Stacey Joy never fails to bring joyful and inspiring poetry prompts. Her free verse is a perfect way to begin this month’s Open Write. You can read it here on EthicalEla.com, and join us in writing today. The blackbirds are such beautiful symbols of the flight to freedom in the story, and on this weekend of the Great Backyard Bird Count when so many are counting birds, I’ll reflect back on this story and her poem and be reminded that freedom as people and as a nation is a blessing that took blood, sweat, and tears – and lives – to have and hold. She inspired me to choose an etheree to write about one of my favorites, also with a theme of freedom – The Legend of the Teddy Bear by Frank Murphy.
In 2013, I abandoned the notion of New Year’s Resolutions when I realized that not one resolution I had ever made survived more than a few weeks. Instead, I began listing goals for the year in different areas and taking time to reflect each week or so to update what I had done in those areas. It began in the NOTES section on my phone. Today, I reflect back to 2013 and the goals I established. I copied and pasted the first two of my ten goals from that year:
Physical Goal #1: lose 50 pounds in 5 months.
Action Plan: join Weight Watchers for diet and add exercise plan of walking. Seek exercise bike in March when everyone else gives up and sells them. Drink only water in restaurants.
I need to make myself a countdown reward system to Marshall and Selena's wedding in May.
1/3/13. * I began counting points on January 2 for Weight Watchers. I weighed on day 1 to mark my starting point.
1/15/13 I am down 13 pounds from January 1. I can lose 37 pounds by the wedding day.
1/21/13 now sixteen pounds down and I can lose 34 pounds by May 25!
2/7/13 now down 22 pounds and I can lose 28 pounds by May 25!
3/5/13 down 23 pounds and I can lose 28 pounds by May 25!
7/25/13 back at it. Up ten from last weigh, but down 14 from start of year! Brushing off and getting back in the groove....starting my point counting system again today.
Educational goal #2: enter a doctoral program in fall 2013.
Action plan: research programs in the first quarter of the year and measure against Georgia PSC requirements. Take GRE in February or March. Apply to schools in March. Make decisions in May or June. Enter a program in the summer or fall.
* Beth gave me some research on Univ of Florida to be considered
I am rethinking Walden, since I already have the first course completed there but had to stop for divorce.
1/18/2013 I completed the application to Walden, faxed my certificate, emailed my résumé and requested my transcript from University of West Georgia. One school down. I need to work on financial aid.
1/24/13 I submitted FAFSA and requested pin.
1/29/13 I am accepted back and they will honor my existing credit. Awaiting financial aid decision.
2/7/13 they will let me resume my program and have me ready to start March 4! Waiting on financial aid information to be processed by Walden.
3/5/2013 I began my second course in the program officially yesterday. I am on track.
7/25/13 I am a module ahead in my third course in the program. Also registered for my residency in December in Washington, DC. Things are going well and I am enjoying the challenges.
Back to 2023: I look back on these 2013 goals and smile because setting goals, establishing action steps, and adding a measure of accountability actually works – it’s the recipe for success when there is follow-through and intention. Today’s banner picture was taken at my son’s May 2013 wedding, and while I didn’t reach my goal in time for the wedding, I could at least fit in the dress. In all but one of my ten goal areas of that year, I am doing much better today than I was then. I’m within six pounds of the top of my goal range today, and I earned my Ed.D in Leadership in October 2016.
Being able to reflect not only on one year but across a decade of goals is powerful – I see how dynamics of situations have changed and how there are bumps in the road that at the time seem earth-shattering, but in the grand scheme were simply little speed bumps that slowed me down.
My 2023 Reflection goals include end-of-month consideration and tracking of progress in writing and for the first time ever: sharing my goals and progress with readers on this blog, reflecting on memories, and writing family stories (and getting other family members to do the same so that our stories are preserved for future generations to enjoy). By the end of 2023, I hope to have at least 25 family stories shared on my blog.