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Keeping a positive outlook for a swell 2017

On Jan.1st 2017, Pope Francis said, “Whether the New Year will be good or not depends on us choosing to do good each day.”

Choosing this mindset works because it takes the focus off my problems and changes my demeanor from being negative to positive. Every day as I leave the house, I ask God to give me the skills necessary to help at least three people during the day. Sometimes this is simply letting people cut in front of me in traffic, grocery store line, smiling or speaking to folks, or silently praying for someone.

Sometimes it’s listening to and supporting a friend (or stranger) having a tough day, but I always find people to help because I’m looking for them and our Lord leads them to me. Not always easy and I have to remind myself of this task and pray for someone who rides my bumper or cuts me off in traffic because I don’t know what issues they are dealing with.

Volunteering at church and with our residents in nursing homes also helps because by giving, I get much in return. The wisdom of life is abundant in those I minister, especially dear sister-friends Margaret 100 and Ruth 101 who have enriched my life and I seek and appreciate their advice — which sometimes gets me in a wee bit of trouble.

After my broken engagement in 2011 and other disasters that year, I have been reluctant to date. Talking to Margaret and Ruth about this they said, “She isn’t going to come to you, ask someone out!” But my deepened faith has boxed me into a corner because I will never again date someone without a strong faith in God, prefer a Catholic and dating by Catholic teaching so that rules out 99.5 percent of the population.

And, unless you are a college student, Oxford is “Camelot” but not the dating capital of the world and faculty has left as a result.

Response to my sage’s advice was, “I have put this into God’s hands and if he wants me to be with someone, it will happen!” At which I was told, “Steve, sometimes you are too Catholic!” Ha! That was the nicest compliment I have ever received. “Just walk up and ask someone out!” At which I said, “I am too picky, and along with faith issues, most persons I am interested in are considerably younger than me.” And they loudly said — “Age doesn’t matter!” So OK, taking my own advice that nothing risked, nothing gained, I did, by text and email — no response. Ha! Whew — back to God’s will.

The year 2016 was a swell year physically, mentally, and spiritually, assisted by my sons Stephen, Scott and Shane who are doing great!

Progress was accomplished on “project” cars which although satisfying, challenging, and somewhat therapeutic, is also a pain in my tool box and not necessarily, “fun.” I would rather be designing and building quirky furniture, painting, woodcarving, practicing on my guitars, harmonica, piano,

“Openness,” is my theme for 2017. That is, to give each day to God’s will, be patient, and listen quietly for the prompts of the Holy Spirit. The break from working on my cars as winter emerged has recharged my enthusiasm and I’m eagerly looking forward to reassembling my 1971 MGB/GT and getting it back on the road, and especially transforming my 1964 Land Rover from “driveway art” to a driver!

This year, 2017, is hovering like a wrapped Christmas gift; mysterious, exciting, calling me forward with promises of a swell year. I am anxious to clean the slate, evaluate, tweak my flock of 2016 mistakes, get past these last blows of winter, and begin the gentle glide down that glorious slope into leafing spring.

Happy New Year! I pray that 2017 is the best year of your life.

GO REBELS!

STEVE STRICKER can be reached at sstricker@olemiss.edu