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Abigail B. Calkin

A Blog of Personal Thoughts

On to 2024!

January 2024

As I said last month, at the end of each year I like to examine the closing of one year and plan the next one. My plans don’t always turn out. When I examine the past year, I look at what I accomplished. How many pages did I write? How many articles, poems, and pages did I get published? How many presentations did I give? I have several other things I count and chart. I look at what is meaningful to me with an eye on improving in the coming year. So I say, on to 2024 being a great year.

First, I want to mention our great Christmas. Past the opening of presents, including as my granddaughter stated, each stocking item wrapped in every stocking. Whew, I think we wrapped all day on the 24th. Her dad (my son), cooked the steak for Christmas Eve. He did the Brussel sprouts for Christmas dinner. My husband cooked the prime rib with his and our son’s head over the recipe off and on all day. I made morning snacks we had while opening presents, and then scalloped potatoes and date nut pudding for dessert. Not my usual Christmas dinner, but it was great to turn the plans and many chores over to others. Everyone remained calm, except for two teenagers when their grandparents, Granny ‘n’ Goose, slept in. No one’s supposed to sleep in on Christmas Day. One of my favorite snacks is six hard boiled eggs in a pie dish, covered with a pint of sour cream, and topped with a jar of caviar, served on Carr’s plain wheat crackers. I wasn’t sure how two teenagers would like it, but we all gobbled it up as well as a variety of fruit and cheeses.

I missed keeping yearly totals for more than ten years. I was too busy writing and getting published, gardening, traveling, and accepting the epilepsy diagnosis. I used to think I needed to go back and catch up on those years. Forget it! They are past and I’d rather continue from the present.  I need more sleep, something I had always found boring and time consuming. Now I know it’s essential. I still resent eight to nine hours of sleep’s intrusion on my daily living. I can’t accomplish as much. Do I feel better? Definitely. Do I have fewer seizures? Yes.

So what did I accomplish that might be helpful to others? In 2023, I had one poem and one book I was the editor for published. That was definitely a “herding cats” job. In 2022, I came across an email from one of the authors in 2014 that said, “I’ll have it to you in two to three weeks.” I received it eight years later! I had about six presentations. Why about? Because I haven’t accurately counted them yet. For those who like their exercise…. I lost my wonderful six days a week of swimming when I moved 25 years ago to a remote town in Alaska with lots of cold ocean water but no pool. Now I need to chart the number of miles I walk each week.

Last month I talked about my need, almost a craving, for organization. A friend recently posted that her Yoga teacher said her head works like a spreadsheet. What a marvelous image for my friend, Beth, and me. I say to this unknown Yoga teacher, “You don’t understand. I have to have a spreadsheet up there. Otherwise, I’d lose track of reality in those moments where a minor seizure takes over my life.” Where would I be when I returned to everyone’s else’s reality? I love that part of my brain that operates like spreadsheet because it keeps me in touch with the realities of everyday life. Not only that, I grew up in a loving household full of laughter and no arguing. Anyone could argue or debate an opinion, but no arguments couched in anger occurred. It was a spreadsheet house full of order, organization, fun, and laughter.

I love to swim and really miss it. I lose myself in the water. I think about what I wrote before the swim and how I’ll continue from where I left off. I count laps in Russian one way and English the other, or perhaps French one way. After all, a lap is a round trip. Now laps will turn into a good opportunity to learn to count in Ukrainian. I just need to go to Juneau to swim.

Why do I look at my life in such a particular fashion? Both my parents were very well organized. When cash was still the money of the moment, each evening my father transcribed what he spent that day and summed the total. Nothing was out of place and we all knew where everything was. Perhaps that came from his being the grandson of a sea captain where order is mandatory and could be live-preserving. I’m pretty good at that, but I use the end of the year to tidy up by putting things where they belong and changing the order of what no longer works for me. I make all my donations and try to answer all important and outstanding emails. That’s okay. At least I have goals to aim for and a plan to follow. Most often I make my timelines too short though.

I flunk at a lot of these tasks. When I worked full-time, I used to take the two-week vacation break to do all this. Now it extends into the new year, perhaps the middle of January. Don’t think I’m recommending that everyone do this. I’m not. If you’re not a spreadsheet person, I’ll say do what works for you. I needed this kind of organization. Today and the rest of the week I’ll spend summarizing last year and laying out 2024’s plan.

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