New Years Resolutions

Choose Your Own Adventure

Confession. I have had a cookie for breakfast every day for the last thirty-one days.

If I’m being really honest with you, the streak is likely over forty days in a row.

Gingerbread, pecan bars, ginger biscotti, and shortbread have been how I have started my nutritious days for the last five delicious weeks. For someone who doesn’t normally eat breakfast, these calories first thing in the morning may be an improvement to my diet. For those trying to be aware of sugar, not so much applause.

Currently I have three gingerbread cookies left in the jar. They require gnawing on them to soften – imagine a toddler with a teething biscuit of sorts. That’s me, sucking on the last remnants of Christmas treats as I navigated my drive to work last week. Oh, yes, another bad habit; breakfast in the car. I am sad Christmas cookies are gone. We packed up the ornaments, and the mantle is now filled with ordinary candles. Our gifts are put away and our calendars for 2016 are hanging on the wall.

Despite the passing festive season, I embrace 2016 with open arms. It feels quite freeing to have a new year upon us. 2015  was a year of growth for me – upheaval that was brought upon by my own positive choices and I navigated moving, and jobs, and relationships. My hope for 2016 is to be open to new while creating new roots. I need to branch out on my own to start to make new connections, create new routines, build my own adventure.

Remember those choose your own adventure books? To fight the troll, go to pg 45. To run away from the troll, go to pg 63. Sometimes, life feels like that. I am lucky enough to have so many choices and options in how I spend my days and where I invest my life. So as the book of 2016 just gets started I feel I have been presented with these options:

  • To start a new job in a different field turn to page 5 – I started this new opportunity today.
  • To start a new hobby turn to page 25
  • To build new relationships turn to page 47
  • To go camping turn to page 87

 

The heroine of this story will continue to share what she finds.

This week’s beauty was found in the closure of previous chapters. Of saying good bye to old stomping grounds, and coworkers and coffee carts. I finished up my job at the museum, and cried in the parking lot because I feel I am leaving behind something wonderful. While my time there may have been short, I do feel I grew immensely, and loved the people I worked with. You know my fear about leaving people behind in the “You do You” process? That is what those tears were about.

Never the less, I felt such an impending OPENNESS as I watched the ball drop at midnight. This year feels brand new in a way other years haven’t previously. I want to cultivate this beautiful feeling of option, and pray the universe continues to fill it with positive light.

I spent New Year’s Day dining at my grandmother’s house. She served up a traditional holiday meal and as our gold china forks broke into perfectly pink ham I posed the question, “Do you feel you’ve found your purpose yet?” Answers varied as we ‘pop-corned’ around the table, but I was struck by my grandmother’s answer. She said, “I’ve served my purpose and then some.” Her response was sort of sad in tone, as if she felt her best years were behind her. What came from that emotion-filled retort, however, was an outpouring of stories I had never heard her share.

Stories of her own adventure:

To hear about her memories of blackouts in Chicago during WWII turn to page 150.

To hear about the boss that chased her around the desk while being frisky in a Chicago high-rise, turn to page 212.

To hear about her nice boss that bought her fabulous Christmas gifts and most likely was gay in the 1960’s, turn to page 275.

To hear about her adventures raising my mom and my aunts and uncle, turn to page 315.

I am blown away by the beauty that results from the choices we make each day, and I am thankful, oh so thankful, for the beautiful time I get to spend with my grandmother last year, this year, and beyond. Thank you for letting me be a part of your adventure.

Our purpose, perhaps, is just that. To be loved, to listen, to seek beauty, to adventure.

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Next week I will have an update with how much biscotti was made in 2015. I used a lot of nail polish, read 43 books, and reached over 13,000 pages towards my annual goal. I haven’t made resolutions for this year quite yet. I’ll keep you posted. 

Take Pride in How Far You Have Come

You know that feeling when you set a goal and you accomplish it? How does that make you feel? At first I thought I’ve sort of been one to shy away from making goals – fear of failure, fear of risk, fear of discomfort-not quite sure. New Year’s Resolution season is upon us and goal setting is all around (that’s why I’m avoiding the gym this week people! How many weeks do they go until falling off the bandwagon. I want a spot back in yoga please.)  However, when I stop and think back about goals I have set for myself over the years I smile with a small sense of pleasure in my own, surprising determination.

I’m 10 years old and my dad promises me he will give me a dollar for each chapter book I read so that I can have some spending money for our upcoming trip to Disney World. I read 102 chapter books and got some sweet souvenirs.

I’m 16 years old and want an off period in high school. I know, in order to achieve that and avoid dreaded gym class, I have to participate in not one, but two school sports. Focus in on the only other non-cut sport offered and I found myself on the cross country team. I ran each race and quite often finished as the last participant on my team (NO not last, last – just last of the Impalas). I did it though, I ran. Running is hard.

I’m 18 years old and spend most of my first semester of college crying. No, not just crying, bawling my eyes out, not eating, obsessively thinking about a return to Colorado. I dropped out of a small liberal arts school, but made the goal to attend state school. Even amidst terrorizing fear that led to weight loss and trouble sleeping, I took brave small steps to re-enroll in school. I went home each weekend for most of college, but I did it. I did my laundry too.

I’m 23 years old and know in my heart that working for a non-profit must become a reality. Again, through perhaps many stomach aches and trouble sleeping I found a way to return to an organization where I believe very much in the mission and heart of the work we do each day. My resume is diverse from bouncing around in jobs, but my heart was a straight-line to accomplishing a very long term dream.

