I am actively de-cluttering my home. Last weekend, I shredded my Blockbuster membership card. Afterward, I wondered if I had destroyed a treasure future generations would marvel over.
Okay, that's a bit ridiculous. However, I am marveling at this receipt dated 1/13/1931. I found it in an old chest my mother left to my brother. He asked me to clean it out, to save old family photos for what's becoming a massive archive.
Mrs. Clark purchased underwear and hose from C. A. Smith & Son, General Merchandise, in Willow Lakes, South Dakota. The cost was $1.58. On the back of the receipt is the admonition to "Keep This Check."
Indeed, Mrs. Clark and her descendants kept that check, although the underwear and hose have long ago disintegrated and returned to the earth. I have a vague notion Mrs. Clark was a relative or at least neighbor to my mother's family.
Great-great grandfather Captain William Nelson Berry homesteaded in Willow Lake in 1882, but passed away in 1909. He was no longer alive to witness the momentous occasion of Mrs. Clark's underwear purchase, but my great-grandparents and grandparents were around.
Did Mrs. Clark walk to the store? Ride in a horse drawn wagon? Or was she escorted in an automobile, still a bit of a novelty in semi-rural South Dakota in 1931. Was Mrs. Blogg or Blagg a shop clerk? Or did she run an errand for Mrs. Clark? Was Mrs. Clark actually there? Which neighbors might she have encountered? Was the January weather intense? Or had she taken advantage of a mild day to obtain the critical items?
When I have the time, I may be able to find a photo of C. A. Smith & Son's establishment. Who knows, maybe Mrs. Blogg/Blagg and Mrs. Clark are depicted in the Clark County history book. My great-grandfather's journal might have clues to the happenings of the day. Or at least the weather report, which he recorded with regularity every single day.
I have to be careful not to become too caught up in the past, although teasing out the story fascinates me. It's the mystery author in me, I suppose. I may eventually create a "murder board" style research tool to put together the crumbs of history to complete this day in 1931.
A resolution needs to be backed up with a plan. For example:
Resolution: I resolve to drink more water. Vague. No tangible measurement of success.
Plan: I have a beverage container of known volume. I will drink four of those full of water a day to equal my 8x8 - eight glasses of eight ounces. Solid. Success can easily be measured.
Resolution: I will get back into a regular writing routine. What is "regular"? How is that measured?
Plan: My calendar lists projects and deadlines. Some have detailed goals of how many words must be completed by which date. Success is defined. Goals can be quantified. Work time is recorded.
When you have contracts and deadlines, it's easy to measure writing success. With other fiction projects, your goals may be more difficult to define. It's helpful to set word or page goals - how many a week. Or completion goals - rough draft of a short story by the end of February.
Sometimes things happen that are out of our control. That is where a plan makes itself useful. If you are bumped off track by life events, you can consult your plan when things settle back to normal. Or some version of normal.
We're nearly halfway through January. Resolutions may be falling by the wayside as I speak. But plans endure. Stick to it, and you'll make progress toward your 2023 goals.
The ending of 2022 felt like saying goodbye to a bad houseguest. I just wanted it to be gone.
Good things happened in 2022. But they were weighed down by the burdens of stress and sadness.
Some events in our lives are beyond our control. Certain responsibilities are unavoidable. Others we take on (okay, speaking for myself) because somebody has to take care of the task, and no one else is stepping up.
In 2023, I pledge to take care of myself before tackling all those have-to-dos that really don't have to be done.
My resolution? Me First.
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