Tag Archives: Resolutions

Beginning the Year with A, B, and C

Standard
some books on my nightstand

A brand new year. New expectations; new promises to myself. A new journal to keep track of my life…or to keep my life on track, I’m not sure which. It will be filled, soon enough, with resolutions, plans and good intentions, and a number of graphs, lists and charts to record my progress…or lack thereof. I start by noting accomplishments and memorable things from the year just past.

For that, I page through last year’s journal. It is a wealth of information, often discouraging and sad. I can see, for instance, that, though I devoted lines each month in my “Habit and Activity Tracker” to “weights,” “yoga/pilates” and “walk,” I fulfilled those goals only a tiny fraction of the times planned. I did better in other areas. I rarely missed a scheduled work day. I posted a blog twice a week, occasionally more, almost without fail. I read every single day. From the pages I devoted to “Books I Read, 2018,” I see that I completed thirty-three books last year.

With that in mind, I’m going to start this year off on a positive note, focusing on the books I am reading right now. It just happens – coincidentally – that they begin with the first three letters of the alphabet.

Atomic Habits by James Clear is the perfect book to have first on my reading list at the start of a new year. So far, it has given me such confidence that change (improvement) is possible, that I have put off all my usual resolution-making until I finish this book. Clear suggests that it is not helpful to focus on goals; we should, instead, focus on “systems,” the behaviors that will help us get to the results we want. “Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress.” Systems are the steps you take to get the desired outcome. This is a highly technical – i.e.: lots of graphs and studies – but very easy-to-read book. I’m thinking it just might change my life!

Becoming by Michelle Obama. My daughter and I were talking about this book just before Christmas. “Do you have it?” she asked. “No,” I told her, “I’ve seen so many good, in depth interviews with her, I feel kind of like I know how it goes. Maybe I don’t need to read it.” That wasn’t quite true. I had seen many wonderful interviews, and I was telling myself that it was unnecessary to invest in another freshly published hard cover book right now. However, when I received the book on Christmas Eve – a gift from that same wily daughter – I was thrilled! I’ve only just started it, but Michelle Obama is an extremely engaging writer, and I’m thoroughly enjoying her book!

Calypso by David Sedaris is the third book I’m reading right now. My two daughters and I met in Lansing last year, to see Sedaris at the Whiting Auditorium. I’ve loved his books, and his readings on NPR for years, and his talk there did not disappoint. To commemorate that special get-together, I got each of my daughters a David Sedaris book for Christmas. For Jen, Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls. I own that book, and re-read it whenever I need to improve my mood. I can’t get through the first essay in that book without tears of laughter running down my face! I hope Jen likes it as much as I have. For Kate, Calypso. Because I had not yet read that one, I bought it for myself as well…an early Christmas present for me. Unnecessary, gift-wise, as I was very generously inundated with all kinds of wonderful, thoughtful presents, but I appreciate this book anyway.

So, A, B and C. I’m sure reading – my biggest success – will continue through the year. I can’t say if it will continue to follow the alphabet!

A New Year’s Project

Standard

IMG_2217

This is Monday: not a usual day for me to be posting a blog. It is January 1st, though, and that seems like a good time to drop in to say “hello.” Being the beginning of a brand new year, it’s also a fine time to rethink old conventions, and change things up if it seems appropriate.

I spent a large part of New Year’s Eve – and too much of the day today – setting up my brand new bullet journal. I had almost completely filled the hot pink version that had served me well since last April; with the start of 2018, I decided to break out the new blank book with it’s sea foam green cover. Of course – though I’ve been doing this for more than two years now – I had to start by reading another book on the bullet journal process. I had to troll Pinterest for ideas that I could adapt to my own needs. I had to break out my new Sharpie pens, my colored fine-point markers and my brush-tip highlighters.

Then, having researched, investigated and planned myself into a frenzy, I spent several (!!!) hours laying the groundwork for this new year. I drew up my annual calendar; two facing pages were devoted to a separate annual birthday calendar. I made a larger monthly calendar than I did last year, and – having failed at using the monthly task manager that shared those pages last year – have not yet decided what to do with the rest of that page. I filled in daily pages for the thirty-one days of January. Since I had finished one book already this year, I devoted a page to noting the books I read this year.

