Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Clean Sweep

by Judy Merrill Larsen

Happy 2012! I spent New Year's Day decluttering aka putting away the Christmas decorations that I love when I pull them out in early December, but by Dec. 27 or so (and, um, sometimes earlier) it all strikes me as clutter.

So, I boxed everything up, threw out the rest of the Christmas cookies (which meant I had to totally rethink my breakfast plans), and cleaned out the fridge of the last dregs of holiday leftovers. I made a clean sweep. And I loved it.

I mean, December was really great. Both my boys plus one girlfriend and two dogs were here for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning and all three stepkids were here for dinner on the 26th, the first time they've all been together in more than three years. Most everything fit. The new recipes I tried were fantastic. Neither of the dogs dug out of the yard and all the plane trips were uneventful. The Packers won on Christmas night. And I started a new knitting project all by myself.

But, I'm ready for some discipline. A little structure. Routine.

I don't know about you, but the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas become a blur for me. The gym? Who has time? Writing? Everyone knows the publishing world practically shuts down at the holidays, right? Dieting? Oh, yeah, right . . . when there are cookies around? Sleep? Seriously?

But yesterday morning when I came downstairs, I loved how clean everything looked. I'd even folded the afghan before I went to bed Sunday night rather than leaving it strewn across the sofa where I'd been snuggled under it. And today, I opened up my MS on my laptop (which I'd last opened on Nov. 23. Sheesh.) and picked away at the last 35 pages.

January always allows for this. The cold. The bright sun. The barren trees. I'll be sick of it soon enough and craving the lushness of spring and a St. Louis summer, but right now, I like the spareness of it all. It reminds me of what I need to do, what I want to do. Get in shape. Not just physically (all those cookies landed somewhere, that's for damn sure.), but in my work, too. I want the freedom of a snow white page which gives me room to write. I need the clarity of blinding sunlight in a clear blue sky. I need room in my fridge.

The whole year lies before me . . . lots of blank squares on my calendar. I know they'll start filling up soon, but I want to be mindful of how I fill them. The days ahead can be full of opportunity and if there's anything I learned in 2011, it's not to squander the days and weeks and months.

So far, here's what's on my list to do EVERYDAY:

~read for pleasure
~be consciously active for at least an hour. That means, work up a sweat.
~write fearlessly and hopefully
~appreciate the people who bring me joy and don't waste time stewing about those who don't

What's on your list?

I live in St. Louis, MO with my husband, am the mom/stepmom to five kids (ages 18-26), and taught high school English for 15 years. I'm over on Facebook and Twitter . My first novel, ALL THE NUMBERS was published in 2006.


  1. wonderful blog and wonderful list Judy! Once I get this new book launched, I'll get straightened up too (or so my husband hopes...)

  2. I absolutely agree with you on all points Judy, well except I don't really miss those St. Louis winters...It didn't get out of the 40's today in my area of FL, cold enough.
    I like the things you do every day, and mine also includes reading daily, and I need to add that activity.
    Wishing you a wonderful 2012!!

  3. Writing fearlessly and hopefully -- I hope to do that as well. :-)

  4. I really enjoyed this post! It is so true--I too love the post holiday/new year clarity. It is a big bright openness.

  5. Love this post, Judy! And I think I'm going to steal your list. :-)

  6. Wonderful New Year post, Judy! I don't think I've ever made a resolution or a list (which might explain a lot) but it sure does sound like a productive idea!!

  7. thanks for the fresh way of looking at days I've been seeing as depressing. And yeah, I'm borrowing your list, too!

  8. I'm going to steal your list, too! Great post. :)

  9. Thanks, everybody and borrow away! . . . now if only we could all figure out a way to get together to read . . . or knit . . . or write.

  10. So inspirational, Judy! I love this post! Oh, and I'm just going to borrow your list.

  11. Great post, Judy! Oh, and I'm part of the gang who wants to steal your list;)

  12. Happy New Year, Judy! Good reading, writing, knitting, living to you!

  13. I'm hopping on your bus, but my writing would be spinning and dyeing. Brilliant.

  14. With knitting, be careful to stretch/rest your wrists. I know a writer who took up guitar and got carpal tunnel. We who peck at the keys have to watch it.

    Happy New Year!

  15. Oh, Carleen, too funny. When I first took up knitting, I got "knitter's elbow". Seriously.

  16. Brilliant list! Especially the reading and the knitting. Great post, Judy!

  17. What's on my list to do EVERYDAY this year:

    ~ Be actively consvious for an hour a day

    Fabu list, Judy!

  18. Oh how I wish I could knit! And read more.

  19. This has been an adventure to come here and read this informative post written by you.

    Check cab services at 99CarRentals.com.