Five years ago, someone gifted me a “five year” journal, which I am just about to finish. Each day poses a short question, and gives you a very small space to respond, no more than a sentence. Every year you answer this same question on the same day, and then you can look back to see your personal growth, I guess, or in my case, you can see that you basically give the same answers over and over every year.
That’s not entirely true. There are a few exceptions. And the overall lack of change in my responses could be due to various factors:
- My age. I’m already set in my ways.
- I have already achieved maximum growth and achievement. No further growth is possible or desired.
- These prompts are pretty limited in terms of how soul-searching they are.
- The depths of my personal growth cannot be expressed in human language. Cliches are all I’ve got.
Here’s an example of a prompt that yielded the same answer, more or less, for all five years:
“What’s your biggest expense right now?
2018. The mortgage on the house.
2019. Monthly mortgage.
2020. About to be the double bathroom remodel. No wait, it’s the mortgage.
2021. The mortgage.
2022. The mortgage.
Here was another one, in which my answers changed, but are still kind of similar in quality. I’m not sure any of these reveal personal growth. The prompt was “What is your most recent act of charity?”
2018. Running to Fry’s for my daughter who was too tired, hungry, stressed and belligerent to go herself.
2019. Pokemon Go raids for things I didn’t want. Trying to cry in pain quietly so I didn’t wake up my husband (while recovering from brain surgery).
2020. Not firing any of our employees for incompetence. Not laying them off even though we were really overstaffed.
2021. Giving two bags of charity clothes to some stranger in the ward who literally never said one word to me after. Helping my daughter sort through her closet for college.
2022. Going up to visit my sister who is recovering from surgery. Helping clean her place.
In short, my charity acts (or at least the daily ones) are mostly within my own family, which is not exactly curing cancer or ending world hunger. Here’s a prompt where my answers changed over time, but were kind of a progression. The prompt was “What do you like to talk about?”
2018. Spooky and weird stories and historical facts.
2019. The state of health care, feminism, travel.
2020. Politics. Jane Austen. The latest norm-breaking scandal.
2021. Podcasts. Sociology. Travel. Jane Austen.
2022. Social media trends.
There was recently a church survey people were talking about in which respondents were asked if they thought they would leave the Church in the next five years, which is maybe a hard prediction to make. I know quite a few people who left during the pandemic, and they were more in than I was five years earlier. The one thing they had in common is that they were the people I most admired at Church, the ones who weren’t acting like the ward police, the ones who were welcoming and funny and supportive of LGBTQ people, and open-minded in general. The ones who might have politically to the left, but never talked about politics at Church (that’s probably mostly the same people). They were in leadership roles and teaching roles. But if they had completed these question prompts, their answers might, like mine, look pretty much the same from year to year.
Let’s end by asking each of you what your answer to some of these prompts might be, and whether you think your answer has changed over the last five years or not:
- If you had to move to a new city, where would you move?
- Write the first sentence of your autobiography. 
- What’s your favorite question to ask people?
- What was the last TV show you watched?
- How are you? Write your answer in the form of a rhyming couplet? 
 2018. From the very beginning, I knew I didn’t see things the same way everyone else did. 2019. If there was one thing I couldn’t stand, it was listing things I found intolerable. 2020. Not much happened. 2021. Her first mistake was everything. 2022. From a young age, she knew was destined for greatness; she was wrong.
 2018. Rhyming couplets are dumb/I wish the weekend would come. 2019. I’m living in the present not the past/Living like every day could be my last. 2020. Wishing I could travel to places far and wide/But mostly wearing a mask and not going inside. 2021. Feeling nostalgic in my empty nest./Thanks to menopause, I’m not at my best. 2022. Cooking, biking, puzzles and TV/Business waning due to the economy.
I sure wish someone had given me a 5-year journal 5 years ago because the last 5 years have been amazing. I’ve changed more in the last 5 years than I have the previous 25.
Big changes kicked in during my 50s and those changes reflect moving from a TBM to a progressive member to a PIMO to a former member. I used to pride myself on my stability and now I’m pleased that I had the courage to change.