I realize that I do set goals, and work to achieve the ones that I want. None of this pithy weight loss, make more friends, find a husband, build a career blah, blah, blah goals. Not to discount those working on those goals currently. These, quite honestly, are areas I too have struggled and continue to think about. I just want goals that are more realistically attainable for me. I think we put too much pressure on perfection, on areas to improve and once again set ourselves up for a continuous cycle of “OH MY GOSH I’M JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH” . You can read more about my thoughts on that topic in my previous post “Stop Trying to Improve”. I don’t want to do that for 2015.

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*Spoiler alert – here comes my 2014 reflecting*  As I look back on the year behind us I am proud of some of the goals I achieved. WordPress emails out these handy Annual Reports with stats and demographics all about your views and comments and “how good you were at blogging”. I’m not sure if I’m good at this per se’. I have no advertising (interested – I want you!) I only have 3700 views and a few new followers a week. I’m no world wide sensation but I did get views from over 52 countries. I’ll try not to think too long about that. That one kinda weirds me out. I published 53 posts! I met my goal for 2014. I have been able to connect with other women who are similar to me in uncanny ways. This has been a space to heal and express and ask and find some peace and gratitude. I’m proud of myself.

We planned a wedding, I got married, I have grown in a job that continues to challenge me. I’m learning to be a wife, a daughter and a friend all in new contexts. I traveled a little and I read some books. I am not sure what 2015 has in store.

Here are some achievable goals that I hope to accomplish for 2015. Don’t laugh.

1) Continue this blog. I like this adventure more than I thought I would

2) Paint my nails each week. Isn’t a manicure nice. I have SO much Essie nail polish and not enough time to keep up my hands. I’m going to try it. Maybe I’ll share my colors each week. 52 weeks of Essie.

3) Keep chugging on towards my goal of 20,000 pages to read. Hurry up with this Katie. You have reading to do!

4) Travel – even if it is little weekend adventures try to go to a few new places.

5) Make more biscotti. Biscotti is delicious.

6) Continue to be open to what the universe has to offer. Even if that means you encounter hard or challenging opportunities to grow or change or adopt new patterns, build new relationships, or close some out. It is a grand adventure isn’t it.

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I believe there is beauty in accomplishing goals big and small. Beauty in being proud of yourself. Beauty in setting realistic limits and expectations. Do you have big goals or little goals for 2015? Do you like resolutions? Are you mad too because the gym is so damn crowded?

“Yes Please”

I’m reading a book right now, not surprising I know. “Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness”, by Ariel Gore. It is about happiness. Perhaps a sociological examination into the way women experience happiness, are expected to exude it, and some of the things that hinder the concept’s accessibility. A critical look into a newer phenomenon of positive psychology.

I find it interesting really, that this book caught my eye at this time of the year. I suppose I haven’t found as much time as I’d like to read this year with a wedding to plan, and a full time job, and family and friends. The library, though, has always been one of my safe places. Rows upon rows of that wonderfully beautiful book scent. The tactile experience of flipping pages with a thumb nail in an almost silent space. I love how the carpet absorbs all of our noises, gently reminding us that this place of learning is sacred.  For whatever reason, digging around in the sociology section of our local library, I was drawn to this one.

blue birdI’ve been reading it in small doses, and this week have almost reached the end. In one segment, Gore asks colleagues and friends if they are happier now than they were at this time last year. I read the question, and was blown into a tornado of pondering space. After my brain calmed down a little bit, I was able to say yes. First a whisper, then perhaps a little louder to myself. Then a yes with a resounding fist pump. I am in such a better place than I was last year at this time, and right now I am going to sink into that feeling with immense gratitude.

No, things are not perfect, and I know situations change. Fear calls us into the what ifs and the over protective planning mode all the time. But overall, 2014 has been a year of joyful anticipation, and details and family and love and for that I am so wonderfully grateful.  Time progressing is beautiful, and looking back and being able to say, “look how far we have come” is an immense privilege. There is beauty in asking reflective questions, and taking time to be proud of progress.

Sunday, I spent all day reading and writing in my journal. What a lazy one I was, especially in light of the hovering reminder that Christmas is just a few days away. Still shopping to be done, certainly, but that is what days off like today are for. (Did I just admit that I still have shopping to do 2 days before Christmas? This is so unlike me!) I love a good book, like I mentioned before, and I adore the opportunity to indulge a full afternoon dedicated to one page turner. This week’s was, “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler. I did not really know what to expect when I got her book at the library. The neon lights caught my attention, sure, and the title. Sometimes, though, books by comedians are challenging to me – the humor lost in my too quickly read pace. If I slow down to read things out loud I do better, but I read so quickly I sometimes miss the joke.

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Let me tell you, Amy does not disappoint. Her reflections on her career and life mixed in with immensely funny segments brought such comfort to me this weekend. I cried a little. You aren’t supposed to admit that you cry when reading a comedian’s book. Really though, she touched on so many things that I can relate to right now – about standing up for yourself, about looking for opportunities, about not tying your identity to any one part of your life. As we all know, things change (dammit) and she encouraged me to continue to surf the waves.

I was strongly reminded that there are perfectly acceptable times to say no – for self preservation, for boundaries, for protection in a world that does not quite look out for you in all the ways you would hope. Gently encouraged, though, too, that there are more opportunities to stand up for what you need, to seek new adventures and trust the universe with a polite, “Yes Please”.  These are some things I would like to say “Yes Please” to for the coming year ahead:

  • Time with my husband – continuing to figure out this thing called being married………………………. Yes Please
  • A little bit of fun adventure …………………….. Yes Please
  • Not worrying about money …………………. Yes Please
  • Opportunities to continue to develop in work ……………. Yes Please
  • Chances to have fun…………………… Yes Please
  • Vanilla lattes……………. Yes Please
  • Books …………. Yes Please
  • Chances for gratitude ………….. Yes Please
  • The trust that happiness abounds ………… Yes Please

Are you happier now than you were at this time last year? What do you want to say “Yes Please” for?