The year of 2009 ended on a considerable down note. I work at Western Plains High School as a paraeducator and an assistant boys’ basketball coach, among other things, and on Dec. 27, a high school senior, Josh Stieben, died in a car accident.
His funeral was on New Year’s Eve, and it was very rough. Josh was the first high school student to talk to me and make me feel at home in Western Plains. I won’t claim that I knew him well, but I enjoyed talking with him. He was a great kid, and listening to his friends, family and those who knew him best talk about him at the service confirmed my assumptions about him. It really got to me. Just thinking about it still almost brings me to tears, especially when I recall listening to grown men cry over his death. It was rough, and I hope I never have to go through anything like it again.
So as the new year began, I decided I wanted it to be a good one. I’m not going to spend time looking back over the year or the decade that just closed. Sure, it was eventful, but I’ve chronicled most of it on this blog. I don’t need to recap. Not this time.
Instead, I’m going to look forward and chart my 10 top goals for progress in 2010. Here they are:
New Year’s Resolutions for 2010
1. Grow Asterisks Magazine
In September 2009, a friend of mine, Bruce Behymer, and I started a magazine with the goal of covering the things that get overlooked in Kansas. It is called Asterisks Magazine.
Here is the official description of the magazine:
What is Asterisks Magazine? Well, it is a study guide to the aspects of Kansas that get unnoticed by most. It covers the offbeat and overlooked people and places in the Sunflower State.
It is the goal of Asterisks Magazine to elevate those interesting and unique topics out of the realm of footnotes and into the limelight.
An asterisk is defined as a star-like symbol that is a reference mark to indicate omissions, but Kansas deserves more than just a mention in the appendix of history.
Being off the beaten path shouldn’t automatically equal being omitted, so Asterisks Magazine plans to help record the history of Kansas by focusing on its quirks, oddities and hidden secrets.
Sometimes things might get a little crazy or even a little weird, but that is just how Kansas is – not worried about what others think and unabashedly distinctive.
No story is too small or strange because Asterisks Magazine is published by a company that is Kansas born and bred, and all involved with the magazine love the great state of Kansas.
So if you want to know all you can about Kansas, don’t forget to pay attention to the asterisks.
We’ve had a blast producing the first four issues, and even though print publications are in a state of incredible turmoil, I still believe a tangible product is viable, especially a magazine or local newspaper.
For 2010, though, I want to take it to the next level. We need to grow. We need to get more subscribers and do what we intended to do – cover the entire state. Right now we don’t have the resources to do that. Advertisers would help greatly, and that is part of the way I see taking Asterisks a step closer to greatness. We need to have ads, but I would be OK with the magazine being more of a subscriber-based product. That way we could provide more great content to the readers without all the clutter of ads.
On the flipside, though, I would also be OK with making it a free distribution publication totally supported by advertisers because then we could still provide great, overlooked content to the state.
Either way is fine, but something needs to happen. I don’t want to stagnate, and that is what it feels like is happening right now. We need to make progress and move forward.
If you would like to subscribe or have story suggestions, please let me know.
2. Write A Novel
In the fourth grade, I fell in love with writing. I wrote fiction stories. My first piece was about a football player who dislocated his arm and had it torn off at the socket. The arm then came to life and began to kill people. Odd, I know. In any event, I never stopped writing. Eventually that writing switched from works of fiction to journalistic writing, which I love. However, I still enjoy dabbling in fiction. When I was a freshman in high school, I complete my first and only manuscript. It was nearly 200 pages long, and I never did anything with it.
I want to change that.
So for 2010, I want to write another manuscript. If I have time I will rework that original piece I wrote all those years ago, but this year I want to focus on a new story. I recently published a novella, so I have found a way to turn my work into a book. All I have to do is write it. Sure, I would love to get it picked up by a major publisher, but that will come with time, I’m sure. The priority this year will be to write a novel and see where it goes.
I’m excited to get started, and in fact I already have. I want to work hard on it. I want to complete it as quickly as possible without go too fast to weaken the storytelling.
Writing this novel will be like mental dessert. It will be a nice break from my more journalistic and opinionated writings. Yum.
