Can we all agree that 2016 needs to take a hike?
I mean, but REALLY. Aside from obvious political events that I don't feel like getting into, there have been several things that have just bummed me the hell out: terror attacks, shootings, Zika, David Bowie, Prince, Alan Rickman, Alan Thicke, Brexit, Syria. It was not good. It was, largely, not good at all.
There's a new year coming up. And sure - it's technically just another day. It's not really a reset button. But in the same way that Advent gives Christians time to reflect on Christ's coming, the days approaching New Year's Eve give us time to prepare for what kind people we want to be.
Here are five tangible things I will be doing in 2017 to try to be a better human.
1. Less mindless screen time.
Everybody relaxes in different ways, and I think how we relax is indicative of what kind of people we are. Relaxation for me looks like sitting on the couch, watching Netflix, and playing some sort of insipid game on my phone. I think this relaxation style screams "braindead" and or "7th grader," rather than "semi-intelligent 27-year-old woman."
Instead of crashing on the couch with a show I've watched a thousand times already, wasting my life, I'm making a concerted effort to turn OFF the TV (or close the computer, as the case may be) in order to relax in another way, like taking Tom Hanks for a walk or playing cards with Jordan.
2. Get meaningfully involved in a volunteer program.
One of the scary things about moving to a new place is that you leave all things familiar behind you: friends, family, church, social groups - the whole enchilada. Since we came to Asheville, I have done an awful job about plugging into the community in a way that I'm proud of. We've joined a church, but I want to make sure that I'm actually serving others in a real, everyday, intentional way. This is one that I'm most excited about.
3. Read more.
This really could correspond with #1, but I want it to be its own category because it's so important. Y'all, I used to be SUCH a reader. When I was younger, I would just devour books.
When I started Teach For America, I stopped reading as much. I think that teaching took so much out of me emotionally that reading anything of substance - anything that might pull at my heartstrings even further - was just too much to consider. That might sound crazy/pitiful, but that's where I was. I felt I needed to protect myself.
Insulating myself in that way is over. I am ready to jump back into the amazing world of the written word. I'm almost finished with Hillbilly Elegy, and if you haven't read it, ya NEED IT. Thanks to JD Vance for reminding me what I've been missing.
4. Experience Asheville.
I happen to live in one of the most desirable places to live in the country, but this could apply anywhere. If you're like me, a creature of habit, then you hit the same restaurants, order the same food, and like to be back at home in PJ's by 9.
Hi, I'm Mary Catherine, and I'm 90 years old.
Actually, that's not even fair, because I met a 90-year-old just yesterday who is much cooler than I am.
My point is that I have all this great culture, food, all these hikes and outdoor experiences, right at my fingertips. I'm 27. Now is not the time to phone it in and decide we've seen enough of Asheville to stop exploring. We have a list on the refrigerator that I made the first week we moved here of restaurants, bars, and hikes. At first, we were making steady progress, but we've screeched to a halt. Time to pick it back up.
5. Continue some habits I'm proud of.
Because resolutions like these are so easy to abandon, I don't want to add too much to my plate at one time. So here are some things I've been working on that I want to continue with:
- Limiting my social media exposure/tapping out when I'm overwhelmed.
- Trying hard to extend empathy and understanding those with whom I don't agree, and, in many cases, find hurtful or offensive.
- Attempting to create funny and/or meaningful blog content.
- Actively keeping in touch with people (friends, grandparents) who don't live near me.
- Staying organized and on top of our calendar and bank accounts.
So tell me - as the new year approaches, what are you considering? What do you want to change? I know we've all had plenty to say about the state of the world this year, but 2017 is ours for the taking. We can make it look however we want.
So? What do you want?