Wonder Boi Writes

Happy New Year

I am smidge supersticious.  I usually blame my massive sports fandom. I never say “no hitter” when someone is throwing one. I don’t ever step on a foul line. And if the Cardinals are losing in the 3rd inning of a post-season game, I have to eat crab rangoon (It’s a long story.). However, as the “on this day” feature on my Facebook has spent the last few days sending me photos from New Year’s Days past, I’ve realized my Southern influences might have actually made New Year’s as steeped in superstitions as the baseball playoffs.  In every year of recent memory, the tree has come down and the house cleaned on New Years Eve, so as not to carry any mess from one year to the next.  I move heaven and earth to be with the people who matter most to me. Susie and I do not usually go out unless we take Jackson with us for fear of starting the new year with our family split.  And on New Year’s Day we always eat black-eyed peas (Hopping John) with honeyed cornbread and some kind of greens to symbolize both frugality and prosperity.


I can’t remember how long we’ve done these things. Facebooks says for at least the last eight years.  Some of those years have been good, some of them have been bad, most of them have been a mix, still the tradition means more in the doing than what it does or doesn’t actually do (which is probably nothing more than putting a wish in my heart).  And yet this year we did none of those things.

There’s no Christmas tree to take down because we didn’t have one. We weren’t home to deep clean the house, also, because we don’t have one.  I mean we’re not homeless, but we’re traveling.  We’re renting a lovely little seaside cottage in England, but as we spent the holidays with family back in America, there was neither a holiday mess in the cottage, nor anyone there to clean it.  You see, we sort of straddled the new year, not fully in any place except 27,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean.  When we left America, it was still 2017 for about 4 more hours, and by the time we landed in Ireland and then England, it had already been 2018 for about 7 hours.  There was no countdown, no ball drop, no glass of champagne. At some point I did look over at my wife and whisper, “I guess it’s past midnight wherever we are right now. Happy New Year.”  And we shared the quick, chaste kiss of two women surrounded by strangers with a kid snoring softly across their laps.


We had to make quick  airline connections, so there was no breakfast.  Lunch was in a train station coffee shop, and dinner was literally the only thing left in the freezer when we made it to our cottage, a frozen pizza.  Even if any of the stores had been open, I doubt I would’ve found the fixing for a Southern-style New Year’s dinner in them, and I know I wouldn’t have had the time or energy to assemble such a feast after being awake for 28 hours.  Any other year I would have legitimately freaked right out at losing nearly every one of my holiday traditions/superstitions. This year I didn’t.


This year I spent the new year flying east.  I got to 2018 hours earlier than I otherwise would have if I’d stood still.  This year I sped toward the rising sun, and by doing so shortened my time in darkness.  This year I didn’t celebrate a new start. I went out to meet it.  This year I traded superstition for symbolism in action. And it felt good.


I don’t know if I will end the year in a place I love. I don’t know if I will end the year healthier or skinnier. I don’t know if I will end the year more prosperous (doubt it).  I don’t know if the Cardinals will make the playoffs.

What I do know is that I’m not going to sit around waiting for my dreams to come true.  I can’t control the cosmos or the world at large.  In the theme of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Aaron Burr, “I am the one thing in life I can control,” and I am not going to be a passive observer in 2018. I am going actively seek it out and ask, “What cool things can I do today?”

With that in mind, I’ve made my list of goals (not vague resolutions like “eat less, smile more,” but tangible, measurable goals) as action-oriented as possible.  But I’ve also made peace with the fact that sometimes life has something better in store.  Sometimes you start a year in a small college town with no real changes on the horizon and end it on a plane to the place you’re living on the North Sea in the border lands of England. I’m not just open to that, I will run out and greet it.

In the meantime, here’s some cool stuff I’m looking forward to trying.

Finish level 3 of Rosetta Stone

Have a Full interaction in Spanish

Learn to Sail

Cook 12 new things

Attend 4 book events

Take an online course

Visit 10 new Cities/Towns/Sites

Entertain friends 12 times

Write two novels

Write 25 blogs before December

Read 12 grown up books

Watch 12 documentaries

Do at least one thing that scares me.

