Saturday, December 31, 2016

"...And What Have You Done?"

Our kitchen calendar, photo by J. Berta.

Greetings All:

"So this is Christmas and what have you done
Another year over, a new one just begun..."

You may recognize these lyrics from John Lennon and his song "Happy Xmas (War Is Over.)"  Although I normally shut off Christmas music in my car and in my head, I like this song because it has a sense of both reflection and hope.  Reflection for the year gone past and hope for the new year.  

I know for many people 2016 was not a banner year.  There were disappointments, some profound.  Recently, Facebook has become the online funeral home where we have been paying our respects to the celebrities who have left us in the past year.  Of note was the immediate passing of Carrie Fisher and her Mom, Debbie Reynolds.  My friend Alex posted this to Facebook and it is worth posting here:  

Carrie Fisher watching her Mom, Debbie Reynolds, perform on stage, circa early 1960s?  Photo credit is unknown.  Fair use/public domain claimed is respectfully claimed, no commercial use.

And yet, there were moments of joy this year.  For my Chicago Fan friends, over a century of heartbreak ended with an epic victory against an equally-determined Cleveland Indians team.  For many, this the below image will not soon be forgotten.

The image on my T.V. screen after the Cubs won the World Series.  Photo by J. Berta.

For me, this year's highs and lows came within a week of each other.  My Dad was diagnosed with blood in his brain and required emergency surgery.  Fast-forward two weeks later and he's back up and moving around, with the staples removed (from his skull) and no worse for wear.  At the hospital, shortly after the doctors explained his condition, they marveled at how high functioning he was with that much internal bleeding.  I commented:  "Gentlemen, this man survived Hitler and Stalin.  Do you think some internal bleeding is going to slow him down?"

Of course, I was making light of an incredibly serious, potentially fatal situation.  I am beyond grateful for both the health-care professionals AND his friends and patrons who mentioned to me that Dad was, "...just not himself."  

So as this year comes to an end, it is appropriate to reflect upon it.  It is also fine, normal actually, to look to the year ahead.  It will be interesting, that is a certainty.

As for ourselves, we may be tempted to pursue resolutions.  I am not against them in the least.  I just happen to believe that they are folly and a fool's errand for they never last.  Unless you are willing to change habits, then all the good intentions are meaningless.  Case in point:  Go to any gym the first few weeks of January and good luck finding a machine.  Show up in early February and you'll have your pick of the place.  It's just human nature.

If one is interested in some degree of self-improvement this coming year (and I include myself with that ambition) then I'd suggest looking at goal-setting.  The difference, in my opinion, between resolutions and goal setting is that while a resolution is an aspiration ("I'm going to lose weight this year!") goal-setting involves a plan to accomplish the goal of "I am going to lose five pounds by St. Patrick's Day."  

I highly recommend Vic Johnson's book,  The Thirteen Secrets of World Class Achievers.  I first listened to the audio book and liked it so much, I got it in book form.  You can order it here from Amazon.

Whatever 2017 holds for you, I hope it is full of joy and satisfaction.  I am certain it will have its challenges.  That is OK.  Without challenges, life would be dull, painfully so.  I'll leave you with another set of Mr. Lennon's lyrics.  Its the best final holiday season wish I can think of:

"A very merry Christmas and a happy new year
Let's hope it's a good one without any fear."

Be well my friends...and Happy New Year!

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