Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hello, 2016

This is going to be short and sweet, because the gist of my goals this year is to simplify. For the last several years, I have boxed in my goals. I have set numbers and measures, and that has been fantastic. However, some things can't be counted, and I think it's time to deal with some of those. These goals may seem vague compared to previous years, but I hope that by allowing myself some freedom I can actually reach further.

This year, my resolutions are simple.

1) I am going to work on my body and mindset towards exercise. I'm not just going to lose weight to look better or to help control my diabetes, I am going to become more active in general and let that drive other improvements. This year, my goal is to find 1-3 activities that I enjoy. I don't see me being a gym person, so I'm going to explore active things to do that are a better fit.

2) I am going to do as much good for my community as I can. I am going to help welcome refugees to the area and do everything I can to help them settle and flourish. I'm going to help the homeless and the hungry, and I will make as big of a difference as I can. No restrictions. No goals.

3) I am going to uncover three major things that the citizens of Springfield need to know. I have no idea what those things might be. I am going to research, look for clues, think creatively, and find stories that matter.

4) I am going to expand my writing into four new markets. They may not all be published in 2016, but to qualify they must be accepted in 2016 (I can't help that some people get articles 4-6 months in advance). I'm going to cold call and submit and branch out into new areas.

5) I am going to take one writer who wants my help and dedicate myself as a mentor. Rather than help coach 5-10 throughout the year, I'd like to take one person with great potential and help them realize their goals, and pay back to the craft that has made my life so wonderful.

Bonus Bucket List Wish: To perform such good work that I make a measurable and noticeable difference.

That's it. My challenge this year isn't to take it easy, but to take these wide open parameters and see how much good I can do when I have nothing driving me except positive results.

Goodbye, 2015

My God, where do I begin? This year kicked my ass sideways, and I put up one heck of a fight.

School was a mighty struggle this year. I put a lot of work in, but bit off more than I could chew. I had to drop a class and realign my priorities to get across the finish line. But I did.

This year, I had things happen that I never thought would be possible. I lost my temper and publicly lost my shit for about a month. People from all around the world showed their understanding and support. Through this I managed to change my career trajectory, quite by accident. I met people who are making our city better. I came across some amazing stories this year. I didn't ask for these stories, but when I started digging I realized I had come across some important things. I don't measure my success in number of hits, but I did manage to get my name out there.

There were surreal moments. When I found myself on a Facebook meme, I was hilariously and horribly amused. A lot of people hated me who didn't know me, but a lot of people liked me and got to know me, so in the end I managed to take every sour situation and turn it into a win. I got rape threats, violent threats, and was called the Whore of Springfield. I mean, really??  Yes, really. Most of the time I was able to either ignore it altogether or turn it into a joke. It was definitely an experience, one I am pretty sure I am going to repeat in 2016. I don't think my haters are going anywhere.

I made a major career decision in working transparently, a decision I will stick with and let it speak for my credibility and principles. Liars hide, I have no reason to, so unless there is a very good reason I operate in full public view. I learned that readers respect this, and many have gone so far as to offer suggestions. I have great communication with my readers, and this has given collective minds a place to ask questions and get involved. If I learned anything this year, it is that many people yearn to make a difference if they can only figure out how.

This was my most successful year yet. Despite an occasional false start or misstep, I made great professional strides. Not just who I write for or how much I get paid. I realized people came to me asking for words and I was filling a need. When I was blowing up Facebook and Twitter, women were thanking me left and right for giving them words to frame their arguments. I did what I thought was impossible- I occasionally won an argument on the Internet. I actually did change a few minds. Though I generally write to express my own thoughts, it was rewarding to see some people I respected stick with me and come to new conclusions. When I laid down the proof on GO:61 and their questionable practices, I backed it with enough evidence to stop an entire force cold. Crickets. I worked the entire case in the public eye, while they hid the best they could. I showed what independent journalism could do, and I feel like I tested myself to make sure this was what I felt called to do, and the answer was yes.

Though we had some challenges, we had more ups than downs this year. My husband got an official chef title, which is years ahead of schedule. I changed jobs and found a great fit that keeps me pleasantly challenged and with a lot of freedom. I miss my old coworkers but I love my new ones, and everyone is still in the same building. I have always liked my job, but now I am extra happy and feel like this is where I ought to be.

Though a lot happened this year, and the bulk of it went my way, I cannot help but feel it is a setup for a far busier year to come.


I did not finish my collection of essays, but I still made progress. I'm 2/3 done and should be ready to publish by summer, when I go back to school.

I did reorganize and completely develop my online office, all communication tools. I have my systems firmly switched over, and my office supplies runneth over. I have tested all of my changes and so far they've been great.

I did my random acts of kindness, one major one per month, and one minor one per week. I occasionally chose someone I knew but more often than not I would find a total stranger to help, and gave them a good deal of thought as to what would help the most.

I exceeded my writing goals, which makes me happy since I thought I was setting them pretty darned high. CBS Local has increased my assignments, and I am still freelance and set my own terms.

I ended the year at the weight I wanted. I didn't lose any more  than that, but I made it with one pound to spare.

So with one notable exception, I met or exceeded my resolutions. I'm going to call this year a tremendous win and hope my momentum launches me into a solid 2016.