I can only guess that my deepest, darkest self, the part that’s usually buried under twenty-seven feet of denial and obfuscation, is an optimist. That’s the only explanation I can come up with for why I like New Year’s as much as I do.

I like New Year’s a lot.  Not because of the parties–I don’t think I’ve been to a truly enjoyable New Year’s party since 1999, when I attended a roaring house party mere blocks from the United States Capitol.  I think my theory was that if Y2K was going to launch the world’s nukes, I might as well go in the first round?  I don’t know. I was 24. I’m sure it made sense at the time.

So, no, it’s not the parties, although this year, spent playing card games with my sister and brother-in-law, was pathetically enjoyable. I like New Year’s because of the fresh start aspect; that metaphorical blank notebook is irresistible to me.

Many people get confused about this and think of New Year’s as a time for corrective measures.  Something like, “Boy, I really blew 2011. I’m going to make sure that 2012 doesn’t have all those errors in it.”  Ridiculous thinking, that. Not only will 2012 likely have the same mistakes, it will have brand new ones ready for you. Screw ups you can’t even imagine are lurking just around the corner, folks, and all the vows to eat more vegetables aren’t going to help you there.

(Look, I warned you that my optimistic part was a bit buried.)

I prefer to take a different approach. I like to set a big purpose for the year, some kind of habit I’d like to instill in myself or a big life goal I’d like to work on. I let these themes develop organically over time and usually by the end of December it’s pretty much settled.  I’ll get to my 2012 theme in a second. But first: 2011.  In 2011, I vowed to become a bit more focused on who I was and what I was doing.  As a result, well.

As a result, 2011 was kind of a weird year.

It wasn’t a bad year. I need to qualify that because I know many folks, online and in real life, for whom 2011 was an absolute ankle-kicker of a year.  I am not comparing my year to their years. It wasn’t that way for me.  Really, when you get down to it, nothing about my external life changed much in 2011.  The same basic facts were the same in December as they were in January: same job, same friends, same kids, same husband, same half-built house.  But I think there were a lot of internal changes in 2011. I spent a lot of the year doing very unsettled and antsy navel-gazing, with an especial focus on my excessively neurotic tendency to examine every minute facet of my inner and outer lives by pulling them apart like dryer lint while I look for flaws.

Did you get lost and despairing somewhere in the middle of that last sentence? Good. Then I properly conveyed my mindset for most of 2011.  Feel free to send Michael your sympathies.

But I think I’m just about done with that, mostly because what I learned most about myself and what I’m do is that I’m very annoying.  And that leads me into 2012.

At some point, in the midst of all my fretting and overthinking, it occurred to me that I was spending the majority of my time taking.  I read things, but didn’t write them. I used things, but didn’t make them. I planned things, but didn’t execute them. I thought, but I didn’t do.  That sort of endless taking makes for a bit of a boring world, I’m finding.

That’s why the 2012 theme is: less consumption, more production.  Less taking of the products other people have made, and putting more of my work out there. In short: more writing, making, and doing. Starting here. Starting now.

The 2012 notebook is open. Let’s do this.