Looking backward to go forward

blogIMG_2507(2)I know. It’s a new year. 2018 dawned on us all yesterday. But today, on this brand new day in a brand new year, I’m looking backward.

Why? I believe you can’t move forward until you understand where you’ve been before. And that might entail relegating the past to where it belongs – the past.

There’s something motivating about turning over a new leaf. Or beginning a new beginning. And to do so, I need to examine yesterday before launching into today or tomorrow.

Supposedly Albert Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.” I’ve searched for validation of that quote as being attributed to Einstein but it seems questionable he actually wrote or said this.

But it’s still good advice. And until I can decide what direction this blog will take for 2018, I’ve elected to look back over 2017. Maybe I can learn something from what I’ve written this past year.

I can remember joy from certain events I celebrated or learn a lesson from those things that caused me distress.

It’s worth an effort. So here’s a look back at my blogging in 2017 before I proceed with 2018.

I’m really not much of a mathematician (I have a degree in English after all), but I do like the orderly fashion of numbers and the pictures those figures present.

As I’ve said before, I’m a visual person so I kind of like statistics displayed on charts. Hence, in an accounting kind of procedure, I added up how many blog posts I published here last year.

134 posts. Out of 356 days of the year, I only blogged roughly 38% of the year. Hmm…that doesn’t sound so good, does it? I remember all too well that I definitely experienced some dry spells this past year in which writing inspiration just wasn’t firing up any connections.

Well, I rationalized to myself after figuring those numbers on my calculator, I choose to only post three times per week, not every day. So let’s amend that figure…3 times/week multiplied by 52 weeks/year.  That equals 156. So I posted 134 times out of 156 opportunities. Okay, a better figure comes from that – about 86%. Doesn’t that sound like I accomplished a lot?

Next, I calculated how many times I posted on particular topics because I truly wanted a good grasp on what this blog is about. The results were thought-provoking but not entirely unpredictable.

More than half the time I posted, I either shared a photograph I’d taken for Wordless Wednesday or I was stirred to write an accompanying post to a photo I believed embraced a photo challenge theme declared by Word Press each week.

So what does this tell me? I’m very inspired by pictures – both viewing them and taking them. And photographic images spark words to fly into my brain and land on the computer screen for me to share with my readers.  Yep, I’m visual that way.

The next most posted topic here at Mama’s Empty Nest for 2017 happened to be instances where I shared my faith in my Savior Jesus Christ or I blogged about miscellaneous topics ranging from thankfulness to experiences I encountered to life in general.

Again no surprises there. My faith is vital to me, so it naturally is a part of my life I want to share with others. For the other topics, well, I just love to tell a good story.

Falling into the third most written about category were posts about my family or my husband or our marriage.  Not unexpected. My family means the world to me and with many of them strewn from here to there, not living in close proximity to me, our times together are precious.

What topic closed out the year’s statistics? Friendship. I do often blog about the friendships I hold dear both in real life and in my blogging circles.

So where does all of this introspection of Mama’s Empty Nest leave me? Shall I continue the same pattern for this brand new year? Or do I shake it up a little, challenge myself, and take a leap into a different direction?

The verdict is still out on that one.

“New Year – a new chapter, new verse, or just the same old story? Ultimately, we write it. The choice is ours.” ~ Alex Morritt

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

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Out of the ordinary

blogIMG_2491(2)It’s Monday. And I don’t usually post here at Mama’s Empty Nest on Mondays.

But I ran across a quote last week that fits the bill today.

“Do something out of the ordinary. It not only creates a memory, it sets a standard.” ~ unknown source

So I’m doing something a little out of the ordinary by posting on a Monday. But this isn’t just any old Monday.

Today is the very first Monday in this brand new year of 2018.

2018!! My mind marvels that we are 18 years into this millennia. Wasn’t it just yesterday that we were crossing our fingers that the Y2K bug wasn’t going to create havoc as predicted? And it turned out to be much ado about nothing. (Forgive me, William Shakespeare.)

Today is New Year’s Day. We said goodbye to the old year 2017 last night and we welcome in the new year with great expectations. (Forgive me, Charles Dickens.)

Today is a milestone. A day when many folks begin New Year’s resolutions. Or a diet. Or decide to make some kind of change in their lives.

Empty spaces on my new 2018 calendar remind me that I have the opportunity to live out that quote above. Do something out of the ordinary. Create memories. Set standards.

Empty spaces on this blog remind me that I have an entire year of writing to plan. I find myself contemplating how to proceed, what direction to take for this blog in this new year.  I do want to create lovely memories for folks to read about. And at the same time, I want to set standards for my blog as well.

So do I just continue doing what I’ve been doing? Writing as inspiration comes to me? Participating in weekly photo challenges so I can continue sharing what I enjoy – amateur photography? Lining up photos for Wordless Wednesday?

