Shifting focus to helping others in the new year

mugcaitlinwalkerbwRBC | 2016 was not my year. I mean, it was better than some people’s—rest in peace Prince, David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Carrie Fisher (Tuesday morning found me screaming at my computer, “NO, NOT PRINCESS LEIA, TOO!”) and so many more—but when the nicest thing you can say is, “Welp. I didn’t die,” it officially qualifies as a bad year.
We moved, which was a great decision—less the actual moving process. I continued my battle with depression and anxiety. My best friend moved five hours away. We spent some time in the ER. I became part owner of a business, which is a good thing but is also completely and utterly terrifying. And the politics. Holy catfish. We might not see eye-to-eye on anything else, but I think we can all agree this election cycle was insane.
In September, I lost my grandmother to pancreatic cancer.

We’ve been oddly lucky in our family (knock on wood), so this was the first time I’ve really dealt with this sort of grief. She was the glue that held us all together and the loss hurts more than I could have imagined. In the day-to-day grind, I ran around forgetting things, putting ice cream in the cupboard and cans in the freezer, feeling constantly overwhelmed and much too fragile to handle life’s curveballs.

In the day-to-day grind, I ran around forgetting things, putting ice cream in the cupboard and cans in the freezer, feeling constantly overwhelmed and much too fragile to handle life’s curveballs.
And my skinny pants still don’t fit. Boo.
I was sitting in pajamas this past holiday weekend whining about how awful the year had been to my husband when I noticed a pattern: I, I, I, me, me, me.
2016 was a tough year. It really was. But, perhaps, part of the problem is all those “me’s” I’ve been focused on.
Traditionally, this is the time of year when we concoct grand schemes and great plans, making resolutions centered primarily around ourselves. That’s not bad, of course, but let’s forget the “I” and the “me” for a moment and think about how we can instead better someone else’s life in the new year. I don’t mean packing up and high tailing it to a remote African village to build mud huts (unless of course you want to do that), but little things, small good deeds used as bricks in the foundation of a life well-lived. As Winston Churchhill put it, “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.”
My resolution this year is to focus on helping others, and even here in our small communities, there are so many ways to do so. Donate to the local food bank. Volunteer anywhere. Get involved in local government. Box up those nice clothes you never wear and drop them at the thrift store. Write thank you cards and send cheery letters. Visit relatives. Don’t publish that nasty comment on Facebook. Shop local. Smile at someone. Refrain from clawing your morning lark spouse’s face off when they greet you with entirely too much cheer at 5:30 a.m. Play with your kids for 10 minutes. Pay for someone’s coffee. Make something beautiful and share it with the world.
There’s so much more to focus on than our own little universe. That’s what this past year taught me as I was dragged through it kicking and screaming.
So thanks for that, 2016.
Now don’t let the door hit you on the way out.