Thursday, January 12, 2017


Years ago when I worked in an office, we had annual reviews. These were scheduled around the anniversary of the employee’s hire date.

The review process was simple. The senior partner of the firm, the supervisor of the employee, and the employee met in a conference room. The senior partner had a folder of employee information. The supervisor had an encouraging smile, clearly didn’t need notes. The employee wore a deer-in-headlights look.

The interview went something like this:

“How are things going?”

“How are you getting along with _____?” (This was a project, not a person.)

And then the biggie: “Tell us one good thing and one bad thing about your job.”

When I’d been in the employee’s chair, that was stomach-clenching time. Who wants to say something bad about the job?

The point, however, was not to pin the worker to the wall with criticism dribbling from her (usually a her) lips. It was to give her a chance to air a problem her bosses might now know about, and help her recognize what she did like about her work.

The past two weeks have been unusual, in my view. I’ve heard a lot of people saying, almost in the same words, “Boy, am I glad 2016 is over!” From the tone of voice, the review process was clearly all about the bad things.

Now I’m not thrilled with some of the stuff that happened in the year gone by. And I didn’t even have sad news or horrible events to deal with, so maybe mine is a jaundiced view. 

There were a number of good things—my sewing group delivered over 300 items to the regional hospital’s NICU (only four women did the sewing); my newest great-grandson is gaining weight and smiling and generally behaving like a baby who met the world at regular birth weight instead of 13 weeks early; my oldest daughter graduated from Arizona State University with her Ph.D.; my son bought a second business to coordinate with his lock and safe company; another daughter is the proud grandmother of the new great-grandson, among the many hats she wears; my youngest started her own homeopathy practice. I got to see most of my kids at one time or another during the year. I heard from friends who couldn’t make it to Indiana for Christmas. My health problems are no worse and some are better now with a different medication.

Let me say right here: I’m not a Pollyanna (in the commonly accepted sense of that word—more on that later). Yes, I try to look for good in most situations. Sometimes that’s difficult. But I believe in hope, and keeping faith, and praying for better times for folks who need relief. (Lots of them out there--just scan the headlines in the news.)

So, 2016 is over. 2017 is installed and operating. Will it be better? Possibly worse? We’ll review it about 365 days from now.

I'm convinced each one of us can make 2017 better--even a little teeny tiny bit better--just by focusing on good things. If we put our energy to positive use, who knows what might happen? 

And the one bad thing? Well, if we limit ourselves to one, then we have something to work on.

Yesterday I put the next-to-last Christmas gift in the mail to one of my great-granddaughters. It was one of my favorite gifts to give—a stack of books and a “reading pillow,” an oversize travel pillow with a cover made in batiks of her favorite colors.

Today I’ll start the quilting process for the last (bed size) quilt for a great-grandson.

In a few days, after my eyes and hands and shoulders have recovered, I’ll look at sewing projects waiting for my attention. The piles of fabrics—some cut out, some still just an idea—are colorful reminders of why I like making things out of cloth.

Recently I took instruction to be a Lay Eucharistic Minister in my church. We serve communion and are given permission to take the communion elements to shut-ins. This is a new path for me.

And—I’ve accepted a challenge to read 50 books this year! Liz Flaherty featured it in her recent blog post, and it was mentioned by CurtissAnn Matlock and before her, Deborah Chester. Apparently I don’t get a prize for reading those 50 books, or an award or certificate, or even another book . . . . But still—50 books! That’s only one per week, and I intend to count any rereads (can’t get through a year without reading some of my favorite authors who are, alas, no longer writing). Mainly, though, I’m going to search for new authors or new books by authors I know. Grow a little. Stretch my mental wings. (How's that for an image?)

This may be the year I finish a novel that's been languishing in its computer file for, uh, quite a while now. It’s about two-thirds finished.

This may be the year I travel a little more—Minnesota to visit my youngest daughter, or Arizona to see the newest Dr. Palmer.

This may be a year with surprises! If they’re good ones, I love ‘em. It’s the ones that bowl me over that I dread. But—we take what comes.

Hope your new year is bubbling up with new ideas, new projects, new adventures. And with hope for a better world/life/attitude. I'm taking that challenge also. We’ll check in next January to see how it went. I better take notes!


  1. Me, too!! Hope yours looks just as lovely.

  2. I think I'll join you in the reading challenge. I've read five already, only two of them re-reads!

  3. I'd like to join the reading challenge, too! It won't be a book a week, because I'm going to read (and re-read) some key homeopathy texts, but I'm shooting for 50 in the year!