2016: A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 1

It’s been a tough year all around – from the natural disasters to the human disasters, I’d be delighted to set the 2016 figgy pudding on fire.

Yeah, thanks for nothing, humans.

With the election, the takeover of our country by corporations and zany billionaires is fait accompli. But our representatives are hard at work. Even now, some of our congressional circle jerkers are fighting to have cow milk named the only true “milk”. I can’t even say we the people without choking up a bit. Self-evident truths are no longer evident. We are being gaslighted.

There’s no denying that this year was shit, but I still managed to find some light. I’m going to share some of my favorite things this year over a few posts. That is not to say that they were released, created or designed this year. I go at my own pace. Sometimes that pace is decades behind.

I’m going to share my favorite things from 2016 and I’d love for you to share yours. You can do it in the comment section or, if you choose to write your own favorite things post, send me the link on my contact page and I’ll add it to the bottom of this post.

Dead Celebrity Bonding

Living in the Twin Cities, the year was about Prince’s death and Garrison Keillor staying semi-alive with political essays in The Washington Post, but not on A Prairie Home Companion. I didn’t really connect with either artist/celebrity, although I can air guitar and yowl through Purple Rain with disturbing alacrity.

canstockphoto27307354My “discovery” was Isaac Asimov. I read his autobiography, I, Asimov: A Memoir over the last month. While I’m neither as smart or astute as Mr. Asimov, I suspect that it was his self-awareness and social skills that I related to most. He’s a very straightforward sort of fellow. I’m not a heavy science fiction reader, but some of my favorite essays and nonfiction works are by writers in that genre.

Good Intentions for News Retention

I’m trying to raise my reading game – reading less online and allowing myself to absorb information in a slow, meandering way. After reading The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains by Nicholas Carr, I began to think about what information I was actually retaining from my internet safaris. It was very little, disconnected from context, and a complete waste of time.

canstockphoto13401142One of the other problems this year was the constant drumbeat of how awful the media has become. While there may be some truth in it, the news suffers from the very thing that our products do – consumers want everything the cheapest way possible. And we get what we pay for. I used to rampage through 10 or 20 online publications, reading full articles until the site yelled at me that I’d used up all my chances to be a cheapskate that month.

My answer to all of this was not inexpensive. We’re cancelling Amazon Prime for 2017, so that’s how we fit it into our budget. I’ve paid to subscribe online to my local paper, which also included a free subscription to The Washington Post online. Offline, I picked two publications that I now pay for in hard copy: World Literature Today and The Atlantic. I’m still trying to break my news gallivanting online habit, but reading more in-depth reporting makes online click-baiting seem much less palatable. In terms of brain and cost-effectiveness, I hope it enriches my knowledge of the world and contributes to reporters doing their jobs well and getting paid for it.

Exercise for the Uninspired

It’s been a tough year to stay motivated about getting regular exercise. I’ve had to make huge adjustments because of my knees and experiencing IT Band Syndrome (Runner’s Knee). Too much running and jumping for this old broad. That being said, I’ve discovered a few things that have inspired me or at least kept me moving.

Kinesiology Tape – There are a zillion arguments among exercise and therapy experts about whether or not this stuff works. I used it to get me through some particularly painful rehab walking. If it’s a placebo, I don’t care – it still felt good and looked pretty. Using online instruction guides, I taped my knees. It felt like enough support without having to wear bulky velcro braces that impeded circulation.

canstockphoto6461923Neila Rey’s 100 No Equipment Workouts destroys any excuses regarding the need for special equipment in order to exercise. The book is based on a website DAREBEE, a nonprofit fitness resource. What I love most about the book is that the exercise routines are clearly laid out, easily modified, and can be referenced online for proper execution.

I’m turning 50 in 2017 and that, in correlation with the many injuries I’ve experienced in the last 10 years, means that I’ve got to have a come-to-Jesus talk with my body about exercise. Yoga has to be a regular thing and not something I do when I’m feeling lazy. I also came across this book by Karl Knopf called Core Strength for 50+: A Customized Program for Safely Toning Ab, Back and Oblique Muscles that is useful.

Without regular exercise, I turn into a bit of a nut job. It helps to balance out all my wonky brain chemicals. When I was in my 20s, it was more for appearance and numbers. In my 30s, I felt like I had something to prove. In my 40s it rapidly became about function. In my 50s it will definitely be about function. I spend a lot of time around elderly people and still being able to move on your own steam is a big deal. Strength, balance and flexibility training can make all the difference.

Reviewing this post, I have reminded myself that I am not a fun person. Exercise, reading, crabby politics? Woo-hoo. Maybe I’ll do some organization and housekeeping tips next. How to have healthy feet. What the next super-grain will be. Hang onto to your seats. Prepare to be underwhelmed.

22 thoughts on “2016: A Few of My Favorite Things, Part 1

  1. Michelle, your posts make me laugh out loud, they nudge me to do something, they inspire me, and they remind me that we use our individual gifts to change our circle of influence. That’s how we change the world. Keep writing, Michelle; you have a wonderful gift. Maybe that is your 2016 truest favourite thing…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for such generous words. I’ll try not to let it go to my head! If I were to really drill down into 2016, my favorite thing was resiliency. In writing and in finding humor in all the doom and gloom. Those are things that move us forward. Best wishes to you for renewal and humor in the new year!


  2. One of my favourite things was getting on board with a local house concert series right nearby. Potluck and living room music means socializing, which forces me out of my curmudgeonly shell. Plus, the music is wonderful and intimate.


  3. And one of my favorite things, a personal memory, was taking my oldest daughter to my favorite alpine lake (she’s old enough now to do the hike/climb) and she said it was the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen, and I believe her: and we sat there in the sun for a while and then she followed me out about knee-high into the alpine lake water and didn’t want to leave. And then had the idea we should take our sleeping bags out onto the rocks later to watch the storm blow in, and the stars come out. That was some good shit, right there. No arguing over true milk or anything.


    1. Now you’ve made me think about the more sentimental favorites of the last year. Those moments with our kids are so startlingly beautiful, I try to remember them over and over, afraid that I’ll forget the feeling. Such a lovely share, Bill. Here’s hoping for more of those moments in 2017!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. And they have to nerve to tell us we can’t buy raw milk!!
    BTW, I think fun is overrated! Feeling good into my 100’s, that’s where it’s at!!!


      1. Remember when you used to heal almost instantaneously? I miss that! Now it takes forever to heal every little burn or scratch! I feel your pain!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s an old idea – using your body weight for exercise, but putting one workout on a page makes it easier. I get hung up on planning and this book makes that component unnecessary. I have to modify some exercises to accommodate knee issues, but it has some body part specific rehab workouts as well.


    1. I loved that little picture. I always try to find something related to books. I think they’re supposed to be carolers, but I’m going to pretend they’re reading books. Thanks for your lovely words, Cate. Joy is sometimes in short supply – we have to keep generating our own!


  5. “ading more in-depth reporting makes online click-baiting seem much less palatable” — this is very very true. I hope to be able to make a similar choice in 2017, and support/subscribe to the solid journalism we are in such desperate need of.


      1. There’s tough choices to make. When so much information can be gotten for free, it’s hard to belly up to the bar and pay up. I figured one local paper, one national paper and a couple of in-depth sources will do the trick. I’m sure it’s not enough to prop up flagging journalism, but we can only do what we can do.

        Liked by 1 person

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