Editor’s Notebook

Resolutions or Not

Making 2020 a step forward



Following a 615-mile, two-day drive taking me through Dona Ana, Socorro, Catron and Grant counties, I present my New Year’s resolutions for 2020:

  • Sleep under the stars at the Cosmic Campground on the Arizona edge of New Mexico in Catron County.
  • Ride a horse drawn sled in the Valles Caldera in the mid-winter snow.
  • Sit by the ocean (every year for the rest of my life).
  • Wake to the chatter of children.
  • Visit McKnight Mountain in the Black Range.
  • Read a book by moonlight while relaxing on the dunes at White Sands National Park

Alternates to resolutions

Since 80 percent of us will fail to achieve our New Year's resolutions. Here are some alternative ideas. If you're one of those rare people who achieve your New Year's resolutions each year, congratulations and please let me know how you do it. I will let you know how mine go.

For list makers, instead of resolutions, you can create a list of things to look forward to. These are some of mine:

  • Seeing how our new pets (two recently adopted young female dogs) grow into their feet and personalities.
  • Watching my grandchildren grow and learn.
  • Painting rocks and making cookies with various said grandchildren.
  • My youngest son’s high school graduation and the next steps in his life.
  • Having fixed teeth after my accident (in August 2019).
  • Publishing a book.
  • Traveling even farther across this beautiful state as a board member on the New Mexico Humanities Council.
  • Experiencing the smell of rain in the desert creosote bushes.
  • Sitting under the moonless dark sky of southern New Mexico to watch the Milky Way.

Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, chooses a single word every year to bring her guidance.

In a 2018 LinkedIn post Gates said the one word “encapsulates her aspirations for the year ahead.” Past words have included “gentle,” helping her fight perfectionism, and “spacious,” prompting her to make room for the things in life that truly matter. In 2018, she picked “grace,” which alludes to a transcendent or beautiful moment that shows we are part of something bigger than ourselves.

Gates said she has called on it during difficult conversations, long days at the office, busy trips with the foundation and especially during a jam-packed December.

“It even helped me find a beam of peace through the sadness of a friend’s funeral. When I was upset or distressed, I whispered it to myself: ‘Grace,’” she said.

Let’s see, my word will be: “Simplify.” I’ll let you know how that goes too. If you are a joiner, you can visit oneword365.com, choose a word and join your word tribe.

I don’t know if this counts as a resolution or an alternative to a resolution but, so far, it has helped me oodles with the simplify concept, so I will include it. A bullet journal is such a no-brainer, I don’t know why I didn’t think of it myself.

The concept is easy, one book to put everything in. And by everything, I mean all that I make lists about and then lose them. Even trying to assemble things in an app on my phone, everything scatters, and it gets hard to remember how to access this or that. Or maybe one of those grandchildren gets ahold of my phone (ages 5 to 12 they all know my password by heart even though most don’t even live near me) and deletes data.

A bullet journal is a notebook. You make an index, then start filling it in. There are yearly, monthly, and daily planning sections and there are sections for special things from “Things to watch on Netflix” to “What I can control.” Anything you think will be useful to you to list, you do it. Mine has a page for groceries, a page for bills, a page for watching things, and more as I do more.

The bullet journal creator, Ryder Carroll, describes it as “an analog design to track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.” He created a custom notebook that can be purchased designed for the process, but said any notebook will work.

Items in the daily logs are indicated by symbols for tasks, events and notes. And that’s really is all you need to get started. There is an easy 5-minute tutorial at bulletjournal.com. If you do a computer search for bullet journal, you will encounter a cacophony of images, suggestions and blogs – enough to create confusion – but don’t let it discourage you. There are so many ways to do this – creative, time consuming, beautiful – but at heart it’s simple and you can spend as much or little time on it as you want.

Goodbye Post-its, random scraps of paper, backs of envelopes and hello bullet journal. The main problem is loss. Even though one of my first listed tasks in my first bullet journal (started in November) was to photograph each page with my phone every Sunday, I failed to do so and lost the book. This made me very sad, as I had a two-page account of my middle son’s November wedding in it. But eventually (a week or so later) I started a new one and now take pictures and it keeps me from feeling scattered across the universe with bits of information here and there because it’s all together.

And one more:

Make a commitment to someone other than yourself. New Year’s resolutions tend to be extremely self-focused and if you make a promise to someone else, you are more likely to keep it. Compliment, donate, visit a friend in a nursing home, play a prank, make a pun, give if you have anything to give or even if you don’t. Forget getting paid back for the good you do, that’s not why you do it.

Elva K. Österreich is editor of Desert Exposure and would love to meet Desert Exposure readers during her office hours in Silver City on Thursday, Jan. 9, at the Tranquilbuzz Café, located at the corner of Yankie and Texas streets. If that is not a good time, Elva will be glad to arrange another day to meet and you can always reach her at editor@desertexposure.com or by cell phone at 575-443-4408.