This year, my office closed down for the last two weeks of the year. The purpose of this, as communicated to employees, was that we should take the time to refresh and come back after the New Years holiday reenergized and well-rested. However you spent these two weeks, whether it was resting home alone on a staycation watching the snow fall with a warm cup or tea or running around with family, this was meant to be your time to recharge your batteries and for personal reflection.
I spent my first week in Chicago just relaxing and currently, in the second week, am in Kentucky visiting family and friends. It has been fun with a little bit of holiday craziness mixed in, but I did take a lot of time for personal reflection.
When I do take time to reflect on my life and the people around me, I consider a few things. I take into account what I need and want in my life and work on steps I can accomplish to achieve those things. I have very clear goals for 2018 and I know exactly what I need to do to achieve them. It is just a matter of time and patience before that happens.
While working on my own goals that are only relevant to me is great for self-care, personal growth, and emotional development, it is a very insular and singular goal. Taking the time to improve your own life and health is an extremely valuable and underappreciated thing. However, despite that, it is still important to think about others.
The other thing I think about during these times of reflection are the bigger things that seem out of my control that affect the lives of millions of people. Specifically, how the decisions of powerful men in government affect the lives of everyone in the country with the brunt of those decision having negative consequences on women, LGBT, and people of color. 2017 was a difficult year for all of us, but more so for them. So, what will 2018 bring?
2016 saw the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States after a long and brutal campaign against one of the qualified candidates in history who just happened to be a woman. The remainder of the year seemed bleak to the millions of people who voted to keep a racist and fascist out of the White House. While Trump wouldn’t be inaugurated until January, the transition was still problematic and we were all left wondering.
The whole world wondered what would come from this turning page of history. I had no idea. Last year’s New Years song blog post asked that question with Donna Fargo’s “What Will the New Gear Bring?” As it turned out, it brought a lot of bad. Between racist airport bans, a Russian collusion investigation, neglect of American territory ravaged by hurricanes, a tax bill that only benefits corporations, and so much more, we’re left wondering what is next.
There’s no way around it. 2017 was a hard year. If you weren’t a rich white man, it was even harder. Everyone wanted to get through this year so fast. With the constant news alerts of how terrible our leaders are, the news cycle seemed to simultaneously slow and speed time. It was a tedious trial.
However, 2017 had a few good moments. We’re watching Trump prove that he is an awful leader which has finally shown some of his followers that he was nothing more than a con man. There were also amazing victories in local elections where women, people of color, and transgender people defeated the status quo of bad white men. Even in Alabama, in the most contested election of the year, a democrat defeated a racist pedophile in a special election for the senate.
For the latter, we can thank women of color for that one. They came out to the polls despite all efforts to suppress their vote. That’s one of several inspiring stories of people rising up that did come out of 2017. From the Women’s March the day after Trump’s inauguration to now, people are getting civically energized and engaging with government in ways that we desperately need; with leaders who are younger, economically diverse, and from all racial and gender backgrounds.
2018 will be another trial year. However, we have midterm elections in November. And that is giving a lot of people hope. The 2018 midterms will be this country’s first opportunity to see just how well this surge of political uprising has worked. Protesting in the streets is one thing, but turning that anger and passion and actionable government change is a whole other challenge. Will November be a turning point fueled by women and people of color who have had enough? I certainly hope so.
And it is hope that is important here. New Years is a significant event that can motivate people to start fresh and new. To focus on things you want to change for yourself or other around you. And here’s your opportunity to work towards those changes.
Even though 2017 was a garbage fire of a year, I can’t help but still be hopeful that 2018 is when we can really turn things around. To make 2018 one for the history books. To make 2018 where women and people of color lead the way that save this country from the brink of destruction. November is a long time from now, so keeping that momentum going is more important now than ever before. And I’m hopeful that we can do it.
That’s why I wanted this week’s song celebrating New Years to be hopeful instead of bleak. I wanted to set a tone for 2018 as opposed to finding a depressing song that reflected a difficult year. And I found that in “This Will Be Our Year” from the the Zombies’ 1968 classic Odyssey and Oracle.
“This Will Be Our Year” is a short and sweet tune about love bringing two people out of the darkness. For them, it took a long time to come so they could get back into the light. And in that light from the sun’s warmth, they know that this will be their year.
I couldn’t think of a better song for this New Years. 2017 was harder and darker than anyone could’ve imagined. However, 2018 offers a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel. With enough hope and hard work, we can get to that light together, illuminate our lives, and make 2018 our year.