As I made my New Year's resolutions about a week ago, I realized that I was in the same place I was five years ago.
I was writing this column for the newspaper, making self-deprecating jokes about relationships and I wanted to quit putting off stuff I needed to do.
There's something to be said about consistency.
In a seven-part breakdown, I wrote about the ways I would improve myself in the coming year.
In seven paragraphs, all numbered, I spoke about how I wanted to get more exercise, save my money, travel, develop my career, and so on and so on.
I make resolutions every year.
I planned on making some hefty predictions about all the things I could do to better myself this year, too.
Then a simple act changed all that.
My best friend has an annual holiday tradition for her kids that I think will shape their futures in so many positive ways, I don't think I can count them all.
All year long, they save half their allowance so they can donate it to a charity of their choice at the end of the year.
Their mom, Megan, matches their total and they use it to purchase items for their favorite charities.
It's like a bunch of random acts of kindness, all wrapped in one.
Megan's oldest boy, Cameron, buys food and new beds for the dogs at the Humane Society.
He is a big fan of animals, so it's a perfect fit.
Megan's youngest son, Nolan, buys books for the kids at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis.
They both purchased $100 of kindness each with their allowance money.
What a couple of good dudes.
I was invited to go along when Nolan brought the bags of books to the kids as they sat on Santa's lap. I can't think of anything more precious than that ... other than a basket full of white fluffy kittens with baby blue eyes and pink bows.
Some kids are scared of Santa when they see him.
But from my experience, most children are thrilled to see my favorite Christmas icon.
They look in amazement at his white fluffy beard and rosy cheeks. They pet his beard like it's a kitten and look up at him with a smile only a kitten can instigate.
In my experience at Riley last week, I saw a little girl's eye twinkle as she hopped up on Santa's lap.
She was all smiles.
I felt the love emanating from her to Santa.
It filled the room.
I think I heard a little bell ring and I'm pretty sure somewhere in heaven, an angel got her wings.
I saw love in its purest form - honest and kind.
I saw how thankful parents were when Nolan handed them books they would later take up to the kids who were resting upstairs.
I saw the Christmas spirit in the faces of Nolan, Megan, the kids in the hospital, their parents, the volunteers, Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus and their elf helpers.
Best of all, I saw it in myself.
These selfless acts show that we can be compassionate.
We can love each other and not expect anything in return except that same love, multiplied.
We can work together and help each other when it's greatly needed.
In short, we can do this.
For 2013, I'm not going to resolve to do anything that has to be about me.
OK, maybe I resolve to continue writing.
I do that for the benefit of others - I can only hope - because I like helping people smile, cry, or express whatever emotion they need to feel when they read something in the newspaper.
Maybe I do, maybe I don't.
For the most part, I'm resolving to make my life about others ... people, animals and basically most living organisms that don't scare the daylights out of me.
I'm not going to obsess over myself, my career, my waistline, my habits, or everything else that doesn't have much relevance to anyone else but me.
I'm going to start by ending my New Year's resolutions here.
- April E. Clark wishes everyone a healthy and happy new year. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.