So long, 2014


The last sunset of 2014, as seen from Sunny Rock.

It’s New Year’s Eve, and while I never go out to celebrate, and only rarely stay awake until midnight, I have generally positive feelings toward the whole “out with the old; in with the new” tradition.

Every December 31st is a chance to look back over the past year, remember all the best things about it, and forget all the worst things. And every January 1st is a chance to start over with a new year, a new calendar, a new opportunity to change the things that aren’t working (and keep doing things that are).

Even though I know perfectly well that most New Year’s resolutions are broken (about 92%, statistically, I believe), and even though I’ve rarely done very well at keeping them myself (or even remembering what they were past mid-January or so), I usually make a few, with great hope and optimism. (Once in a while, one sticks: I’ve been flossing my teeth—daily, without fail— for so long that I don’t even remember which year I made that resolution.)

So, in the spirit of New Year’s Eve, and in no particular order of importance, here are two lists: one of ten good things that happened in 2014, and one of ten things I hope to improve in 2015.

Good stuff about 2014:

  1. Tony and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. When we got married in 1989, after dating for only eight weeks, we knew it would last—but it’s nice to be able to prove it to all the people who were too nice to say they thought we were crazy.
  2. Will graduated from college, the last of our four kids to reach that milestone. He got a part-time job in the library at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village (to go with his other part-time job at the Auburn Public Library). We all got to know the Shakers, and, as it turns out, we kind of love them.
  3. I exercised (at least 30 minutes a day) on every single day of 2014, continuing an unbroken streak I started way back in April of 2012. As a matter of fact, tomorrow will be Day #1000 without a miss.
  4. I wrote 87 stories for the Bethel Citizen. Besides covering various events and meetings, I got to interview local luminaries like musician, sign-painter, and long-time Bethel Water District employee Donnie Katlin; retiring Maine Adult Education Executive Director Cathy Newell; and 2013 inaugural poet Richard Blanco.
  5. In June, Tony had a very successful surgery on his eye that ended a couple of frustrating years of double vision and trouble reading. Yay!
  6. I read 42 books, about ten less than in 2013, but still a fairly decent number. My 2014 reading included 25 novels, seven short story collections, six memoirs, three poetry collections, and one biography. I also read at least two poems a day from anthologies, because poetry rocks.
  7. And, because poetry rocks, I joined a weekly poetry group at the West Paris Library, led by the remarkable Rodney Abbott, retired Telstar history teacher and all-around great guy, who gives new meaning to the term “active retirement.”
  8. I got my first freelance piece published, and got paid for it! Although the appearance of my essay, “Just Like Glass” in the June issue of Down East Magazine hasn’t led to a flurry of subsequent publications, at least this means I won’t die unpublished as a freelancer.
  9. I got “out” some. Everyone who knows me well knows that I’m a homebody (or, for four months of the year, a campbody), but in 2014 I attended at least three concerts, two plays (one at Deertrees Theatre in Harrison and Elizabeth Peavey’s terrific one-woman show, “My Mother’s Clothes Are Not My Mother,” in Portland), two readings (David Sedaris and Richard Blanco), and the annual Christmas Cantata at the church across the street from my house (which, in 26 Decembers here, I’d never before managed to attend). I go regularly to Greenwood selectmen’s meetings, as well as my wonderful, supportive writing group meetings. I’m not saying it’s a trend, or that I intend to make a regular habit of it, but it turns out that getting out now and then isn’t so bad.
  10. While I didn’t finish either of my two big writing projects, I did add about 25,000 words to one of them this year, which, when considered along with various blog posts, short stories, essays, and the aforementioned 87 newspaper stories, constitutes a fair amount of writing in 2014.

Resolutions for 2015:

  1. A place for everything, and everything in its place—even if that means getting rid of half my possessions. I mean it this time. Really.
  2. Early to bed and early to rise. Take advantage of morning hours, when I know I’m at my best.
  3. More writing! Create—and stick to—a more rigid writing schedule. Take advantage of morning hours…
  4. Submit more pieces for publication, and grow a thicker skin when it comes to rejections.
  5. Continue the exercise streak, which will be three years old on April 7th. Take advantage of morning hours…
  6. Eat better. Maybe even consider baking fewer cookies. Maybe.
  7. Spend more time with my siblings. Because they’re all pretty great. And I haven’t seen one of my brothers in over a year.
  8. More reading! Stephen King says that if you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write. He does not say that about cleaning the house, cooking dinner, or buying groceries. Learn to see reading as valuable work, not a brief reward at the end of the day. Take advantage of morning hours…
  9. Spend less time doing dumb things on line (thus freeing up more time for #3, #5, #7, and #8).
  10. Be nice when possible. (I used to be a lot nicer than I am now, but I’m working on it.)