Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year's Resolutions 2014: Simplify

Before going into the goal setting business for the new year, it's always good to look back at the year past for perspective. 2013 burst at the seams. It was complicated. It was messy. I did things that scared the frell out of me. It set things in motion that will change our lives forever.

I keep trying to look at 2013 objectively, trying to find simple phrases to sum it up, but it is not working. The biggest news is that I fell in love. We started dating one year ago New Year's Day, and I resisted falling the way a Gladiator would fend off an onslaught of lions. It didn't work, and I fell. As with an onslaught of lions, I got gnawed upon along the way. You can't fall in love and remain unscathed.

In March of last year, in the throes of being in love, I realized that I needed to make some choices if I wanted to move forward with this new and important relationship. I went through my phone and Facebook to purge all the contact information for every person who ever broke my heart. I'd been trapped in the Phantom Ex loop with too many guys for too long, and it was time to put an end to it. I did, and I feel better. Again, it felt complicated and painful, but it's not really. It's about simplifying.

Maybe that should be the focus this year: Simplify. I'll keep that in mind as I'm writing this year's goals.

Other things that happened this past year: We lost our lovely Beast kitty to cancer. Matt and I held him in our arms until he drew his last breath. Beast purred until the moment his heart stopped, leaving this life as he lived it, a giver of love and comfort. Katrina and I traveled to Europe and Big Bend, and got paid for our photography and the story of our trips. My new boyfriend and I jumped out of a plane, climbed mountains, kayaked rivers, and drove all over the state of Colorado. I said goodbye to the best group of students I've ever taught. My first group of students, including my amazing student teacher, graduated from high school.

Professionally, things are complicated. I'm unhappy with the state of our education system. I love to teach, I love my students, but I feel that I'm not really teaching. More and more, I'm a remedial reading teacher, when my focus in eighth grade should be writing and literature. It's too much to illuminate here because I could get seriously bogged down. I will say that Katrina told me in October that she feels if I don't change professions soon, she feels this one will kill me. Not literally kill me, she said, but spiritually. My daughter is ever-astute.

Which brings me to another passion, one I've neglected in 2013. I wrote almost nothing all year. Until August, when I wrote a travel article about cruising the Mediterranean, I had written perilously little. No poems for Poem A Day, no NaNoWriMo, no fanfiction, nothing. My novel languished untouched. Finally, in December, I wrote two chapters on The Single (Dating) Mom and another travel article about Big Bend. This is definitely something I need to remedy in 2014.

Enough, then, with the review; let me get down to business. Simplify, dammit! Simplify.

Personal Resolutions

Travel – We rocked on this goal. We wanted to take a Mediterranean cruise, and we did. This trip was not as carefree and poignant as London, Paris, New York, or Glasgow. We struggled with spending money the whole time, an issue that didn't trouble us much in previous trips. I'll just say that nothing—and I mean nothing, not even water— is free on a cruise ship. Another thing – the airport in Italy is a nightmare within a nightmare. The only good that came of the riot we endured (Not kidding here; we were trapped in a riot) was that of 500 angry travelers, only my fourteen-year-old child kept her head and tried to find a solution. It taught her that she truly is as exceptional as we've been telling her all along. 

The trip wasn't all bad, though. We were up all manner of mischief in Rome and Pompeii, we lived like queens in Barcelona, and had dinner with strangers in Amsterdam. We also swam with octopus in the sparkling waters of Dubrovnik. So we did have our moments.

In addition to our Mediterranean trip, Katya and I went to Big Bend with our family, and Aaron and I went on an epic road trip to Colorado. I feel like my feet never touched the ground all summer long.

This year's travel goal combines work and travel. We want to go to South Korea. There's more to this, and I can't go into it fully for various reasons, but this one's going to be enormous. As I told Aaron today, I've never dreamed a dream so big before. He said, “Yes you have. You just haven't realified one this big yet.”

In addition to this, Katya has goals of her own. She is going to Boston alone for four days in April, and then will spend a week in New York for a screenwriting workshop in June. Big, big plans for our intrepid travelers.

Television and media – So last year, I mentioned that we've supplanted TV with social media sites, particularly Facebook and tumblr. This is true, but I don't know yet if I'm going to set goals to limit them. The only thing I need to be aware of is that the hours I spend on tumblr and Facebook could be better put to use writing or doing research for travel. I'll just resolve to be more mindful of my time.

Reading Goal – Ye heavens, I love this goal. It's the one solid thing I've got. This is the fourth year running that I've upped my game in reading. In 2013, I read 46 books, meeting my goal. In 2012, I read 42. In 2011, it was 40. This year, I'm aiming for 50, which will bring my life total to 512 books.

Health Resolutions

All right, this year, I did something I did not believe possible in the health category. I ran a mile in 6 minutes and 28 seconds. I ran a 5K in 47 minutes, and a 10K in 98 minutes. I started a Plan with goals and strength training. It was awesome. Until... November kills my workout schedule. Every year, the time change throws everything out of whack. I become a lazy, carb-hungry grumpy Mama who only wants to sleep and watch re-runs of Buffy.

So it's January now, and I'm going back to my Plan. That, plus the Paleo diet and my health goals will continue as they had last year: maintain, be healthy, work out, and run. I've devised a monthly goal system based on the number of times I run and work out. This continues to be successful, so I'm keeping with it. I'll try to post results here, too. 

Career Resolutions

I already mentioned that I did not write last year. I did get published and paid for writing, though, so that's a step up. This year, I need to explore the possibility of self-publishing Reprieve. I also want to encourage Katya to write more and find some place to publish her stories, poems, and songs. She's old and savvy enough to begin this process on her own, especially since I suck at it. Truly.


So last year, I mentioned in my summary that I had not been particularly fearless in 2012. Therefore, in 2013, I vowed to follow Neil Gaiman's advice to take more risks. Well, as they say, be careful what you wish for. Life was a tilt-a-whirl, and I went for a wild, wild ride. I was less agoraphobic, less neurotic, still a cat-marm, and I've still managed to wear the letters of the keys of my new Lappy's keyboard. The comfort zone has narrowed and may soon be nonexistent.

Am I happy? Yes. I am happy, in a different way from two years ago. I think back to the summer of 2012, of all those hours resting on the front patio, dreaming and dreaming of love and creativity and far-off places. Life is fantastic and my imagination is bursting.

So here we go once more into the breach:
  1. Travel – South Korea, Boston and New York for Katya
  2. Be more mindful of social media usage
  3. Reading – 50 Books
  4. Fitness – Continue the Paleo life, continue running, continue Nerd Fitness
  5. Writing – Write on, ever on. Self-publish? Maybe?

Happy New Year, Everyone. May 2014 be blessed!

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