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Picture what you want to do and get it done in 2019: Susannah Gal

Posted 1/16/19

What are your “great expectations” for 2019? I am talking about your resolutions or plans, although I write it this way because I think we have power to make things happen if we set our …

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Picture what you want to do and get it done in 2019: Susannah Gal


What are your “great expectations” for 2019? I am talking about your resolutions or plans, although I write it this way because I think we have power to make things happen if we set our minds to it.

As I’ve written in the past, while we can’t change what others do, we can certainly control our response and our actions that either work for us and the things we want to accomplish or work against them.

There was a book called “The Secret” that received lots of buzz a few years ago. This 2006 best-selling self-help book by Rhonda Byrne is based on the belief of the law of attraction, which claims that thoughts can change a person’s life directly.  This book and others claim that visualizing what your goals are can help you achieve that goal. I really believe that viewpoint.

So what do you intend for this New Year? Is it to complete a project or learn something new?

In an effort to help members of the PieceMakers’ Quilt guild, a committee set up an Unfinished Objects challenge. For a modest sum, you entered the challenge and showed the group the one or two (or maybe more) projects you planned to finish in the upcoming months. I put in for two projects and expect to finish them both before the meeting this month, which is the deadline.

The example of intention to finish something is certainly embodied by Tom and Judy Librandi completing that amazing 9,000-piece puzzle described in an early January Press & Journal article. What drive to spend more than 600 hours on such a project! Kudos to them.

If learning something new is in your plan, consider the options in your community. Maybe it’s to help someone learn better English. The Fun with English conversation group for international students at Penn State Harrisburg will start up again in February on Monday evenings. If you want more information, let me know.

There are also open lectures with visitors to our campus. These include coach Ken Carter who is a coach, author, educator and inspiration for the film “Coach Carter.” He will speak at Penn State Harrisburg on Jan. 24.

Also on campus will be Eric Thomas, a world-renowned motivational speaker, educator and pastor, on Feb. 20. And The Fitzgeralds, a Celtic fiddling and step dancing family from the Ottawa Valley, Canada, will perform Feb. 28.

Also in February, there’s an opportunity for those of you who have a cool idea that you want to turn into a business. The Idea TestLab Entrepreneur Bootcamp is a free four-week training event in Harrisburg sponsored by our Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (https://harrisburg.psu.edu/invent). Check out the Penn State calendar at https://harrisburg2.vmhost.psu.edu/calendar for these and other activities on our campus this coming semester.

Maybe your goal is to improve your health or exercise more, or maybe it’s to renew some old friendships that have waned in the last year or so. As most of you know, I am pretty consistent about exercising as a means of maintaining my health. I also do contra and English dancing in the community, which I love. In terms of renewing friendships, that’s been hard for me. I don’t make time always to keep up with friends far away or even close by. I know that it takes effort, and I am not always good at making the time for this.

Maybe you have the goal of being more active in your community. If you’re interested in learning more how some local groups are acting on their mission to improve our region, come to a series of lectures at the Presbyterian Congregation of Middletown from 9:15 to 10:15 a.m. Sundays.

On Jan. 20, we will play host to Kelsey O’Brien, who serves as staff chaplain at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. She will talk about empathetic listening as a way for others to share their burdens.

On Jan. 27, Chris Fitz from Advoz in Lancaster will show how this group carries out its mission of building community and resolving conflict through face-to-face dialogue.

In February, we have several from other faith communities coming to describe how they work to support those in the region. On Feb. 10, Ellen Willenbecher will talk about the Middletown Area Communities that Care, and on Feb. 24, we will have people discussing the Middletown Area Food Bank. On Feb. 3, Samia Malik from Steelton will talk about the Council on American-Islamic Relations and its goal to challenge stereotypes of Islam and Muslims. And on Feb. 17, Saima Muntaz from the Hadee Mosque Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Harrisburg will talk about the Community Responders Network, a grassroots coalition committed to confronting and preventing incidents of bias in central Pennsylvania.

Also in February: Guion Bluford Jr., the first African-American U.S. astronaut, will speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Mukund Kulkarni Theatre on campus. He will address his space shuttle flights and the future of manned space flight, as well as the difficulties he faced as a minority in the STEM field. The event is free and open to the public, but tickets are limited. Email Nicole Hill at nkh5122@psu.edu or Jennifer DeBord at jld91@psu.edu for more information.

So you might wonder what I’m hoping to accomplish this year. I’ll mention just two. I am planning to finish a graduate certificate in Institutional Research that I’ve been working on for two years now. That’s an area that provides data for colleges and universities so they can make decisions about curriculum, hiring or programs. Also, my family is planning our first trip to Alaska in July to celebrate our younger daughter’s graduation from college in May. We’ve got a one-week cruise planned for part of the trip and the rest is still up in the air.

If you have suggestions for what we should see or do, let me know. I am looking forward to exploring a new part of our country during that visit.

So my suggestion is to set your intentions for the New Year so you can achieve your goals. If appropriate, find or create a picture that represents what you hope to accomplish this coming year. I hope that I’ll see you at one of the campus events or community discussions. Have a great start to your New Year.

Susannah Gal is associate dean of research and outreach and a professor of biology at Penn State Harrisburg, and is a member of the Press & Journal Editorial Board. She has lived around the world and made Middletown her home in 2015. She can be reached at susannahgal1000@gmail.com.