A February reminder.

A February reminder, with thanks to Hobby Lobby.

Indoor bulbs, beginning in January.

Indoor bulbs, beginning in January.

Indoor tulips, February 1st.It's time to blossom!

Indoor tulips, February 1st, bloom where they were planted.

Dear Mom,

I remember you once said resolutions shouldn’t be made on New Year’s Day. You also said it made more sense to have just one resolution to focus on, instead of making a list. You were right, Mom, on both counts. Of the sixteen friends I’ve polled, only one is still trying–off and on–to keep her resolutions. All the others quit trying in January, and two laughingly admitted they gave up the first week.  I had some resolutions in mind, but I didn’t make a commitment.

Driving home after visiting you recently, I was listening to a radio talk show. A psychologist recited these facts about making and keeping resolutions: first, decide on only one resolution; and second, make the resolution in February. You can think about it, she said; you can make plans and prepare, but don’t begin it until February.

I would add another detail I learned in a psychology class many years ago. Any habit can be broken–or any action can become a habit–in 30 days. Consecutive days, no exceptions; if you miss a day, the next day starts over as Day One. Thirty days of NOT doing something will break a habit. Thirty days of DOING something will make it a habit.

Hmm…make just one resolution, and start it now, in February. Anyone else up for trying this? Our motto can be “Hey You, Get Busy!”

Okay, Mom, here’s something else you always used to tell me. If you make a mistake, correct it. Fix it, make it right.

Sigh. I admit I made a mistake, and now I need to fix it. Remember my blog last week? I was cheering for the Ravens to win the Super Bowl because of the English teacher-connection to Baltimore, Edgar Allan Poe and his poem “The Raven.” There was a second reason, too, and that’s where I made the mistake.

During the game I watched the two Harbaugh brothers: John, coach of the Ravens, and Jim, coach of the 49ers. Lots of rough-and-tumble on the field, and I was cheering for the Ravens. But as I watched the game, I found myself relating more to Jim. His angry, loud challenges, his passionate rants against the refs and bad plays. I kept thinking (silently) that I was more like Jim, but he’s the older brother, and in my family I’m the younger sibling, so it didn’t make sense. Later I rechecked my notes, and–oh, no!–Jim Harbaugh, coach of the 49ers, is the younger sibling after all.

Mea culpa, My Bad, and I apologize. I really do. From now on–hey, especially during the next 30 consecutive days so it’ll become a habit!–I will double check all information before I repeat it or use it as a point in this blog. To paraphrase Poe’s poem: …quoth the raven, Nevermore…will I fail to check the facts.

Wow, Mom, you’re doing it again. Memories of the lessons you taught me years ago are still teaching me today. Thank you.

Tree Lady says, "Get Busy!"

Tree Lady says, “Get Busy!” (photos by Marylin Warner)


Filed under Dementia/Alzheimer's, experiments, memories for great-grandchildren

64 responses to “FEBRUARY LESSONS

  1. Wonderful post as always.I have never made a resolution in my entire old life. Just thought doing so would be futile.

    • Only once–2012–I made two resolutions, to walk every day and to write every day. The first month I almost missed two different days, but dragged myself out to walk and then write. After 30 days, it was a pattern for both resolutions. I didn’t miss a day all year.
      This year I need to get back on target and do it again. The radio talk show gave me a second chance–to start in February!

  2. Hi Marylin, I drove to town to look for your blog tonight since you mentioned you’d be posting. To me the cool thing you brought up in a previous blog was that the two contending Super Bowl coaches were brothers. Afraid I was too immersed in my own deadlines to watch the whole game, but I saw a smidgen in the third quarter, and that was impressive. As to resolutions. I guess since I work with such darned inescapable deadlines so often that resolutions just seem like a side panel and not like my main emphasis. For me things just roll…or launch, or run…something that keeps me pulled in that orbit of creative gravity, and I don’t so much decide, as go along for the ride. HA. Maybe that seems lazy, but I have learned to listen to my gut for subconscious directions that are pretty cool. I liked your comments. I can see that February is a good time, getting ready for spring…and change. I once had a trainer that said to know something took 6 weeks. To REALLY comprehend it takes 6 months. I get that, too…experience. Thanks for another beautiful blog and for sharing your marvelous ideas. Cheers!

    • Ooo, I like that, K. To know takes 6 weeks; to really comprehend it takes 6 months. I also appreciate your ability to just keep working and let things roll. How’s THE REGENT doing? Will it be on Kindle?

  3. Hi Marylin,
    I hope you won’t be so hard on yourself. Making mistakes is part of learning. You should see all the mistakes I make. LOL
    Isn’t it wonderful when you can reflect on all the things your mom taught you? Very inspiring post. Keep it up. You’re doing a terrific job. 🙂

  4. It really is amazing, remembering things Mom said and taught me long ago, and applying it now. Writing this blog reminds me lessons and tidbits I might have forgotten otherwise. Thanks for your kind words, Tracy.

