Tag Archives: New Year

Rewind, Restart

2 Jan


Each holiday season, Christmas passes in an innocuous haze of cozy cheer, yet New Year’s increasingly presents an uncomfortable obstacle. The past year must be reckoned with, justified, reflected on. Time flew and staggered. Goals were met and missed. I soared, I sunk. I quit my job in one state and started graduate school in another. I re-adjusted. I settled into new routines. At times I let the past cloud the present, yet now and again I planned a marvelous future.

The passage of time is difficult to wrap our heads around. “For what is imagetime? Who can readily and briefly explain this? Who can even in thought  comprehend it, so as to utter a word about it?” queried St. Augustine in his Confessions. And, “But we measure times as they are passing, by perceiving them; but past, which now are not, or the future, which are not yet, who can measure?” He didn’t solve the riddle, and neither have we. The past is certainly important, yet no longer. How, then, can we best apply past experience to the future, to this new 2016?

Not by living in the past. That won’t do. Instead, here’s at least what I’m continuing on in 2016:

For the Stretching of my Mind: Reading. Because, as Pinterest discovered for me: “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.” (George RR Martin) I’m bursting my own buttons over the fact that I read 22 books last year. Loosely following Clifton Fadiman’s lifetime reading list, I worked my way through Machiavelli’s The Prince, Trollope’s The Warden, and have made a considerable dent in St. Augustine’s Confessions. I also read faith-based books, biographies and autobiographies, a collection of poems and one of essays, more fiction, and even a book on economics. I hope to read even more books in 2016, and encourage you to join me in this venture!

For my Physical and Emotional Well Being: Lifting weights. My brother, Ian, completely uprooted a cardio heavy exercise schedule about this time last year. I admittedly am too embarrassed to show out at University of Maryland’s gym, what with all the jacked 2o year old meat heads and frat boys lurking about, but I did come up with an at-home solution, 50 lb adjustable weights. Adhering in part to Ian’s regiment, I have a legs day, a shoulders and abs day, and a back day. I feel stronger, can actually do a decent number of push ups, and noticeably have definition in my upper back and shoulders. It’s nice to know I might just be stronger than the octogenarians on toast and tea diets.

For my Professional Development: Receiving constructive criticism. When I was a sophomore in high school, I had outgrown an easy going, uncritical violin teacher, and reluctantly switched to an intense, nit picky one. My persistent desire to receive positive feedback from Devon, my new teacher, drove me to practice insane amounts. Finally, when he sensed that I was frustrated, he explained:”I’m not getting paid to give you compliments. I’m getting paid to make you a better player.” In retrospect, I appreciate that he picked me apart. The best teachers don’t applaud; they correct. Similarly, those who want to learn will respond objectively to constructive feedback.

2015 wasn’t wholly constructive, mainly because of my own misinformed thought patterns. In 2016, I plan to work on not:

Having expectations. Google “expectations and gratitude,” and you’ll find a whole slew of articles suggesting an inverse relationship between the two. In his collection of essays God in the Dock, C.S. Lewis gives the following scenario: “Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable…The people who try to hold an optimistic view of this world would become pessimists: the people who hold a pretty stern view of it become optimistic.”

imageMaking assumptions about others. Do you ever create a plausible back story for someone you just met? I do, and mine are almost always off-base. I thought a guy from Venezuela I play tennis with, based on his calm demeanor, was a rich kid with a nice life. Turns out he and a group of friends were kidnapped and held ransom by several men with machine guns, until their parents shelled out $1000 each. Or take my friend from Bible study, who I assumed to come from a loving Christian home based on her rigid lifestyle. Nope; she was raised atheist, has little to no contact with her parents, and is completely on her own financially.

Doubting myself. Self-sabotage is senseless. Channeling Pinterest vibes once more, “Make sure your worst enemy is not living between your own two ears.” Oh, and this one’s good too: “You are far too smart to be the only thing standing in your way.”

And now for my food resolutions: DO continue eating oatmeal; DON’T eat the instant variety. Instead, I have already begun eating rolled oats, which are less processed and can be flavored as you please. Thus far, I’ve made peanut butter & jelly, peanut butter & banana, and brown sugar & honey oats.

The base for each recipe is the same: microwave 1/3 cup oats and 2/3 to 1 cup water until cooked (1.5-2 minutes). Next, for:


ADD: image

1/2 Tbs. peanut butter

1 Tbs. jelly (grape or raspberry)




1/2 banana, sliced

1/2 Tbs. peanut butter




1 Tbs. brown sugar (unpacked)

1 Tbs. honey