C_s_lewis3Several of the tables at the coffee shop where my writing group meets sport inspirational quotations around their top edges. Though I’ve been known to read telephone books when nothing else is available, I’d somehow neglected to read the message on one of our favorite tables: “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”–C.S. Lewis

Who knew a table could be such a game changer? This time of year with its damp gray skies, lack of sunshine, and cold-for-Texas weather always assaults me with SAD, or seasonal affective disorder, what used to be called “winter doldrums,” I believe. It’s a self-diagnosis, but since I never feel this way any other season, why waste the money to make it official?

On top of that, with the holidays crashing down on us, I get a bad case of the “could’ve-should’ve-didn’t” blues. The night before my encounter with C.S. Lewis, I had regaled the Goat with all the things I hadn’t accomplished this year, and now undoubtedly wouldn’t in the few weeks remaining. And somehow all the things I (meaning “we,” meaning the Goat and I) had accomplished got relegated to the all-we-do-around-here-is-work pile.

Oh, it was a real pity party. Too bad none of you could attend.

I ticked off the months on my fingers: January, February, March, April, May. I couldn’t remember what we’d done, but I was sure it hadn’t been worthwhile. I continued: June, July, August, September, October, November and now despair-filled December. We’d completed huge indoor projects involving vast quantities of lumber, nails, paint, power tools and the Goat’s graph paper. These were followed by huge outdoor projects involving vast quantities of rocks, dirt, sand, cement, and, yes, the Goat’s graph paper. (Read My Graph Paper Goat if that confuses you.) At the time I’d enjoyed every minute (except for the graph paper part), but enjoyment has no place at a pity party. I remembered it as nothing but drudgery that forced me away from my extensive wanted-to-do list.

Ah, my list–

  • finish the Rosemary Gladstar medicinal herb course I started eons agoPatrick Swayze
  • decide once and for all what to do with my Saggy Bottom Blues manuscript and then actually do it
  • grow good fingernails in spite of my disdain for work gloves
  • master the potter’s wheel so Patrick Swayze can sneak up from behind and wrap his arms around me like he did to Demi Moore. Yes, I know he’s passed on, but he was a ghost in that movie. It could happen!
  • keep my bees alive
  • take an overnight train trip and sleep in a sleeper car like they did in old black and white movies
  • take tai chi lessons
  • cook a new exotic meal every week, preferably one requiring dancing around the kitchen to foreign music and using spices with unpronounceable names
  • shed twenty pounds

Boy, what a loser I am!

Enter the table. Maybe that particular day wasn’t quite as dreary or maybe my pity jar was already filled up, but my disappointing could’ve-should’ve-didn’t loser list miraculously turned into doable goals and dreams for 2016.

Who knows? This time next year I may have a framed certificate signed by Rosemary herself, a publishing contract, a set of hand-thrown dishes on which I serve exotic meals flavored with honey from my own backyard, a svelte figure from all that tai chi and kitchen dancing, an Amtrak ticket agent who knows me by name, and a spot on a new TV show titled Close Encounters with Celebrity Ghosts.

The fingernails? Nope, that won’t happen. Then again, there’s always 2017!