  5. Marylin, you have always have a nice story to tell. It’s like you have them all ready just waiting to be uploaded.
    My resolution for this year was not to make a resolution 😀

    • Oh, how I wish I had them all ready, just waiting to be uploaded! Some weeks the thoughts come in waves, building on things that have happened or current news. Other weeks I suffer Big Time trying to write the post.
      Hmm…a resolution not to make a resolution. Tempting…

  6. I don’t know anything about football, so the error certainly slipped past me. I was none the wiser. But I have been putting cinnamon and just a dash of cayenne pepper in my spiced chai tea now. A wise blogger steered me that way, and I must say, she was absolutely right in her recommendation! 😉

  7. Excellent advice on resolutions! I don’t make resolutions, but this year I have a long list of projects I want to complete. It really helps keeping the focus on where I want to go, but it’s not even close to what most people’s resolutions look like. And I completely agree with having to do (or not do) something every day when it comes to habits. We might be creatures of habit, but habit takes a while to set in!

  8. According the psychologist on the radio, if you take that long list of projects and break it down–and complete one at a time–you’ll soon accomplish them all. My problem is that I make a lot of lists…and then lose them.

    • I used to have a mental list of these big projects and then I’d forget. So this time, I typed it all up. It still needs to be edited and yes, I did break down some projects in smaller steps, to make sure I know where to start. I also need to print it so I can look at it on a regular basis, rather than just have it on my computer. I also made a vision board for 2013 and it’s been a great visual reminder of the big things I want to make happen this year.

      I’ve tackled a few but not some of them I should get to. I’m not beating myself up for it because I have the motivation and the vision to make them happen. It’s just that sometimes, life gets in the way and needs to be taken care of first. 🙂

      • Life really does get in the way sometimes, Milka. Maybe the distractions actually help us prioritize which things to do now, and which to do later. I think I’ll choose one at a time and do it faithfully for 30 days, until it’s completed or been made a habit, and then move on to the next. It’s worth a try!

  9. I’m with Milka (Perfecting Motherhood) on the projects, Marylin. I did make a list of ‘projects’ and ‘goals’ and I’m working on all of them…with more success on some and less on others. Getting to bed at an early hour has gone by the wayside…but these days I can sleep later.
    And as Tracy says, don’t be hard on yourself for mistakes…they are part of life and of being human. What is amazing is that I am running into people here that I know from other forums…how awesome!
    I love your post and your suggestion that doing something for 30 days will make it a habit. That is great advice.
    And I especially love the reference to realizing that lessons your mother taught you long ago are helping you now…I, too, remember many things my mom tried to teach me. And my daughter used to tell me that when her friends would pour out their hearts to her and she would give them ‘advice’…she heard my words coming out of her mouth. The circle continues…even though your mother may not remember what she taught you…what is important is that you do…this honors her in the highest way.:)

    • Oh, Vivian, it’s strange. The older and more “stolen” by dementia my mother becomes, the more vivid my memories of her become ~ her lessons, her love, her wonderful life. I’m thankful many of these will be written down and shared with her great-grandchildren so they’ll appreciate her, too.

  10. …and some very good advice about habits

    • I felt that way, too, when I heard the psychology professor said 30 consecutive days was the magic number. Through the years I’ve applied it to numerous challenges. Several I had to start over and over again until I finally was able to do 30 consecutive days, but it really did make a difference.

  11. Beautiful post, Marylin. I am glad I came across your blog. Jo 🙂

  12. I do not really know if I have a resolution. I am so happy I survived the harsh year in 2012, and I have done something that I wanted to do, to visit old friends, and to make my heart a better place for me to stay. I do not have many advices from my mom, I only have love, and that is the most precious thing I got from my parents. My father let me explored the world by myself, and learned my lessons. I guess I am lucky, I manage to learn a lot by myself, and one thing related to your post, is the old saying ‘less is more’, and the Chinese quote: Every journey begins with the first step.


    • What a beautiful, insightful response. This could be a blog post in itself, the love and strength from your parents, and your desire to make your heart a better place for you to stay. Lovely and powerful.
      Please join us again!

  13. If you make a mistake, fix it – that’s a great piece of advice, and if everyone in the world (especially politicians) did that, the world would be a better place. Am I quoting from “everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten”?

  14. Some mistakes can’t be fixed if you can’t find all the pieces. But I think the effort in using all the pieces you can find and making something entirely new can be well worth the effort. I stopped making any resolutions. I just try to do my best, and have fun living.

    Thanks for a delightful post.