I think I’ve settled in now and I don’t anticipate the next 5 years to be anything like the last 5 in terms of change. Maybe I should go get one of those journals before next Sunday (Jan 1) just in case.
-They say life doesn’t come with an instruction manual; I would have settled for an engaged father or an older brother but got stuck with just myself, a poor teacher and a poorer learner.
-What’s something you really dislike?
-The Last Kingdom
-Better now than in the day / hope death washes pain away.
The first line of my biography: “I issue my strongest possible condemnation to the modern entertainment industry and its glorification of violence and promotion of wanton sexuality.”
I believe that also answers most of the other questions. I despise rhyming couplets and their allusion to immoral excesses.
A Question of Moving:
2018: Maybe? No. Something else needs to change.
2019: No moving.
2020: Maybe? Wisconsin? I need familial support but my spouse is a hermit.
2021/2022: No moving. I can’t handle packing the family up and everything else.
2023: No moving. All parental units moved to be with siblings (hence too much family member concentration).
[People hearing this for the first time always insist on my definition of “adventure”].
Hubby sick for 2+ weeks, the children for 10 days and Christmas too/The miracle this Christmas season is my after-Christmas flu.
NOTE: I am known for a “Wonder Woman” like stamina and generally don’t get really sick. I am equally in awe that I got sick and that it waited until after Christmas.
There’s a point here, I promise : )
Tattoos today have moved far past the sailor’s latest girlfriend’s name that Norman Rockwell depicted in 1944.
Few people (none that I’ve met) are mystified by the brand new Mexican cutie arm art they woke up with in Jimmy Buffet’s 1977 song (side note-love the blaming progression).
Today’s tattoos are mindful, largely well thought out, often artful. I’ve seen some that I think even JCS would admire (even if they didn’t approve).
Point: I really like asking people about theirs.They usually have a story about how they chose each one. I’ve seen their baby’s footprint, art from a talented kid in high school they respect, architecture, classical art, or something that reminds them of someone close to them that recently died.
Its a nice way to find out a little bit about someone.
Going back more than 5 years:
2015: As a serving bishop, told the SP I wouldn’t enforce the exclusion policy and was terrified he’d revoke my temple recommend on the spot. After permission from SLC, he didn’t.
2017: Adopted a rescue Doberman Pinscher – he changed my life
2019: I was called to stake HC with a good ole bait and switch tactic
2020: barely (mentally and emotionally) survived Covid
2021: designed and got a tattoo that represents my personal motto – Courage, Kindness, Wisdom
Sept 2022: pet Dobie died suddenly, one of the worst days of my life
Last night (Dec 2022): asked to be released from stake calling and voluntarily surrendered my temple recommend because I can’t support church policies concerning LGBTQ and women any more, among other things.
Things have changed for me. I don’t really care any more what church leaders think about my actions. I wouldn’t have imagined that a few years ago.
My couplet: he tries to live right bless his heart- but he’s still just a bumbling old fart.
I love to ask people where they’re from, there’s always something interesting to discuss no matter what they say.
If you had to move to a new city, where would you move?
Toronto because I read an article once that it’s one of the most walkable cities in the world and I don’t like driving.
Write the first sentence of your autobiography.
Some people have big changes happen slowly over time; others crack their lives in half suddenly, loudly, and nothing is ever the same again.
What’s your favorite question to ask people?
What do you like to cook/eat?
What was the last TV show you watched?
Wednesday on Netflix.
Which city: my wife loves Portland and I love Vancouver Canada so Pacific Northwest probably.
Autobiography: he really was just misunderstood.
Favorite question: what’s your next/last trip? People light up at this question. If they aren’t big on trips, we will discuss how they use their “time off.”
Last TV show: I’m watching the Crown. The similarities between the British monarchy and parliament to the LDS Church structure is really uncanny.
Couplet: after a week of Utah winter fun, this California family is heading home for warmth and sun.
Which city: castricum, Netherlands. I spent a week there this summer and wish I could go back. Small town near the coast a short train ride from Amsterdam with a lot of charm and bike paths. The hotel in the old city hall is lovely with the best croissants and coffee.
