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"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious."
– Stephen Hawking  
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  Volume No. 17 Issue No. 1 January 2020  

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  2019 in review
  By Mark Stoller

   Mark Stoller moved to Falcon in 2007. He and his wife, Andra, both U.S. Air Force veterans, enjoy life with their daughters, extended family and adopted rescue dogs in Latigo. Mark savors the privilege of his wife and daughters being his muse for topics, people to meet and places to investigate.

   It is time to close the books on 2019. Were you able to accomplish this year’s goals and plans? We saw a meme recently that said, “This year went by so fast — I didn’t even get a chance to lose weight!”
   
   In the last eleven months, we’ve explored and discovered a great deal.
   
   We spent the first three months of the year delving into self-discipline and a campaign of getting better. Some helpful advice: get rid of the electronic clutter in your life like deleting the social media apps that steal your time; get up early and plan your day so you move with intention and purpose; utilize the Progress Principle to harness the power of small wins; determine what kind of habits, attitudes and influences you are growing in life’s garden; and rip out the weeds of negativity. A lasting thought on self-improvement: “Thoughts become words –- words become actions –- actions become habits — habits become character.”
   
   We looked at preparing for the worst. No one likes to think, let alone talk, about medical emergencies. But it deserves a deliberate action plan for when you are in need so your family and first responders can tend to you. Have a list of medications you’re taking; establish instructions for the care of children and pets; and know your limitations in a crisis. If needed, have an advocate nearby who can articulate the situation to help you.
   
   Next, we all have those certain people who create absolute, abject misery for everyone else. They generate unnecessary drama and pit people against each other. Instead of having the life sucked out of you by their presence, remember the only way to win is not to play! Enforce healthy boundaries and minimize your exposure to those toxic people.
   
   Along the lines of productivity, we learned 74 percent of Americans hate their jobs. The newest trend is the Side Hustle –- a side job outside the 9-5 workday to reap the benefits and relief from being creative. Not only can you soothe your soul, you can possibly make some money.
   
   Also, when you have a mind full of to-do’s, you can feel overwhelmed. David Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done – the Art of Stress-free Productivity,” is your guide to turning endless lists into inventories of accomplishments. Get everything out of your mind and into a project list; identify outcomes with action steps to accomplish; and then follow through every week to ensure you’re getting results.
   
   Last month, we found advice on how to enjoy the holidays in healthy ways. The salient nuggets of advice focused on setting boundaries for what you will/don’t want to do; speak up for yourself; ignore all the annoyances; and don’t be a martyr.
   
   Finally, self-reflection is always a good exercise. At this time of the year, business magnate Bill Gates asks himself three questions: 1. Do I devote enough time to family? 2. Did I learn new things? 3. Did I develop new friendships or deepen existing ones?
   
   For my own reflection, I would be remiss if I didn’t say, “Thank you” to you for following my column. I am blessed by your feedback and interest. Special thanks to Michelle and Marylou for this opportunity, Miss Peggy, Dave & Theresa, Dan, Dean, our graphic designer, and my always supportive family.
   
   Walt Disney once said, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious … and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
   
   I look forward to finding new paths with you in 2020! Until then, a Merry Christmas to you and yours.
  
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