Last year the plan was to report on my goals progress on both my Patreon and this blog… and for reasons mostly having to do with both my procrastination, over-thinking, anxieties, and good ol’ brain hamsters, posts didn’t get posted either place. Of the three big goals I set for last year, I made great progress on two, and mostly borked the third. I had scaled back to three because my experience for several years before that, where I set four big goals, was that I made great progress on three of them, but one of them always seemed to be neglected. Cutting back to three didn’t help.
I strongly suspect if I cut back further that it would just mean that I only make progress on one goal. Anyway, this year I went back to four goals.
Whether you call them new year’s resolutions or goals, I like giving myself targets for improvement. Some years ago a friend suggested the analogy of how one trains a dog: you can’t get rid of a bad behavior without replacing it with something else that fulfills the same need for the pup. In other words, replace a habit you don’t like with a new one that you do. This has helped me make a number of changes in my own behavior over the years since.
My goals for 2020:
- Tell my friends that I love them. Usually my goals are more broad than this, and then I give myself individual tasks from month-to-month under the umbrella. But especially how exhausted with all the outrage, existential threats, and general awfulness of the work the last few years, I’ve felt that I keep forgetting that each of us has the power to encourage each other. Also, it feels as if much of what is wrong with the world is a combination of toxic antipathy. So one of my goals for the year is to remember to tell my friends that I love them. Because I do. And there should be no shame in telling people who are important to you how youf feel.
- Acknowledge Rage, but Stay on Target. It has always been the case that I find it easy to rant and get outraged about injustices and the like in the world. Ranting burns up a lot of energy, especially when so many people who actively want people like me to cease to exist are in power. I think I’ve done a reasonably good job of paying enough attention to try to protect myself and my family, while not getting overwhelmed. So I’m going to again try this year to keep (and in some areas increase) my focus on things I can control. My tasks are: write about about things I love on my blog; continuing listening to music and audiobooks more than news podcasts and the like; join my husband in his painting project; donate to candidates running against the haters.
- Engage. I have fallen back into the habit of only getting together with friends for things related to projects. I need to spend more time hanging with friends just to hang. My task is: set specific goals each month related to re-connecting with friends.
- Make It So. Various writing and publishing projects have all stalled out. I need to actually finish more things and put them out in the world. My task is: set specific monthly writing/editing/publishing goals each month.
We’re barely into February and I already feel as if 2020 is a grueling year. My discussions with friends indicate that neither I nor the creator of the meme I link above or in the minority.
I’m tired of talking about infuriating stuff, however. So, let’s go in a different direction.
Last spring, on a whim, I picked up a hummingbird feeder at a nearby dollar store. Since we moved to this neighborhood almost three years ago, I had frequently seen hummingbirds in the summer months, through the fall, and well into winter, going from flower to flower on all my flower pots on the veranda. Our mild winters meant that we had at least some plants continuing to bloom throughout that period. So I figured a dedicated feeder would not go amiss.
Alas, throughout the summer and fall, though the feeder’s liquid level would steadily go down, I never once saw a hummingbird at the feeder. During last summer there were many days when I saw a bunch of bees clustered on the feeder, but the only times I saw hummingbirds on the veranda, they were visiting flowers. Still, given the difficulties bees are facing, I figured that it was fine if I was feeding bees.
Very late last fall, as some upgrades were being installed on our gutters and drain pipes, I took down the hummingbird feeder so it was out of the way of the workmen. That was on a weekend. A couple of days later, I was working from home, and I came out of the kitchen with my coffee mug, and found myself essentially face-to-face with a small brown-bodied hummingbird hovering at eye level just outside my sliding glass door. I stopped. She then flew to the spot where the hummingbird feeder used to hang, hovered there for a moment, and then she moved down the eave, stopped at each of the hooks in the eve… before flying back to the door and staring at me.
As one friend said when I was telling this story, the bird seemed to be saying, “Okay, monkey, what did you do with my food? Chop-chop!”
So I carried the hummingbird feeder inside, washed it out thoroughly, mixed up some more sugar water, then carried it out and hung it up. Since then, there are several points every day that I am home that I see at least one hummingbird at the feeder.
And then, we had our week of snow and ice. Every morning I went out and checked the feeder to see if it was liquid. It I had been a bit more proactive, I would have brought the feeder inside at night time so it wouldn’t freezer. But I didn’t. Anyway, there were only two mornings when the sugar water mix inside the feeder was frozen. Both times I whisked the feeder inside and used the microwave to thaw it out…
The problem was that the feeder felt as if it was about to collapse. It was extremely cheap plastic to begin with, and had spent nearly 10 months hanging outside exposed to sunlight and other elements before the freezing weather came in. Anyway, it felt as if it was going to disintegrate at any moment, so after a consultation with my husband, I ordered a higher end feeder, with the main reservoir made out of glass–and purple glass at that. The first day it was hanging up, hummingbirds were feeding at it, so it was a good purchase.
Since then, I have installed a dual-suet cage and after a couple of weeks many of the neighborhood birds have figured out that it is food. The squirrel feeder, on the other hand, kept getting very wet and food at the bottom of the feeder kept rotting… so I finally gave in and moved the feeder to a spot well under the eave of the building. Oddly enough, all of the squirrels come and get food from the feeder, but carry that food over to the edge of the deck near where the feeder used to be to eat it.
I have a few theories on why they do that, but no good way to test them. Oh, well.’
The important thing is that I’m feeding wild life in my neighborhood, AND I get to watch and listen to all these cool birds every day that I’m home. So, win-win-win, don’t you think?
Finally, my specific tasks for February are:
- Schedule a painting day with my husband.
- Host Writers’ Night.
- Write at least four blog posts about things I like.
- Finish the next story in the list.
- Finish and send two submissions to Rowrbrazzle..
- Post updates to Patreon.
Here’s looking forward to a successful 2020!