Resolutions, Habits, and Bags

I’ve made some very successful resolutions in past years, not always on New Years: I’ve practiced hospitality. I’ve completed “one already-started project each month” for two years in a row. I’ve increased walking some years, went to the gym/pool another year, done belly dancing and yoga and jazzercise and aerobics. I finished my dissertation and EdD – eventually! I’ve recorded all food intake for months, counted single every carb for weeks at a time, and did a Whole30 challenge.

Bags in the trunk, patiently waiting.

Reusable bags in the trunk, patiently waiting.

But this past year I failed in one simple intention: thinking to keep it simple, besides finishing the dissertation, which was a major endeavor and ultimate success, I resolved, on New Year’s Day 2014, to remember to take the reusable bags into the grocery store with me during the year. I mean, I leave them in the back of the car, I always pick them up to go into the Farmer’s Market. I thought of all the plastic bags I could save. How hard could this be?
Surprisingly hard.
Bags of shame.

Bags of shame.

After I forgot them on the first grocery trip or two, I moved two bags to the back seat where I set my pocketbook down. But apparently 40+ years of grocery shopping habits won – I’d pick up my pocketbook, not even see the bags, and trek on into the store… remembering the left-behind bags about the time I got to the check-out line. I tried putting “take bags in” on the top of my grocery list, but discovered I don’t look at that until I am in the store, usually halfway through the produce and towards the back of the store, and by then it’s too late to “take bags in”, I have to abandon my cart and go back out to the car, and would say to myself – well, when you get back up to the front of the store, just run out and get the bags… and then I would forget completely. Until, of course, I was facing the checkout line. Talk about old habits dying hard! Wow!
While it was simple, it was also very specific. Most of the things I mentioned above as being successful, were a little broader. Take “practice hospitality” for instance. The first year I did that, I had a much more flexible work schedule and weekly had people over for supper or a lunch, often on weekdays. Usually friends and colleagues, but occasionally someone I didn’t know well. I felt that was being hospitable.
Or “yoga”. I signed up for classes most of that year – but skipped a session or two, without guilt, when I would be traveling and unable to attend. I did stretches and poses at home regularly – not every day, not even every week, but it was such a huge increase over the previous year’s no yoga at all, that I counted it achieved. And I still do some poses regularly.
Or the blog – the first few years, I blogged pretty much faithfully every week through the Memphis Farmers Market season…reporting on my CSA veggies or on seasonal eating and recipes. Then with the doctoral degree and dissertation, other writing slowed to a near-stop. I really thought when I finished the dissertation last spring that I would start blogging regularly. It was my desire and intention. But I was out of the habit and only snuck in an occasional post (like three in the entire year – all during June).
So I am not going to try anything as hard as “take reusable bags into grocery store” this year. I’m going back to easy stuff: changing health habits, regularly completing long-unfinished projects, doing new activities with friends, trying some of the new recipes I’ve collected along the way, and blogging. Definitely blogging.
And the reusable bags? They will continue to faithfully accompany me to the local farmers market. And if they make it into a grocery store with me, I’ll be sure to shout it from the housetops! But don’t hold your breath.

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