Southern Style: Brighter days are just ahead

tsj column writers - southern styleBy Randall Franks

A new year brings the promise of starting over. Many folks see it as a point to make a resolution to complete or change things in their life. Perhaps coming out of the Christmas season gives them hope to make their lives better.

In reality, each new day brings us the chance to improve our lives.

What have you wanted to do? We can start that landscaping project we always wanted to do by researching, formulating a plan and making sure we are going to be adding the new plants at the most optimum time for successful growth.

We can visit with people we care about for whom we never seem to find the time. Perhaps there is an old friend from school, a friend or family member that you feel disconnected with. A short phone call or just visit might help to bring new life to that relationship.

Remember that long list of repairs on the “Honey do” list for quite a while. I am sure there are an abundance of those items that can be found inside the house away from the cold. There’s nothing like a feeling of accomplishment to help improve the way you feel. Maybe you can get them done and if you are afraid you might miss something on television, they make those things in all sizes, I bet you can find one that can be plugged in nearby the place where you are working so you can listen as you work.

We do not need special days like New Year’s to re-create ourselves but they do give us a moment to pause and think about what things we could do everyday to make our lives and surroundings into what we really want them to be.

Life is an experience in constant growth and learning. When we stop such growth we are stuck in a rut. I once heard a wise man say a rut is the closest thing to a grave.

Now I’m not advocating you go out and buy a Ferrari and spend a $1,000 for a luxurious day at a Palm Springs spa. While I am sure all of us might enjoy driving through town in one of those luxurious autos waving to all those we wish to impress or feeling so pampered after we leave the spa, we all have to live within our means and meet our responsibilities, that is what being an adult is all about. There are people depending on us and often times we have to pass on those types of dreams to make sure there is food on the table, heat in the house, and a roof over our heads.

Limits of budget and responsibility do not preclude people from improving themselves and learning throughout life.

Improvements can be little things. We do not have to take huge steps; many baby steps are still going in the right direction.

It may be as simple as getting up off the couch and taking a leisurely walk with your love ones around the block; turning off the television and reading a good book to your children; finding out more about the community you live in and as a family enjoying all the sites, sounds, and activities including entertainment, politics, clubs, volunteer organizations and church activities.

Surprise the people in your life with something they would not expect you do. Do something that you generally depend on another family member or employee to do. Give them a break, a day or an hour or two off to do something they enjoy while you look after their responsibilities.

A New Year’s resolution to lose weight, quit smoking or take better care of yourself through exercise are important worthy goals for anyone who truly wishes to attain them but many times these are such huge tasks we can fall short and slip back into our previous habits becoming discouraged. The point is we keep trying even though we might falter. It is the small victories that eventually lead to winning the war.

Sometimes it is the simple things that really make a difference in life. What will be remembered by those we encounter? Have we really done our very best with every task today?

Life can grow on you if you let it but the funny thing is it helps to be a participant. After you grow up though, you have to be your own coach and cheerleader, otherwise, you won’t know when to get off the sidelines and get in the game.

What’s great is God put us in the driver’s seat; it is up to us to put the car in gear and drive. Just remember the goal is not to see how many folks we can run over rather it’s to see how many we can give a lift along the way.

(Randall Franks is an award-winning musician, singer and actor. He is best known for his role as “Officer Randy Goode” on TV’s “In the Heat of the Night” now on WGN America. His latest CD release, “Mississippi Moon,” is by Crimson Records. He is a member of the Independent Country Music Hall of Fame. His latest book is “Encouragers II: Walking with the Masters.” He is a syndicated columnist for http://randallfranks.com/ and can be reached at rfrankscatoosa@gmail.com.)

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