New Year, New Beginnings


Well I just finished watching the 2012 Ball Drop in Times Square, like I have every year.  A few things struck me as I watched.  This is the fifth year I’ve watched it at home, alone, streaming it on the internet, listening to my neighbors banging pots, yelling at the top of their lungs, shooting guns into the air, and fireworks; and I’ve concluded . . . this sucks.

I’m adding a bonus resolution that next year I’ll be somewhere festive. 

Okay, now that I have that pity party out of the way, a few thoughts on 2011.  First, thank God that’s over.  2011 will go down as one of the worst years for me personally, but also I suspect for a lot of people. 

So, an inventory of what happened to serve as a baseline for the next year. 

In the first half of 2011, I lost four childhood friends.  Two of them committed suicide within months of each other leaving behind wives and children as victims.  One died in an auto accident, also survived by a husband and child.  The last suffered a heart attack.  I also discovered early on last year, while researching my ancestry on Ancestry.com, that my Grandfather and Great-Uncle had passed.  Now I am estranged from my family, for reasons surrounding my mother’s suicide, but I cannot comprehend why they would choose not to at the very least inform me of the passing of these two. 

So, 2011 became the “year of death” for me pretty early on.  It didn’t improve matters much when I suffered two cardiac episodes myself the latter half of the year, one of which was the roughest I had encountered to date.  I can still feel the phantom pain from that one from time to time.

All this death left me feeling pretty barren emotionally and my battle with depression took a stark turn last month.  I found myself grasping at anything that would give me cause to persevere.  Ultimately it came down to a last minute gesture of good will from friends and co-workers, a trip back home to share my experience as a victim of suicide and hopefully provide some comforting words, and just sheer will.

My freelance career all but vanished when several opportunities and contracts fell victim to the economy.  My day job had become increasingly more difficult as my role continued to be marginalized almost to the point of irrelevancy it seemed, and my twenty-five years worth of skill and knowledge seemed to be unrelatable and unnecessary in this new culture populated by a younger workforce with very different work ethic.

Throw all that into a pot with the same financial difficulties everyone else was experiencing, and having to eliminate luxuries such as television, internet and phone for a time, casual clothing, etc., and you can paint a picture of how bleak 2011 was for someone who suffers from depression, and is also a diagnosed workaholic.

Now, the year wasn’t all doom and gloom.  There were some positives like winning the freelance contract jobs in the first place.  Making new friends through social networking.  Participating in young indie artist Kim DiVine’s Kickstarter program for her new EP and Music Video.  That was pretty fun.  Getting a surprise Christmas Gift from my co-workers, and it being something I really wanted.  And being able to have a three day weekend over Christmas and return home to Pittsburgh, somewhere I haven’t been back to visit in a long time.

So, 2012 is here, and it didn’t get here fast enough.  I’ve taken the last several weeks to reflect, remember, and root-cause analyze where I am, how I got here, and where I’m going.   I can say that I feel positive about the new year, which I feel is due in part to renewed sense of spirituality, as well as in part to a feeling of “enough is enough”.  I feel that’s it’s going to be transformational, and that there will be some core changes.  I’ve had to give up on some dreams, scale back on some goals, and sacrifice some pleasures.  The pacing will be slower, and more measured.  I’ll be eliminating most distractions in the next couple of weeks, and focusing primarily on achieving a life change.

It all begins with this post.  The first blog post of the new year.  My first writing sample of the new year.  A cathartic expunging of the venomous events and emotions that strangled my self-esteem and self-worth last year.  Barring any tragic life events this coming year, I don’t expect there to be anymore posts of a Debbie-downer theme going forward.  I will track my progress moving forward, updating my keeping of the 2012 resolutions, sharing any successes I have, and hopefully fine-tuning my craft, wit, wisdom, and humor. 

I hope you come along for the ride, and comment often, and keep me honest.

My 2012 New Year’s Resolutions


English: Two New Year's Resolutions postcards

Image via Wikipedia

New Year’s Resolutions are a mixture of ridiculousness and hope. The reason for resolutions, as I see it, originates from our year end reflections in December, and a desire to “do better” the next year; to improve our lives, and achieve life-long goals. Often, it is an exercise in futility, at least for me. Our will is generally too weak to compel us to work toward our goals/resolutions everyday like we should, and that aspect is even more real in this modern day, when we are bound to our technology, our jobs, and our culture; all of which work against us.

Now it’s been discussed for years that we have a habit of choosing resolutions that are too grandiose, too big to accomplish, thus causing us to become frustrated, and surrender to the seeming futility of it.  This most certainly has been my case for the last several years.  My past resolutions have included: publishing a novel, which I scaled back to publishing anything the next year; losing 80 lbs., which I scaled back to 50 lbs. the following year; moving out west, which I scaled back to moving out of my rural community.  I failed at all these resolutions, because they were unattainable at my current lifestyle.

This year, I’ve scaled everything back to what I believe to be reasonably attainable goals, that are highly manageable, and require little discipline.  I have also decided to post my resolutions publicly for the sole purpose of opening myself to some sort of accountability, so that if those I know ask me how I’m doing, I’ll be more inclined to have a substantive response.  So without further delay, here are my simple resolutions for the year 2012:

  1. Write something, anything, once a day.  (Whether this be a full blog post here on WordPress, half of a chapter in my book, commentary on a share on my Posterous, a poem, a song lyric, or a journal entry.  I just need to write something.)
  2. Read three books.  (This may not seem like a difficult challenge, but having worked in Retail Management for the last quarter century, I have not had the luxury of time to sit and read a book.  Believe it or not, you can fall out of practice with reading.  This task should be made more easy by the recent Christmas gift I received from my co-workers, A Kindle Fire.)
  3. Workout 30 minutes/day.  (The past few years I tried to reach a certain level of loss in poundage, which ultimately failed.  Last year, I switched to what I thought would be more attainable, a loss of inches around my waist.  However, that also proved frustrating.  This year, I’m not focusing on losing anything, but rather on just the activity.  If I can train myself to workout in some manner for 30 minutes/day, according to the “experts” the flab will disappear.)
  4. Find a new revenue stream.  (This may be achieved by either finding a new job, taking on a second job, taking on freelance writing jobs, selling my excess comic book inventory, or hitting the lottery.  Whatever is, just like everyone else, I need more income to off-set my outflow.)
  5. Digitize/Organize my life.  (This last one seems to be the easiest to accomplish.  I want to export/backup all old physical photos, writings, music, VHS recordings, documents, medical records, etc.  I’m a minimalist at heart, and having all these items lying around feels like clutter to me.)

So there they are.  My scaled back, seemingly manageable and attainable New Year’s Resolutions for 2012.  Why even attempt resolutions, you may ask?  As a person who has battled depression for most of his adult life, challenging myself to make small improvements for the better can only improve my overall mood and self-image.  All of these resolutions tie directly, or indirectly, into balancing out those factors that contribute to my depression.  So I guess you could call it . . . therapy.

All future progress on these resolutions will be tagged, and you can follow along if you wish, and keep me honest.