Hello, friends! I wish you a most prosperous new year.

If you’re like me, you started last year with higher hopes and greater plans than what actually took place. The pandemic shook many of us to our cores and changed the way we do everything. The political arena, which is one I avoid, was a particularly vicious display of America’s worst … There were no winners, and everyone involved is compromised on some level. A testament to why I refuse to align with any or either party.

During the lockdowns, wherein I begrudgingly facilitated remote-learning for my six children, not all things were bad in my world. Of the positive outcomes I experienced, one of the most notable is that I finally stopped drinking 6 to 8 Red Bulls every day. For most of my Army career I was heavily caffeinated, as sleep was a privilege not always afforded to the warfighter. As a result, I developed a dependency on caffeine in general, and energy drinks specifically. This dependency has been broken, and I now drink more water than ever while also enjoying coffee and tea for my caffeine fix. I get less caffeine each day, but I am more energized.

Admittedly, I miss the bubbles of the energy drinks, so I splurge on San Pellegrino or some other fizzy water from time to time.

Another dynamic of my life that was exposed by 2020’s drama was just how fragmented my life had become. At the end of the year, I noticed that I was subscribed to 83 podcasts. I only listened to a handful, and even then only sporadically. I had nearly two dozen music playlists on my phone, three of which were played over 90% of the time.

The reason I did not enjoy these cultural venues to their fullest in the past was simply because I had obligated myself to more than I could consume. When I wanted to listen to something, I browsed my holdings and faced the insurmountable force of indecision. So, those playlists and podcasts remained largely unplayed.

To defragment, I’ve scrapped most of my playlists and kept only those that I’ve listened to. I’m always open to new things, but I have become watchful over my commitments.

On another front, I faced a similar problem with my reading habits. I must painfully admit that I only read a handful of books last year. It is ironic since I spent 99% of my time at home. Indecision was also involved here, but it’s a little more complicated.

I have devised a plan to correct my reading course during this year. Last year, I wrote about my discovery of the Nobel Prize in Literature website, and how fascinated I was by listening to the acceptance speeches of the laureates. This year, I have decided that most of what I read will be works by Nobel winners of yore.

Over the next 52 weeks, I plan to read 42 works, one from each Laureate between 2020 and 1978. I was born in ‘78, so I figured that during this year of defragmentation I will read works from every Laureate of my lifetime. I will not be able to read everything written by these great authors, but I know I can read and enjoy at least one thing each week. This week, I’m reading poetry by 2020’s Nobel winner, Louise Gluck. Next week, I’m reading something by Peter Handke, 2019’s Nobel Laureate in Literature. I will continue this each week or so until I’ve read them all.

I considered doing one each week for 52 weeks, but I am more likely to succeed with only 42 since I also have other life obligations like raising kids and going to school.

I plan to post my thoughts on what I’ve read at the end of each week, so I can share with you my experiences and impressions I will have garnered by reading some of the world’s greatest literature. So please stay tuned!

In parting, I again wish you the greatest of all the new years you have ever experienced. I know that 2020 was kind of a flop, but we can still take what we’ve learned and apply that to our futures. You and I deserve better than we’ve been getting, and at some point we must simply realize that we are worth the trouble.

So, I implore you. Whatever your goals for this year, write them down and make them real. Lose the weight, drink more water, read more, write more, cut back on or eliminate addictions, but above all else, Love.

Life is meaningless without love.

Here is the link to the Nobel Prize in Literature page, in case you also wish to do something similar this year.

(The image for this post provided courtesy of the Nobel Prize Press Room.)