“Will 2018 Be Any Different Than Crappy 2017? I Think So & Here’s Why!”

“Will 2018 Be Any Different Than Crappy 2017? I Think So & Here’s Why!”

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.”

~Helen Keller

So I’m not gonna lie… I’m going to start out this blog a little whiney.  (It will get better shortly-promise). Maybe you will relate?

I can honestly say that 2017 wasn’t my best year. I won’t bore you with the gory details (Gory? A little dramatic perhaps but what the hell? It’s my blog. Neener neener)  That said, I am really looking forward to a bang up 2018. Am I setting myself up? Maybe. Aren’t we all filled with an overdose of champagne and hope the first week of January? I want this high to last a while longer if you don’t mind.

But I feel in order to be smart about turning things around in 2018, I have to honestly evaluate what went wrong in 2017.

First off? I’ve gained 20 pounds. SERIOUSLY? I hear I’m not alone but WTH? 20 pounds? That’s crazy talk. So now because of stupid 2017, I’ve got to join Weight Watchers and eat carrot sticks and celery 24/7 until the buttons on my jeans stop screaming like little babies wanting out of the playpen. So that’s great news for 2018 starting out of the block. I’m already starting at a disadvantage.

Secondly? 2017 brought me my first ever bunion. Okay. I’m 55 years old. Arthritis and a bunion. Really? Aren’t these conditions for like, ninety year olds?? So it’s been goodbye to my 4″ stilettos and hello to orthotics. This alone made me hate 2017 in a big, bad way. I believe it was at that moment, I knew ’17 and I were not going to jive…at all.

Did things look up? Um…yes. I did have some rather wonderful moments.  We paid our last college tuition payment for our fourth child. That required the mandatory uncorking of a 2006 bottle of Staglin Cabernet to celebrate. Worth it because we were so proud…all four children college graduates! Now with no more tuition payments it’s almost like we’ve gotten a pay raise. Good news for me because now I will be able to afford my property taxes. Go me.

Ok, ok, ok. I’m done with the complaining. So let’s get on with 2018 shall we? How can we make this year better than the last crappy one? I’ve given it a lot of thought and here’s what I’ve come up with:

