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It’s the dead of winter and freezing cold here in the Northeast.  Every year at this time, I do a post-mortem on the prior year and particularly the recent holiday season.  (I’m a type A and a Leo, o.k??)  I’ve been making small changes for myself and my family throughout the year in order to be just a bit healthier and to leave a slightly smaller footprint on our planet (tall order for a woman who wears a size 11 shoe!).  During the holidays, I struggled with the pros and cons of e-shopping (is the carbon footprint of the shipping a reasonable trade-off for not spending hours in my car going from store to store in search of the perfect gifts?), the indulgent food consumed and offered to others, the lack of exercise and the general waste disguised as a showing of love to my friends and family.  If I eliminated Christmas celebrations and donated all the money to charity, how would my family and friends react?  Teenagers seem to understand generosity in a theoretical rather than personal sense.   Ultimately, I celebrated Christmas in much the same way as I do every year but made small, manageable choices to try to reduce the insanity and waste and to improve the total holiday experience.  It seemed to work, and next year, I’ll make a few more small changes (copious amounts of butter, however, will remain a constant in my holiday cooking).

“Make small changes” is my new mantra.  I have lofty goals for 2010 but I’ve broken them down into small pieces - - small changes that I can make day by day.  This morning, I spent 10 minutes taking my name off the mailing list for catalogs (  I can see all the items on the web and don’t really need the printed catalog.  I’ve also started holding a particular friend in my thoughts each day.  Over the year, I’ll cycle through all my friends, some a few times, and I know it will help me to strengthen my friendship connections, reestablish lapsed connections and maybe even make someone else feel good from time to time. 

I won’t win a Nobel Prize, live off the grid, or personally mend the hole in the ozone layer.  But I know my small, manageable changes will add to a better future for me, my family and the planet.  Small steps, taken one by one - - very little pain but a lot to gain.

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