Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Facing the New Year

By Kay Kendall

Even though we are now six days into 2016, I still feel compelled to write something about entering a new year. On the other hand, maybe this is trite. To resolve the issue, I did a quick online search of topics to blog about…and here is the advice that jumped out at me.

What are people afraid of? Do what you can to help allay those fears.
So I am back to where I began. I’ll call it “Facing Down the New Year without Fear and Trembling.”
After all, that topic haunted me as the last days of December dwindled down. The old year had held so many horrors on so many levels. You name it. Whether it was personal, national, or international, things were danged scary. Whereas every other year I had welcomed the coming one with hope and delight, looking at 2016 looming on the calendar caused anxiety and shudders. I felt particularly snake bitten because of
a) My husband’s cancer treatments in 2015 (Will the cancer return?)
b) America’s decreasing harmony (Look at our national and state electoral processes)
c) International tensions high as the Cuban missile crisis (As a kid, I assumed it would sort itself out.)
Cursing snake bites, I walked back from the abyss' edge and quit scaring myself to death. The Internet asserts some of you are experiencing similar fears, so I'll share thoughts that helped calm me down.
First, on the international and national political stages, issues indeed are piling up, but that does not mean that we will not keep on muddling through, crisis after crisis. Most of the time we do. Just think how news organizations catastrophize everything so we will pay attention to them, and that this goes on twenty-four hours a day every day, ceaselessly. No wonder our stomachs are aflutter with fear. Some politicians also actively try to scare us into their ways of thinking. Calmer voices are difficult to hear above the fray.
I used to be a news junky, and I guess in a way I still am, but I simply cannot bear to listen to politicians and news pundits screaming that the sky is falling for one reason or another all the time anymore. When my head churns with thoughts of terrorism, mass immigration, climate change and the like, I turn the television off and do something soothing. Like petting the dog. Going for a walk. Remembering that most things I’ve worried about in my life have never come to pass. No, really. If you don’t believe me, then list your own old fears and see exactly which ones came true. Not many, if your life is anything like mine.
Now with some mental toughness and practice, I have set my mind firmly in the half-full position. I push aside the notion that the cup could also be half-empty. The year ahead will be like most—as full of ups as it is of downs. I focus on the ups, and keep on truckin’ right past the downs. So what if I have to reset to half-full every few days. I can do it. Stay positive, that is. And if I can, you surely can too.
Most of all, I remember that all we ever have is this very moment we are living in. If I am too anxious to enjoy it, then I’m wasting a perfectly good life. We all can train our minds to be happy. In a serious pinch, then we can follow this maxim – Fake it til you make it. I once heard a perfectly great sermon at my Methodist church on that very topic.
Kay Kendall’s historical mysteries capture the spirit and turbulence of the 1960s. DESOLATION ROW (2013) and RAINY DAY WOMEN (2015) are in her Austin Starr Mystery series. Austin is a 22-year-old Texas bride who ends up on the frontlines of societal change, learns to cope, and turns amateur sleuth. Kay’s degrees in Russian history and language help ground her tales in the Cold War, and her titles show she's a Bob Dylan buff too. Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. In her former life as a PR executive, Kay’s projects won international awards.


  1. Good post, Kay. I hardly watch an news except our local news. The rest is too depressing and misleadng on both sides of the fence.

  2. You're right, Kay. Very little that we worry about really does come to pass. Here's to a great 2016!

  3. I read all the advice and tips I can get my hands/eyes on that talk about how to control fears. It actually has helped over the years. Good thing too. Modern life is not for sissies. If my ancestors can travel in covered wagons and fight in world wars and other horrors, then surely I can withstand US politics and the fear of worldwide catastrophes to come.
    Marilyn and Linda, may 2016 be good as can be to you and yours.

  4. I recall Thoreau's attitude toward news and feel no guilt when I limit my exposure.

  5. I think you are exactly right, Mary.