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New year, new times, new challenges




At this time of year I like t evaluate the past year and see what worked and what didn’t. I then try t look ahead and see what we should prepare for and what I want to accomplish in the next year. So here goes.


Obviously most of us would declare 2020 was a bad year not to be repeated. Since we all look at things through our own perspectives and our personal situation, we all probably have different thoughts about the past year. To start with I try to evaluate things that were within my control and things that were not. I don’t like to dwell on things not within my control since there is usually little I can do about them anyway, so why waste time and energy worrying about them?


that being said, I do believe it is prudent to do whatever preparation we can for any concerns we have about the future, even that outside our control. Save money, do what we can to reduce any risks you perceive ahead, prepare for a “new normal”, change any personal behaviors that are not useful, start doing things within our control that are beneficial to us, etc.


Surprisingly, when I look at the year just passed, I find not everything was bad. Yes, we lost mum, had to cancel some travel, had some things break around the house that needed repair, could not be as socially active as we wanted to be, but not all was lost. I find my “honey do” list is amazingly all done! My Amazon wish list is empty. Our bank accounts have never been higher. Because of extra time, we have both read far more than usual. I finally went to Hawaii and now have been to all 50 states. I also took the down time to get the cataracts removed from both eyes and can now see well again.


most importantly to me personally is that my efforts at playing music have shown some results that a year ago I would have never believed possible. I recently read an article about a study done on babies and toddlers and how they learn fastest. The bottom line was that they learn through being persistent and always trying things just at the limit of what is possible for them. They get out of their comfort zone and are not afraid of failure.


I can say now from personal experience that this strategy works for old guys as well. My musical progress was greatest when I left my comfort zone and tried new things. After a few weeks or months of trying some new things, I noticed they started becoming natural and easier, more automatic. Two weeks ago I picked out 4 new songs to learn, all requiring me to try new to me techniques. After only two days I could pretty much do them to my satisfaction. I had set the bar too low and made it too easy. This coming week I will pick out more challenging songs and force myself out of my comfort zone.


i am reminded of the time after my stroke when I kept falling when trying to lift and carry my canoe. It took six months of hard sometimes painful effort. But in the end a few of you long time readers may remember my posting a picture here of me carrying my canoe. In the years since I had become complacent and did not try enough new challenges. Now that I have music as a hobby, finding new challenges is easy again.


the point is not that I will ever become a great musician, I won’t, but I will spend the rest of my life enjoying trying to get better at it. So for this year I now have several new goals I am aiming for, because that is within my control. Remember, we can tell other people whatever we would like them to hear, but we cannot lie to the person we see in the mirror because that person knows the truth about us.


i remember when I came home from the stroke rehab hospital in a wheel chair. Despair and bad thoughts were my companion. A month later I drove a few miles out in the open country. Then after that I drove 20 miles or so. Then a few weeks later, 50 miles, then 100 miles from our home to Duluth, MN, then finally a few months later both ways. Then six months later I met my main goal of carrying my canoe so I could go fishing again.


my bottom line is for us to work on those things we CAN control, prepare as best we can for those things we cannot control, and always push ourselves to be at the very edge of what we can do, whatever that is.


happy new year to all.



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George you amaze me with your self confidence and perception. I agree with most of what you say but know for my late  husband Ray in his early stroke years challenging himself was not an option so much as keeping what he had as stroke after stroke slowly took all he had gained away. But I agree wholeheartedly with our need for accessing whatever we have in our control and what we don't. I have had a very mixed year but some highlights outshone the bad times, and I will write about that in my next blog.

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Happy New year to you George, you were spot on. I felt I am reading my own thoughts or what. I also believe when we get out of our comfort zone & do things that's when growth happens in life. I also feel 2020 was not that of bad year at-least for our family, will blog about it



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Sue sometimes challenging yourself is working on maintaining what you have. So long as you are working at the edge of your ability you are going to progress, although it gets very disheartening when you feel like nothing is improving. I have to keep telling myself, you try nothing you get nothing.

But some days you grab the bull by the horns and you get brave. I started a new patchwork piecing project yesterday. I was sensible and went for 4 inch blocks, where I would have done 2 inch pre stoke, and doing the cuts was a little terrifying. But it looks like it's going to work although the accumulated error factor of my uneven seams is going to make it "interesting"

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