Thursday, January 03, 2008

The New Year's Resolutions

Yeah, it's cliche. Oh well. You are stuck with it.

Basically my goal as ever is to become a more sane & happy and, well, deliberate version of myself. That means I'm trying to get my life in order and hopefully that will free me up (er, if I don't spend all my time trying to get it in order) to aim for a few things that right now are just a bit out of reach. To take things one step at a time and not try to do everything at once, but just to try to do some of the things I want to do and not stress about the small stuff, and take care of myself so I don't always feel like the White Rabbit running around late, late, late and flustered for everything. Part of this is that I always want to do the kinds of things that seem just beyond my reach... like learn to play guitar or writing short stories or playing piano or doing on weekend trips... but I always feel bogged down either by my own tiredness/lack of energy or by other people's other plans. So I run around doing things and then I feel to tired to do other things I want to do. I need to slow down. So my plan is sort of in stages: one, get my life in basic order so I feel better physically/emotionally. Two, expand my horizons a bit so I'm trying some new things I really want to do, or have always wanted to do. Subset of two: make life more beautiful/rich. Three, and this is one that's built up really only since 2008 started and not before, think about the future... where I want to live in a year, what job I want to have in a year, or two, or whatever, and take some concrete steps towards those things. Overall I want to be patient and take things for what they are and not feel like I am always three steps behind. I think all of the things below will help me with that, but I am going to approach them the attitude that if I don't make it work perfectly or immediately I still have another day to try again. I am tired of being perfectionist/self-demanding, and I need to stop, but I also need to do some things, so I have to strike a balance there. Here is my plan, then.

Stage 1.
1) The obvious weight loss plan. I've gotten terribly out of shape over the past year and it's really affecting me. So I'm going to lose weight, eat less, and exercise 4 days a week.
2) Start saving more money. I started this yesterday with a more aggressive savings plan where part of my paycheck goes straight into savings instead of checking.
3) Make more meals at home. I love cooking at home and it really makes me feel healthier. (This fits into stage 2 as well.)
4) I need to do some seriously cleaning out of my house. I have stacks of magazines, tons of unorganized and non-backed up files, way too many clothes, and my room is a total mess. So, for that matter, is my whole house (we had a roommate discussion about that yesterday.) I will clean my room once a week so it doesn't look like as much of a mess it is now.
5) Put more effort in at work. I feel like I'm coasting and just doing the minimum and I don't know when that happened.
6) Sleep more. I want to try to get 7 hours per night. It's a huge challenge and I've already blown it two nights in a row.
7) Drink less. Alcohol is really bad for my system in particular, not just for everyone, and I want to lower the quantities of it I'm consuming. I like the drink-with-dinner thing. Ace is cutting herself down to 2 drinks max in a night and I think I may emulate her.
8) This is kind of stupid, but I want to get more of a "beauty" routine down. That means like being more careful about choosing my clothes so I feel more presentable for work, and not biting my nails, and all that kind of stuff. I read on another blog someone's resolution to wear lipstick. As dumb as it is, I've been thinking about that more myself.
9) I think I am going to get a yoga dvd and do it once a week. I have always loved yoga when I do it but never seem to find the time to do it. I think once a week is a good goal and as I get more into it I can ramp it up. Yoga never felt like a chore to me. That's impressive for something physical. For me.
10) Hiatus. About 40% of my audience will understand that, the other part won't.

