Writing a semi-monthly blog – finding a topic and producing 1500 words twice a month (that’s 24 posts in a year) worthy enough for consumption by discerning readers such as yourself – is challenge enough; but producing something at year-end that is not yet another hoary cliché is much worse. I already had a topic in mind, and partially drafted from weeks ago, but somehow it didn’t quite seem the right thing for the 31st of December. No, I needed to do something worthy of the significance of the date, endings and new beginnings and all.
In posts past I’ve made much of the theme of year-end review and setting goals for the year ahead, resolving to have a productive and satisfying year, and in the bargain find moments of happiness. (See https://afspublishing.ca/1-year-end-review-2021/; https://afspublishing.ca/14-2020-year-end-review/; https://afspublishing.ca/15-purpose-mission-for-2021/ ). Somehow, I felt that I had beaten that particular horse to death. And who of my readers actually want yet another annual newsletter from someone recounting their particular joys and sorrows?
Still, I provoked sufficient comment (and maybe more thought) last year about setting an annual plan that some readers might feel cheated if I didn’t let them know how it turned out. Besides, it might also prove therapeutic for me to reassess the progress of the year 2022.
On a day-to-day basis, even week to week, it’s often hard to recognize that anything worthwhile happened or was accomplished. But in the fullness of a year, more perspective is possible and a greater appreciation of what you might have accomplished is revealed. In any event, having set out a Vision, Mission, and Objectives for the year in my Harvard Planner, it’s now time to review and take stock:
Purpose: To be the best version of myself by levering my best strengths:
- Creativity in writing, storytelling;
- Perspective, wisdom, curiosity, love of learning;
My ‘gift’: sharing insight through stories – to entertain, possibly to educate.
Vision: Five good years left (‘healthspan’) – so make the most of them.
- Publish next novel; Result – still deciding.
- Write ‘My story’, for my kids; Result: done; and pretty satisfied with it as well.
- Bring Carmen to Canada: Result: Carmen visited Canada for five months (March to September) but returned to Philippines with the understanding we will never be together as permanent residents in either Canada or the Philippines.
- Live with aging, positively… through projects; Result: good engagement with projects (My Story, Mostly; Canadian Authors; supporting Carmen) but wrestle with depression daily.
- Wind up AFS Consulting; Result: It persists.
Now here’s a detailed Summary and Assessment of 2022, per my Harvard Planner: (You can skip this if you like though there are hidden gems in it.)
|2022 Objective||Key Activity?||Result|
|Health & Fitness|
|1. Weight – the usual 190||Skip lunch daily||Ha!|
|2. Fitness – maintain||Boxing gym 2x/wk||Achieved. Not sure how fit…|
|3. Cardio/kidney health||Check-up/meds||Discontinued statin (back problems)Consult with a nephrologist – Changed BP meds– Diagnosis: BPHP; – Prognosis: chronic, regressive|
|4. Mental health||Therapy?||No action; stable with CBT|
|5. ‘Projects’ (for happiness)||1 – ‘My Story’; 2 – Next Novel||Completed the memoir, quite satisfied with it;2-3 options for next novel – looking like the sequel to TSB: ‘Alex in Wonderland’.|
|6. Promote TSB||Release e-pub; More retailers? Contests? Book fairs; Social media posts; MSM? Film?!||e-pub was released; picked up 4 more indie bookstores and other outlets; Entered four contests – crickets; Ottawa Book Exchange – disaster. Overall Results – moderate: ~200 copies in circulation; but ~150 copies in inventory!|
|7. Canadian Authors Association||Volunteer to help implement the 2021/26 Strat Plan||Joined Board of Directors; took Treasurer role; drove fundraising campaign. Some progress but stressful.|
|8. Practice key virtues||Courage (resilience); gratitude||Hard to assess; I think I made some advances.|
|9. Travel with Carmen||London, Paris, Chicago||Too ambitious, or perhaps pipe-dreams; Carmen did come to Canada when covid restrictions finally lifted but lack of visas and money dampened these dreams.|
|10. Filipino Family||Carmen and her apos; continue support but reduce dependency with [hoped for] recovering Philippines economy||Carmen now principal caregiver to four apos – indefinitely;Allowance reduced, but…Carmen now operating four small businesses, accumulating pension nest-egg.|
|11. Canadian Family||Moral support||Their journeys continue|
|12. Cultivate key friendships||Frequent check-in with those compatible; net-negative relationships – let them go, without regrets||The network continues to shrink, with some vague regrets|
|13. Political activity||Support political parties;Campaign in Ontario election||Financial contributions (Federal, Ontario);Did not campaign in Ontario election;Supported candidate for federal conservative leadership; Supported local municipal and school board candidates;Tweeted!|
|14. 1st Unitarian||Resume attending services;Continue financial support||Went once but Carmen didn’t like the new minister; I didn’t like the masking;Still make monthly payment (not quite tithing!)|
|15. Reading regime continues||3 books a month in three genres:Psychology/science, biography, fiction||Well, 26 books in the year ain’t bad.Best book: The Lincoln Highway (Amor Towles); this book has inspired me to write something similar, someday.|
|16. Coaching cases?||Ca sera, sera||Picked up two clients and the journey continues|
|17. Mentoring someone?||Encouraging Anna P.||Well, well – she’s finished the first draft of her first novel, a prodigious 136,000 words! Promises me I get to edit/review it, after the fourth draft.|
Quite apart from keeping a scorecard, another way to evaluate a year is to recall the significant events that occured in the year, especially the ones with positive consequence (which might include finding the silver lining in what otherwise was a negative event). These unplanned events often carry more positive affect than achieved goals, but either way, reflecting on the year with gratitude as the lens is the point. Gratitude is one of the great virtues and practicing gratitude is one of the ways to happiness.
