Saturday, December 31, 2011

2012 Resolutions

I think it's prudent that, before I formulate any new resolutions for 2012, it's best to assess my progress with 2011's resolutions-slash-realizations.

Re: Life revolving around my Daughters: Success. Hands down, the time I'm spending with them now, while they're young (6 and 2.5, respectively), is the best life choice. I'll never look back and instead wish that I'd spent more time working or sitting in meetings or idling in traffic (the bane of living near Atlanta); it's a no-brainer.

Which isn't to say that there won't be 'unintended consequences' for putting so much of my life on hold or leaving my life so wildly out of balance (as those annual letters from the Social Security Administration projecting my future 'benefits' seem to imply). And being a stay-at-home dad certainly doesn't augment a resume'. But I won't regret having had this much time with my girls, because most fathers don't have that kind of opportunity. And fathers matter, beyond the provision of resources, when it comes to the long-term well-being of their children.

I'll happily continue with this resolution into 2012.

Re: Avoiding Politics & Economics: Another success. Honestly, it's hard to avoid these topics; they tend to dominate most news outlets (at least when the Kardashians aren't grasping for the limelight). But to my credit, I haven't let myself get outraged to the point that I feel obsessed about re-posting a story on my Facebook wall or Twitter feed. (Cutting back on my 'social media' addiction has helped, too.)

Which isn't to say I've been 100% faithful to this resolution. I confess: I added both Freakonomics' and Robert Reich's blogs to my Google reader. In my defense, they offer refreshing and often entertaining perspectives, which goes a long way to soothing my anxieties. Additionally, I have spent more time reading about scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, which helps me feel more hopeful, as do the writings of Presbyterian minister, Frederick Buechner.

I'll re-up this resolution, too.

Re: Restraining my appetite for the new & novel: I did so-so with this resolution, considering that people only have so much 'willpower' and that it's a resource easily exhausted.

I don't drink, smoke or do drugs; I diet and exercise (usually); and my wife and daughters are enough to keep any guy fully engaged and occupied. So, in answer to that old Adam Ant song, 'Goody Two Shoes' (You don't drink/You don't smoke/What do you do?), the only vice left to me is shopping. It thrills me to discover an artist or musician or author or creative team or comic or ANYTHING. Something new & novel triggers a switch that helps me experience something akin to transcendance. So when that trigger gets pulled, I tend to go whole-hog, diving into, credit card at the ready, hunting for deals on everything I can find about my latest obsession.

But not so much in 2011. I managed to rein in that monster more often than not. Willpower, like any muscle, can be strengthened over time, and mine got a solid workout last year. And saving money (or, at least, not accruing more debt) doesn't hurt, either. For 2012, I'll do even better; I'll continue to exercise restraint while also revisiting and strengthening my appreciation for the books, CDs, DVDs and comics I've already acquired.


Re: Drawing and selling artwork: Total. Failure. I think I did about six or seven pieces of finished art this year, all of which I either gifted to someone or donated to charity. I found it impossible to carve out the time necessary to warm up (let alone make art), devoting myself instead to childcare, chores and other family activities, with my part-time school bus driving job bringing up the rear. I also realized that my aversion to doing 'fan art' was a key component holding me back. Honestly, in the past, 99.9% of my artistic output was fan art, and people liked it well enough to pay for it. Somehow, I got in the rut of thinking I had to be 'original' or working on something 'more important.' Pfft!

Instead, I should be doing everything I can in order to figure out what works and let whatever-that-is be my art niche, at least for a little while.

I've also been toying with the idea of establishing a free artists club in the area. Nothing improves morale and encourages artistic growth like being surrounded by cartoonists and illustrators. Perhaps 2012 is the year to set that plan into motion, too.

Obviously, this resolution carries over into 2012, but perhaps takes a higher priority. Because spending more time drawing means less time wasted reading about Politics or Economics and less money spent distracting myself from the existential dread that I've somehow wasted my life by not living up to my potential and that it's too late to change. And it also won't hurt to further develop my artistic style (whatever that might be), which will, I hope, suggest a greater purpose to which I might apply myself (such as a comic book, webcomic or children's book). I can think of no better, healthier or more satisfying way to augment my income--and ultimately make my living (which, now that I think about it, is a great turn of phrase).

Outlook for 2012? Optimistic. I don't know why, but I feel that 2012, Year of the Dragon (oh yes, I'm a Dragon, baby!), will be a pivotal year. This coming spring, we intend to move to a new rental, closer to my daughter's elementary school, and that will afford us an opportunity to improve the stewardship of our resources (i.e., responsibly dispose of stuff we don't need or use). I might even get an art studio-slash-'man cave' out of the deal--something I've craved for YEARS that, I'm sure, will help maintain some important boundaries. With luck, I'll soon change jobs (AND avoid an ugly commute), which can only improve the family's bottom line and enable us to buy a house a couple years down the road. I want to look back, in January 2013, and see that I'm well along in the process of changing the course of my life--and even, maybe, gaining new momentum. Like I said last year, any progress I make automatically benefits my family and, from there, radiates outward into the community. Which is about the best anybody can hope to do.

So far, so good.

Have a great and worry-free new year!

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