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Resolving to Succeed

By: Sandra Nelson; Images Sandy DeFoe

I’ve never  been very good at either making or keeping New Year’s Resolutions.  Like a lot of people, if I do remember to make them, I forget about them within a few days. Then, I feel guilty that I didn’t follow through, I start to feel badly about myself and my new year is off to a rocky start.


Last week I read an interesting article that really hit home with me. It was about why we fail with our resolutions The author contended that we fail because we don’t approach our resolutions in the right mindset. Rather than setting very specific standards about what we “should” do (and usually don’t really want to do  — for example the very popular workout at the gym every day for an hour)  — we should make broad, general goals in areas that truly interest us, that can be accomplished in a variety of ways  and that impact our lives in a positive way. Amazingly simple but astonishingly true!


When viewed in this light, resolutions make perfect sense to me. This philosophy allows me to admit that I really can’t stand going to the gym, working out or doing any form of standard exercise. I’m not going to become a vegan or give up chocolate to improve my diet and I’m not going to begin reading “deep” literature to become an intellectual. Instead, because of this article, I’m going to make only one real resolution this year, and  I’m going to choose something that I think will improve my health, feed my soul and benefit my community.


My 2019 resolution is to make my corner of the world a better place.




Here is my list of the ideas I have thought of to accomplish my resolution. Yesterday, after I wrote it, I also printed it out in sections and posted it next to my refrigerator To Do list where I will see it every day — several times of day. Today, my winter ideas are on top. I’m hoping that reading and rereading this list will not only keep me on track throughout the year, but will also, as the seasons progress, spark some even better ideas to add to the list.





  1. Begin a gardening journal. Buy a beautiful book that will be a joy in which to record my sketches, observations, photos and thoughts about my time in the garden. Not only will I have a record of my garden, but there will be a piece of my history written down.
  2. Plant a countertop garden for fresh herbs all winter. (This one is strictly for me, although I could share an abundant crop…)
  3. Experiment with some exotic or unfamiliar houseplants. Select some that bloom for bursts of color during the grey winter months — perhaps an orchid?
  4. Develop a plan for a child-friendly raised bed vegetable garden. Find some new varieties that are easy to grow, fun to harvest and yummy to eat.
  5. Explore the online Habitat Network to plan a new, regionally appropriate bird habitat. Attracting birds will help reduce the neighborhood insect pests — especially the hordes of summer mosquitoes!




  1. Plant some blueberry bushes, a dwarf fruit tree or a potted citrus tree. In a few years, enjoy the produce or watch the birds devour it.
  2. Install a rain barrel to reduce the amount of city water used throughout the growing season. It will also reduce runoff into the sewer system during the spring deluges.
  3. Add a Monarch Way Station to the front landscaping. Share the excitement of seeing the butterflies flock to the plants with the neighborhood. Perhaps it will encourage them to plant their own gardens and protect a fragile species.
  4. Take a soil test and send it to the extension service labs for a professional analysis. Then, follow the recommendations to improve the soil and grow healthier plants. Vigorous plants help to clean our air.
  5. Devote an entire bed to flowers for cutting. Vases of fresh flowers will be a welcome addition in any room of the house, and make a welcome gift for friends and neighbors.



  1. Include a rain garden in the front landscaping. It will deal with the seasonal bog and prove to skeptics that rain gardens can be both beautiful and functional.
  2. Improve soil health by periodically adding organic, living microorganisms to the soil. Combined with organic fertilizers, the lawn area will be lush, luxurious and  best of all, safe.
  3. Refresh the mulch around the trees, making sure that the mulch doesn’t mound up against the trunks.
  4. Plan a visit to some nearby botanical gardens to explore new varieties and bring home some new design concepts. It’s always fun to see what professionals do!
  5. Install a drip irrigation system in the garden. Funneling water exactly where it is needed will cut my water consumption and my water bill without sacrificing my plants. Adding a timer to the system could be even more beneficial.



  1. Plant a curbside tree to help cool the street, clean the air and provide striking color in the fall.
  2. Naturalize a variety of spring blooming bulbs under the trees along the driveway. They will be a welcome sight after a long winter.
  3. Convert a sizable portion of the front lawn to ground covers and planting beds to reduce the time, energy and money spent on lawn care. Less mowing means less air pollution.
  4. Shred, rake and use fallen leaves as winter mulch for garden beds. As leaves break down they add organic matter and act as a food source for beneficial microbes and earthworms.
  5. Leave some piles of brush along the perimeter of the yard to provide winter protection for birds and other wildlife.


I’ve given myself 20 options to improve my “corner of the world.” Whether I follow through on just one or on all 20, I will have accomplished my goal and kept my 2019 resolution.  What a great way to start the New Year!