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Family Time: A Defining Year

by Robin Rieger

Ever hear someone describe a good friend or a good person like this? “They are soooo nice. If you looked up the word ‘nice’ in the dictionary, there would be a picture of them.”

I wonder where my picture would land in the dictionary. What words define my nature or personality? What words define me? I know one word I couldn’t share the same page with… organized. By definition you’d more likely find my picture under a phrase like this: unorganized, despite trying often.

I just realized a large filing cabinet in our basement that I thought was empty was actually full of paperwork and bills—paid ones—dating back to 1996. I have five junk drawers in the kitchen and two junk baskets in my closet. A smaller filing cabinet near my desk is at capacity; and I still end up scurrying around in desperation when I need to get my hands on something important. This year, I vow to get my act together. In the year 2015, I will leave my 40s behind and head into my 50s. I have nine months to get used to that idea and a total of 12 months to replace some bad habits with good ones once and for all.

I will call the following items resolutions since the word resolute by definition includes “admirably purposeful,” which I think I can be. But the definition also includes “unwavering” and when it comes to leaving certain habits behind I do an awful lot of wavering, which leads me to...

Keep less. Shred, donate or toss more. Does anyone need not one but two cornucopias for their Thanksgiving table next year? Speaking of tables, I have a round kitchen table in the basement collecting dust among other odds and ends. I am always looking to gather up and get rid of things but end up setting “stuff” aside in a corner just in case I might need it. Why do we hang on to so many things we don’t use or need anymore? That question leads me to...

Spend less, save more. Why did I buy it in the first place? What am I doing at any one of those stores that sell great home decor items, which inevitably end up in my basement? I need another sheet set or picture frame as much as I need a hole in my roof. Yet if it’s soft, rustic or on sale, it’s a magnet for me. Same thing for blue, black or gray long sleeve T-shirts. Oh, and exercise clothing, love to buy it but not because it serves a specific purpose, which brings me to...

Eat less, exercise more. This is a tough one. I am going to give up Cocoa Pebbles and other sugary cereals I love. Not only that, I am going to stop eating Cocoa Pebbles while waiting for some other bad-for-me-meal like mac and cheese to finish cooking so I can eat that too. And I vow to stop my bad habit of eating all of that during my usual time slot of 9 to 11 p.m. any night of the week. Our dog Roxy is usually in the kitchen watching me, in what looks very much like a judgment stare, like she’s wondering, “How come that lady doesn’t have to do any tricks for all the treats she gets when I have to sit, stand or roll over for a tiny chicken flavored chew?” I will also aim for walking Roxy at least four days a week as part of an exercise routine that I hope to stick to, which brings me to...

Use a calendar all year. My mom has calendars dating back to when we were kids. I am amazed. They are full, basically our family’s life story in certain respects. If I need to know something specific from years gone by, I have no doubt she could fill me in. I can’t fill in the blanks in my own datebooks and when I see empty pages, I know I can’t put running, walking or jumping rope on any of them. I get a book every year, planning to keep track of Tom’s schedule at home and on the road, our kids’ activities including sports practice and games and things I need to do. For the month of January I’m eagerly jotting life down on numbered blocks. Then fewer blocks get filled in as the months go by. After Thanksgiving, I found the 2014 datebook Tom gave me for Christmas in 2013. Less than half filled I put it back in service on the kitchen counter. I’ve written in it or referred to it almost daily, which leads me to...

Manage my time, not my children. “Let’s go; let’s go.” “Pick up your clothes.” “Do your homework.” These are common refrains in a busy household with two kids, a husband, a dog. In 2015, I’m going to take Tom’s often given advice to “Relax more.” Moms with more than two children, my hat is off to you, I don’t know how you do it. I bet you could find my picture in the dictionary under bossy. I hate to admit it, but I’m too often telling the kids what to do and when to do it, even though I know they are old enough now at 9 and 11 years old to make some decisions for themselves about things they need to get done. It may be easier for me if everyone just does it my way but I’ve realized that doesn’t always make me a fun person to live with. It also doesn’t let them succeed and fail in their own efforts and accept the consequences or rewards, which leads me to...

Don’t take myself too seriously. No perfectly clean house, clean clothes, neatly filed paperwork, tidy basement, full calendar or exercise routine guarantees any of us a happy or healthy life. Of all of my resolutions this is the one I will try to stick to the most because this is the lesson Tom and I are always trying to teach our kids. No one is perfect. We all make mistakes, despite our best intentions. If we never fail we can’t look back and see how we have grown from having to adapt, change our thoughts or behaviors. In several dictionaries, the definition of life is scientific. But it takes on different meanings in different contexts. For instance, one definition of life is “vitality, vigor and energy.” That’s where I wouldn’t mind seeing my picture. And if there is wiggle room in resolutions, maybe I can just enjoy Cocoa Pebbles in the morning.

Robin Rieger is a former anchor and reporter with CBS 3. A lifelong South Jersey resident, she lives with her husband, Philadelphia 76ers Radio play-by-play broadcaster Tom McGinnis, and their two children in Burlington County.

Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 10 (January, 2015).
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