Clean Slates

It’s that time of the year. Time to assess and resolve.
Tell us about your 2011.
What was your favorite book that you read in 2011? What was some new music that you discovered? What was something new you learned to do? What did you do that you are most proud of? What was something you learned about yourself?
Before I share my answers, let me tell you how excited I am about the start of a new year. I feel that way every single year. Standing there on the threshold of the New Year, I just love to look at all the possibilities. Think about all the things I can accomplish; all the things I can learn.
That’s one reason that I don’t go for those electronic calendars for my personal, home calendar. You just can’t get that same inspiration and excitement. (At least I can’t.) I need colored pens and a pretty calendar.

I’ve always enjoyed shopping for my personal planner calendar. There’s nothing like going to the office supply store and looking for it. Standing there, flipping through the pages, dreaming and wondering about the upcoming 365 days. Here’s the one that caught my eye this year.

And then I come home and put on a pot of tea. I sit down at the kitchen table with: TWO pieces of blank paper, my new calendar, my mug full of colored pens, and a cup of tea.
A new year is a clean slate. A fresh start. A beginning again.

The FIRST piece of blank paper is one that I use for assessing and analyzing. I’ve always thought I have to look behind me to look ahead. So I sit there and think deeply about the last 12 months. What did I accomplish? What did I learn? What do I regret? For me, the page won’t turn out to be a nice, clean numbered list of things. It will be words and doodles and ideas going in all different directions. There will be words circled, some hearted, some written big, some small. The previous year laid out in front of me.
Having a clean slate also means forgiving. Get rid of grudges and the old baggage holding on, weighing you down. Now is the perfect time to forgive everybody for everything, including yourself—especially yourself. (Like, whoops, still mad at her for that. I need to release it.) What I always have to tell myself is this: nobody is perfect, so quit expecting yourself (or anybody else) to be. This is all part of the assessing.
And then I move on to the resolution part. That’s what the SECOND blank page is for. For me, this one is always more of a list than the assessment page. It’s neater. “This year, I hereby resolve to…”
How did resolutions get a bum rap anyway? I don’t see what the problem is with resolutions. If you don’t have resolutions or goals, then how can one progress?
I read the other day that a study showed that 35% of us don’t make it through even January living by our resolutions. Maybe that’s it. We don’t like to fail, so we don’t reach too high. I say—don’t be scared of failure. Reach even higher than you ever thought possible. Bet you’ll grow and learn. Ben Stein has a quote I like: “The first step in getting what you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” Decide and then write it down.
I’ll try to scan in my resolution page so you can see it. If I can get it to work, I’ll post it
But this represents one thing on the list. (The paint, not the dog.)

Now, let’s look back at 2011.
Something I always do is keep a list of books I’ve read during the year. I don’t keep a list of the law or business books, only the books I read for enjoyment. My favorite book this year was the one I just finished, My Own True Love, by Shelia Kay Adams. I didn’t want it to end. There were others that I read this year that I really enjoyed. Like The Dirty Life, Kristin Kimball. Blue Lights, Joan Didion. The Center of the Universe, Nancy Bachrach. Twenty Chickens for A Saddle, Robyn  Scott, to name a few. Actually, I guess I could say that I enjoyed every book I read in 2011. I’ve come to the point in my life that if I start a book and don’t like it, I put it down. I feel no need to waste my time on a book that doesn’t grab me right away. Okay, what was your favorite read of 2011? We need to get a list going.
The music I discovered this year is the Avett Brothers. Oh lawdy. Their CD I and Love and You is killer. The title song on youtube. Discovering them has actually helped me formulate one of my resolutions. You ready? Okay, here goes. I resolve to learn to play the banjo. Ha! How funny is that? (I also hereby resolve to see them in concert! Come to Atlanta, Guys!)
The thing I learned how to do in 2011 is play the guitar. The underlying lesson was that you CAN indeed teach an old dog new tricks.

