Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 Goals: How Did I Do?

How can it already be the last day of 2016?  But here it is, and let me take some time in assessment.  Tomorrow, I'll write about my goals for 2017; I've already written a bit about that, but I want to have my goals and intentions in one place.

So, onward to 2016--how did I do?  I'll list the goal, and then I'll reflect on my progress.


Here was my goal:  "My dental hygienist was blunt--I need to brush my teeth more often."

Progress:  I was mostly successful in brushing my teeth again at the end of the day.  I have a lot of toothbrushes.  Perhaps I should also take one to work.

A tip:  I don't always have access to water, to toothpaste, to a place to spit.  My dental hygienist says that a dry brush is helpful too, sometimes more helpful than a toothbrush made goopy with toothpaste.

Unexpected success:  Twice in the past year, I experimented with a "shred," an elimination diet of sorts.  For ten days, I took the following out of my diet:  alcohol, gluten (and the later shred got rid of all grains), dairy, and all but one drink with caffeine.  I added the following:  lots of veggies, fruits, and lean protein, plus nuts and seeds.  One or two protein shakes a day.  Start the day with a detox tonic:  1 tsp. of apple cider vinegar, 2 T. lemon juice, 4 T. cranberry juice. 

These shreds gave me a weight loss of a few pounds, which inspired me to do more.  And thus, right now, I'm about 10 pounds lighter than I was a year ago.

Goal:  "This year, I'm going to make a list of every book I read.  If I read 2 books a month, that's 24 books by the end of the year.  I used to read 24 books a month.  But let me not get lost in what used to be.  I will read 2 books a month, plus one volume of poetry each month.  That's at least 3 books a month.  That's my goal."

How did I do?  Most months, I did read 2 books a month, plus one volume of poetry.  In both August and November, my reading fell off a bit.  But I end the year with 51 books read.  And because of my goal of reading a volume of poetry a month, I read more poetry volumes than I would have otherwise.  And I love reading back over my list with my comments--it's been a journal of sorts, a list that reminds me of key moments in the year.

Being Present

Goal:  "I want 2016 to be the year of reconnecting.  I began to feel a bit more reconnected as this year came to an end, and I want to build on that."

Assessment:  I did better at reconnecting and staying connected in some months than in others.


The goals:

 --Become more aggressive/intentional about sending queries to agents.  I will send three queries a month.

--I will spend the first 15 minutes at my writing desk each morning writing a short story or a poem.

--I will continue sending packets of poems and stories out into the world.  My goal will continue to be 100 submissions.

--I will send the larger poetry manuscript to 5 possible publishers.

--And along the way, I'll need to do some support of my forthcoming chapbook.


I started off being more intentional about queries to agents, but eventually I ran out of possibilities and felt too discouraged to seek out more.  I ended up the year with roughly 100 packets of poems and stories sent out into the world.  I sent my larger poetry manuscript to 4 publishers.

Unexpected successes:  My friend and I had an ongoing exchange that we called the Purgatory project that came from her writing a piece where she wakes up in some sort of afterlife.  She wrote in her own voice, and I most often wrote in the voice of God.  I wrote 20 pieces, including a scholarly preface, the voice of the angel Gabriel, a new library policy, and the HR director of the afterlife.  This project was a delight.

I also wrote what will become a collection of linked short stories.  At first, I thought I was writing about student activists at age 50.  I had a vision that they were all part of some activist group in college in the 80's.  But I thought it would be more fun to write about a group of people at an applied arts school, like the one where I used to teach.  Each story has an element from social justice groups--in some stories, it's just a whisper, while in others, it's a central plot element.  That, too, has been an unexpected delight of a writing project.

Other 2016 Goals:

In a post on my theology blog, I wrote this:  "This year, I want to adopt a simple spiritual resolution.  As I move through the day, each and every day, I want to be aware; I want to ask myself, 'Are you building community or are you tearing it apart?'"

At the time, I was thinking more of my workplace, with its shrinking.  I could not have anticipated the broader ways that this goal seems ever more relevant at the end of the year.  I want to think that I was successful with this goal, in the ways that I was allowed to be.  I'm also aware of the decimating impacts of the constant lay-offs at my old job--that feels like a failure of my goal, even though I wasn't the one who made these decisions to let people go.

I didn't really write down any other goals, but I always had the goal of finding a job at a place that had a chance of taking me to retirement.  Even before the accreditation problems of ACICS, my old school showed signs of serious weakness (more students graduating and leaving for other reasons than the amount of new students--that's the one that most concerned me).  Through the past few years, I've applied for a job here and there.  Happily, this year, various threads came together, and I moved to a job that seems like it will be more secure for more years than the old job.

Tomorrow:  my 2017 goals.

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