Autobiography: I come from a long line of not quite liars that never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Favorite question: what was the best book you ever read. Honestly can’t think of a great question here.
Last tv show: Andor – for sci fi fans who once loved Star Wars but don’t like the most recent movies and shows and want something gritty and heartfelt.
Couplet. Southwest cancelled our flights to visit family; now thinking of things to do to make our home more homely.
@Toad Sounds like this month was pretty momentous. It’s only my experience, but after a couple of years, it amazing how what once seemed unthinkable (living outside the Mormon faith) seems pretty great. I haven’t fully settled on another faith community, but I have so much enjoyed going to church in places that aren’t constantly causing me cognitive dissonance. I feel uplifted instead of downtrodden. Like careful study of faith is valued instead of viewed with suspicion. I don’t think I fully realized the negative impact of LDS meetings and beliefs on my life. I still miss the close connections with some people, but I don’t miss the theology much at all. This Christmas Eve, going to church services was so uplifting. I wish that had been part of my life a long time ago .
I wish you well on your faith journey.
New city: someplace with better public transportation. Chicago or NYC or any reasonable European/Asian metro. But let’s say Berlin because why not.
TV: “Cooking At All Costs” on Netflix, which is an insipid, vastly inferior rendition of the amazing “Cutthroat Kitchen” that was on food network back in the day.
Works unfinished, dreams unseen, dishes untasted;
All in all, this life has truly been wasted.
(I am not in good spirits.)
I’d move to one of Los Angeles’s beach cities. I’m tempted to say Nice or another coastal Med city, but that gets logistically crazy with the kids, jobs, etc. In twenty years, when retirement is upon me and the kids are grown, I’m looking for someplace quiet and abroad to spend a good part of the year. Ireland and Italy appeal. So does Kerala.
I will not be writing an autobiography; nobody wants to read that. (To be clear: that’s the first line— I will -totally- be writing an autobiography.)
It’s a personal question so maybe not an icebreaker, but I love to ask people what their earliest memory is: what it is, how old they were, any details they remember. It’s amazing the stories I’ve heard! Particularly fun to ask the more senior folks in my life, but also fun to hear from my kids, nieces, and nephews.
Also Andor. Agree with Brian G.
The truest philosopher takes her joy
Even from things that upset and annoy.
Happy new year, everybody!
2-Farmers and ranchers cannot predict the life path of any of their posterity.
3 (pass) – introvert’s privilege
4 This Is Us since my wife asked me to join her for her 2nd full viewing
5 At the age of 52, I shall do only what I want to do.
We designed and built ourselves our forever home 15 years ago. It is at 24.4 degrees latitude (about the same as La Paz on the bottom of the Mexican part of baja peninsula), between Brisbane and the Gold Coast (best beaches in the world, 30 minutes away). Winter temperatures low of 50f to high 70, summer 70 to 90.
Our walls are built of ecoblocks which are insulated formwork and have 6 inches of concrete with 2.5 inches of Styrofoam inside and out. The bedrooms have 6 inches of concrete and 4 inches of styrafoam as roof and the living rooms 8 inch thick cool room panels with another 2 in of sound insulation. So superainsulated, and so far cyclone proof.
Inside the ceilings start 9ft, sloping to 12ft. We have ceiling fans and ducted reverse cycle heat pump air-conditioning, also solar heated hot water, and a solar pv power, and solar clothes dryer. Most of the year our power bills are credits, annual power bill $100ish. The view from our bedroom windows is a tropical rainforest, with different blossom aromas at different seasons. From the lounge we have views to a mountain 50 miles away. We have 283 days of sunshine a year.
Our youngest daughter 40, lives with us, she is a federal police officer who is a rural fire officer in her spare time. In February we had very heavy rain event and her jaguar was written off. She ordered a Tesla and was told 6 to 9 month delivery. The ship it came on has been in port here for a week but we still don’t have it. This year has been a sharing cars year.