  1. Accept & move on. This means, what you can’t change (bunions & arthritis) handle the rest to the best of your ability (Weight Watchers & exercise- ugh I’m bored already) and get on with it. Whining won’t change the things you have no power over so move on (even though whining feels sooooo dang good sometimes. Like right now for instance). Be realistic with what you can and cannot change. For the things in the category of “there’s nothing I can possibly do to change this situation” then file it away and concentrate on the other category of “things you can change for the better (like losing 20 stupid pounds).
  2. Simplify your life. If you’re like me, half of your life is spent running in circles like a busy ant preparing for winter 20 hours a day, balls to the wall. While this has it’s good attributes, perhaps streamlining and prioritizing the details of our to-do lists can improve the quality of our day. For me, this means stop creating unnecessary chaos that ultimately makes me cranky…so says my husband anyway.
  3. Shorten your friend list. I mean, how many friends do we really need anyway? Consider this carefully. Fifty friends is not manageable. Six are. Again, categorize your friendships into two groups: True Friends and Friend Wanna-be’s (aka acquaintances). There’s a difference. Consolidate your true friends into a less than ten group and give your attention to these people.  Cultivate these relationships, love these people unconditionally, cook for them when they’re sick or going through a rough time. These are the lucky few you schedule your precious “fun-time” allotment with. The other category of wanna-be’s will have to do with a nice note, a short phone call, a friendly conversation at the grocery store. Your time is valuable. Blow it on true friends.
  4. Get off Social Media. Oh man. I am GUILTY AS CHARGED on this one. Because of my 2 latest published books that I’m currently marketing (The Mommy Business and The 24th Life -shameless plug there!) I have been on social media so much that the joint in my thumb hurts. Carpel tunnel? I don’t want to talk about it. Still traumatized by that freaking bunion.  But I think this generation has lost the reality of social media vs. reality.  There is a difference between Facebook, Instagram & twitter likes…and reality. Sure, it makes us all feel good when it’s our birthday and we get hundreds of well wishes. But remember, they’re all getting a reminder to write, “Happy Birthday! Have a great day!” While I enjoy social media and it’s wonderful to spread the word about my work, I feel like we’ve lost our ability to have conversations with one another. Moreover, we also have the ability to seriously hurt one another using this veil of secrecy to hide behind. Take a walk. Call a friend for coffee. Go see a great movie. Read a great novel (like mine! hee hee). But step off the computer screen more and feel the sun shining on your face for a change for God’s sakes! Limit your time to social media and start kicking it old school again. (I will have to practice what I preach as well…)
  5. Give back.  As resolutions go, this is one of my most solemn vows for 2018. I am hideously guilt-stricken by the lack of time I spent doing for others outside of my personal circle of trust. And I stop at nothing to do/give to my family. Sure I also give to charity. Not what I should but enough to have justified my lack of effort over the last 12 months. But I used to sing for homeless shelters, cook for the poor, buy gifts for children at Christmas. Yet, I confess publicly that in 2017 I huddled within and extended my efforts only to those closely within my walls and neighborhood. Maybe this is why 2017 seemed so lackluster? Perhaps in the spirit of Whoo-Ville and giving, the true gifts within come from doing for others. I’m not saying you won’t develop bunions if you don’t volunteer for the Red Cross but I am saying that giving is hands down, good for the soul. And we could all use a little soul food to lift our spirits in these troubled times.
  6. Stretch. I mean this metaphorically and physically. Metaphorically speaking I am referring to stretching your abilities and your mind. Reach for the stars! Let 2018 be the year you garner the nerve to do something wonderful. Use your talents. Join a theater group and sing your little heart out. Write that book. Open a new business. Read the top 100 Classic books of all time (and mine too!) Research current events, political topics, faraway places. Book a trip. Whatever it is you’ve been dreaming about, map out a plan and bring it to fruition. Physically speaking, it’s important to maintain a balance between our minds and our bodies. Stretch both. The more limber and active you are in both of these areas the more alive you’ll feel. The more alive you feel, the more you want to do, give, explore, learn. See how that works? Cool, right?
  7. Forgive. Forgiveness is a two way street. For some reason, it always seems to be easier to forgive others than ourselves. But it’s important to note that the lack of forgiveness within leaves a void whereby “festering” can cultivate and grow. This acidity can eat away at our core, robbing us of any chance at happiness. If someone has done you wrong, acknowledge it, give it the proper ending and move on. Forgiving someone, as well as ourselves and letting go is like a death. That’s why it’s so hard. The choice to bury the wrong, whether we caused it or suffered by it, can be like letting go of an emotional lifeline. It’s scary! Often times we use blaming someone else and/or ourselves for the disappointments in our lives much like covering a wound with a bandage. We wear it for all to see as a public statement for why we have been unable to move on. We’re hurt. We’re wounded. We have an excuse. See my bandage world? I propose ripping off the bandage, give it some air and let old wounds heal. After all, most cuts heal faster without a bandage anyway. Forgive, bury it for reals and move on.
  8. Create your own Fun. Stop waiting! Get your calendar out and plan one major fun excursion a month. Organize your core buds together and go to a concert. Plan a weekend trip to go hiking and picnicking. Invite your besties and their significant others to your place for dinner and a game night. Book a cool concert for a band you’ve been dying to see. Create a book Club (and read my books! Too much?) Go to the theater, a football game, deep sea fishing. Do something! Anything! So that you have something fun to look forward to. Don’t wait for others to organize the outing, you do it. 
  9. Be patient and kind. Of all the things on this list, make these a priority. Our world is so divided right now that we all need to be more aware of how important a single, random act of kindness can change the world. Spread it however and whenever you can. I promise, it will come back to you tenfold…

On a positive note, I found some rather cute orthotic shoes the other day online that I may have to purchase to start walking again. These 20 pounds won’t lose themselves after all. They may not be stilettos but hey, at least they’re not Depends just yet. And for that, I am thankful.

So in closing, I’m exceedingly emboldened by the endless possibilities 2018 can bring… And I vow to live by these 9 commendations to the best of my abilities as well.

With a swift kick in the arse to 2017 I say:

“Cheers to 2018, Good day & God bless!”

Love to all,

Michele E. Mathews

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