Everyone has their lists of the “bests and worsts” of 2012. Who wore it best … what movie outranked them all … what the hottest technology was … what destination was the one more people wanted to visit than all others… So, in the spirit of closing out the year, I thought I’d end my blog for 2012 with my own best and worst list.
As I look back at this year, there’s a lot going on that gives me pause. There are things I really like and make me giddy with excitement about the future and then there are things that, well, just make me put my head down into my hands in sorrow and make me want to cry in sorrow and disbelief. So, in no particular order, here is what I hope to see more of (or less of) in the year ahead, with all compliments to the 2012 year in review.
1. More Kindness: Tragedies like those which came to the families of Newtown, CT and the victims of Super Storm Sandy are unfathomable to nearly all of us. I still cannot allow my mind to bend around the idea of losing the very essence of who I am. Family, home, memories, my future…these are the losses these families have endured. And yet if you listen to the stories of bravery, courage and kindness, it gives you hope to know that despite the profound losses, they have hope. These amazing people felt the love and kindness of their friends, neighbors and millions of faceless strangers. I hope in 2013 we can be more kind without the impetus of a tragedy.
2. More Fiscal Responsibility. All around us, there is this growing belief that the pot of gold (is there one?) has no bottom and that unrestrained spending is an acceptable behavior. It is reckless and wrong. I try to teach my nine-year-old that she cannot spend money she doesn’t have. I balance my checkbook and take care to not spend what I do not have. I pay my bills at the end of the month – 100% – without fail. It is a behavior and an attitude that starts at home, is taught to children and permeates into every corner of the fabric of our lives. We need to get back to this attitude quickly. Anything less will continue to wreak havoc in the lives of our world.
3. Less Busyness. We need to slow down. It’s great that the world is on high-speed technology 24/7, but the last time I had the news on, the “loop” didn’t change much over the many hours it was running in the background. Taking – or making! – time to turn it all off and learn how to live a less-stimulated life is a goal for 2013. Take a walk. Listen to the world wake up in the early morning. Watch the stars put on a nighttime show. We need to learn how to be less busy and appreciate the world at our feet. 2013 is the year to get back to just “being” a little more.
4. More Manners. I wasn’t raised in the South, but I sure spent enough time there to know that no one has the edge on the “manners market” like the genteel South. A heaping dose of “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Sir” can go a long way. No one I know ever was offended by a little “Please”, “Thank You” or the kindness of a door held open for a lady, an older gentleman or a Mom juggling a wiggly toddler. I’d like to see more manners in 2013. You don’t have to get out your Crane’s paper to send me a thank you note (but I’ll love you if you do!), but an email acknowledging my gift is most welcome! Let’s make sure we’re not losing the art of manners in 2013…we need to be a kind and civil society!
5. Less Throw-away / More Permanent. It sickened me beyond words to hear that Kim Kardashian and Kanye West are expecting a child this morning. Not that I don’t begrudge anyone the joy of parenting, but the idea that he announced it during a concert, unbeknownst to her, hints at the likely novelty of the whole situation. Children aren’t trophies to celebrity relationships. They are lives, forever impacted by the actions and behaviors of the people who created them and the environment in which they live. I sure hope that in 2013, these two people get real about the choice they made. Our society is too comfortable with recycling and throw-away things. Lives, people, feelings…these aren’t things we can casually throw away and recycle. Let’s keep that in mind in 2013 a little bit more!
6. More Perspective. It’s gotten a little to easy to live in a vacuum these days. As transparent as the world has become, it has also become rather isolated. You can leverage technology so effectively to passively weed out any sort of opposing or offensive views. I did it pretty well during the election and I suspect most of my friends did too. (It’s ok, I know you got tired of my support for my candidate.). But when we turn off everything we disagree with, we start to lose the ability to get the other side of the story and sometimes, the other side has merit. News used to be just that…unbiased, unopinionated news; I wish we could find some more of that today. But in 2013, we all need to be a little more open to listening to the entire story and consider all sides. This bi-partisan chasm is only getting wider and if we keep stacking the blocks to the wall higher, we’re NEVER going to get anywhere. I’m reaching out for more perspective in 2013. I challenge you to listen and do that same. For all of our sakes!
7. More Arts and Culture. There seems to be less and less time these days for the world to make, experience and appreciate art, music, literature and the wonderful cultural experiences that can grow and expand our minds. Schools don’t have the funding to teach it like they used to. Communities don’t seem to have the spaces to exhibit it. Corporations don’t invest in it, display it or celebrate it as it seems they once did. I don’t agree with all art. I don’t understand a lot of it. But I find that when I experience it, it challenges me to look at the world differently. To think about things in new ways and to rethink old ideas in broader directions. It moves me and challenges me. And that’s good. We need to find ways to make the Arts a priority everywhere in 2013. So get out your fingerpaints, visit a community museum, buy a ticket to the opera…whatever you do, do it more in 2013!
8. Less Procrastinating. I think we’re all guilty of this and I know I have a to-do list that would wrap the Empire State Building if I’d let it! But life it short and we all need to make sure we’re not letting the important stuff slip away! Don’t let your bucket list get rusty! If 2012 taught us anything, it is that life is really precious and that there is no excuse to stay late at the office if you could be home catching fireflies in the backyard at suppertime! Procrastinate on the important stuff (like family, friends, love…) less in 2013!
9. Live More! I read a book yesterday where the two principal characters were discovering young love. They were heavily infatuated with each other and, while they agreed their feelings were well past the “like” stage, neither was ready to make the big commitment of the “L” word. They agreed that when you merged like and love together, you formed the word “live” and decided to tell each other often, ‘I Live You”. I like that! We all need to live more and find ways in the year ahead to make sure we are living our lives – every day – to the fullest extent possible. Don’t hold back! Live! Live! Live!
10. Be More Real. Be Less Selfish. The world is full of fakes and phonys. Turn the TV, read a magazine at the checkout stand or scan the headlines and the hubris and self-absorbed behavior is on display at every turn. From the highest offices, to the box office, to the pulpits and the classrooms, some of the biggest role models in our lives and the lives of our children are some of the most selfish and self-absorbed people we meet. The obsession with appearance, decisions that put self over others, party over public best, individual over classroom, the need for self-serving fulfillment seems to be at an all-time high. I don’t know how to stop it, other than to start by changing the behavior with myself. And hope that one candle will light another. That’s what I will begin to do in my circle. Try. That’s all we can do. We need to put others’ needs first. Make them accountable for their actions and help them be self-sufficient. But get back to truly helping take care of those who need. And be honest with ourselves about what’s really important.
So, Happy New Year. Happy end of 2012. I am looking forward to a quiet celebration with my family tonight. No big party or blow-out. Just a quiet, lovely dinner with my loved ones at home. Celebrating the things that matter most. Life. Love. Family.
Happy New Year and God Bless you in 2013!