12 dates with Susie

12 outings with Jackie

12 family game nights

Walk 1,400 miles

Burn 700,000 calories

Donate to a Food bank 4 times

Donate to 12 Democratic House candidates

Tithe all book and Bywater checks

Visit Spring Training

Have a Day of Yes

Pay off a credit card

Now, comment and tell me what you are hoping to get out there and do this year. There might even been a free ebook in there for one lucky commenter.


January 4, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Awesome and inspirational as always! I am thinking about my list of goals- for sure on there is read 80 books, sell or rent my current home, dispose of 30% of my belongings (including 30% of my paper books!), move to my new smaller house, complete the porch on my rental property, complete curriculum design for a financial course for people under 30, exercise at least 30 minutes on 180 days, see 4 movies, complete two Christmas stockings, and the rest tbd…

    Comment by Ann Etter | January 4, 2018 | Reply

  2. Great post, Rachel. This always makes me think. I know that this year I will be doing a mixture of things. The only three things I can guarantee right now are 1) picking up and wearing my engagement ring for the first time and the rest of the year for sure! 2) Publishing my first book with Flashpoint Publications. and 3) having and recovering from brain surgery. The rest of the year is one great adventure to be discovered! But the plan is to see you all in Vegas!

    Comment by onamarae | January 4, 2018 | Reply

  3. Thank you, Rachel. You are always an inspiration and I love your blogs so please keep coming with them. I wish you and your family the best for 2018!

    Comment by lynnlawler | January 4, 2018 | Reply

  4. It’s weird not to have some kind of countdown moment. Didn’t the captain or crew make a moment of that during the flight? I’m sure more people would have appreciated that.
    My advise to you: do not let anyone know the exact date of your “day of yes”. Because people Will take an advantage out of this knowledge. Really, it’s a fact just the same as the fact that your current president is the biggest &€#@) of all presidents, probably even Americans. This “day of yes” is absolutely the most frightening thing on your list.
    Over here in your (currently) neighboring country (The Netherlands) I’ve never seen such an extensive list of things to do in the new year. We do have something called “goede voornemens” (good intentions). People say they wil quit smoking, lose weight, go to the gym, stop eating so much sugar. Now I think about it, it’s mostly something to stop and not something to do. I usually don’t have goede voornemens, but I will share some do’s for 2018 with you:
    – I’m going to be a candidate for the local city council (pretty exciting, don’t know if I’ll get elected)
    – Me and my wife are starting a training so that we’ll be allowed to take in a foster kid
    – We’ll have an intimate party this summer because we’re celebrating our marriage of 12,5 years
    – And, ‘cause you’ve inspired me: I Wil read at least 2 books for grown ups. I’m hooked on an other genre because I read to relax. But I’m going to read “The teeth may smile but the heart does not forget” and some other (suggestions are welcome)
    – When I visit Uganda for my work, I’m going to talk to people about women’s rights and sexual diversity. Not because it’s a part of my job, but because I’m interested in how people there think about these topics and maybe just plant a seed.
    – Keep giving compliments to the people around me. It’s not really Dutch to do so. But people are getting used to me doing so and I really enjoy to see what it does to people.

    I can keep going now I’ve started a to do list 😉
    But let’s close it with one last remark: thank you for writing, I love your work. Please keep up the good work, so that the hopeless romantics off this world can escape for a couple of hours.


    Comment by Karin Adams | January 4, 2018 | Reply

  5. I agree with your philosophy of going out to meet the new year. One of my goals is to write every day in hope a book sometime in the near future.

    Comment by Stacy | January 8, 2018 | Reply

  6. I am hoping to read a book a week.
    Take my dogs to womens week in Ptown this year(missed it last year)
    Travel to see my family at least 12 times

    Comment by Colleen Edwards | January 8, 2018 | Reply

  7. Do the big ‘house reorganizing’ I keep putting off. Heh.

    Comment by shannon | January 8, 2018 | Reply

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