Resolutions. Being the A type I am, I always feel the need to put a few of these on myself, mostly as goal to motivate toward. But some years, the opportunity comes and goes because I pressure myself to have a list completed BY New Years Day. Not so this year. Christmas was an especially hard season for me this past year; I constantly felt like I was behind and drowning. And our season lasted well into 2012 with my brother and his fiancée here for a second round of holiday for us. So employing my ever-expanding flexibility, with some down time with our first REAL, sticking-to-the-ground snow falling outside, and a renewed sense of motivation, here’s my 2012 list:
- Refine Our Financial Picture — Better budgeting. Continuing to simplify the methods I use to track our finances and enlisting more of my husband’s help in understanding and controlling our money. Along these lines are a more concrete plan at taking a crack at owner building a home on property. Which also means cementing (I kinda like that little pun) our plans, bids and budget for the build.
- Complete the Paperless Project — Speaking of simplify and tied in to all that budgeting, financial projecting and planning a home build…I made HUGE strides on this in 2011. I changed our ENTIRE study last year – filing cabinets, mismatched bookshelves, a bowing corner desk with abysmal storage, an aging, unused desktop computer, and boxes of miscellaneous supplies, papers and unknowns are gone. We installed an Ikea Billy bookcase system and kitchen cabinet uppers over a desk system. I scanned drawers full of paperwork to the computer, created a back up system and shred bags-worth of papers. And there’s room for more improvement. I still have a section of old taxes and receipts, warranties and instruction manuals I couldn’t find online, and home planning ideas that I want to get into the computer to purge the original hard copies and create even more open space in our home.
- Live More Simply — This mantra is what manifested the entire Paperless Project to begin with. It's looking around my home more closely at what we own, do we use it or need it, purging what we don’t, closely monitoring what comes into our home, and regulating the way things are organized to best utilize what we do need. I regularly go through each room and closet, honing in on that space’s purpose and modifying how to make it perform that as easily as possible. But I have a disconnect between pulling out what we’re purging and actually moving it out of our lives. Typically, things get stacked in the garage, a pile by my purse on the entry table, and an over heaped box of donations/reparables by the door. But last year, I actually logged things for donation for tax purposes and got it to Goodwill, sold garments to Clothes Mentor, found recycling programs for electronics and listed several pieces on eBay and Craigslist. My efforts made us some nice cash too! I made the most progress in the study and our bedroom, and a respectable amount in R’s room and the craft/guest room. So this year, I plan to do a complete house purge, top to bottom, touching on every piece of every little thing we own to determine if it stays and needs a home or goes. And most importantly, following up on getting it ALL the way out of our lives. Case in point: there’s already a pile of electronics in the garage from our study renovation last fall that needs selling or recycling.
- Finish our bedroom — Completing our bedroom décor was on the 2010 list and we completed quite a bit in 2011. In the 11 years we’ve been married, our bedroom has never been completed to the Nth degree as my dream bedroom. Obviously, there will be lacking parameters that we can’t reasonably accomplish in this house’s structure (such as a fireplace, balcony, and a larger his/hers walk-in-closet), but I want to complete this bedroom to the point where it is the room I go to and not have to see anything I need to do. Now I realize this means moving projects out of the bedroom solely so they’re not in there, which is only deferring them to other spaces, but that’s part of the goal of a “worry free” area in my home. And what better place for that than the place we sleep and end and begin our days? I’d like to get to the point that ongoing projects are only occupying the study and my craft area, but that’s not going to happen this year. And taking this step to see our bedroom finished would also instill the notion that I can follow something thru to ultimate completion.
- Read 50 books — Well, I didn’t get it done in 2011 as listed. Check out my Goodreads for my 2011 list of 42 books. But I am delighted with the reading strides I DID make last year in trying to reach 50 books. I just read more. Comparatively, I only read 34 books in 2010, so that’s 8 more books. But my magazine to-read pile also no longer occupies entire shelves of space in my study (I recycled them after making up 3 YEARS of backreading!). I read a TON (of pages, of books, of hours) to my daughter, and I know this has cemented her voraciousness for reading because 3, 4, 5, 6 books are no longer enough. If I kept reading, she’d just keep asking until we cycled back around to the first book again. I re-incorporated reading as a natural, daily habit in my life. I always have a book in progress on my iPhone (for whenever I’m a passenger in a car or plane) and a physical selection on my night stand (I read nightly to turn off my brain until my eyes close). I was excited about gobbling up pages and finding new authors and new series. I learned things about what I like in books, which will make me a better, more purposeful author. I learned there are things I don’t like to read which developed my junk sensor. Which leads me to...
