2017: My Year of Confidence

One of my favorite people to follow on Twitter is @annedorko. Why? She asks her followers about themselves, and I like to talk about myself. This is also one reason that New Year’s is my favorite holiday. No shopping, people staying up late with me, AND the acceptability of blathering on about your resolutions? Count me in!

Last year, I saw Anne’s tweet about having a theme for the year instead of resolutions, and although I’ve always loved resolutions (and mostly kept them although they were never too ambitious) I decided to give it a try. I quickly chose the theme “The Year of Confidence.” I don’t even remember why. The idea seemed to fall from above. Having confidence as my focus was more powerful than I imagined it would be! I mean who knew what a crazy year it would be, what with evacuating for the Northern California fires, my dog dying, the Me Too movement, and freaking Donald Trump as president. Okay, it wasn’t too hard to predict that he’d bring some craziness. Here are just some of the ways I used and increased my confidence.

I Made My Own Choices

I realized this year that I have a history of believing people when they say they know what’s best for me. Really I could have called this section Setting Boundaries. I am more confident about deciding what to do with my time and my self. Things as small as reminding myself that I don’t care what someone thinks of my daily choices and things as extreme as deciding to go back to a dentist who insisted I get a crown instead of having a tooth pulled five years ago and telling him that not being able to bite for five years is unacceptable and please pull the tooth now. It. Is. My. Body. (I haven’t done that one yet. See 2018 theme below.)

I Stopped the Negative Self-Talk

I caught myself saying “I’m lazy” OUT LOUD at least three times this year. Here’s the thing. I’m not lazy. I sleep in because I usually stay up until two or three. I have been on mom duty 24/7 for sixteen years, and as one of my genius sisters pointed out, “That’s a full-length career’s worth of hours. You can retire now!” I’m not lazy. I’m freaking exhausted. I work 8 hours a week at a music store (and have worked more hours in previous years) and drive my kid all over creation and play gigs a couple times a month and clean the bathrooms and write articles and blogs and books. I’m. Not. Lazy.

I Realized That Sometimes I AM the Expert in the Room

In 44 years, I have learned a lot, and especially about jazz, trombone, and writing. In fact, I’d venture to say that I know more about those things than 99% of the general population. It’s okay if I speak confidently about them! I used to worry about being overconfident or bragging to the point that I would assume the person speaking to me knew more than I did. Youngest kid syndrome? I don’t know, but I changed my perspective this year, at least with regard to those subjects.

I Continued to Work on my Confidence in God

All Christians struggle to fully trust God. Here’s just one example for me this year. Early in the year I got invited to play in a very cool band. This gave me the opportunity to work on confidence in myself in a big way. I didn’t feel cool enough or good enough, but I kept saying yes, and I kept showing up. But no matter how much I practiced, there was no guarantee that I’d continue to get to play in the group or even that the group would keep existing. No amount of personal confidence could assure that. So this is one of the things about which I have to say to God, “I trust you with this. I trust that you’ll either make it last or help me with the loss and/or rejection if it ends.” It might sound like a silly thing to care so much about, but after so many years of focusing on parenting and after last year’s realization that most of my unpleasant feelings about the jazz world had to do solely with the fact that I’m a woman in a 95% male world, this felt like a big comeback. There were more issues that I needed to work on having confidence in God with, of course. Some are too personal to share.

So what about 2018?

The first theme that popped into my mind when I asked myself this was “bravery.” I have no idea why. Maybe someone else mentioned it, but if they did I didn’t appropriate the idea consciously. It just sprang to mind. I decided to brainstorm for a while and came up with “fun” and “rest,” but I decided to stick with my first inclination, “The Year of Bravery.” I still have that dentist to confront, after all, and I have three books just waiting for me to hit “publish,” and God only knows what will happen to our beloved America in the next 12 months. Bravery will be required. I wish you all a year of confidence and bravery and whatever else you desire.




Dear Time Magazine, About That 2017 Person of the Year Short List

Dear Time Magazine,

I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that the group who decides your Person of the Year short list doesn’t have as many women as men. Does it have any women at all, I wonder?

I wonder because your list of 10 includes 7 men, 2 movements, and 1 woman. You might argue that the #metoo movement is about women, but I would beg to differ. Yes it started with Tarana Burke’s group for underprivileged girls, but when the movement went viral this year, men who had been assaulted said “Can we be a part of this?” Women said, “Of course. We want every victim to speak out!” So the #metoo movement, like the Dreamer movement, is multi-gendered.

By the way, if you wanted to get another woman on your list, Tarana Burke would have been a great choice, since you didn’t have a single woman of color. Colin Kaepernick got to represent #TakeAKnee, after all.

Another easy choice would have been the Women’s March or its organizers. I don’t know about anyone else, but that march affected me a lot more than Kim Jong Un spouting his ridiculous threats again this year.

The woman you did include, Patty Jenkins, was a great choice. Wonder Woman got the female director it deserved, and women got more representation on screen and behind the camera. How ironic that this is what Patty Jenkins did for us and you, Time, wrote about it but didn’t learn anything from it. Representation matters. When a kid sees your list of who mattered this year, they will see that men mattered. It would only have taken a minute to look at your list, notice that it’s mostly men, and make a change. Mueller may be the person who changes everything soon, but this year it was Sally Yates.

Check yourselves.

M.L. Millard


Update: At LEAST Me Too and the “Silence Breakers” did end up the “Person” of the Year and Tarana Burke was pictured and given credit in the article. It was a powerful article, and I’d like to add my thanks to the women who came forward with their stories of abuse by Bill Cosby. While that was mostly before 2017, it was definitely the beginning of a culture of women coming forward about the likes of Harvey Weinstein.