Seems a little unlikely for an article on this particular subject, especially at this time of the year, since we just noted the first day of fall fell several weeks ago. But all the same, our busy schedules fail to always coincide with the pending days and weeks of the year. But regardless of the particular day, when I was growing up, spring cleaning and fall cleaning never went unnoticed. Drapes were taken down and washed and cleaned, closets rearranged, lawn furniture, either in storage or out of storage. There was a big change for windows though, for the simple reason that in fall, window screens were removed, windows washed and storm windows were put on in anticipation of the winter weather. The action was reversed in spring so windows could be opened to enjoy the cool air from outside.

Self help books say we don't really break habits. Like we are told in the "good book," we have been "stripped off of the old self with its practices and clothed with the new." For when we change a habit, we just replace them with other habits. An example is people who stop smoking often gain weight. They still feel the need to put something in their mouths, but then they substitute food for cigarettes. It typically takes weeks of consistent repetition to substitute a new healthy habit for an old one, just like it takes weeks to change the weather during the four seasons we are blessed to enjoy in our part of the country.

Making a significant behavioral change is difficult, as anyone knows who has ever made one, or for that matter, broken one as well. Take a New Year's resolution, for example. That is why the 12 step groups such as AA use the motto, "One day at a time." To a smoker, "I will never smoke another cigarette," sounds overwhelming, whereas saying, "I won't smoke today," is manageable and easier to repeat tomorrow.

Take now for instance, we are, as a nation, facing a most important election and what might appear as a candidate choice between undesirable alternatives might often be a choice between what is evil and what is painful but best for now. If there is any politician who could be said as the most capable in making the world as bad as it is, that is certainly "not" the one to vote for as we need to look to the one with the most scruples and who holds truth as a high regard. It might take some heavy searching for all of us and some sacrifices as well.

Rules and guidelines assure us we can pursue our goals according to our plans, and it is truly something for which we should all strive as we face the daily challenges of life -- challenged by human contact and temptations which might "lead us astray," as my parents used to tell me. Reminded of parents, I like to think of a phrase my mother used often when tempted to return a like action of another. From the lips of her mouth would come the words, "Get thee hence, Satan," and then a warm smile would appear on her face and she was off to another venuture of raising five children with that appealing smile, bound and determined to set the best example in the world -- or so I felt.

I love to be with my family. I like to read. I like to listen to beautiful music. I like to play cards with friends. I enjoy being with people who have a happy smile on their face. I look forward to sitting down for a special cup of coffee with friends. I love a good joke. I love children. I enjoy people who have a happy grin on their face. I like being around other people. I love pleasant, loving neighbors who show loving responses in return.

But what I fail to appreciate in my daily walk in life is a constant negative attitude, a "downer." I guess it is what you might describe a person who fails to appreciate those around them. Is it possible we could look to a saying that each and every one of us have heard in our lifetime, and truly appreciate the value of its true meaning.

"Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry, and you cry alone." How often, when we are facing a big decision or a tough problem, do we decide to "sleep on it?" We hope a good night's sleep and the light of a new day tomorrow will give us the ability to make a right decision. How often have you awakened, sure in your dreams last night you somehow solved that big problem? How often do you find those dream solutions fade as fast the sun evaporates the heavy fall morning dew on grass beginning to take on the hint of brown as fall comes closer? Ah, the mysteries of life, which never cease to amaze us during our daily walk in life. But please join me, won't you, for I do not want to laugh alone.

Nadene Albrecht is a

retired columnist

residing in Russell.