I’m not doing teshuva this year. I’m not subjecting myself to the browbeating repentance of the past. I’ve done it every year for too long to count and I’m just not satisfied with the results (from my end of course; not from the Almighty’s!). I make lists and charts of areas that need improvement. I make plans and strategize and push grimly onward.

But I don’t feel like I’ve been successful. The same mistakes are back to plague me year after year. The same character traits continue to haunt me. And the “nose to the grindstone” theory has become a joyless burden.

So this year, no teshuva for me. Well, not quite. I’ve just decided to focus forward instead of backwards, to dwell on increasing the positive instead of allowing myself to get mired in the dreariness of trying to decrease the negative.

I’m not about to adopt an “eat, drink and be merry” theory (that was Esau’s thing). I’m just going to seek out more joy.

I’m going to look at my marriage and appreciate the strength and pleasure it continually brings to me and my children – and ignore the (small) areas of frustration.

I’m going to look at my children and focus on the wonderful adults they’ve become or are in the process of becoming – and ignore the (sometimes small, sometimes not so small) ways in which they still behave like infants.

I’m going to look at my grandchildren and only see how adorable they are (Don’t you all agree?) – and not focus on how far away they live and why their parents haven’t yet hooked up their web cam.

I’m going to look at my home and concentrate on the color and the warmth, on the opportunity it gives me to raise a family and be hospitable to guests – and ignore the fact that it’s 80 years old, all the plumbing is going, and there’s not enough wood left on the floor to polish.

I’m going to look at my garden and appreciate the new buds and blossoms (and that orchid plant that surprised us by bursting into bloom anew) – and try to remain oblivious to the dead leaves and dried out plants (how much am I paying that gardener anyway?).

I’m going to look at my life and only focus on all the wonderful gifts God has given me (Okay, who am I kidding?) – well, at least I’m going to try. I’m going to laugh more and cry less, smile more and try to erase the frown lines (sounds like an intro to a pop song!)

I guess I am doing teshuva this year. I’m repenting all the lost opportunities for taking joy that I’ve missed in the past and committing myself to try not to make the same mistake in the future.