 

Next, I made a “Habit and Activity Tracker.” I love this feature, and have incorporated it in my bullet journal from the beginning. It has gone through many changes. I’ve tried horizontal and vertical formats. I’ve experimented with high expectations and low. I’ve played around with X’s, slashes and dots for marking a completed task. So far, at month’s end, it has too often been a glaring reminder of things I have neglected. But, this is a new year…a new beginning. I’m filled with high hopes and fresh resolutions. To celebrate, I have a brand new format for tracking my success.

IMG_2219

Do you see where this is going??? Here’s a close-up view:

IMG_2220

Three diagonal lines mark a completed goal. The direction of the diagonal alternates, so that if everything gets checked off, every day, a beautiful jacquard pattern emerges. Tasks not done (note the “no sugar” failure, as I dipped into the box of Christmas chocolates today) get a little zero, which add a bit of jaunty character to the pattern. It’s just so cute, it makes me want to complete every single thing! And that, my friends, is why I am posting a blog on this Monday, the first of January, 2018.

Happy New Year!!

Reflections

Standard

october2014 168

The folks at WordPress notified me a couple weeks ago that I’ve now been writing this blog for three years.

That’s a pretty big accomplishment for me!

I am a terrific “starter.”

I’m also a pretty amazing “quitter.”

I have the best of intentions, always, and commit quite easily to numerous projects, endeavors, plans and resolutions.

I will call my daughters every week; I’ll write letters and send cards regularly; I’ll pay bills on time. I will walk every day, floss every day, make my bed every day. I will keep an organized studio, a tidy house, a weed-free garden, a well-groomed lawn.

Or, I’ll make those kinds of promises to myself, and give it a shot.

My gratitude journal never lasted more than five days before I’d set it aside for several months. Most exercise programs, the same. I started a diet last week and lasted four days before I sold out for chicken and dumplings.

This blog, I have been maintaining for three years.

I kept the commitment simple: publish once a week, or thereabouts, with no specifics on topic, tone or length.

Even so, I’ve been falling off quite a bit lately.

It’s not for lack of things to write about.

My thoughts seem to organize themselves into sentences and paragraphs all on their own. I’ve had a running narrative in my head about “Life with Dogs” that I add to almost daily. Another, loosely titled “Death All Around Me,” involves the lives – from mosquitoes and houseflies to mice and shrews – that I snuff out with little thought and even less guilt…most of the time. If anyone would be interested in hearing whining or complaining, I could come up with several blogs on a dozen different subjects right away.

Sometimes, it has been hard  to refrain from the complaining!

The fact is, I’ve been working a great deal, am behind in most everything, and haven’t had the time or energy to write. Or read. Or respond to comments. I’ve missed it, though.

For the month of November, WordPress hosts two different writing challenges. One is to publish a blog post every day. I think I may commit to it, just to get back on track.

Or at least give it a shot.

…and On We Go

Standard

Image

“Make new mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t  stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”

~Neil Gaiman

I’m sure I’ll have a list of new (old) goals and resolutions before the day is out.

I’m big on fresh starts, turning over a new leaf, beginning again.

As a child, I was the one – when things didn’t go as planned – crying, “Let’s start over!”

Certainly there are encounters I wish I could re-do. Days that could have been better spent.

Hell, there are entire chapters of my life I wish I could over-write!

My list, I’m sure, will reflect all of that. More patience, organization,  devotion to heath  and heart and spirit, more letter writing…less sloth, mindlessness and temper.

For this moment, on this first morning of 2013, though, I want to sit here at peace with myself.

I want to embrace this person that I am, with all of my short-comings and all of my flaws.

I want to be comfortable with my mistakes, past, present and future.

I want to love myself for the flawed, good-hearted being that I am, nothing more.

Simple acceptance.

May you find it, too!