Making resolutions: Locals try to start off 2016 with changes

HARLINGEN — Living lighter.

After living more than 20 years in the same house, Brenda Nettles Riojas and her husband Cesar have accumulated a great deal of “excess,” says the editor of the Valley Catholic.

“I am guilty of consumerism,” Riojas said with a laugh. Her New Year’s resolution to give away some of her excess belongings actually began in December during Advent.

“I started giving away one item a day,” she said. “Now it’s more.”

She’s been giving away books, crochet items, painting supplies and numerous items that have piled up over the years. She’s getting rid of binders with 20-year-old presentations.

“I’ve got a lot of binders of information I don’t need anymore,” she said.

So far she’s given away 50 books, and that hasn’t even made a dent. Every room in her house is filled with books.

Nevertheless, she’s noticed her home slowly becoming a little lighter with less “things.

“I’m trying to lighten the load,” she said. “I have a ton of stuff. We just accumulate.”

Riojas isn’t the only one who plans to lighten her load. Libby Salinas, chief program officer of the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, says her resolution is to “de-clutter my life and the things in it.”

Harlingen Police Chief Jeff Adickes sounded very upbeat about the New Year. Yesterday being the first day of 2016, he hadn’t had a chance to really develop a resolution. However, he had a pretty good idea of what it would be.

“I am thinking of trying to stay fit,” he said. “Continue my running, a little more time with family, wife and kids.”

He and his wife have two grown sons and two grown daughters. He sounded grateful for all of them.

“They are really good people,” he said, adding proudly he and his wife also have a grandson.

Health and fitness seemed to be on the minds of many, including Michael Swartz, director for community relations at Valley Baptist Medical Center.

“I believe my New Year’s resolution will be getting more exercise and eating less,” he said. “I need to lose some weight and improve my health.”

Shane Strubhart, spokesman for the Harlingen school district, planned to spend more time with his family and give more to the community.

“I believe family comes first and it’s important we spend quality time together,” he said. “We already have several camping trips planned this year at our state parks.”

He also said giving back to the country is an important duty, and it begins with community.

“We can start by giving back to our local community at our churches, shelters, schools and organizations,” he said.

Edward Vidaurre, a local writer living in Edinburg, says he started on his New Year’s resolution before the New Year.

“I got a head start on it by giving up smoking the last week of December,” he said.

He also plans to read more books and read them at more schools.

Some people proudly declared they’re perfectly happy with things as they are and have no resolutions. George Gause, who is retired from the University of Texas Pan-American in Edinburg, is one of them.

“None.” declared the McAllen resident. “Continuing (and enjoying) all my bad habits from both 2015 and previous years.”

Aida Mendoza was another local resident concerned about health. Her resolution is to recover from her rotator cuff surgery and “never need another surgery ever again.”

Enriqueta Ramos, a retired anthropology professor in San Benito, had plenty to say about the New Year.

“I believe health is very important, like every year,” she said.

Health seemed to have a much broader meaning for her than for most people.

“It also means keeping good friends, people that are positive, people that care about other people,” she said. “They share themselves with other people, not only in material things.”

To really share yourself with someone, it’s important to slow down a little, she said. People are often in so much of a hurry they don’t stop to visit with others.

“People should be a little friendlier toward people,” she said. “Give love to people that need love, in need of a lot of kindness.”

She often visits La Posada Providencia. It’s a ministry for people in crisis from throughout the world who are seeking legal refuge in the United States. The ministry, which is operated by Catholic nuns, has a shelter that provides food, clothing, medical supplies and care.

Ramos says she admires the work there.

“I go to La Posada and see the sisters, so caring, so loving,” she said. “This is what love should be all about.”