Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Year Of

I explain this every year but some of you are forgetful and some of you are new and I love the sound of my own voice, so I'm going to explain it again. 

I don't do new year's resolutions because they suck and I'm edgy and like to rebel against societal norms. I used to do resolutions. But then on January 2nd I would swiftly break every single one of them with reckless abandon. Then I'd be like "welp. I guess that didn't work out. There's always next year." And then I'd continue being the colossal suckface you all know and love. 

Then in 2013 I was in Palau and I was deeply depressed. The new year had started. I had been suffering from a state of mental fog and I was in the pits of despair, feeling trapped and hopeless. One day while sitting in my office I just had this epiphanyit was basically that I was the only person who could change my situation and so if I didn't want to keep feeling the way I was, I needed to do something about it. After some introspection, I decided that a lot of my struggles stemmed from an attitude problem. I had fully decided that my life was a sad one, and I was viewing each day from the perspective of defeat.

I didn't set any specific goals to deal with this. Instead, I almost instinctually pulled out a sticky note and wrote "Year of Attitude" on it. I stuck it to my computer monitor. I decided that in 2013 I was going to continually think about what "attitude" means, what I wanted my attitude to look like, how working on my attitude might improve my emotional/physical/mental wellbeing, etc. 

Instead of having a goal I could "fail" to achieve, I had identified sort of a state of being to strive toward. Having a bad attitude about something one day didn't make me want to give up on the whole idea. It instead motivated me to try harder. "I just had a bad attitude about that. That's not the kind of way I want to be during The Year of Attitude."

It was so empowering and effective and it completely changed something within me. By the end of the year I felt like a better person. More confident; more at peace; happier; prouder of myself. 

So I decided in 2014 I would pick another theme. And I've kept up this practice ever since.

2014: The Year of Honesty (Being more authentic about myself and my feelings; this is the year I came out to my family and friends)

2015: The Year of Standing Up For Myself (Mostly in the workplace; making sure I was not too afraid to speak up and voice my opinions)

2016: The Year of Productivity (Being more thoughtful about how I spent my time and making good use of it by spending it with purpose)

2017: The Year of Creativity (Starting new projects and learning new hobbies; this is the year we launched Strangerville Live and I learned to knit)

2018: The Year of New (Striving to try new things and avoid routines in my down time)

2019: The Year of Health (With a focus on learning to eat less meat, more fish, and developing habits that would help me feel good physically)

2020: The Year of Perspective (Attempting to be less uptight about things that truly don't matter; oh boy, did this one turn out to be important in 2020)

Each of these years and themes have been extremely valuable to me. I've found that spending an entire year trying to focus on one state of being has helped me develop habits and practices that I've been able to carry on from year to year. 

As I've thought for the past several months about what I want my 2021 to look like, I keep coming back to this idea that social distancing and the pandemic really exposed something in myself I want to give my attention. In 2020 I saw myself develop some unhealthy habits and coping mechanisms.

And so I've decided I want 2021 to be my Year of Wellbeing. Similar to a year of health, I want to give thought and effort toward understanding and embracing moderation. I want to spend time focusing on how what I take into my body and mind affects how I feel physically, emotionally, and mentally. I want to be more aware of my tendencies to seek instant gratification when it comes to what I eat and how I spend my time and I want to get into a habit of challenging those decisions by thinking about their "cost."

When I get to the end of 2021, I want to be able to say that I feel like a more well-rounded and disciplined person.

I want to hear what you hope for yourself for 2021. Whether it be a theme like I've described, more traditional and specific goals, or something entirely different. Please, share with the class!

And while you think about it, please enjoy this week's new Strangerville:

This time in Strangerville, please please please do not take any medical advice from Strangerville. Please. We don’t know what we’re talking about and we don’t want anyone to die because of things we’ve said. Also, enjoy Eli’s story about how he tried to get his husband to believe in ghosts.


The Mink Creek Ghost, by Eli McCann (music by Loyalty Freak Music)

Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. I started this a few years ago after reading about your practice on Stranger and it has been really life changing. I've decided this year is going to be my Year of Curiosity. I want to spend time and effort being curious and reading, researching, learning, etc. I want to come out of this year feeling like I spent it engaged in educating myself with reliable sources and experiences.

