A New Year, A New Hope

This year is rapidly coming to an end, and I’m grateful for that.  It has been surreal to say the least.  From the election season, to celebrity deaths, to the loss of my step-dad, I have had enough and am ready for a fresh start.

Although, starting something new at New Years seems arbitrary.  I mean, it is an easy date on the calendar to point to and say “my  new regime starts that day.”  But, it would be just as easy to look at a calendar and say “I’m starting on April 22nd” or “July 15th is the day.”

I’m guilty of using that January 1st date as a turning point, too.  I don’t know exactly what I hope to accomplish this coming year, but I know I want to do something.  I have a few thoughts floating around in my head, but nothing has stuck yet.

The usual stuff applies…lose weight, get in shape, watch less TV, etc.  I don’t think that tackles what I really am yearning for.  I want change of some sort.  Like foundation-shaking, life altering change.  Although, the saying “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” pops into my head when I think along those lines.

So, perhaps instead of burning it all down, a more cautious approach is in order.  Taking things one day at a time, appreciating what I have, and setting concrete goals is likely the best route to go.  I think I will be further along my journey using that approach than if I went in another direction.

Regardless, I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy 2017.  Thank you for reading me this past year, and I hope you continue in the year to come.

 

Winter is Here

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Winter is here!  Maybe not officially just yet.  We have another nine days or so before we hit the solstice, but according to the weather, we are here.

It had been a really odd fall here in Wisconsin this year.  Temperatures were way above normal and it was drier than usual.  That followed an abnormal summer with very warm temperatures and extremely wet weather. Those summer conditions led to a horrible mosquito season.

The forecast models had predicted a snowier winter for us this year.  Seeing as how we went until December 4th with any snowfall, I had my doubts.  Well, the past two weekends have made up for that a little bit.  We were hit with nearly four inches last Sunday and a total of six and a half inches this past weekend.  Current forecasts have another wave of snow coming in on Friday and Saturday.

So, after two December weekends, our snow total is a bit over ten inches for the season.  Last year for the entire season, we had around 32 inches.  So, after two weekends we are already at a third of the total snowfall for all of last year.  My understanding is that last year was a bit light in the snow department.  Normal averages are around 50 inches for the year.  Still, based on what December has brought so far, we are on pace for a snowy winter.

I have to admit that I am perfectly fine with that.  I love the snow.  I’m not a skier or other winter sports enthusiast, so it isn’t about the powder and what I can do in it.  I find it peaceful and pristine.  A clean blanket of snow hides the plainness of the dormant season and acts as a blank canvas for critters to leave their mark.

The feel of it crunching underfoot on a cold, brisk morning helps to remind me that I’m still alive and kicking.  The temps are supposed to take a nose dive later this week.  We’ve been in the 20’s for the most part, but sub-zero temps are on the horizon.  Again, that’s unusual for this time of year.  Typical highs are right around freezing, and the lows in the high teens/low 20’s.  It will be interesting to see what the winter as a whole brings.  Are these first couple of weeks of December a fluke or indicative of what’s to come?  Time will tell.

 

 

Holiday Season

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It’s the first of December, and that means the holiday season is upon us.  We have survived Thanksgiving a week ago, and now everyone is hurtling towards Christmas in 24 days or Hanukkah in 23 days or whatever you happen to celebrate in X number of days.

This time of year has always been a trying one for me since I hit adulthood.  I hate going to malls or other stores to do any shopping thanks to my aversion to crowds.  Christmas shopping for an introvert is a horrible thing.  I’m thankful that the internet exists so I can do my shopping online and not venture out too much.

This time of  year is also difficult for me because it reminds me of my brother in many ways.  He would have turned 43 this December.  His birthday, Christmas, and his death are all within a 5 or 6 week window.  The last time I saw him was over the Christmas holidays in 2001.  He passed away just a few weeks later in January of 2002.  Time has helped to heal things, but it can still be difficult at times.  So far, this year seems like it will be just fine.

I am thankful that I have my health and that I live in a beautiful place and have a good job.  I’m also thankful because I’ve been able to reconnect with some family that I have never been particularly close to.  I’m discovering we have much in common, and in addition to the familial bonds, I sense I am gaining a very good friend in the process.  That’s something this introvert has always had a hard time finding.

As December continues, I will try to remember to stay patient because everyone seems to deal with extra stress this time of year.  I’m not the only one who dreads trips to the mall on a weekend in December and perhaps if I maintain my cool, they will, too.

2016 has been a challenging year for just about everyone in some form or another.  I hope that as we say good-bye to this year, and hello to 2017, we can all remind ourselves that we are sharing space with about 7 billion other people on this big blue ball and to be understanding, caring, and just plain good to our neighbors.