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    Donna’s Chronicles, “Brand new year!”

    By Donna Sachet–

    Brand new year! Brand new issue of SF Bay Times! And brand new Donna’s Chronicles column! Time for some thoughtful reflection, candid evaluation, and resolute planning!

    If age and the passing of years demonstrate anything, it is the inevitability of three things and as the “Empress of 3’s” (as in our Imperial number XXX or 30), we are beholden to present them here.  First, the passage of time is inevitable.  As much as we may want the clock to pause or even speed up, time follows a steady and unstoppable pace.  Techniques such as cramming, procrastinating, or burying one’s head in the sand have absolutely no influence on the speed or inevitability of the passage of time.  Second, change is inevitable.  Some of you have heard the words of a grandmother of ours who once said “There are two kinds of change: change you like and change you get used to.”  Like it or not, things are constantly changing and much of that change is beyond our control.  Kicking and screaming will not prevent change.  Neither will sinking our feet into the ground and declaring “Not in my backyard!”  (NIMBY)  And third, we play an active role in our own happiness.  Call it the law of attraction or simply positive thinking, but sitting on the sidelines and constantly complaining is not truly taking any action at all.

    Given these three inevitabilities and at the risk of sounding like some kind of modern guru with life-changing wisdom, here are three things we are personally determined to do in 2023.  First, cherish every day, every hour, every moment.  Too often we become preoccupied with extraneous things while in the middle of a current experience.  Put down that cell phone and look around.  Where are we?  Who surrounds us?  What may we be missing about the here and now?

    Second, face change resolutely, but with a positive outlook.  Yes, San Francisco has changed since 1990 when we first arrived, but focus on the positive changes and where the changes seem overwhelmingly negative, become a part of the solution.  Are we supporting the efforts of any charitable organization with our volunteer hours, our financial donations, or our advocacy?  When we discuss unwelcome changes with others, do we deplore them, rehashing the popular tropes and stigmatizing segments of the population or are we exploring solutions, offering our help, and looking for realistic measures?  As Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

    And third, are we playing an active role in our own happiness?  The majority of so-called New Year’s resolutions can be boiled down to this:  “I want to be happy.”  Spend time reflecting what happiness means to you and then make plans to reach it, incrementally over a realistic period of time and facing the very real fact that trade-offs are necessary.  And don’t let others determine for you what happiness means.  Do you really want to look like the models on the covers of magazines?  Do you really aspire to that cookie-cutter romance and/or white picket fence home life so tirelessly touted by the media?  Are you willing to make the sacrifices necessary?  Or can you find happiness surrounded by the love of friends and/or family?  Is your happiness truly so far away or have you lost sight of just how much you have and how fortunate you are?  Do you actually think that you will go to sleep one night and wake up the next day with the happiness you envisioned?  The pursuit of happiness is not a spectator sport, but a daily, active, balanced journey, celebrating small victories along the way.

    With those inevitabilities confidently in mind and focused on a loose, but well-thought-out course of action, we hope to cross paths with many of our readers in the days and weeks to come.  Don’t be afraid to step back from unproductive activities or people who are not the best influences in your life.  Pursue those activities from which you derive the most satisfaction and surround yourself with people who have proven themselves to be true friends or from whom you may learn valuable lessons.  Don’t fall into the trap of idly dreaming for things that the world tells you will bring you happiness, but seek a happiness that is defined by your own heart.  Determine to savor moments of happiness, whether they be volunteering to help others, treating yourself to an occasional treat, or relishing a conversation, an experience, or a decision.  And never let go of you own steering wheel.  Granted, there are many things far beyond our control, many of them perceived as punitive, but more likely simply the random injustices of life.  But hold that steering wheel firmly, knowing that how you respond to people, events, and the details of life is far more important than anything else.  Recognize that there is much we cannot control, i.e. the passage of time, the inevitability of change, and the actions of others, but so many of the impediments to our own happiness are within our control because we can choose how to react and how deeply we are affected by them.

    After a few years of alarmingly negative events, from the pandemic and continued civil injustice to political extremism and economic upheaval, may 2023 be a year of welcome change, of personal growth, and steps, no matter how few or how small, closer to true happiness!

    Donna Sachet is a celebrated performer, fundraiser, activist, and philanthropist who has dedicated over two decades to the LGBTQ Community in San Francisco. Contact her at empsachet@gmail.com


    Calendar a/la Sachet

    Sunday, January 15
    Rusty Gaspard Celebration of Life
    Accepting donations to PRC
    440 Castro
    Noon–3 pm
    FREE!

    Sunday, January 15
    Imperial Gala & Introduction of Candidates
    Dahlia SF, 1799 Mission Street
    5 pm
    $10
    www.sfimperialcouncil.org

    Donna’s Chronicles
    Published on January 12, 2023