Now I’m not great and don’t have time to practice a lot, but I totally understand it. Just wish I could sing. People laugh when I sing. They think I’m kidding. Hey y’all, I’m not kidding!
I am most proud of….wow, that’s a hard one. I have no idea. I don’t take much time to pat myself on my back or list accomplishments. I’d probably go with parenting and family. I’m a very good mom and wife, and I am very, very proud of that. Yes, I am most proud of making my family my number one priority. When opportunities presented themselves, my question is always—will me doing this take away from my family? Yeah, I’m proud of that. And it will be that way in 2012 too.
I learned about myself that I really do long to live in the country.
Your turn!
Until next time, Friends, savor the flavor of life!
Lots of love, The City Farmgirl, Rebekah

  1. Brenda says:

    Hi Rebekah! Happy New Year to you! I learned to play the piano as a child. Took the lessons, and I did get it but when my parents separated the piano got left behind along with the lessons. So we moved to town with our mother and there was a music shop, first one I had ever been to and there was guitars and banjos on the wall and I asked to play the banjo. Mother asked the sales person and he told her I would be better off playing the guitar the banjo was hard. I was stubborn did not do either. You can do it! I read the light mystery series. I do not expect they would be up your alley but the newest author I have picked up is Sally Goldenbaum. What am I proud of this year. That we pulled off the wedding in our back yard for our daughter, it was scarey after I offered and I finished all six of the grands afghans in the last year. Started one for hubs, he has been waiting patiently. What have I learned about myself this year? I am not happy to do the same ole same ole office type jobs I have done for years. I want to do something new and still make a little money for my little trips and creative supplies that I just cannot live without. I sing in church, but I really cannot sing…lol.

  2. Barb Lavell says:

    Happy New Year, Rebekah! I read so much this year thanks to having a torn miniscus in both knees & a torn rotater cuff in my left shoulder! I did so much reading I’m having a hard time remembering what I read. I did read all 17 Stephanie Plum books by Janet Evanovich. I got the 18th one for Xmas & I’m about to read that. Light, fast, fun reading.
    I really loved The Help by Katherine Stackett & I just finished reading The Heavenly Man, a true story about a
    Chinese Christian Brother (Brother Yun), which he wrote him-
    self (with Paul Hattaway) about the horrible ordeals he endured due to becoming a Christian in China. A remarkable story. As far as music my favorite is, has been & will always be Etta James. I do enjoy music from all genres, however. I love Il Divo & many others. I learned that I can
    become proficient on the computer but, I have a long ways to go & I am proud of what I have accomplished so far. I guess I have to think about what I’m proud of; I am proud of being a good psychiatric nurse, of being a good mother &
    grandmother, of being a good friend but I’m also not in the
    habit of patting myself on the back & I feel those things make up me & my life. I also have to think about what I’ve learned about myself. I guess one thing would be that I’ve proven to myself that I can live on less ($) and that I don’t need alot of "stuff" to be happy. I’m 70 & I’ve been afraid to retire due to the economy, etc. Now that I’ve been unable to work due to my medical conditions, I find that I don’t need to be afraid & I may not go back to work.
    I have one regret which I am unable to let go of & that is that I’ve always wanted to live in the country & that dream will probably never be realized. However, a couple of years ago I tore up the grass in my fenced in backyard & I have
    3 raised bed gardens, flower gardens, a green house & it looks like the counry back there. I would like to get chickens and/or bees back there but my sig. other said he’s all for the country look but draws the line at chickens & bees. I love reading your posts, Rebekah, have a wonderful

  3. Claudia Edwards-Houser says:

    The most wonderful book I read this year (twice, actually) was Bucolic Plague by Josh Kilmer-Pursel of The Fabulous Beekman Boys. When you get weary of trying to live the life you desire, this book inspires one to just keep on. You never know how very close to your goal you were if you quit. Sometimes just a day away.