  2. Writing. More poetry, finish that novel (?!) and fully enjoy my short fiction stories class I’m signed up for this semester.

  3. Like yours, mine is also well-being. Covid has been difficult; I work in the entertainment industry and my work was the first to shut down and will be the last to recover. It’s been ten months now without work. Depression and lethargy are constantly niggling at me. But, tonight I tried tennis and was pretty good at it for a total newbie. I have also found I have a passion for chess. Hopefully, these new interests will nurture both my mind and body.

  4. One of the things I have learned to focus on in 2020 is self-care. I've always been REALLY bad at it because I'm paranoid about financial security so I put way to much of myself into my work. However, I'm fortunate to have a boss who pushes me to take time for myself, and that is actually helping a lot. I didn't take my computer with me when we went to visit my in-laws for Christmas in Florida (we followed quarantine and safety protocols). This is a major step for me. I only answered 3 work emails and had one text conversation with one of my staff members during my break (which was 2 weeks long). This is a huge step for me.

    So my goal is to continue what I started in December and declare this is my year of self-care. I will take time for myself. Read. Take long baths (I've got a soaker tub and a fireplace in my bathroom). Listen to more podcasts. Not check my email when I take days off of work. Not check my email obsessively on the weekends.

    I find it somewhat ironic that the year that moved me to working from home actually helped me to give less of my personal time to work. I joked a lot when people would comment about how much I'm working that I always worked this much, people just didn't see it before. What it actually did was make ME see how much of myself that I'm giving to work instead of to myself.

  5. We are doing a Year of Finishing and Fixing. Starting new things is all fine and well, but not if you don’t see it through or take care of what you have.

  6. I've done the OLW practice for a long time (One Little Word) for my New Year's goals - this year I think my word is going to be Kindness. I want to be more kind to my fellow humans, my family and myself. I do usually set some goals for each year - I've been doing the __ in 20___ for a few years now too. So this year will be 21 in 2021. They are not hard and fast goals, but things I want to do or would like to do, and most year's stuff carries over to the next year. I will add in some Kindness goals for myself to go along with my OLW. Sorry for the weirdly vague post but I haven't sat down and looked over my 20 in 2020 summary yet and haven't even started planning my 21 in 2021 yet!!

    I keep a journal of my goals so I can keep track of my progress, and look back on past progress. For example - in 2020 I did "read 20 books in 2020" (though I read a lot more than that) so my journal page lists each book I read and the author.

    Just back to work today from 11 days off so time to start getting my thoughts in order for the New Year.

  7. I've been here awhile and last January decided to try your year of approach. I was 6 months pregnant and had a toddler, my year was going to be the year of patience (dangerous I know). With crazy hormones, a newborn in June and all the crazy this year has brought I probably failed more days than I succeeded. In December I realized my girls are always quick to forgive and still want to snuggle with me most of all. So this year will be a year of grace. I hope to be quick to forgive my girls, my husband, strangers, and even myself. No need to stay in a bad mood the whole day, forgive and move forward.

  8. The year of heal. Lost my wife in 2020 to cancer. Just trying to pick up the pieces now.

    1. Very sorry. Take care of yourself.

  9. I was going to revisit my year of following through, but I think what I need more this year is Support. I need to be better at supporting myself and those around me.

  10. I'm going for the year of vulnerability.

  11. I'm commenting to be accountable.
    This yearI gave up my chance at my dream job and ended up living somewhere I never wanted to end up. I also found out having kids is going to be a lot harder than I ever thought.
    I want 2021 to be my Year of Dreams I'm hoping I can figure out how to want new dreams and how to make them happen and how to choose my own happiness over others' sometimes.

  12. I’ve been mulling this one over, and decided that this is my Year of Sustainibility. I want to make choices that promote sustainable habits. While this means trying to choose environmentally friendly products with minimal packaging and reusable containers, using less plastic, and buying quality over quantity, it also means making choices in my lifestyle and relationships that are sustainable. Extreme diets, crazy exercise regimes, and lopsided friendships? Not sustainable! Doom scrolling and unhealthy coping mechanisms? Not sustainable! So here’s to a year of making choices in my consumption of products, media, time, and emotional energy that promote sustainable wellbeing for myself, my family, and my planet.