I remember exactly where I was when I came up with my first annual motto. It was New Year's Eve 1999 ('98 outgoing), and I was sitting on top of a washing machine in the basement of a rental I shared with a rotating cast of 20-somethings resisting the shackles of adulthood. My friend Sean and I were drunkenly blabbering and toasting to the new year, the last of the millennium, and looking ahead at what could be. "The only rule," one of us said, "is that there should be NO rules" Brilliant, I know. But "No Rules '99" really did become the motto of that year, and every subsequent year I like to create a mood in January with a slogan or tagline.
2022's was "Get To Work." I began January 1st, 2022 with the intention of putting all of my time, energy, and chi into expanding Bobbie's Boat Sauce's reach and influence. Ironically, it was to be one of the lowest-yield years of my adult life, as two weeks into January, Covid 19 came for my 79 year old mother and took her without much fight. The next 11.5 months were not my most productive, but in the immortal words of Stuart Smalley "That's OK".
Death teaches you that life is short, and what happens between the beginning and the end isn't easily qualified. 2022 was a year of profound doubt and ambivalence about everything from my own mortality to the subtle changes in Bobbie's Classic due to supply-chain issues. Self-employment requires a sizable amount of self-motivation, and I often thought it would have been a great year to be an employee, taking direction and executing tasks laid out by someone else. But the lure of "if only" is powerful, but ultimately unsatisfactory. Like creating a Boat Sauce, you have to work with what you have on hand, and make the most out of it.
In this final week of the year, I'm looking back on the last 12 months and all of the unexpected gifts it brought, namely reconnecting with family and old friends, celebrating the life of my mom Betsy, and spending time in my beloved Southeastern Connecticut. I also managed to get Bobbie's Boat Sauce into new markets (Texas!) and expand the Boat Sauce product line with Boat Dust and Boat Cheese.
I've started thinking about my motto for 2023, and the one I am playing with at the moment is "2023:Make Lemonade." I might need to come up with something less Beyoncé, but you get the idea. I want to capture this collective cocktail of fatigue and momentum, of perseverance and optimism grounded in reality. Time is linear, but grief, wisdom, and happiness are not. Do your best, find compassion for yourself, then others, and for the love of god, stop scrolling Tiktok.