Stage 2.
1) Start listening to more music. I have so much of it but I never get around to listening to what I have. As part of this I want to actually start paying for more music instead of just downloading it for free. I'm more likely to listen to a CD than an MP3. Weird.
2) Visit some people around the country. I've been threatening to visit NY and Boston for more than a year. I really want to do it this year. I also want to visit Cristina in Michigan for her birthday, and Bethany in Portland for a weekend.
3) Part of #2, I would like to take one trip outside the country this year. Even if it's just to Vancouver or something like that. Other thoughts: India, Argentina.
4) I want to finish decorating my house. I want a few more art pieces and I need to get new sheets. I want to keep my room homier and cleaner and work on having the kind of aesthetic surrounding me that I have always wanted. In doing so I want to be thoughtful about what I buy so I buy things because I need or want them and not because I think they are cute or have owls on them.
5) Related to #4, I want to get some old photos printed and framed for my room. I have so many great photos from Europe trips and I never look at them. I want to surround myself with reminders of things I care about.
6) Farmers markets, some gardening during the summer (herbs!), and APPLE PICKING! I have to do it this year. I've wanted to pretty much since I knew apples came from trees. Apple picking that comes with cider press & doughnuts is a bonus.
7) I'm jumping on the green movement. I've always cared a little bit, but this year I want to make a more conscious effort to conserve. That means I'm going to try to stop driving so much, and be careful about recycling, and not drinking as many water bottles, and finally set it up so we compost food waste (by which I mean dispose of in the compostables trash bin - I do not have the time or energy required to do like worm composting and stuff). I really don't like the waste I see around me. My friend Kevin just wrote a review of a pharmacy (this sounds like a tangent but it's not) and he really summed things up the way I see them... It's really important to cut back on waste in general, like not to buy things you already have when you can fix them, etc. I think I will feel less like I am hemorrhaging money if I am better about waste in general and am more careful to reuse things or donate them or whatever.
8) I want to finally try again to learn the guitar. And I want to buy a keyboard and get rid of my desk and put the keyboard in its place and practice the piano again. I played it once over the holidays and I realized how much I MISSED it. It felt so nice to create something pretty, on my own.
9) Blog/write more. And be more thoughtful about it. Take time to write drafts.
10) I was debating putting this in Stage 1 but I think it's different. I am not good at saying no. I always feel guilty for turning down friends when they want to do something and I'm lukewarm about it. I would like to follow my instinct more, to say no when I want to and yes when I want to and suggest things I want to do and do them by myself if no one else wants to do it. And, as part of this, I am aiming to not freak out if I don't always have something witty to say, and try to just say what I think instead of trying to impress people or fit in with them or, because it's not exactly a matter of fitting in, not shock them/surprise them. It's ok to surprise people and to let yourself out and let people know what you are about. They will find out eventually. I just for some reason feel like I need to ease people into knowing me, like a false step could ruin the possibility of friendship forever, and that is not the case. So I need to trust my instinct and myself more.
11) This is a bonus one, since I've already kind of been doing this. But, I have loved how much more I've read over the past year. Reading is starting to feel like (and don't laugh) a real area of expertise for me. I know about authors and I know about books that have come out and are coming out and people have started coming to me for recommendations almost out of the blue. I want to continue to read as much as possible and to read some of the books in my shelves that have been there forever unread and lonely, and to try to read a bit more poetry and short stories, too, even if I just read a bit before bed a couple times a week.

Stage 3.
This is where it gets kind of vague. I've had a couple of conversations recently about The Future. Most specifically, what I am going to do with my life. I do like my job now, and I'm getting more opportunities as I go on, and I like Google. Still, I never planned on doing this. I never really planned on anything. I just sort of coasted. I guess that's fine, but my discussions recently have made me think that I need to start thinking bigger. Rachel and I just threw out titles of, not "dream jobs," but possible jobs that we have thought we might like to do sometime. Suddenly I felt like an idiot for having a list of things and not even working towards them. (My list, if you're interested, included food writer, book reviewer, bookstore owner -- a good one with a cafe and author appearances, tv writer, literary agent, book editor, the unattainable New Yorker staff writer, and, although Rachel said them but I could see them too, NPR commentator and English professor. I wouldn't mind being a cultural critic or a blogger - yikes - either.) The bottom line is that if I never do anything about any of these things I will never be any of these things. I don't want to go back to school right now and I want to keep my job for now and work on expanding to other areas of the company. But I want to take steps. I want to see if there is a way to freelance and write a few reviews here and there, or even just to streamline my blog enough such that when I write about a book or movie that I saw I edit the review and write it as though I'm writing for a magazine or newspaper instead of just my usual audience of 14 (approximately). So I want to do that. I want to be more serious about the things I care about, since my natural thought process is wholly flippant and ironic. I hate that when I write things that feel genuine and, well, pure, that I feel like I need to tone it down or else I'll sound overly earnest and therefore naive. (It makes me think of the David Foster Wallace essay I love about irony.) I want to put EFFORT into the things I care about... to actually write for my writing group and have the patience to edit the things I know could be good with a little or a lot more work. So this third vague goal. To develop hobbies that can one day become livelihoods. To live more deliberately.


Anonymous said...

Here's a beauty tip from someone who doesn't know, but I think a little bit of lipstick (in a color just a little darker than one's own) makes a big difference. Can't help you with the living deliberately phase. I've spent a lifetime just reacting rather than planning.

Kim said...

I love your resolutions. One of my unofficial ones (I only made 4 official ones) is very similar to one of yours...I don't want to sit around the house because I have "nothing to do" (ie: no one has asked me to do anything with them). I'm on a mission to make more for myself, to go see a movie alone if nobody will see it with me, etc. I also want to take more weekend trips. And "eat less, exercise more." And do yoga. And take ballet. And deep-clean the apartment. And and can see why I only made 4 official resolutions! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I want your beautiful resolutions, but I need some beautiful resolve to go with them.