Should I select a theme for the year or concentrate on a special word that I’ve chosen as ‘my word’ for the year?

Perhaps I should reopen my “book of opportunity” that I wrote about back in 2011? Click to read Chapter One back then.

Or should I choose something completely out of the ordinary?

Maybe you, dear readers, can help me decide. I’d love to hear your feedback on what you’d like to see on this blog and even what you don’t want to see, so please leave a comment giving me your thoughts. 

In the meantime, I wish each and every one of you a happy and blessed New Year. And I leave you today, this first Monday of 2018, with an old Irish blessing (even though I’m not Irish, I love those blessings).

May the blessing of light be upon you,
Light on the outside, 
Light on the inside.

With God’s sunlight shining on you, 
May your heart glow with warmth, 
Like a turf fire 
that welcomes friends and strangers alike.

May the light of the Lord shine from your eyes,
Like a candle in the window, 
Welcoming the weary traveler.

Happy New Year from Mama’s Empty Nest! 

©2018 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com

 

Brighten your corner

blogimg_8942-2As I write this, it’s the second week of January. In a brand new year. One I haven’t yet become accustomed to as I still automatically write 2016, not 2017.

Just yesterday it seems we were all up in arms and worried about the year passing from one century into another one – you know, a new millennial, Y2K– the year 2000. Fear and apprehension over that coming year ran rampant. The result? The year 2000 chimed in with barely a blip on that worry radar.

In the year 2000, our oldest graduated from high school and we sent her off to college that fall with excitement and trepidation. Even though our other two were still in high school and middle school, that was the beginning of what would eventually become this empty nest of mine.

In the year 2000, Papa, employed as a sales rep for a national company, endured a lot of overnight travel with his job while I held down the fort and kept the home fires burning.

In the year 2000, my father was still alive and at age 80 keeping himself busy after my mom’s passing the year before by learning a new skill. He bought himself a computer and was figuring out how to use it and amazing us at his new found hobby.

In the year 2000, our family moved into our brand new house built right here on this farmer’s field putting down roots like we never had before since previously the longest we ever lived in any of our homes was six years.

In the year 2000, this Mama ventured back into the work field initiating and developing a program for a non-profit local ministry where I devoted my time and passion and energy for 13 years. 

So here we are seventeen years later. 2017!

Seventeen years into a century I couldn’t even imagine when I was just a kid because it seemed so distant into the future. And there are new concerns and alarms spreading out there in the big, bad world worse than Y2K, but I refuse to listen to or embrace them.

As a person born in the 1950’s, my generation has had our fair share of worrisome events and downright fear promoted in this world and hanging over our heads.

From the Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and air raid drills in school to the assassinations of public figures including President John F. Kennedy to worrying about family members serving in the Vietnam War to race riots to the Kent State protest shootings in the turbulent 1960’s, we experienced fright.

From blackouts and gasoline shortages to the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island to hostages held in Iran in the 1970’s, we experienced panics.

From Mount Saint Helens volcanic eruption to the space shuttle Challenger explosion to a myriad of natural disasters like earthquakes, tornados, and hurricanes to the Iraq war and threats of others in the 1980’s, we experienced trepidation.

From the Oklahoma City bombing to mass shootings to economic crises to numerous plane crashes in the 1990’s, we experienced qualms.

And to the most horrific day of them all, September 11, 2001, we’ve experienced terror of the highest magnitude at the hands of terrorists.

All of these frightening events have crossed my fear awareness screen and are permanently etched in my memory.  

And it’s safe to say, there will be more to come. But I cannot worry about what may happen in the future because as we take the good that happens (and there have been just as many amazing events that have occurred in my lifetime too), we must also take the bad. 

I can’t join in with all of those who say our world is going to ‘hell in a hand basket” because really, hasn’t it always been so? Since the beginning of time? If you don’t think so, open up a factual history book and take a gander.

Or better yet, open up God’s Word – the Bible – and see that mankind has been heading that way ever since Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden.

Terrible events will always happen. It’s a given. It’s life. But how we respond to those events is what matters most.

In just three short years, we will reach the year 2020. What will the world be like at this milestone? Will we humans be any wiser? Any safer? Any more peaceful? Or will we still allow fear, misery, and anxiety to rule over us?

Just as this brand new year lies ahead of each one of us, so does a choice we each must make. We either choose to focus on the negative aspects of living or we take the higher road.

We can dwell on the ills of this world and allow them to frighten us into inaction or wring our hands as we hibernate from the world or we can choose to be bold enough to speak out against evil and make a difference by striving to be a light of peace, joy, kindness, and helpfulness even amidst the darkness – right there in your own little corner of the world.

“Do not wait until some deed of greatness you may do,
Do not wait to shed your light afar,
To the many duties ever near you now be true,
Brighten the corner where you are.” ~ Ina D. Ogden

©2017 mamasemptynest.wordpress.com