Travels with Myself

A Journal of Discovery and Transition
Doug Jordan, Author

22-1. Year-End Review 2021

The best thing about writing the December 30 blog post (Remembrances of Christmas Past) was that it is the last one for 2021. And as I sat here in the last few weeks of December, coaxing the muse out of my keyboard, and trying to muscle through the dark days of the winter solstice, I hit upon the notion of a year in review newsletter! Ha! How novel is that? Luckily, for you, I hit upon Christmas Carols instead.

But a year-end review seems a necessary thing given the attention I gave it last year. So here you are, 2022 January and I offer up a review of 2021. But a review is only half the story, or even less than half the story, only history. When it comes to a life, the story continues, and so a year-end review should merely be the groundwork for setting goals and making plans for the year ahead.

I was encouraged in this from an email I received December 26 from one of my loyal readers of this blog who, unbidden, commended me for the blog post I had put up last 2020 December (refresh yourself here, and here). Here’s what he said:

‘I was, and still am, so inspired by your yesteryear blog idea that I am writing to report that I’m working on my review of 2021 and on my goals and a specific list of projects for 2022. I might not have it ready by Jan 1st, but “it is in the oven”. I’m looking forward to hearing from you when your review is ready (assuming you plan to produce and share it 🙂 )’

Flattery is a great motivator, at least it is for me – I want more, so we pull ourselves together and see what we can do to meet expectations. In fact, up to the point of receiving my friend’s email, I had been sufficiently discouraged about 2021 to not want to be bothered making plans for 2022, so his email caused me to rethink myself, reread last year’s post (see here it’s rather longish but rather well done, if I do say so myself) and then read through a few other of my posts last year, admiring my work and searching for my reference to Purpose and Projects (and you can check those out for yourself again too, herehere, and here, or to save you looking, and going down rabbit holes, here is the essence in a footnote: Purpose and Projects[1]). Suffice it to say, as much as 2021’s version of Covid 19 felt a lot like 2020, it nevertheless got me recalibrating and thinking about 2021.

So I ordered my 2022 Harvard Planner and set out reviewing my 2021 and thinking about ‘Projects’ for 2022.

In fact it gradually occurred to me that, despite every day in 2021 was a Groundhog Day repeat of 2020, it wasn’t all unproductive.

(And speaking of Groundhog Day and depression, did you read that Wiarton Willi (III or IX, I’ve lost count), has died and is being replaced by a brown rodent as no albino marmot could be found in this covid labour shortage economy; how ‘woke’ of the Wiarton City Fathers. (This is not the first deceased albino in the WW heritage: for previous events please see my commemorating GHD Cartoons here, and here.))

But I digress. What can we recall from my personal experience of 2021 (Time Magazine and the Globe & Mail, and The Economist have taken care of the rest)? And in particular, how did we do relative to the hoped-for Goals and Projects.

First, the consolidation of family and friends. The key word in that set of goals is consolidate and when it comes to friends a lot of consolidating was done. I think that may be true for many of us in these days of covid restrictions. It takes real, genuine, effort, for both parties to a relationship, to sustain the bonds of friendship. If the bonds were tenuous to start with the relationship is in jeopardy; it seems many relationships have unraveled under the constant stress of covid fear and protocols in 2021. But is this really a loss? 

Family is always family but not always your friends. Sometimes it is the family member that is at fault, sometimes a look in the mirror is instructive. If you are still on speaking terms, or even advanced your relationships with close family members, that has to be a plus. And my relationships with my immediate family are in better shape than last year (2020). Not that my family members don’t have problems and hardships of their own, they do – and 2021 brought a number of serious episodes for each of them, but these are part of life and for the most part these difficulties have left the relationship, at least with me, intact.

But in 2020/21 I also gained a whole new extended family and my support of 20 or more pamangkins and apos has given me great satisfaction over the last 20 months; the financial support will continue so as long as Covid lock-downs continue to ravage the Filipino economy (and my own). All in all, this has to count as a definite positive.

On the other hand, my closest family member left me lonely last May, ushered into oblivion with the help of euthanasia to escape more suffering from cancer of her hind foot.

Weight and health. The usual target of 190# was exceeded once again, and perhaps then some, but I’m afraid of the reality check of the scales; the strained waistbands of my pants are reality check enough. BP is nicely controlled due to a handful of pills twice daily; CKD is stable; I work out twice weekly in my boxing gym in the basement but the thrice daily walks have been somewhat curtailed due to the loss of my walking companion. Nevertheless, I do walk the leash at least once per day.

My mental health is much improved as compared to 2018/19, but in the midst of covid-constraints my normal rational optimism[2] has taken a gloomier turn. I’ve begun to notice I don’t whistle (subconscious behaviour) nearly as much as before – which would come as a relief for some friends. I find my days and nights often filled with useless ruminations on my pre-occupation with the shrinking sands in my healthspan ‘sand-dial’, and my bank accounts. (I think this topic worthy of a blog post in 2022 – though it’s highly likely only a few will read it, and fewer still take any insight from it. Oh well.)