  4. Though I don’t have much spare time in my life, I read through all of Charlaine Harris’s vampire novels. Wow, they were fun and breezy reads. Loved them! I’m proud of the fact that my job continues to be an enjoyable aspect of my life and I work to do my best at all my projects. I’m proudest, however, that my granddaughters and I get to have a close relationship since they live in the same town I do. We totally love being together, and since we all have January birthdays, we call ourselves "January Girls," and have our very own special cheer. I’m also proud that I finally quit being afraid to strike out on my own and publish a novel I couldn’t find a home for. Being an Indie publisher gives me a sense of pride and I’ve learned so very much. I wish everyone lots of love and success in the New Year!

  5. Nan Roberts says:

    I think two that have helped me the most as well as made me laugh are Blue Like Jazz and A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Don Miller. They are memoirs, spiritual, I don’t know what. About his life.
    But I’ve also re-read (for the millionth time) three books by Elizabeth Goudge, A Bird in the Tree, Pilgrim’s Inn and Heart of the Family. She was a 20th Century English writer (she wrote The Little White Horse, favorite of JK Rowling)who wrote historical and modern fiction as well as wonderful kid books. These three my friend and I go back to often, when we need to figure out how to live. They are fiction — stories, and good stories, too, about people. All her stories are good. But there’s helpful stuff in their too, about life, the universe and everything.

    And another favorite is Terry Pratchett’s Nightwatch. It’s a Discworld book. SF/fantasy/funny, serious stories about living on a Disc on the back of four elephants who are standing on the back of a gigantic tortoise that swims through space.
    Oh, and Summerland by Michael Chabon. Wonderful, get the audio version of him reading it if you can.
    Sorry, i could go on and on.

  6. chantal s says:

    Hi Rebekah!I really enjoy reading your blog! I love getting a new planner as well!As I’am a regular readaholic it’s too hard to name my favorite. I’ve read many books but some of my favorite were Karen Kingsbury The "Longing"series. Also Lisa Scottoline books and the bible! I also went to a book club meeting and met Maureen Lang she’s written many books.I read Pieces of silver and remember me!
    Music would be The band Perry
    The thing I learned was I finally became a Master Gardner last year! and I ‘am proud that I will be teaching a community class of gardening for your health!
    The most thing I’am proud of is I helped my son get off his meds and took him to a doctor who found out all the food intolerances he has…and learning to help him to get better with his him much!!!
    I learned I can make it despite having challenges and being a single mother to 4 wonderful children! Happy New Year!!!

  7. Debbie says:

    Howdy Sister Rebekah!
    Happy New Year to you! What a great post to kick off a new year! I love a new planner too… not a fan of the electronic method of keeping time either… I always choose a planner just like yours in size but always RED! Last years was RED with black and white swirls on the inside! I love your idea of keeping notes and ideas,goals and dreams in your planner too! I keep a separate journal ( also red ) for writing.
    My favorite theme for books in 2011 were books about writing and writers and farmgirl enterprises! I loved Literary Ladies and am currently making my way through Growing Flowers for Market. What did I learn? I learned how to say YES TO ME more often while still being a proud homemaker, mom, wife, daughter and friend. Yep, the days of what if’n my ideas are over. Now, if I feel like doing something, I forge ahead, learn how and go for it . My cousin is learning to play the banjo too! YOU GO GIRL! I’ve been thinking about it too! I love picking my guitar and I bet a banjo would be even more fun! My hubby discovered Joe Bonamasa ( awesome blues guy ) this year and we went to see him live at the Wang theater in Boston! Here’s to a wonderful 2012… I’m expecting nothing less!
    Love and hugs,
    Deb ( beach farmgirl sis )

  8. Dianne says:

    Happy New Year Rebekah: First Thank You for your wonderful blog. I Love it. I just finished the Rose series of books by Jennifer Donnelly, Tea Rose,Winter Rose,Wild Rose. I love any and all Allison Krauss and JT. Anything Blue Grass.I long to someday live in the country in the mountains. I am trying to be a listener instead of a talker. Hard for someone with the nickname "Gabby Hays" Each New year I purchase a New calender and a new journal. Every day I awake happy for a new day.

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