Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Is It Too Late For New Year’s Resolutions? Or Am I Doomed?

 In cleaning out my basement (more about that later) I discovered this clock,
covered in dust, that my mom had lovingly cross-stitched for her sister.
I don't know where I'll hang it, but I'll make time to do that.

It’s not too late to make a New Year’s Resolution is it? Isn’t the statute of limitations the end of January? So quick, before the year gets too far gone let’s talk about what will make this year better. And how can I get it to stick because, let’s be honest, “lose weight” is not exactly original or successful.

I wish I were one of those people who didn’t eat when I’m stressed or unhappy because then I’d be back to my 6th grade weight over all the depression that begins each November when I’m staring down the Mt. Everest of unmet resolutions. Weight, unfinished and unsubmitted manuscripts, a basement that could qualify me for an episode of hoarders, the third copy of that Jane Austin novel dug out of the bookshelf because I never made an inventory of my books.

This year will be different, though. (Cue the Rocky theme music!) Even in mid-life it's good to keep trying.

The problem isn’t which resolutions to make. It’s – ta-dah! are you ready for it? – my mindset on my life. In December I read about defining THEMES for the year, rather than making resolutions. If I said, “Lose Weight” that’s an outcome that I achieve or don’t rather than a way to guide me each day. It’s so much easier to fail. However, if I were thinking in terms of themes I might say “This year I’m going to NOURISH MYSELF.” With that theme, every day you’d make food choices that are healthier. You could also extend the theme to other nourishing directions. How can you nourish your mind? What about taking that beginner’s knitting class or learning French? You could nourish your soul and body at the same time by taking a gentle hatha yoga class each week. The ways to follow this theme are only limited by your imagination. To follow any of these directions would make your year better.

What would be my theme this year? Since the new year was already speeding by and – yikes! – it’s the last week of January, I didn’t have a lot of time to contemplate this to find the perfect one. I went online. No there’s no Wikipedia entry for themes. I did find find a couple of websites that followed this same principle and had some suggestions. But none of them felt right. Time was moving quickly when I remembered that author Gretchen Rubin had divided the chapters of her book Happier At Home into themes for each month. “Pay attention” or “boost energy” were good concepts, but I didn’t see how they would work for me for an entire year.

As this month rushed on I just didn’t even have time to think of that one word that would shape my year. I got sick. Our furnace broke during the week of the national snowpocalypse. My dear, sweet dog Skyler is quickly reaching the end of her days, so I’m running a doggy hospice in my living room. She’s clearly not ready to go, so I have to give time and energy (carrying her up and down stairs) to her care and end up saying “why bother?” about so many other things in my life. And we won’t even talk about that weight thing. Time sucks were taking over my life.

But isn’t that craziness when I need a guiding theme the most in order to get back on track when life throws me off?

And that’s when my theme hit me. TIME. I need to be mindful of my time. While I can’t control my life train jumping off the tracks, I can control how long I let it stay down. I can control how long I sit like a zombie watching “Love It or List It” marathons as a distraction. How long I read home improvement magazines instead of improving my own because I’m too tired today. How long I stay away from the computer because “I don’t have time to write” because life is crazy this week and I can't concentrate.

This year I’m going to be more mindful of how I use my time. To help me in that process I’ve found this great calendar that will give me an incentive. I’ll choose three or four areas where I want to be mindful of time every day. The idea is to fill this calendar solid with checkmarks. While it’s not a sin to Facebook each day, I have to first make sure that I’ve used my time well in other areas of my life. And so I need to know that each week, for example, I’ve spent more time communicating with you on my blog than I have searching for or “liking” cat videos. I’ll post this calendar in an obvious place.

I’ve already given some time to that basement. You can see that I’m back to writing as well. I’ll let you know how I’m doing. And for the sake of full disclosure, you can see other stabs at self-improvement here and here. None of them were unworthy. They just didn’t stick.

So Happy New Year. And tell me in the comments box how you’re faring with the horrible winter weather and if you are a resolutions kind of person. And I promise I’ll see you soon in another blog post. Because now I will make time for it.

Time doesn't move very fast here or change much. More about this in the future.


Lee I said...

What is it? Sunday night when Love It or Leave It comes on at 2 a.m. after a repeating series of House Hunters and House Hunters International? And I finally turn off the TV because I don't want to stay awake another whole hour.

I'm not going to make any resolutions. I never remember what I've resolved.

But good for you!

Patricia said...

Nice to see you back, Julie! You have hit the nail on the head: making time and achieving a balance in life are critical to feeling successful with out goals. Good luck with your focus on that. I'm sorry to hear you are losing a beloved pet and admire the loving care you are providing to the end.

Nadine Feldman said...

Glad to see you back! It's tough to deal with life when a loved one is dying, whether it's animal or person. Still, I love the idea of being mindful of time.

I didn't make resolutions this year, though I am working on my weight and finishing projects, so I seem to have some unspoken, unwritten resolutions. This year I'm trying to live more seasonally...revisions to existing work in winter, new work in summer, finishing crafts projects in winter, garden in summer, that kind of thing. So far it's working...we'll see how it goes!

mooderino said...

We're all doomed but doesn't mean we can't get some stuff done while we await the alien invasion... oops, I've said too much.

Moody Writing

Julie Farrar said...

Ha Ha, mooderino. I agree about getting stuff done to pass the time until alien invasions or the apocalypse. I would hate to die and have people (or aliens) go through my basement at an estate sale and make nasty comments about all the crap I kept (yes, I do that myself).

Nadine, it sounds like you have a rhythm to guide your year that is just perfect. In the words of Pete S. "a time everything under heaven."

Lee and Patricia -- glad to be back reading what my online friends write and writing for all.

Mike Schulenberg said...

It's never too late to resolve to do something better with our time or with ourselves. This year I've resolved to increase my writing output over last year, though I've set no concrete goals. I just try to make better use of my time.

Sorry to hear about your dog. It's always tough when a companion's time draws near.

Julie Farrar said...

That's a good resolution, Mike. I think in that spirit I'll resolve to increase my submission output. Since I chickened out and it was one last year, it shouldn't be too hard to improve on that record.

Scrollwork said...

Hi, Julie. My heart goes out to you as you say goodbye to your dog. We put our cat, Charlie, to sleep one week ago. Let's keep on keeping on!

For the first time instead of resolutions, I scribbled bullet points on Post-it notes and stuck them on the wall above my laptop where I can see them all the time. I have five notes now, each with three bullets.

The bullets on the first note have already been fulfilled. Do I call them wishes, prayers, manifestations of the goodness of the universe? I don't know. But they have to do with each of my work segments bearing fruit--more dance students, more freelance writing assignments, more etsy sales of my handmade upcycled clothing.

It's encouraging. It's hope in concrete form. Ever tried it?

Muriel said...

I gave up new year's resolutions a long time ago and am feeling v happy about it...I take it one day at a time and there is, for me, nothing better than enjoying the present...

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