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Use What You’ve Got

So, it’s February and I shall now let you in on my 2012 resolutions!

Before green was chic, my great aunt Reba was rinsing out plastic baggies to recycle them for another use. Likewise, my dad has been known to gain more joy from scavenging ribbons and gift wrap than from the presents themselves. (My dad, the original Greenzo.) Why buy it new when you already have something perfectly good?

With them as my inspiration, this year I’m not buying any new books.

I was also inspired by the book we gave my younger brother for Christmas, Howard’s End Is On the Landing: A Year of Reading from Home, in which author Susan Hill chronicles a year journeying through the books in her own house; rereading and recalling the associated memories, and reading some books for the first time. (Disclaimer: I haven’t read it myself, only the first few pages, but I love the idea.) So far I’ve read two books I already had, and it feels good.

I have goals in the same spirit in the areas of exercise, cooking, and español:

  • Master all of the songs on our Kinect Dance Central game. It’s exercise! Fun, right? So far I’ve dominated “Poker Face,” “Hey Mami,” and “I Know You Want Me.”
  • Try each recipe in the cookbook that Aunt Reba gave me before I got married. Progress: zero, except for the ones I’d already tried prior to this year.
  • Work through Rosetta Stone (levels 1, 2, and 3), which I’ve had for awhile, but probably haven’t used in two years. Progress: however far I got in 2009.

I really like this goal concept for a few reasons. First, I get strange gratification from using things up, like when a bottle of lotion or shampoo is completely empty and can be thrown away. Sometimes I read things, like the Sunday paper, just so it’s done and I can then throw it away. (You might argue that if I didn’t want to read it, I could go ahead and toss it, saving time and creating space, and you’d probably be right.)

Second, much of the time there’s no need to buy new stuff. It’s like when you need to chew the bite that’s in your mouth before shoving more food in. I’d like to break myself of that nasty habit, metaphorically.

Third, I know that I need a lot of grace with any goals this year, so I didn’t want to put very specific numbers and time periods on them, like read x number of books per month, or practice Spanish for an hour each day. January was a crazy month; we moved—don’t worry, I didn’t pour a beer on Israel’s head, so it was successful—and of course we’re all still adjusting to life as a family of three. But even though I haven’t made a lot of progress so far, the resolutions aren’t dead!

What do you think? Do you have some other areas to work on using what you’ve got?

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5 thoughts on “Use What You’ve Got

  1. I’m going to follow your suggestion and read The Omnivore’s Dilemma – a recommendation of Ben’s. Someone left it here over Christmas, so I don’t have to buy it.

  2. Pingback: Habit Forming « tell me a story

  3. Pingback: Reading List: Peace Like A River « tell me a story

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