring with heart-twisting regrets: "They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but Mama my intentions were the best."

We seem to be floundering in a society of crybabies, who fight to blame others for their own faults and dilemmas, who don't take responsibility for their limp rationalizations or their "white collar" crimes.

The best bet for success with New Year's resolutions is to begin by being honest with yourself. He who kids himself fools no one.

A Happy New Year (of improvements) to us all! 


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