This year, I resolve to…

Alabama Living Magazine

Alabamians share their New Year’s resolutions

By Emmet Burnett

And just like that, 2020, the coronavirus year when you could actually wear a mask inside a bank, is over.  Enter 2021, a time for resolutions. 

We asked some Alabamians for their aspirations and wishes for 2021. Here is what they told us:

James Spann

James spann

James Spann

Birmingham-based meteorologist James Spann believes in resolutions but not necessarily New Year’s ones. “Some people think they must improve in January,” he says about 2021 initiatives. “I like to improve in June, October, March and any other month.” 

In the new year he strives for time management improvement. “We only have 24 hours in a day,” says Spann. “The richest man in the universe cannot buy one microsecond. How you spend those 24 hours determines how valuable you are.”

He also vows to obtain more sleep. “I’m getting about four hours a night,” noted Alabama’s go-to meteorologist, who starts the day at 4 a.m. with social media reports, television broadcasts, and weather bulletins delivered on 24 radio stations. Acknowledging the lack of shut-eye, he notes, “I want more sleep in 2021.” 

His new year forecast is concerning. “I’m worried the same patterns that set Alabama’s active hurricane season are in play for tornado season. We must stay alert and I must be on top of my game for forecasting.”

Dr. Charlotte P. Morris 

“My resolution hasn’t changed much over the past few years,” says Dr. Charlotte P. Morris, interim president of Tuskegee Institute. “In 2021 I will continue being proactive in my activities and eating habits to develop a healthier lifestyle.” 

Though interim president from November 2020 to May 2021, Dr. Morris’ history is long with Tuskegee. During past decades, she served as interim twice before. Her New Year’s goal for the school she loves is to elevate Tuskegee academically.  “Our three pillars of excellence are teaching, research, and service,” she says about the college founded by Booker T. Washington. “We will continue those goals.”

Her 2021 wish: “If I had one word for what I would like to see occur in the new year it would be unity – across the board.  I wish for all people working and living in unity.”

Taylor Hicks

American Idol star Taylor Hicks turned coronavirus-fueled adversity into positives.  “I have been an impatient man in my past,” he admits, referencing entertainment industry rigors. “But this year, COVID took a heavy toll on the entertainment and restaurant business, which I am in both.”

In addition to singing, he is an owner of Birmingham’s SAW’s Juke Joint and appears in the movie, “Stars Fell on Alabama,” set to release in early 2021. None have been easy.

“I learned more about applying patience this year than any other,” Hicks says.  “Having more patience in 2021 is my main goal for 2021. COVID caused us all to be on edge and less patient, especially me.”

His new year wish: “The people of Alabama have been strong, prideful, and resilient. If we apply those attributes, 2021 will hopefully be like the Roaring ‘20s all in one year. I am proud to say I am from Alabama. “

We agree. Happy New Year.

Allen Sanders  

“I want to be a better person,” notes Allen Sanders, general manager of the Montgomery Performing Arts Centre. “I want to listen and hear what others say.” And in these days of pandemic hardships and life’s unpredictability, he promises another resolution – “I will live every day as if it is my last.”

Sanders’ new year wish: “Bring live music back. Our industry has been decimated by COVID. But I believe music is a common denominator that brings us together no matter the walk of life, political belief, or rung you are on the ladder.  Music allows us to hug each other, laugh, and hold hands again. We need live music entertainment and we need it now.”

Sally Ericson

“My first resolution is to spend more time outside, enjoying the beautiful natural resources of the Gulf Coast,” says Bellingrath Gardens Marketing Director Sally Ericson, who at the end of the work day jogs two miles through the garden’s scenic paths. 

Another resolution is work-related. She adds, “I want to find new ways to get the word out about this wonderful, historic, 65-acre jewel on the Gulf Coast – Bellingrath Gardens. After all of these months of precautions, I believe we will see a big increase in attendance, as many more residents and visitors will want to get out and explore Bellingrath and other wide-open spaces where we can all practice social distancing in beautiful surroundings! To that end, we’re planning some exciting events and enhancements at Bellingrath in 2021.”

Jessica Meuse

American Idol finalist and Slapout, Alabama, native, Jessica Meuse has seen her career skyrocket. Her New Year’s resolution is to bring it back to earth. 

“In 2021 I will return to my roots of why I started in music and pursued it as a career,” says the singer-songwriter, whose music video for “Love Her Better” won 7 international film festival awards.  “My goal is to put out new music that is literally who I am – not what some others want me to be. In this business, it is easy to get lost in what others want you to do, or tell you how to sing, or who you should be.” She is getting away from that. 

Her New Year prediction: “Music and the arts keep us safe in times like these. Virtual concerts and streaming music will continue to grow and develop. I think to succeed in the entertainment business, artists must figure out quickly how to stream for fan interaction and connecting as humans, remotely and virtually.”

Eric Peoples

“I want my family to remain healthy,” says Mt. Vernon Mayor Eric Peoples. “Actually, I want everyone healthy and that this COVID virus is gone, forever. In 2021 I want us all returning to a normal way of living as soon as possible.” 

As for Mobile County’s Mt. Vernon – the town that once held Apache Chief Geronimo prisoner – Peoples notes, “We need new businesses during the new year and I will work hard towards that.”  He notes that small towns struggled in 2020 with the coronavirus, and in Mobile County’s case, back-to-back hurricanes. 

But of utmost importance is making the coronavirus last year’s news – not this year’s. Peoples adds, “Testing continues to find a cure. I pray we have a vaccine soon.”

Sean Dietrich

“I will spend less time in screen time,” says “Sean of the South” blogger-podcaster Sean Dietrich.  But the author of more than a dozen books (and counting) acknowledges it won’t be easy.  “I started cutting back on social media (and) online activities about two months ago and did not realize how hard it is not reaching for the phone to check in,” he says.

For the future, Dietrich’s wishes include:  “Hoping things open up more, especially community activities. I miss my Alabama friends.” The Florida Panhandle resident adds, “Now when we hang out, it’s like an endless state of awkwardness – 7 feet distancing, waiters in ninja masks. I hope this year we at least have creative ways for more community togetherness.”

Josh Caray

“2020 was hard on us,” notes Josh Caray, play-by-play announcer for Huntsville’s Rocket City Trash Pandas minor league baseball team.  Like many others, Caray’s 2021 resolutions are hewn from 2020 experiences. “I lost my mother in 2020,” the sports broadcaster notes. “My resolution, and I hope everyone’s, is to cherish the people you love. Hold your family close. Be grateful to have people around you who love you.”

He looks to the new year with optimism: “COVID stopped us last year but we anticipate an exciting season for Huntsville minor league baseball. There is a lot of excitement about our brand new stadium and brand new team putting excitement on the field.”

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