- Write more, blog more, read less — That’s right, I said it. Read LESS. Now how on earth do I propose that, when I once again listed an attempt to reach 50 books in a year (which we know I did not accomplish this year)? The fact is I waste a lot, and I do mean a LOT, of time reading useless crap on the internet. “News” articles, Facebook and Twitter statuses, other blogs, endless research for writing and blogging and crafting. And it’s just that…endless. I could read every piece of advice, every successful example on earth and it just keeps me from ever getting my own done. I must trust in my ability to do this. I will either develop a presence or I won’t. But I definitely never will if I don’t ever develop anything of my own for someone else to read. It’s faith. It’s confidence. And it’s time I stopped being afraid of people’s reactions to what I have to write and jumped off that cliff.
- Be Purposeful — It boils down to economy of time. As a stay-at-home mom I fritter away lots of moments leading a fairly free flow life. Certain things are set in stone, but the rest is do as I please according to my family’s needs. I’m a consummate list-maker, but not a good scheduler. I shy away from routine to keep from feeling obligated, locked in and restricted artistically. But a little more structure would do our family well when it comes to chores and things affecting our health.
- Improve My Health — Again, I did well with improving this area in 2011, but I want to build upon that. In July and August, I completed 46 days of the 30 day shred. While I didn’t lose all the weight I wanted to (or keep it off for a significant amount of time), it did improve my overall endurance and was making a difference in the way my clothes fit. I walked more and longer this past summer and fall than I did the previous year. I’m more consistent with my skin care regiment since installing my vanity table area and teaching my daughter to moisturize. I’ve cut out alcohol and soda except in social situations and we cooked for ourselves more (largely sticking to eating out only 1-2 times a week, mostly Friday night dinners and Sunday afternoons). This year the focus is on health screenings and routine check ups (which I’ve let lapse since not having insurance), building toward a fitness goal (as yet undecided), assessing my dental situation, expanding our gardening, restricting my sleep, and habituating time spent outdoors year round.
So there’s the list. 8 big ideas, encompassing lots of smaller parts, while giving me some freedom and wiggle room. Last year’s list was clearly more concise and specific, which might have led to half of it’s demise. Here it is just for giggles:
- Read 50 books — Suggestions included the Black Dagger Brotherhood series; Maggie Stiefvater’s finale to the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy and her stand alone, Scorpio Races, and her first series (Lament and Ballad); Aprilynne Pike’s Wings series; rereading Christopher Pike’s Last Vampire Series and the newly released continuances of that story, now called Thirst; Libba Bray’s Gemma Doyle trilogy; the rest of Elizabeth Chandler’s books that I haven’t read; Mortal Instruments series; Iron Fey series; The Red Tent; and Meredith Ann Piece’s Darkangel Trilogy. See my Goodreads for my accomplishments.
- Break ground on the house — Not accomplished. Not even close.
- Start the adoption process — We did this by attending an orientation, through our church, outlining the steps to foster care and fostering to adopt through the State. That’s as far as we got. Because we want to build a home in order to have plenty of space for our expanding family (and ensure that we have more than enough in case we’re called to add a sibling pair to our family). If we complete the home prior to the adoption finalizing, that structure would have to be ‘recertified’ as opposed to the house we’re in currently, which muddles up everything. We’d just prefer to be settled in a place where we know we have the space an additional child (or children) would need. So house first, adoption 2nd.
- Lose 20 pounds — Yes. And then no. Which prompted me to rethink how I stated this goal for 2012. Overall health is a much more important factor than a specific number.
- Meet the girls at NashCon — Completed in March 2011
- Get to the East Coast — A vacation goal for the last few years, since moving to Kentucky and being that much closer to it. Vacation goals have been difficult our entire marriage because we tend to defer the money into improving our home instead. Our calendar in 2011 resulted in a lot of little trips and visits all year long. There was something on the calendar every 3 weeks or so, and things kept popping up last minute, like a friend’s wedding, my husband’s job sending him to Chicago several times for training, and my brother’s leave in Washington DC prior to his deployment to the Middle East. It didn’t leave much time for one big shebang, much less to pre plan. I’m trying to purposely keep the calendar much sparser this year, knowing that it’ll get filled up all on it’s own.
- Finish my book — Again, too specific. I made large strides in writing in several areas, including working on my book quite a bit. But solely focusing on the book, wouldn’t have left time or flexibility for any of my other projects, which are important to me too. And I feel that habituating sitting down to write is going to serve me better in the long-run than if I had forced myself to crank out the rest of my novel.