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January 10, 2010

Que Sera, Sera (I Don't Need No Stinkin' Resolutions)

Smiley New Year's Day was our last in Park City, and my husband decided to culminate our stay with a fabulous dinner for two at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse (which was conveniently located inside our hotel).

"So... what are your resolutions?" he asked.

He was surprised when I told him I don't make them any longer.

After all, by the time you are my age, they are all the same: Eat healthier. Exercise. Spend wisely. Be a better parent. Be a better wife.

This is the stuff we're supposed to be doing in our daily lives anyway. It seems silly to resolve to do it on January 1st each year when I'm struggling to keep all those balls in the air 365 days a year.

Rather than resolving to take some kind of new action, I am trying to enact a change of attitude.

"My goal for this year is to stop worrying so much. I just want to try and be happy."

As I uttered the words, I flashed back to the insipid hit song that George H.W. Bush adopted for his '88 presidential campaign. Back then, I thought it was ridiculous. But maybe he was on to something that I was just too young to get at the time.

I am by nature a worrier. And while I think it's good to be aware of your environment and take measures to avoid danger, a little goes a long way. All I know is that all the worry and angst and sleepless nights I endured in 2009 did not contribute one iota to my peace of mind. What I need to do this year is let go... and let things happen.

What will be, will be. Another insipid hit song from an earlier era, but perhaps it lives on for good reason.

The following day, we checked out of the hotel at 5:30 AM so we could get an early start on the long drive home from Park City to Los Angeles. A major storm had been predicted, but just light snow was falling. The old me -- who has a fear of driving in rain (and fuhgeddabout snow!) would have urged my husband to wait until the storm had passed.

Don't Worry. Be Happy. I could hear Bobby McFerrin hiccup the tune in my head. We got on the road.

Within five minutes, the snow was coming down harder. We wanted coffee for the road and were looking for a Starbucks I KNEW was around there somewhere... but we could not see it, and oops! The street ended and we were on the Interstate.

Don't Worry. Be Happy. My new mantra was on an infinite loop.

After about a mile, the snow was coming down so hard that visibility was nil. So this is what people mean when they talk about a "white out." The song in my head was starting to fade.

My husband pulled over to the side of the road and stopped. I flashed onto those news reports of families who get stuck in sudden snowstorms in the Grapevine. I didn't want to be one of them - especially up in Utah, where all the natives know better.

Don't Worry. Be Happy. Don't Worry. Be Happy.

The hell with that. We were only a half mile from the next offramp. I begged my husband to try to get us off the freeway and into a coffee shop where we could wait out the storm. He agreed, and we ended up spending the next 90 minutes at a McDonald's that was (thankfully!) open. Our daughter - who had not been happy with the early start - complained bitterly about being stuck there for such a long time. But I felt relaxed.

Don't Worry. Be Happy.

Maybe it was working. The sun rose, the storm passed, and we could see the snow plows passing by. We got back in the car and picked up where we'd left off.

We made good time until we got to Las Vegas, which was roughly our halfway point. But the long snow delay resulted in our getting there just as all the New Year revelers were checking out of their hotels. We ended up joining a mass exodus on the road to Los Angeles... at an average speed of 15 miles per hour.

I was the lucky person behind the wheel, while my husband and daughter napped. 

It took me two hours drive 41 miles from Las Vegas to the Nevada state line. Every time I started to feel impatient or frustrated, I reminded myself of my new attitude.

We took a long break at an outlet mall located just inside the border. My husband drove the rest of the way. It took us an hour to get out of the outlet parking lot and back onto the highway, but once we crossed into California the traffic flowed more freely. We arrived home around midnight - more than 18 hours after we began our journey.

I was tired. But happy. And slept like a baby.

One week into the new year, we're back at home and facing all the same problems we had before our holiday break... but my new mantra is still playing in my head. So far, so good.

Be happy.

Original post for Los Angeles Moms Blog and 50-Something Moms Blog. Donna Schwartz Mills usually vents her worries and frustrations at her personal site, SoCal Mom.