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My momma didn’t raise no quitter

October 14, 2012

It turns out that some dreams are harder to kill than others.
While cleaning out a bookcase this week, I discovered a list of my personal goals for the fall of 1978. It was tucked into a book titled “Talkin’ Dirty with the Queen of Clean.” Apparently, in those days, I was more concerned with a spotless home than I am today. 

The list, written in childlike cursive 34 years ago, was penned under the head “NO MORE EXCUSES.” It contained three promises:
One, lose 10 pounds by Christmas.

Two, de-clutter and organize home by New Year’s.
Three, eat more vegetables. 

I felt pretty sure my life would be perfect if could accomplish those goals. Hmmm, they sounded eerily familiar. 

One glance at my Daytimer and I knew why. Scrawled across Oct. 10, 2012, three hours ago, there they were — my elusive dream/goals.  After 34 years of falling short of the mark, the list had taken on a tone of desperation and unrealistic timelines. 

The 2012 version read: Lose 10 pounds in two weeks, de-clutter home and garden by Friday and eat five vegetables today.  

I took a coffee break and mulled over  the situation.

With the exception of spinach — a throwback to my childhood when I was a groupie to  Pop-Eye the Sailor Man — I loathe most vegetables. Since my children are grown and my mother is no longer around to tell me I can’t play until the slimy green stuff is gone, I just don’t bother. Besides, I’d already had a sandwich with a slice of tomato, a whole leaf of lettuce and a squirt of ketchup.  

In my book, that’s three down and two to go.

The weight thing is a little trickier. With each new diet program to capture the attention of America, I’ve lost 10 pounds only to tire of the program and gain it right back — plus two or three as a bonus. The real problem is that those rogue pounds keep coming back in the most surprising and distressing places.

I’m having the same stymied approach to de-cluttering. Just when I clear off one cabinet, a whole new batch of clutter grows right back. Reminds me of Johnson grass. Pluck one and three grow back in its place. But at least I’m not giving up. My Momma didn’t raise no quitter!
"Clutter Busting" has become my mantra since I worked at the local museum recently and realized we share decorating styles.

Like the museum, mine can best be described as “Grandma on Acid.” Beside my vintage Underwood typewriter is my Ipad.  Sharing the same shelf with my Pottery Barn pitcher is a 1920s gas can I picked up at a flea market. Parked beside my new orthotic walking shoes are a pair of red pointy toed cowboy boots I won’t wear again in this lifetime. 

I’ll never forget a tragedy which occurred 12 years ago when I moved from Jackson to my current home in North Mississippi. I divided my garage into two sides — all the boxes on one side were labeled to be moved and all the boxes on the other were to be hauled to Goodwill.

I got home from work that afternoon to discover the movers had followed the instructions in reverse. The people at Goodwill picked up the good stuff and all the junk was still sitting in the garage. After crying a bit, I got in the car and drove to my new home in Starkville. To this day, I haven’t missed a thing.
Emily Jones is a retired journalist who edits a website for bouncing baby boomers facing retirement.  She welcomes comments at

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