I hope your new year is going well so far. One of the joys of publishing semi-regular posts on this blog is that it provides a way for me to reconnect with friends from my past. I grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and since graduating from high school, I have lived and made lifelong friends in so many California communities: the San Francisco Bay Area, Lodi, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, and now in Orange County. Through this blog, I have found a way to re-connect with all of these friends from different phases of my life.
You may remember that when I was sixteen, my dad got me a job working in a hardware store in Sacramento. I drove 2,000 miles by myself (once again, since some of you questioned me last time, this is 100% true) to Sacramento, and moved in with the Welker family, who were long-time friends of my parents. Laura Welker was one of the children in that family, and almost forty-five years later, she somehow found my blog site and reached out through the comments. I was able to talk with Laura and her mom Carol a couple of months ago, and I loved our reminiscences. A few days ago, Laura let me know that her mom passed away peacefully last weekend. I am grateful that the always kind and caring Carol Welker took me in back in 1978, making me feel like part of the family, and I feel fortunate that my writing helped us to re-connect before her passing.
In my first post of 2023, let me give a special thank you to all of you from all phases of my life with whom I’ve reconnected or stayed connected as a result of this blog. We are who we are because of the relationships we’ve made throughout our lives, whether those bonds are incredibly long and close, or just a momentary breeze from a butterfly’s wings. I’m grateful and better for all of it.
Speaking of aspiring to be better, I love making New Year’s Resolutions. While I don’t do everything I want to do, I find that making goals helps me make progress. Last year about this time, I wrote about my resolutions using Steven Covey’s Seven Habits as my guide. As I started thinking about my resolutions for this year, I began reading about a new trend – the one-word resolution – for the new year. If simplicity is a good thing, it does not get much easier than a one-word resolution. That word could provide focus, direction, or help with decision-making, and ultimately be a guide for your thinking throughout the year. I was with a group of close friends recently and I introduced this concept. I gave them a list initially suggested by an article in The Washington Post, but augmented with words from similar articles, plus other terms that Jill and I thought of. We all went around the table and shared two or three we were each considering for 2023, adding new words to the list in the process. It was an interesting and insightful conversation, and yes, I have included the list at the bottom of this post for your review too. (Side note – I bet many of you are thinking: never accept an invitation to hang out with Mike – Handouts? Word lists? Come on, man! Get a life!)
If you were wondering, the two words that I have chosen are creativity and self-discipline. When I am at my best, I weave a lot of creativity into my life. That can come from cooking, writing, music, reading, and just from taking the time to think and reflect. While I started the year strong in those areas, this year has reminded me that finding the right balance between work and home takes thought, commitment, and dedication. Hence my second word.
The busier I am, the more self-discipline I need to get my priorities accomplished. I read an article from Forbes magazine by Brent Gleeson. He wrote one of the best-titled books I’ve seen in a while, Embrace the Suck: The Navy SEAL Way to an Extraordinary Life. He begins this particular article with a quote from Plato: “The first and best victory is to conquer self.” My recently retired friend Ben blocks out his day in increments of 15 minutes. It allows him to be creative, fulfill a gazillion volunteer responsibilities, and get a whole lot done. That’s too much structure for me, but I admire the heck out of it. If I’m going to be more creative, I know I need to find my own way of being more self-disciplined.
So, creativity and self-discipline are my two words. I’m not creative enough to find a new term that combines them, and I’m not self-disciplined enough to choose just one. Clearly, I have work to do.
If you have more words to add to the list, let me know! And thank you for reading this post, while giving me the opportunity to stay connected. Let’s have a great 2023!
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2023 Image by Rosy Ziegler at Pixabay