I made no resolutions for the New Year.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.

Anaïs Nin

I realized today that I've been procrastinating about writing my new year/clean slate post. Not because I was forcing a post that simply wasn't in the wings, but because I wanted it to be written with intention. To delve a little deeper as opposed to just scratching the surface. I want to be able to look back at this post in the coming years and have it mean something. To have it really reflect where I was and where I will be. Reflection, I believe, will be integral to a better understanding of what I want and where to go from here. My heart's desires are often harder to understand than one might think.

I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. Not because I think they are setting oneself up for failure... they just aren't for me, personally. To each their own. I just know changes have to be big to be effective and long lasting. (Again, in my case.) I have to have a solid purpose. Simply hanging a new calendar above my desk isn't sufficient to elicit real change. Wanting to be skinnier will never be enough to prompt regular gym visits or healthy eating. There has to be more. Wishing for weight loss is to just scratch the surface. Dealing with what led to that extra layer of insulation is the issue that must be sorted out. Dig deeper, always.

I put a lot of pressure on 2013. I envisioned all kinds of drastic changes. What I realized, after a mini-crisis of sorts, is that it was a staging year. It prepared me for what is to come. While amazing things certainly happened in the past 12 months--life changing things--my existence, as it is now, still resembles what it did a year ago. The skies didn't open up and reveal everything. Did I really think they would? But, you know, we set ourselves up for such disappointment. Unrealistic expectations are the root of a lot of heartache, in my opinion.

A while back I stumbled upon a journal-type notebook, stashed in the back of a desk drawer. Only the first page contained writing; a list. It is not so much a bucket list as a life list. It has some of the standards: learn a different language, see the world, etc. Cliche or not, they're staying put. I've always wanted to speak Spanish well, and should therefore never stop aiming for fluency.

I imagine I wrote that list about 7 years ago. And by the time of its rediscovery, I could cross off 3 of the 10 items, all of which I accomplished in the last 12 months. Those 3 items, written by a rather different woman than the one before you, will be the foundation for 2014:

1// Graduate from college and get your dream career. On December 14, 2013, I said goodbye to my undergrad years. A mom to a rather fastidious kiddo and the wife of a traveling businessman, the road to academia was a bumpy one. I've talked about this journey from time to time. (Or in every post. Who's counting.) A lot of hard, painful things appear easier than they were thanks to some time and distance. This isn't one of those things. I ran on fumes for 4.5 years. I'll never forget how hard it was... which serves to fuel the final push to get through grad school. These last few years will not be for nothing. Eye on the prize. The next 12 months will involve applications and essays and uncertainty. And hopefully an acceptance letter. I also hope to score a job I can love to fill the in-between period. Above all, I intend to bask in the pride that comes with a great accomplishment. I'm very prone to the what now? syndrome. I didn't grow up in a home where college was encouraged. The older I got, the less I thought it would happen. But boy did I want it to. Another resolution? Don't ever underestimate my capabilities. Sheer determination and willpower drove me down this road.  
Imagine what else I can do if I want it bad enough...

2// Find fitness. Find a happy size and stay there. Okay, so I didn't accomplish the last part. But I still crossed it off. Because somewhere along the way size stopped mattering. And really, that was the goal, wasn't it? Have I found total body happiness? Nah. But I found fitness. Never before have I wanted to work out. I don't claw my way in the door or mimic a hamster on a wheel day after day. I work harder than I ever thought possible and challenge my body in ways I never foresaw. And it responded. My wide shoulders and hips have a purpose: to work. To lift heavy things. To amaze me. If only the 20-year old me had known they served a greater purpose than to make me self-conscious. I will never be a size 6. Ever. But I can deadlift 240 pounds after only a few short months of practice. I like that number much better anyway.

3// Find a hobby you will love forever. Just over a year ago, I unwrapped a camera for Christmas. A beautiful creature with the potential to take amazing photos. It has given me the opportunity to tap into my creative side in ways a formal education often neglected. I'll admit, I've only just begun experimenting with the manual setting. I didn't understand what the different aperture and speed settings meant for a very long time. Heck, I didn't know what aperture meant a year ago. What I do know is that I love photographing things. My family, food, nature... the whole wide world around me. When seen through the eye of a camera lens, everyday things have the power to amaze. This week I (gulp) bought the final lens to round out my collection (and a new case... I'm still a bit queasy about the amount of money we plunked down, though I expect to have these things for many, many years). It isn't a particularly cheap hobby, that's for sure. But the fulfillment I get from it rivals all other past hobbies combined. I'm using this in-between time to study it. Learn it. Do it some justice by totally disregarding the auto setting. (Jenni, at Story of My Life, is one of my favorite photographers. I've spent oodles of time admiring her amazing shots and mentally noting the qualities they possess that I'd love to emulate in my own photography. She has mentioned using the Extremely Essential Camera Skills to get started, so I thought it'd be a great place for me to begin as well. My goal is to finish it before our trip to Rio next month.)

There is one other thing that wasn't on the list but that I work toward every day. Not a resolution, but rather an ongoing goal that will likely be carried over from year to year:

4// Go a little easier on myself. I would never place such unreasonable expectations on others. Letting myself off the hook once in a while or saying no to someone is not a sign of weakness. I don't have to be everything to everyone all the time. Nor do I want to. Perfection is overrated. So stop it already.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, or my life as it were, I'm going to continue focusing on these goals in 2014. Why stop here? Why heap on more goals when I can expand on existing accomplishments? Maybe this will be the year that I achieve the second half of the second goal. I'll never know if I move on after merely scratching the surface.


  1. Congrats on graduating! :) I did not make resolution either. Just plans. Thanks for sharing those link about photography. I've had a camera for a while now (it's my husband's but he kind of does not care about it as much as I do) and I still don't get photography terms. I'll check out the ebook :)


  2. These goals are great! I didn't make resolutions either just goals to achieve. :)


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