Professional Development was an area of low achievement, but then, I note, I had few ideas for it in my 2021 plan. I did resolve to practice six of the Great Virtues, especially Courage, Gratitude and Mercy (my weaknesses) but I can’t say I made much progress on those. I did cleave to my strengths however – Fidelity, Good Faith and Humour with mixed results (Note consolidating friends above!)

I had also intended escorting Carmen Beauty on a world tour of London, Paris and Chicago but evidently that was a bust. Likely we will have to postpone that until even 2023. By then we will probably both need the aid of wheelchairs, and crowd-funding.

Community Involvement. I admit to being a vicarious and closet supporter of social causes that matter to me. My introversion overtakes my intentions and I rely mostly on my credit cards to demonstrate my support. (See failed virtue of courage in the above paragraph.) But this year, under pressure of self-loathing, I hoisted myself out of my ergonomic office chair and volunteered to support two causes that mattered to me: 1) The Canadian Authors Association by facilitating, and perhaps bullying, them into an ambitious five-year strategic plan, and 2) my local Conservative Party candidate in the Groundhog Day election in September, by actually taking to the hustings. The election campaign was a double win for me (though my candidate lost) because not only did I actually make a manifest contribution, and enjoyed it, I even wrote a blog post about it. (You can go here if you missed it!)

Besides all those lovely personal and professional goals, the meta-goals of my 2021 Plan were these:

  1. Publish The Treasure of Stella Bay;
  2. Actively promote The TSB via a thorough-going marketing campaign of email, social media and retailer networking.
  3. Produce 24 blog posts during the year each 15th and 30th of the month;
  4. Bring Carmen to Canada on a [semi-]permanent basis;
  5. Live positively with Aging.

Well, three out of five ain’t bad, and there was nothing I could do about #4. The Treasure of Stella Bay was released in July and got good reception. I dove into the marketing of the thing and self-motivated (is there any other kind?) by convincing myself this was a worthy ‘project’ to which I should devote four months of effort and might offer the necessary diversion and even opportunities for ‘flow’. I have to report there were moments of satisfaction but not much flow. Yet, there are ~150 copies in circulation including in six libraries but that is no indication of how many people will actually read the thing. One of my friends who bought a copy has read it but is withholding comment until his granddaughter has read it and offers her opinion too. I did post 24 editions of Travels with Myself II blog to my website and, at risk of excessive hubris, I am quite pleased with them. The proof is in the re-reading months later and they read pretty well to me still.

But enough of 2021, what do we intend to do about 2022. Well, assuming continuing decent health, both physical and mental, and hoping that life’s vicissitudes give me a pass this year, I think I’ll try for the same mission as 2021 but modified thusly:

  1. ‘Publish’ (privately) a memoir of my life, provisionally titled, My Life, so far – a project commissioned by my eldest daughter, Shannon, but the other two may want a copy as well;
  2. Publish the e-Pub version of The Treasure of Stella Bay and promote it; 
  3. Publish a new book, possibly the sequel to The Treasure of Stella Bay (provisionally titled, The Road to Queen’s);
  4. Produce 24 semi-monthly blog posts for Travels With Myself III;
  5. Close down AFS Consulting, sell the intellectual property; (opening bid: $1);
  6. Bring Carmen to Canada on a [semi-]permanent basis (Immigration Canada and Scotiabank willing);
  7. Live positively with Aging; (This last may require professional help beyond the ministrations of my delightful young masseuse, therapist though she is.)
  8. Adopt a new puppy! (The trouble with this goal is that it is truly strategic and requires at least a 12-year commitment – maybe I should lobby for becoming a grandfather to somebody else’s puppy.)

Some of the major themes in my Harvard Planner will repeat as last year and maybe get new attention: the proverbial weight goal, the consolidating gains in family and friends, practicing my targeted six virtues (especially Courage), adopt a new mentee (a writing mentee this time, not a young HR Professional) if anybody will have me.

And there my friends it is, my report of 2021 and my plan for 2022. I’ve heard from two of you before now about your own plans for 2022 and I’d be delighted to hear from more of you, and of your progress, or stuckness, even regress. We’re already two weeks into 2022 and the first of my 24 blog posts is now in the bag, as is 8700 words in ‘My Story’. Lets hope for the best for the remaining 50 weeks. Soon enough we’ll know. 

Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata Ontario

© Douglas Jordan & AFS Publishing

All rights reserved. No part of these blogs and newsletters may be reproduced without the express permission of the author and/or the publisher, except upon payment of a small royalty, 5¢. 

[1] To be real, purpose needs to be made manifest. To have purpose is to put purpose into play. Like virtue, it is not merely an intention, it must be action. You can’t be virtuous, you must do virtuous things. We are not merely human beings, we are also human doings. Purpose needs projects, something to accomplish, to convert from idea to reality, with inputs and outputs, goals and timelines, and some sense of reward when the project is done. And when the project is done the purpose is not done; you need another project. (For more on projects and mental health you should take look at Brian Little, His pioneering research on how everyday personal projects and ‘free traits’ influence the course of our lives has become an important way of explaining and enhancing human flourishing.)

[2] Rational optimism is just a fancy disguise for pessimism, with a dose of hopefulness. See my blog post on Hopefulness here.)

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