December 29, 2015 4:18 pm
Updated: December 30, 2015 4:10 pm

New Year’s resolutions: inspiration for big and small changes in 2016

This Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2015 photo provided by Joanne Papini shows Papini in her sewing room in Walnut Creek, Calif. Her new year's resolution is to shut all drawers and cabinets and stop leaving lids and boxes half-open, believing the small step will lead to less chaos at home.

Joanne Papini via AP
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NEW YORK – Sure, sure, sure. You’re gonna quit smoking, lose weight, get organized and work for world peace in 2016.

And we’re pulling for you. We really are. You can do it!

New Year’s resolutions come as big strokes and small victories, along with a high rate of failure. Is it best to reach for the stars or make a petite promise?

READ MORE: Tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions

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We asked a few folks about their plans to do better, go bigger or simply baby step it outside the box next year.

Seven marathons in seven days

You heard it right. Aimee Shilling, a 35-year-old mother of four in East Canton, Ohio, has signed up to run seven marathons in seven days come October. And she’ll be doing it to raise money for World Vision’s “run for water” program.

Clean water initiatives have been a goal since she took a mission trip to Jamaica in 2000. Running has been a passion since she joined the cross-country team in high school. She’s a regular marathoner and ultra-marathoner, rising at 4 a.m. at least three days a week to run with friends, returning home to get her kids up and ready for school.

READ MORE: Want to learn to run? These tools and tricks can help

Shilling has done back-to-back marathons before, but never seven consecutively. The new year aside, she made a promise to herself long ago to run 40 marathons or ultra-marathons before her 40th birthday. The seventh race in her 7-in-7 series would be her 40th, so she’s ahead of schedule.

“As long as I can start the series healthy, I’m pretty confident. None of them will be fast,” Shilling laughed.

SoCal walkabouts

Jarone Ashkenazi is a lifelong Los Angelino, but at 26 he considers himself “someone who is more introspective by nature.” Hence, he’s been reluctant to grab his city by the tail.

“I thrive in new settings and environments,” Ashkenazi said, “it’s just at times I’m too hesitant to put myself out there.”

That will hopefully change with his new spreadsheet. He has broken up his get-out-of-the-house goals into categories: activities, concerts, restaurants, bars, outdoors and nightlife. He got an early start with a couple of hikes.

Among his first adventures come 2016: The Broad contemporary art museum, an evening stroll through the holiday lights at the Getty Center and the Chill at The Queen Mary (think winter wonderland under a giant dome).

So what took him so long?

“While I was younger I was too naive to think of all this city has to offer,” Ashkenazi said, “and now that I’m older I want to take full advantage of everything.”

Twist and close

Meanwhile in Northern California, Joanne Papini in Walnut Creek has a small problem that’s annoying the heck out of her. She doesn’t close drawers, cabinets, boxes — anything with a lid, really. She sort of half closes things, like the top of the mayo in the fridge or the inner lining of the cereal box, along with the cereal box itself.

And at 54, she’s beginning to wonder what it all means.

“I know that sounds weird but not closing things has become a problem for me. Do I think I’m saving time by having things left open? Am I airing out my pencil drawer,” Papini ponders, “or am I just rebelling?”

Papini lives alone. Rather, she’s the only one with opposable thumbs in her household. But she can’t blame her two dogs.

“I just see it as a sign of chaos in my life. It seems like it translates into maybe not enough respect for my belongings and a lack of self-care,” she said.

Papini comes from a “jam it, cram it” family growing up and merely extended the stuffing of things into drawers into leaving drawers open.

As for not twisting lids completely closed, she can’t figure out if she’s (a) trying to save time, (b) lazy about it or (c) I might want it later so I’ll just skip this step.

Zero Waste

Aspiring to this lifestyle is lofty. Aspiring to this lifestyle with a baby is loftier. Say hello to Meredith Bay Tyack in Burlington, Vermont.

The pursuit for the 30-year-old began with the birth of her daughter a year ago.

“Cloth diapering was really the catalyst for us. We started purging plastic and disposable items from our life left and right,” she said.

She and her husband already use a plastic-free water filtration system, with charcoal that can be composted after six months. She stopped buying paper towels and eliminated numerous other small plastic and disposable items.

READ MORE: 5 things you didn’t know you could recycle

“But I’m still staring at a full garbage each week and it’s frustrating,” Bay Tyack said. “We’re mindful consumers. We shop at our farmer’s market and yet we’re still producing so much garbage.”

She’s still using plastic garbage bags, for instance.

“A zero waste lifestyle is an exciting prospect for me because while I can’t control many things, I can control myself and the small environment I inhabit,” she said. “Maybe I won’t clean up the oceans on my own, but at least I know I will not be contributing additional waste.

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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