3. Further My Career
I want to move toward my goal of becoming a journalism teacher. I want to start taking classes to earn my teaching certificate, and I plan to take those classes from Fort Hays State University. Of course, for that to happen, I have to first be hired by a school to teach journalism. I’ve got my fingers crossed that will happen sooner than later.
I already have a few vague ideas bouncing around in my head about how I could teach the profession I love so much. I look forward to the day I get to hone those ideas into teachable lessons and projects. It’s going to be a blast, and I can’t wait.
Of course, whether I get to start my teaching certificate work or not, I’m going to begin to take master’s degree classes, also via FHSU. I want to earn a master’s in web development.
Even if I never get to teach, having a master’s in web development could help me in my journalistic ventures and if I would ever move beyond doing website work for friends and wanted to turn it into a business.
4. Continue Blogging
Prior to the holidays, I was doing well to post a blog entry almost every weekday here at The Voice. I want to continue to do that, but I want to better myself. I want my posts to have a little more meaning than some of them I posted in 2009 just for the sake of posting on that day.
Also, I want to do more writing for the other blog I operate, The Bobcat Nation, which is a news website about Western Plains High School athletics.
Writing is very important to me, so I want to do it in all forms possible because the more I write the better I get at it.
5. Streamline My Efforts
I want to take stock in the ventures I currently have my fingers in. I want to evaluate which ventures are parts of my future. Then I want to devise exit strategies for the ones I deem no longer viable.
This won’t be easy, but I feel it is necessary for growth and progress both personally and professionally. I have to be logical and recognize those efforts that are most needed as I move forward in life. I will miss some of the things I will dissolve, but I won’t regret it. It is just the end of a chapter of my life.
6. Read Books
Over the Christmas holiday, I finished reading “Anyone But Duane” by Noel Grove, which is a true story about a guy from Roxbury, which is near my hometown of Canton, that robbed a bank in Big Springs, Neb., and killed three people. It is a true story, and it was enthralling.
Finishing this book reminded me how much I enjoy reading. I hadn’t read many books since college, and those books were primarily for classes. I want to read more.
I have since started reading “Your Heart Belongs To Me” by Dean Koontz, and I have been chewing through it. I will probably finish it in the days to come, and I can’t wait to start reading the next book I come across.
Words mean a lot to me, and I need to get back to my roots. Reading and writing, as I previously mentioned, are how I can do that.
7. Be Physically Active
Everyone and their dog resolve to lose weight, but I want to do more than that. I want to live a healthier life.
I want to lift weights and perform cardiovascular workouts. I want to play more golf. I want to eat healthier, and I want to cut back on my soda pop consumption.
I’m not naive enough to think I can stop drinking and eating all unhealthy things, but I want to try to minimize their utilization in my diet. I know I won’t jog or run a bunch, but I want to do more than I do now, which is almost none.
Doing all these things will help me be a better coach as well, so I feel I have to do it for my players if not for myself.
8. Spend More Time With Family And Friends
Attending Josh’s funeral put things into perspective. The truly important things in life are being happy and spending time with those you love.
I want to do more of that.
Family and friends have always been important, but I’m going to redouble my efforts to be with them when I can.
9. Let The List Grow
Things are going to come up as I go through this year and life that will need my attention. I want to have the presence of mind to recognize those needing to be done and do them, even if they aren’t in this list right now.
Life is about constant change. I want to accept that change with open arms, regardless of what comes up.
10. Be Righteous
This one is simple. I want to get stuff done. I want to be productive. I want to accomplish this entire list, and I want to do it to the best of my abilities. I don’t want to do anything halfway, and I want to immerse myself into all my activities.
I want to be successful in all I do, and I want to do it all in the most ethical and responsible way possible. I want to be a good person.
So there it is. My list of New Year’s Resolutions for 2010. I hope this year is prosperous, and I hope everyone else has a great year as well.
Please have the best year possible and may all your dreams come true.
Also, thank you for your continued patronage of this blog. I sometimes write for myself, but I always want others to read my work. Thank you.