Hello 2013!

Well, it looks like a new year is upon us. Karen and I saw 2013 come in with Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve… but mostly for the NYC ball drop and the aerial shots of Times Square. Seriously, if Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift are the best “musicians” we can find (and I use that term loosely) then maybe America is not worth saving.

But now I’ve gone and started things on a negative tone, and that just won’t do! So sorry for that. Anyway, before Ryan Seacrest and Jenny McCarthy helped us rock in the new year, Karen and I had Christmas with my parents and we went out to eat at Don Pancho’s. Hey, don’t laugh if that’s not exciting enough for you! That’s more activity than we usually do! Then we followed that up with three hours of watching House from Netflix. Love it.

Anyway, I intended for this post to be more about my resolutions for 2013, as it has become something of a tradition around here to write them down for the world to see. (Behold, I give you 2011 and 2012.) 2012’s resolutions were, as you might imagine, a bit hit or miss. I played my trumpet some (thought not enough to be good at it), I did indeed run a couple of races earlier in the year (and then basically lost the time, or the will to make time, once the PhD started), I ended the year no healthier than when I began it (probably, at least weight-wise, because of the running trend!). I did travel quite a bit. That one I can really and truly say I accomplished. It’s funny to look back at the beginning of 2012 when I knew I’d be going to NYC for AAG and I thought I’d be moving for my PhD studies. Ha, good one! There’s no need to recap my travels here, but feel free to go back and look for my posts on New York City and Norway.

For 2013, I decided to simplify my resolutions into two broad categories, something that a lot of “resolution advice givers” (aka, “experts”) suggest is a bad idea. The thinking goes that if you make smaller, more achievable goals along the way then you will be more likely to achieve them. I tend to actually agree with this line of thinking, but my resolutions are really more like life mantras that I am adopting, and mantras are, most often, by their nature very broad.

So here you go. Matt’s Mantras for 2013. (Hmm… has a nice ring to it. Maybe I should market this.)

1. Be better to myself.

I think everyone can agree with this. It’s a not difficult, in theory, to see why being better to one’s self is a useful mantra to adopt. After all, who better to take care of yourself than you. Am I right? This concept takes into consideration a number of my previous resolutions, most obviously to live a healthier life. No one else should be responsible for making sure I make healthy decisions, with perhaps the exception of doctors who are paid to help in this quest! But being better to one’s self does not stop at the corporeal. There’s the mental, the emotional, the spiritual to consider. There’s even the financial. All of these, and plenty more I’m probably forgetting, are areas to consider improving. Consider being better to yourself as well this year – just don’t make the mistake of confusing being better to yourself with (selfishly) living only for yourself. The two are not mutually exclusive!

2. Create (or produce) more, consume less.

This mantra was inspired by a blog post I recently read from a creative-type (photographer/video/web content creation stuff) guy I follow on Twitter. The unfortunate thing is that after I read it, I didn’t email it to myself or bookmark it or anything…so now I can’t find the particular post AND I can’t remember which person on Twitter posted it. (One problem of following a lot of creative types on Twitter, I suppose). But the gist of the post was something along these lines: “The world we live in thrives on consumption. If you aren’t producing something worth consuming, then you are not much use to the world. Therefore, create more and improve your usefulness to the world.” That may be a little bit of a simplistic reduction, but that’s what I took away from it. From my studies of political economy and geography, it’s also pretty true. The world we live in (ESPECIALLY in the US) is so ridiculously full of consume-consume-consumers that it does seem to make sense that if you aren’t producing, then you are part of the problem. However, this particular blog post was specifically speaking to producers in the “creative economy” (or “knowledge economy,” if you prefer). But I think this mantra is applicable to so much more, just like Mantra #1.

Produce more food yourself (this fits right in with Karen’s goals of having an even better garden and eating even fewer processed foods) and consume less (which my waistline could use).

Create more content (whatever that may be – more blogging, more photos, more scholarly articles) and consume less junk. I already started applying that some this year (for example, it quickly became apparent this fall that 3-4 hours of my life each Saturday could be spent in some better fashion than watching UT football), but there is plenty of room for improvement. I only blogged 13 times last year, and I probably posted less than 200 photos of the thousand or so I took all year. Room for improvement? Definitely. But it’s not all bad, of course. I submitted my first peer-reviewed journal in 2012, and I will see it through to publication in 2013. I’m already planning the next couple of articles down the road, and I’d like to see a couple of those submitted and accepted this year as well.

Create more/consume less can take many forms, and you should join me in taking on this mantra for 2013.

In summary, I’ve already hit 1,000 words, and I’ve probably lost bored some of you to tears with a post this long. If you had the fortitude to make it through, I commend you. Happy New Year! Let’s make it a great one.

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