Welcome to 2017!

Reflections on 2016--the Year that Did Not Kill My Childhood Music IdolsWhere did December go? Christmas preparations have been insane around this house, but SO much fun! Apparently, I got my tinsel all in a tangle and haven’t blogged since November. Woah. But I’m back! I’m so excited to jump back into the Meaningful Connections blog and continue building my Meaningful Connections in the Classroom Teachers Pay Teachers Store! 2017 has lots of promise!

First things first, though.

It’s time to reflect a little on where we’ve been in 2016 so we can all pinpoint where we want to go in 2017. I’m sure you’ve all seen the graphic of the guy kicking the “6” in 2016 off the mountain. For many of us, 2016 has sucked–for some, unimaginably so. But let’s get real for a minute. We have to learn from our history so we don’t repeat it. Cliché, but experience has shown me that it’s true. I think 2016, like most political figures on both sides of the aisle, has gotten a pretty bad rap from the media.

2016 Did Not Kill My Childhood Music Idols.

As I watched my ‘tween years and countless issues of Tiger Beat flash before my eyes this year, I thought about how many mix tapes I’d carefully recorded off the radio and kept functioning with nothing more than a pencil. No one under the age of 35 or so can properly appreciate the power of a Ticonderoga when your old tape deck eats all the Prince and Bowie songs you carefully recorded during Casey Kasem’s Top 40.

But we can’t blame 2016 for the tremendous loss of artistry that we endured this year. Unfortunately, we have to blame the darkness of long-term addiction for some. With the joy of fame comes the hurtfulness and pressure of the spotlight. Nasty critics and unimaginable touring schedules wreak havoc on the artist’s body and soul. Both mental and physical pain cause many to reach for something–anything–to make it better. What’s the lesson here for the rest of us? I think it’s simple. Be nice. Everyone has a bad night now and then. No one is really larger than harsh criticism, arthritis, exhaustion, or life itself. Cut people some slack. While you’re at it, be good to the people around you, too. Everyone is mostly doing their best, including you. I plan to amp up my positive-vibe sending mechanism (otherwise known as prayer) in 2017. And…if it’s not helpful, I ain’t saying it.

2016 Was Not Unhealthy

In other instances of loss this year, cancer and heart disease were to blame. No one knows when the big one is coming or when the mammogram may not turn out so well, but we can do our part to keep them at bay. My take-away from this year’s illnesses is that I’m going to drink more water, partially kick my soda habit, and lessen the stress in my life. I plan to shake the teacher-mom stress by working out more. My issue is fitting everything into a day—school and parenting demands are hard to balance sometimes. I have, however, beaten the disease of perfectionism, as far as my house is concerned, long ago. You don’t need to look any further than the crumbs I just swept under the stove to see that.

2016 Did Not Create the Political Crapshow We Just Endured

Simply put, we did. Americans love drama, and our candidates both delivered during the latest campaign season. Our chosen leaders are a reflection of us. In my opinion, we should be a mite concerned. Maybe if we spent more time on things that matter instead of poring over social media click-bait, the idiots would just go away. This might be wishful thinking on my part, but I can dream, right? I intend to put my phone down at the request of my husband and my beleaguered data plan. Okay, well, not totally. My use of social media will be more intentional this year. Instead of aimlessly scrolling—I’m looking at you, Pinterest—I plan to use it for positivity. Stay tuned, y’all!

2016 Was Not Unlucky

Let’s just look at it as a learning year. But just in case, I have a remedy for 2017. I cooked a nice pot of black-eye peas with hog jowl. I thawed out a mess of collards and slapped together some cornbread. I threw about a few tablespoons of sweet pickle juice in my peas to make them a smidge more palatable. We Southern folks swear this traditional New Year’s dinner guarantees good luck in the New Year. You can count on flatulence, slight indigestion, and a good cleaning out regardless.

In short, let’s plan to make 2017 healthier, happier, and just kinder than the past several. Mama was right when she told us to keep our mouths shut if we didn’t have anything nice or helpful to say. Maybe it’s time we follow her advice. Don’t forget to eat those peas!

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