Happiness can only be lived in the present, of course, but context also matters. So it’s natural, even necessary, at the end of the year to take stock: what were the big events in your life in the year just past? What should you be appreciative of, and grateful for? And then, what can we expect in the year ahead?
So, without being tedious, or irritating, let’s recap some of the things I should be grateful for in 2022.
The end of covid social and travel constraints allowed a lot of relief for a lot of people. Not everyone mind you – some people have stronger safety needs than others – but for the most part we were grateful to be released from our social straitjackets and get on with our normal lives – our old normal, not this zoo-like new normal. And people began to travel, to the point of overloading airports not used to heavy traffic. And that included me, though in my case it wasn’t for mere tourism, it was to resume a real relationship with my asawa in The Philippines not a virtual one via Messenger. I spent the month of March in The Republic of The Philippines then brought Carmen back to Canada to rediscover whether we could live together. By September, her visa expiring, we returned to RP, but after a month I needed to return to Canada to resume my obligations here; Carmen had to stay in Philippines to meet her obligations there. So once again we find ourselves obliged to sacrifice our own personal needs and continue a long-distance romance, so common for Filipino couples split by circumstance to live apart for months of the year. The silver lining? The relationship continues to be sustained.
Making a difference in people’s lives, especially young lives who are so vulnerable. Carmen has to stay in Philippines to care for four of her apos while their mothers try to find themselves. These youngsters, 15, 14, 12 and 5, desperately need security and certainty in their young lives, and Carmen, with my support, can provide it. And it isn’t just a matter of having a roof over their heads, regular meals, and a few luxuries, it’s the psychological need for stability and reliability. Carmen and I can provide that, and as well a role model that sustaining partnerships are possible. A few months of this does not fully meet the needs but it’s a start.
Making a difference, perhaps, in some adults’ lives too (coaching clients, mentees, aspiring authors). Taking on two coaching clients struggling to expand their business and grow their own managerial and leadership competencies reminds me that I still have something to give back from my own experience in the trenches. It also helps pay the bills. I guess I’m still not ready to close down AFS Consulting and retire. And in addition, I’ve also picked up three other coaching cases (pro bono) – aspiring authors trying to navigate the writing and publishing world. And lastly, I have ‘adopted’ a young author who has agreed to accept my advice and guidance as her mentor. All of this is very gratifying.
Finishing my autobiographical memoir, ‘My Story, Mostly’. It was a demanding project taking three times as long as I had expected – mining memories, seeking input from others, pouring over photo albums trying to find the right picture that speaks a thousand words; then editing, editing, editing; finally pressing the Publish button. I think the family members will value it, if not now, one day. The real value of the project was that it kept me occupied for much of the year and made me smile, often – even amongst the tears.
Continuing to promote my novel of 2021, The Treasure of Stella Bay, seeing it being praised, but also largely ignored. Getting one’s book into the hands of readers is the least appealing part of being an author. Even if your book is good, the world does not beat a path to your door; and insidious doubt creeps into the recesses of your mind. But I am grateful to the 13 or 14 indie bookstores and other retailers who have placed my book on their shelves. And the many people who have bought my book. There are some 220 copies in circulation (even though another 150 copies languish in shelves and in my closet!) I have to remind myself that writing a book is not the only creative process in being an author. Maybe this promotion card will help:
Volunteering with the Canadian Authors Association and helping them re-invent themselves. I was persuaded by the Chair of the CAA that the association needed people with my knowledge and experience to help the CAA with implementing its 2021-26 Strategic Plan (which plan I had produced in 2021). I accepted to serve on the Board and subsequently take on the role of Treasurer and Director of Fundraising. The value of work is the feeling that comes with accomplishing something, using your best talents to advance a worthwhile endeavour, making a difference. This is why so many people volunteer. Even though the only income is psychic it is often the most rewarding. At least, that’s what I tell myself.
And what should we expect for 2023?
- Ongoing dilemma of sustaining a robust relationship over 12,000 miles.
- Sustaining my energies and commitment to the long-term challenge of the CAA.
- Facing the implications of health issues, for myself and other family members, and seeking the silver lining in these episodes of adversity.
- Choosing my next writing project.
Doug Jordan, reporting to you from Kanata, Canada
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