I’m having chocolate for breakfast. This should tell you all you need to know about 2016.
I’ve pretty much been eating my feelings, especially since November 9. Friends and family have been gifting us sausages from a small, organic butcher in Wisconsin, cheese (also from Wisconsin, natch), and chocolate. I wish I were the kind of woman who exercises or cleans to relieve stress. Alas, I’m not. Elastic has become my friend.
I haven’t even been writing. My poor blog has been neglected. My journal sits blank. Writing, the one thing that I usually find cathartic and healing has eluded me. Writing has been my crutch for many years, yet that crutch has been knocked away and now lies in a corner coated in dust. Lately my brain is swirling with ideas, but I cannot find the words to express them. I sit here at a loss, literally at a loss for words and figuratively at an emotional loss.
2016 has been rough. Every year brings its trials for sure, but 2016 has been palpably different. Every year I am astounded at the celebrity deaths. Admittedly, many times I thought some of those people were already dead. But this year has been different. David Bowie. Prince. Gene Wilder. Carrie Fisher. All icons from my formative years. And there are so many more…
2016 has ushered in what amounts to political disaster. Global conflicts churn in every corner of the world. The planet itself is in crisis, yet legions of lawmakers continue to deny the very science that makes life on earth possible. We’ve seen the ravages of war, but we don’t act. It’s always easier to look away from horror. It’s a western world luxury.
2016 has shown us illness at every turn. Dear friends are suffering. Cancer’s wrath has claimed many friends this year. Some are still fighting. Others are not.
2016 has distracted us from what’s fulfilling and meaningful. We’ve seen hate, misogyny, racism, and xenophobia ripple through our nation and the world. Perhaps the only silver lining is that people are finally noticing that racism is not relegated to the South alone. As a lifelong Southerner, this is somewhat satisfying since I’m tired of defending my home at every turn.
2016 has diminished Democracy. I live in North Carolina. Enough said.
Yet, I have hope.
Mac Daddy will tell you that I am the glass-half-empty one in the family. I tend to harp on the negative and feel other’s pain fiercely. Sometimes my empathy is debilitating. I am easily overwhelmed and feel the weight of the world. But mostly my anguish and anger combine into a wicked cocktail that fuels me. I advocate. I speak out. I fight. There is work to do. I am hopeful that this climate will encourage us to find our voice, to empower us to use our agency to right the wrongs of this world. We start with our very own backyard.
Small steps result in great strides. I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, for I promptly break them. But this year I resolve to be resolute.
Here are 10 simple ways to make 2017 shine.
- Smile. All it takes is a smile to stranger when you walk the dog, pass someone in the cereal aisle, or wait to pump gas.
- Make eye contact. Look up once in a while. We spend too much time looking down and looking away. Let’s take note of each other.
- Compliment a stranger. Everyone stands up a bit straighter when they hear something nice about themselves.
- Go to the library. Seriously. The library is a magical place. Sit for a spell. Read. People watch.
- Cook. The kitchen is indeed the heart of the home. Everything they say about breaking bread together is true. Make a meal to deliver to a friend while you’re at it.
- Volunteer. Share your talents. Use your voice. Donate what you can, be it money, goods, or time.
- Write a letter. Hand write a note to someone you care about. Snail mail shouldn’t be reserved for Christmas cards alone.
- Share your gratitude. Our family tradition is to hold hands before dinner and share something from the day we are grateful for. Despite tough times, we find something to be thankful for every single day.
- Write a letter to the editor. Pick just one issue in your local paper and write a letter to the editor in support or opposition of what you read. It’s empowering to see your name in print. Trust me.
- Pay attention. Do you see something that makes you uncomfortable? Do you see injustice? Do you see something marvelous? Do you note anything that makes you laugh? Tell someone.
Let’s work together to look ahead, move forward, and progress. Wonderful things await. I hope this much is true.