Or maybe we need to say to ourselves, “Don’t look back. Let it go. Focus on the future.” I will say this: Like most years before it, 2016 has been unusual, challenging, crazy-making, and bittersweet, interspersed with moments of laughter and joy. Let’s not dwell on its failures and shortcomings as we bid it adieu; let’s simply do everything we can to ensure that 2017 has the resources it needs to be a better year. We are the most important of those resources, and as unimaginable as it sometimes seems, I still find reasons, each day, to have faith in us:
WE are the majority. WE must continue to speak truth to power. WE are not alone.
And 2017 approaches – will it reflect the best in us? Will it reflect our fears, or our courage? Our hate, or our love – and if not always feeling the love of our fellow man, can we at least strive for kindness and integrity?
My mother used to say that people tend to live up to – or down to – our expectations of them. Let’s all hold each other to high, but attainable, standards in the coming year. Let’s try to be our best selves, and be good to one another.
A Few Specific, Measurable Goals (NOT the Lofty, Aspirational, Touchy-Feely, Kumbaya Goals)
The Non-Negotiable, 100% Committed, Do or Die Trying Goal for 2017
As I said last year, this is “No touchy-feely, ‘love my neighbor as I love myself and show it in all I say and do’ nonsense – that’s a stretch goal for another day. But if you’re reading this, consider yourself hugged in a supportive, friendly, positive, upbeat way. And if my arm doesn’t quit circle your circumference, feel free to join me in this, the most clichéd but worthwhile of all New Year’s resolutions” – to lose 30 lbs. by May 1, and another 30 by the end of the year. I didn’t lose everything I set out to lose in 2016, but I did lose almost 30 lbs. since last August – and I have built up endurance to where walking five to eight miles in an hour or two is pleasant and running (as in “racing a dog on a leash,” not “training for a marathon”!) has happened – on purpose, more than once.
Finish Projects Already Started or Planned
The Owl Blanket. My First Cardigan sweater. The stuffed “punishment pig.” The silly story started in November for NaNoWriMo. The Great Blog Resurrection… There’s nothing wrong with letting go and moving on, but there’s everything wrong with abandoning a thing because it hit a snag, a snarl, or a great big wall of blah. In that same spirit, dust off the Fitbit and see previous section.
Declutter My Home, My Car, My Life
Putting “Let It Go” on endless loop. Pass the Hefty bags. I don’t need another “organizational aid” half as much as I need to part with the things my mother warned me not to let possess me.
Develop Good Habits
My only real “vices” are sarcasm, profanity (mostly while driving), and coffee, unless you count being unrepentant about all of the above. I sometimes think I ought to cultivate a vice, just to keep things interesting. But smoking smells awful; alcohol causes the skin on my eyeballs to slough off; and drugs melt my brain – I like my brain and prefer it springy to spongy. So, there’s really no vice out there that appeals to me. Laziness? Sleeping in till noon? Even that gets boring after a few hours. So if I have no habits I feel driven to break, I suppose there are a few I’d like to get into, such as:
- Reading a novel a week
I realize you think I already do this, and I used to. But between work, ‘net surfing, and eye problems, I’ve fallen out of the habit. Joining a book club has inspired me (goaded me?) into getting back into it. We were to give a book report at the end of the year, and I actually muttered something about how my imaginary dog ate it. I have, however, accomplished the goal of socializing face-to-face with other adult human beings more than once or twice a year, not counting work. That’s progress.
- Commit to one or more FUN, creative blog challenges throughout the year
This goes along with the Great Blog Resurrection. Resurrecting the thing isn’t just about gaming Alexa or Google Analytics, but recapturing the fun of blogging in the first place – both for me and for my friends and readers. This year has been good, for the most part. I committed to the April Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and wrote a series of posts to enhance and add to the material covered in my OWFI Conference sessions:
- Ze End
- Virtual Reality
- Under the Weather
- 6 Reasons Writers Should Use Twitter
- StumbleUpon: Sharing Brings a Spike in Readership!
- Rallying the Reader Troops! Reviews, Please!
- Quell the Quest
- Pinterest and Instagram
- 5 Tips on How to be Funny When you’re not Funny
- Octopuses? Octopi?
- Never Heard Such Nonsense!
- Metaphor and Simile
- Lutefisk: Fishy Lye
- You May Be Bigger Than I Am, But I’ve Got Klout!
- Images Motivate Readers to Share
- Posts Not Turning Heads? Try On 25 Headlines to Find Your Best Fit, Every Time
- Facebook Presence Needed for Authors?
- Equipment Check! Signings, Social Media Events, and Travel Checklist
- Be a Data Driven Blogger
- Checklist for Blogging: 27 Steps to a Winning Author Platform
- Diversity Isn’t Something to be “Tolerated”
- Blog: Holodeck for the Author’s Brain
- Add-to-Any WordPress Plug-in: Sharing Made Easy
In 2017, I want the focus to be more creative still: more short fiction, more poetry, more photos, more fiber arts, more fingerpainting.
- Do better at keeping track of accomplishments and “wins,” both at work and at home
This isn’t about having a more positive outlook; I do fine at that, really. Most of the time. But I have this habit of thinking accomplishments are “just all in a day’s work” – meaning that if someone else isn’t keeping track, then the only thing on my scorecard is the things I did badly. I’m not beating myself up over those; I didn’t fail spectacularly at anything in the past year or two. But I struggle, every year, to fill out that damnable “self-evaluation” thing at work, and I know that I’ve just been lucky, most years, that the people around me look out for me and remember what I did right. That’s probably not something any of us should blindly count on, any more than we should leap tall buildings in a single bound without a net.
Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2017
Top among the things I’m looking forward to are
- Spending time with friends in San Antonio over MLK Day weekend;
- Celebrating our son’s 21st birthday;
- Welcoming a new person into our family with the wedding of our daughter and her fiancé this summer;
- Happy surprises. Because 2017 is going to an excellent year.
My Most Engaged Blog Readers in 2016
Winners of this year’s Top Common Tater Award are:
If your name appears, above, thank you – and feel free to add this original (and very silly) award graphic to your site, if you’re not above doing such things:
The Lofty, Aspirational, Touchy-Feely, Kumbaya Goal
You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.
Let’s make 2017 a year in which kindness, honesty, and integrity lead – a year we’re sorry to see go, even as we welcome 2018 with open arms and hope.
There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.