  15. Wonderful lessons learned here! Resolutions, if you’re serious about them, have to become a habit. But I refuse to be a slave to my own convictions. I’ll go to the gym when I feel like going to the gym, not because I HAVE to go to the gym since declaring I was going to lose weight Jan. 1. I’ll lose weight (not that I’m obese, but I could stand to lose about 20lbs.) but I’m not going to obsess over it. I like my sweets too much and I also have to live.

  16. Amy

    Great post, Marylin! If I don’t make an effort throughout the year, I know I won’t do it after the new year day, so I never make resolutions. 🙂

    • I can never make resolutions on New Year’s Day. I haven’t even taken down the Christmas decorations then! Somehow, the suggestion to choose only one resolution and begin it in February sounded much more achievable to me.

  17. Sound advice. January resolutions aren’t a problem for me, since I don’t make them. There are other times of year that feel much more appropriate for implementing change–spring (renewal) and autumn (a new school year). I have tended to try to change too much at once. I’ve finally learned that making one change at a time, is enough.

    There’s a fine line between being too hard on ourselves, and resolving to do something better. I applaud you for recognizing the importance of fact-checking. I didn’t get the impression that you were being excessively hard on yourself. You were honest about why you want to incorporate a new habit into your blogging–to stop the spread of misinformation and because you value accuracy. I do, too. But that doesn’t mean I think someone is bad or stupid, because they relied on false information. We all do that–it’s nearly impossible to avoid doing. (Sometimes the “truth” just isn’t known–like when we trust people because they seem trustworthy, because they haven’t yet proved that they aren’t. Should we instead mistrust everyone? I don’t think so…)

    Blogs are a work in progress–which gives us an opportunity to correct or alter what we previously said, thought or judged to be true (or false), just as in any ongoing conversation or relationship. I like that you’re open to new information and are capable of changing your ideas–it shows that you embrace growth, and therefore, life. I think your honestly is an encouragement to everyone who reads your writing.

    • Thank you so much, Tracy. I appreciate your perspective, and it does reflect what I try to do.
      You write an amazing, helpful blog. I love the questions you pose and the answers you invite and share, so I especially appreciate your comments today.

  18. A good lesson Marylin, always check the facts…. unfortunately my blood gets up sometimes and I don’t always, and then charge headlong into an argument, but at least if I am wrong I will always admit it and apologise. Last week you had the Superbowl on one day, over here our Six Nations started in Rugby where England Ireland, Wales, Scotland, France and Italy play each other over the whole of February.

    So, we get to watch six teams knocking six bells out of each other for a whole month to see the eventual winners crowned. Although the first game between England and Scotland is always the Calcutta Cup, and has been going since 1879, Scotland lost (again) this year, but as always, we live in hope …..

    • Of course we continue to hope, all of us, on really important things…and then on sports, too! (My husband is giving me a funny look, I’m sure.)
      I love your responses, Tom. Where else would I hear wonderful terms like “six teams knocking six bells out of each other”? Also, I’m so glad if Lacey is sleeping better with the help of Pachelbel’s Canon D. That would be the best news ever!

  19. juliabarrett

    Wow. Major post. As a Forty-Niner fan, I’m laughing with you – wasn’t laughing during the game. Yes, he is the younger brother with more to prove. Resolutions… never make ’em.

    • And the blackout! Plenty of time to lose momentum or get more upset–one of the dark moments of the game!–but it was never a sure thing for either team. I’m still a Ravens fan (second to being a Broncos fan), but now, as the younger sibling with more to prove, I’m one of Jim’s fans, too.

  20. thoughtsfromanamericanwoman

    I need a copy of that sign in my craft room and on my computer!! 😉 No resolutions this year, just a resolve to get things done.

    • I went back and bought one for the wall in the computer room. You can get the 7 1/2×12 sign at Hobby Lobby, or probably at other craft stores. It’s a good reminder…and I love the attitude!

      • thoughtsfromanamericanwoman

        We don’t have a Hobby Lobby but Micheal’s should have it. If it ever stops snowing or the freezing rain I will have to drive up to check it out.

  21. Kathleen Durbin

    How coincidental that you spoke of Edgar Allen Poe recently in your blog. I knew he experienced poverty and depression, but I learned a few new things, too, when I recently watched a video of his life.

    Unlike you, however, I did not cheer for any team, but, involved myself in other pursuits. For some reason, I’ve never been drawn to watch sports, and that may be my upbringing as a child raised on the farm. A sharecropper’s daughter is my heritage. And now, in retirement, I still do not watch sports or any television programming, for that matter. Gone are the enjoyable programs of the past, now replaced by ‘reality’ shows & bawdy, nonsensical comedy shows.
    I love reading your blog. Your mother may never read it, but I’m sure it’s uplifting for you. I know it is for me!