In Australia many people who own a 4WD dream of driving to the top of Cape York, to the most northerly point in Australia. We live in the south east corner of the state of Queensland, Cape York is as far north in Queensland as you can go. North is toward the equator. Google says it is 1600 miles. The first 100 miles are 4 and 6 lane highway. The next 1000 miles are paved 2 lane road. The top 500 miles are dirt road. Areas of water develop waves; dirt roads develop corrugations. Speed bumps are 3.5 in high, we met corrugations 6 in high, and in continuous waves. Dirt roads follow the contours of the land; so you drive over a hill then down into a creek bed and out the other side. We saw 4 road crews continually repairing the road. Where they have been recently is bliss.
The roads are not fenced so kangaroos, cattle and horses can be on the road. The road is only open in the dry season because once the creeks have 3 or 4 feet of water you can’t go. We went in mid October, the wet usually starts in early November but with climate change is less predictable. There are roadhouses every hundred miles or so, where fuel, food and accommodation were available.
Unless there is a side wind dust is incredible. When a vehicle comes the other way you are blind in the dust. Unless there is a side wind you can not see to pass. All the trucks on the Cape are road trains with over 100 tyres, mega dust. There is also bull dust, which is very fine dust like talcum powder, filling in pot holes which can be a foot deep and up to 50 feet long. So you drop in and wait for the crash when you hit the other end. You have to keep some momentum to get through.
The last town is 20 miles from the tip. So the last 20 miles are through tropical rainforest. At the end of the road is a track which goes over a volcanic mound for a mile to the tip of Australia where there is a sign saying you have reached the most northerly point in Australia. The temperature is close to 100f and the humidity is Al’so close to 100%. There are beautiful beaches, but you don’t go within 4 feet of the water because of crocodiles.
Once you get to the top you turn around and go back. It took 3 days to get to the end of the paved road and 4 days to go each way on the dirt. We went in our Mercedes gle with 65 profile offroad tyres, didn’t see another European or American car up there, just Toyota landcruisers, Nissan Patroals, and Land Rovers usually much modified.
I also enjoyed Wednesday Adams.
We have booked a holiday to Japan in March. Then in winter plan to go round Australia by Mercedes 4WD. Last time we went in a Citroen so couldn’t go to some 4WD places. It is at least 10,000 miles round Aus so at least a month. Stromalites in WA.
Geoff-Aus: Thanks for the interesting and well-detailed snapshot of one type of life in Australia, a place that I would love to visit but probably never will. (I came THIS close about 30 years ago). One question – did you mis-type your latitude? My Google Maps puts 24.4 at some 200 miles north of Brisbane, on the other side of Gold Coast. TIA – RW
I hear you Bro Jones. I hear you.
Move to a new city? After sinking deep roots in AZ for so long, the question is academic, but I’ve always felt an affinity for the Colorado Plateau, which probably means southern Utah. Ew. Or SW Colorado.
My autobiography, 2022. Looking too far back is much more painful than de facto slouching through the present, toward the eternally elusive future.
Favorite question to ask people? Hmmm, that would change often. Today, it’s “Wanna blow this pop-stand?”
Last TV show watched. Harry & Meghan
How am I? Here’s my offering, x2.
Twenty twenty-two has come to its end,
But still next week the same stuff to attend.
Fighting entropy exhausts and pays no dividend
But slouching toward discipleship is my sorta constant trend.
Happy New Year y’all!
Raymond, Yes mistake on latitude, more like 27.62. My home is not typical construction, but we love it here, and it should cope with extreme weather which seems to be more regular. Some places in Aus have had 4 once in 100 year flood levels in a year. You have had extreme cold and snow.
1 Somewhere affordable. But if I won the lottery, Vancouver BC or London, or some small city in New Zealand (provided my house was earthquake and volcano proof).
2. She plans on going out of this world as she came in– inconsequentially. The End.
3. I’m fine thank you and how are you?
4. Was going to say Willow which is Fun, But it’s another day so Star Trek Prodigy, which is the best Star Trek of 2022. (And while Andor is good, my favorite new SW is the last season of Clone Wars. Why am I liking children’s shows?)
5. uumm. Nothing much to say. but still okay.