The Odyssey

  Yes, the Coronavirus is unfortunately still with us and yes, things have (almost but not yet) returned to “normal,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t hope and plan for a better tomorrow. And a better tomorrow usually begins with our own self-improvement.
     Another year has passed, and it's that time when we make promises to ourselves about how we are going to improve our image in the coming twelve months.  Whether it's to become healthier, learn something new, or take that trip to a place we've always told ourselves we'd see "someday".  There are only so many tomorrows that we can push it off to, and then our time will be done.  Better to do it, than to live in regret of never having tried.  To get the most out of your bucket list, here are some suggested resolutions.

Resolution #1 - Stay healthy: Self-improvement begins at home.  And it works best when we know we have room to improve (something we all can use!).  It should begin with our health.  The worse thing that can happen during any trip is to get sick.  Whether it's from a virus or over-indulging in the local drink, it is no fun to travel when you don't feel up to snuff.  One of the best ways to stay healthy is to get into better shape.  If you feel like you could stand to lose a few pounds or should exercise more, then that is something you should do. First, talk to you doctor.  Get a physical and make sure the slump you may feel yourself in isn't due to some medical condition.  If he gives you the nod, then go out and walk every day - one of the best ways to not only loose a few pounds, but you get fresh air and improve your circulation (no pun intended). 

Resolution #2 - Lose the extra pounds: If you feel like you need to lose several pounds, and the walking just isn't going to get you to your goal, then look into a change to your eating habits.  Dieting is a word we all seem to dread, but if you are overweight it may be a requirement to get to a healthy size.  First rule to dieting is this: learn to push back from the table after one serving.  You aren't given seconds at a restaurant (unless it's a buffet), so you should refrain from having a second helping (or third, or fourth) during mealtimes at home. And once again, talk to from your doctor about what kind of diet might be best for you.

Resolution #3 - Eat right: The next rule would be to eat healthy.  Stay away from the boxed and canned meals.  Read the labels.  Have you ever seen how much salt a dill pickle has?  I have heard the argument that healthy eating is more expensive than the "dinner in a box" fare, but that is simply not true.  Healthy meals are more filling, while the boxed meals are little more than empty calories.  Healthy meals will improve your overall health and appearance, and give you fewer troubles that will require visits to a doctor.

Resolution #4 & #5 - Drinking and smoking: So, after exercise and eating properly, what else can we do to improve our health?  Drink plenty of water.  I didn't say drink plenty of fluids; I said "water".  Avoid the sugary drinks and the alcohols.  Make them a treat rather than a mainstay.  And, by all means, if you smoke, consider quitting.  That is one resolution you can make that will literally add years to your life - which too many of us is too short as it is. 

Resolution #6 - Learn something new: So much for our body.  What other resolutions can we (as world travelers) make?  How about improving your mind?  Learn something that you can use in your journeys.  Take a language class and learn to speak a few phrases in the tongue of the nationals of you next destination.  Read about where you are going to go, so you know its history and geography.  That will make your trip that much more enjoyable.  If you can, talk to people who have been there or who are from there.  You will never have too much information. 

Resolution #7 - Manners: Learn about the customs and manners of some foreign destination.  Knowing what to do and what not to do will not only make your journey pleasant, it may build some new friendships.  And - as my father always told me - good manners won't cost you anything.

Resolution #8 - Return with memories: Planning on taking pictures?  Learn how to use your camera.  If you're going to take snapshots then all you need is you phone, but if you want some real photographs that you would be proud to share upon your return home, take out your owner's manual and re-learn the function settings of your camera.  And practice, practice, practice.  Don't wait until you’re ready to pack your bags before you pull your camera from its case.  Stay practices by joining a photography club.  Learn how to take constructive criticism.  Even the best photographer knows that with every picture there is always something that can be improved.

Resolution #9 - Cast aside unwarranted fears: Shed any fears you have strange places, strange people, strange customs, and strange foods.  Go out and eat something that is a traditional dish from some other nation.  If you only read murder mysteries, or only saw slasher movies, or only listened to hip-hop, you are missing out on so much more that life has to offer.  So why only eat American?  Give your taste buds a treat with something other than the normal fare.  Experiment.  Grow.  Live.

Resolution #10 - Keep calm: Make a resolution that you will be better prepared for this year and for the trips you plan.  Tell yourself you will be more patient and will not let things which you cannot control bother you.  If your luggage is lost or damaged, it happens.  If there is something you could have done to prevent it, learn from the experience and make sure that it won't happen again.  If the person responsible is not around, don't take it out on whoever is conveniently there.  That's like stubbing your toe in a darkened room and then kicking the dog for not warning you.

     The sad fact is that after only a few weeks, most of us break our resolutions and forget about it until the following year.  The way to stay on track is to do more than just talk about your resolution; make it a contract.  Put it in writing.  Post it somewhere that you can see it every day.  Post it on the refrigerator or on your bathroom mirror. 

     Also, when it comes to resolutions, less is more.  Don't make five or six resolutions - keep it to four or fewer.  Pick the ones from the above list that are most important to you and concentrate on those.  Put the others off for the following years.  And should you manage to keep only one or two, don't worry - any step forward is a step in the right direction. 
Happy Holidays — New Year’s Resolution