    • Thank you, Kathleen. As a sharecropper’s daughter you must have some amazing stories to write. Of the many things I miss for my mother at this stage, one of the biggest is her love of writing, the notebooks and pens she carried in her purse and kept in her knitting bag. I wish she could at least sit in and enjoy listening to the others in your writing group, but at this point even that is gone. Please give the group her regards from me.

  22. jakesprinter

    Great post Marylin,…. I love the poster above Get busy THE GREAT RESOLUTION EVER 🙂

  23. Another way to look at your suggestion to make your resolutions in February: it’s a chance to hit the reset button. Then, you can try again to get it right.

  24. If I could make myself walk and write every day, that would be superkalafrajalistic awesome. I sometimes feel like I can’t keep all the balls in the air without at least one thing suffering, but I am vowing to finish the novel I’m working on this year and complete the editing of another. Here’s to 2013!

    Love the tulips, by the way. 🙂

    • Originally, I hoped the tulips would take a month to bloom (30 consecutive days), but from tight beginning bulbs to full blossoms was less than 20 days. Still I used it. Hey, maybe it’s a sign that in 2013 we’ll meet our goals faster!
      p.s. Good luck with the novel!

  25. Hi Marylin, Great responses to your post. It makes me smile! You asked if my novel “The Regent” would be on Kindle soon. That novel as well as my first, “Even If I Die” are available now in paperback through lulu.com and will be available in about a month for eReaders like Nook, Sony, and most others except Kindle. It seems to have a different operating system, and from what I am told will take a bit longer. Thanks for asking, and for your support and sharing of knowledge as a great mentor. Your mom would be proud! Cheers

    • Dear Readers,
      If you want a really good read and you’re in to historical action, you’ve got two choices listed above. K.dopita is a talented artist, house builder, Renaissance Fair character and artist…and writer.
      Her most recent book, THE REGENT, will wow you just with the cover (which K. created). In fact, she creates book covers, so this is one talented lady to watch!

  26. petit4chocolatier

    Beautiful post! You are inspiring.

    • You are so sweet. Thank you.
      Your recipes for cupcakes leave me in awe, and mine don’t turn out as well. But I’ve found a perfect shop on the way to visit my mom every month, and I always stop and buy cupcakes that remind me of yours.
      Mom loves them, especially the icing.

  27. Love the Tree lady – How did she get there?

    • This one is near our house in Colorado Springs, and I thinks it’s a She because of the lips. Months ago I posted another of a tree in Abilene, Kansas, and we call it Tree Man because his eyes and mouth look definitely male. I think these are tree adornments that you pound into the trunk.

  28. Chuck & Helen Armstrong

    I’ll bet one memory just leads to another. Happy Valentine’s Day, dear friend. And have safe travels. And return without ailing body parts.

    Love, Helen

    • Thanks, Helen, and Happy Valentines’s Day to you, too, dear buddy. I went back to the chiropractor today–and according to Mom’s caregiver she’s doing much better–so we’ll cross our fingers I don’t twist and turn trying to help her!

    • Thanks so much, Tom! I went to the site, and it’s very helpful, especially re: the symptoms. At first I got uneasy as I seem to be having more of the symptoms myself, but I’ve been told it’s a normal reaction. Inherited “panic symptoms” for the children of parents with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
      I hope the music is still working for Lacey.

  29. dianabletter

    I am amazed at your writing, Marylin, and how you are able to touch so many people with your insights and words. This is a beautiful piece. Thank you for sharing it! Your mother has given you so much that you now pass on to others.

  30. Thank you, Diana. Guess what the next book is on our “reading” list? I’ll start reading aloud to Mom, beginning with Ari’s letter to “the youngest 50 year olds.” THE MOM WHO TOOK OFF ON HER MOTORCYCLE is wonderful, Diana. Congratulations on a job well done!

  31. The reminders are great. Take some time to go easy on yourself! You are amazing! – Renee

  32. You know, I kinda questioned that Jim WAS in fact the younger brother – because I too am the younger sibling… well, not that it means anything anyway, but I forgive you for your mistake. And bravo for having the courage and character for admitting and correcting it. 🙂
    As for resolutions, I like to call mine goals, and they’re posted up right in front of me to see every day. I’ve started over at day one many times already, but at least I keep trying. That’s all we can do, right? Mom’s lessons are always great…

  33. lorddavidprosser

    Great post Marilyn. About the only resolution I’ve been able to keep is not to make any. I know I should give up smoking but I know I don’t actually want to so it’s very easy to avoid that mistake. But I think your idea of delaying the start till February is a great one though I know it’s one I won’t be practising.
    I laughed at the thought of you cheering for a team only to find you identified with the other coach. How you must have been torn then. lol

    • Sometimes I think resolving to make no resolutions is the wiser way to go. That way, when you decide there’s something you want to work on or change, you can tackle it when it naturally comes up.
      Thanks for visiting. I look forward to hearing from you again.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s