2015 Goals vs. Reality

I did turn 40 this year. It actually happened. And I must admit, I’m not dealing with it all that well. I’m more vain and shallow than I realized! I spend entirely too much time focusing on new wrinkles and saggy skin. I’m thinking about trying some kind of dermal filler or Botox or something. Just a little something to perk up my skin. Part of it is that I work in a very young industry, and I don’t want to show my age. Part of it too is just pure vanity.

But enough of that!

Last year was the first year that I truly made a set of New Year’s resolutions and then followed through with them. I have never been a goal setter, but this past year has been a game changer for sure. I never realized how vocalizing a goal would help me to really think about what I needed to do to actually make it happen. Yes, it took me til 40 to understand this!

I was far from perfect in reaching my goals this year. Some of that was my fault and some of it wasn’t. Here’s how things ended up:

  1. Learn to do a handstand. FAIL. Not necessarily from lack of effort though. I worked pretty hard to build up my upper body strength, but there wasn’t much I could do about my wrist. They are weak, slightly arthritic, and leaning towards carpal tunnel syndrome. I have pretty lousy joints overall. Thus, no handstand for me, but I have peace about that.
  2. Pay off our credit card debt and personal loans. SUCCESS. I also paid off my car! We were lucky enough to both make good bonuses this year, along with nice salary increases, and we made some money when we sold our house. I’m very happy to say we knocked out all of our consumer debt other than my husband’s car, and that’s just because we’re waiting to see what VW is going to do about the “clean” diesel debacle.
  3. Be less anal. I’m calling this a SUCCESS. I think I’m little bit more go-with-the-flow. I can’t change who I am inside, but I am committed to continually finding compromise with other people and their ways of doing things.
  4. Run a half marathon. SUCCESS. Boom.
  5. Downsize. SUCCESS. Man, I was all over the place with this one over the year. We went from looking at one bedroom condos and vacation cabins, to almost buying a five bedroom house, to ending up in a perfect-sized three bedroom with almost an acre. We’re sort of turning it into that cabin we also wanted too 🙂
  6. Meditate. FAIL. I tried. I don’t like it. I know it’s something that you get better at, and the couple of times I did it, I did feel more relaxed and clear headed. But making it into an obligation sort of took away the benefit. Maybe one day…
  7. Drink less. FAIL. I’m trying not to beat myself up about this one. I did a few alcohol-free weeks, and I’ve cut back recently as I’ve been losing weight, but this summer, I relied on our end of day cocktails to help with the stress of my new job and our move (mostly during our two month hotel stay).
  8. Go to marriage counseling. FAIL. We never went, not once. We talked about it. We talked about us, our relationship. I think we don’t have as much motivation to go to therapy together because we’re crazy in love and really do like and enjoy each other 95% of the time. It’s not like our marriage is in trouble or anything. We’re totally committed to each other and plan on spending our lives together. But I know there are old hurts we need to resolve eventually, things that always seem to bubble back up when you least expect them. To be continued.
  9. Write. SUCCESS. This will be my 117th blog post, according to WordPress. This is undoubtedly the most I’ve ever written in a year. I’m also doing social media posts for two non-profits, so I’m writing some there as well. I would still like to learn to write essays, so hopefully I’ll have some time and energy to devote to that in 2016.
  10. Continue to evolve my relationship with food. I think I can call this a SUCCESS. This summer was eye-opening, as I experienced stress-eating (and the accompanying weight gain) for the first time. Not good! I also had to pretty much admit defeat when it came to controlling what I was eating during that time. My self-discipline was stretched thin during the first few months of my new job. I thought I could use this blog as motivation to lose weight, but instead I just added on a few more pounds. In hindsight, I was just barely keeping everything together, so it was a bad time to diet. Over the year, I think I tried every kind of fad diet or gimmick I could find. NONE of it worked (shocking, I know). But now that things are settled, I’ve been able to lose 9 pounds since Thanksgiving. And this was during the holidays and a trip to Chicago that had the express pupose of eating! I’m feeling good about that. I’m understanding what works for me. For example, I am do not have success with low carb. Or Paleo. For me, I need to eat tons of vegetables and fruit, and add in protein when I’m craving it. I need to be very restrictive about the types of food I eat, especially fat. The more fat I eat, the more I crave it. It’s worse than sugar for me. And if I’m restricting what I eat all day, then dammit, it’s totally fine to have a glass of wine or a martini at night. I can’t be good all the time 🙂
  11. Try some minimalism projects. This is sort of a toss up, but I’m calling it a SUCCESS. Mostly, I realized I’m not a true minimalist, so while it’s not what I was expecting, it’s a great lesson. I like to keep the clutter very low and to stay organized, but I like to have stuff too. I prefer to have things just-so, rather than make-do. If I have things that are as perfect as they can be, I won’t want more things. So I’m going through my life and our home and working on that that now.
  12. Practice empathy, be more compassionate and stop being so judgy. SUCCESS. Now, being compassionate and empathetic is a life-long project and something I will always be working towards. But what I realize now, here at the end of the year, that most of what I meant by this was directed towards my co-workers. We were all way too close and they were driving me crazy. Getting away from them helped me stop being so judgy. Other people’s life choices are none of my business.
  13. Do a volunteer activity once a month. MIXED. I did not volunteer for most of the year. I did donate a fair amount of money, but it’s not until the last couple of months that I’ve been actively volunteering. But I would say I made up for lost time! As a social media volunteer, I’ve been posting for my two charities several times a week, and daily around Thanksgiving during the shopping madness. Moving into 2016, we’re working on an agreed-upon posting schedule so I can better organize my time.
  14. Travel less often, but more memorably. SUCCESS. We started the year at the beach, and then made trips to Asheville, Jekyll Island, Louisville, and Chicago. I also traveled for work, to Portland, New York, and Dallas. It was not as much travel as 2014, but we were able to stay in nicer places and do more while were there. This is a trend we’ll continue.
  15. Find a new job. SUCCESS. I knew it would be tough, but it’s been tougher than I imagined. But all these hard things are absolutely helping me grow, and I have learned so much. I miss my old company and my friends there, and I have the feeling I’ll go back there one day. I definitely needed to leave though, so I don’t regret that.

Of my 15 original goals, I had success with 10 & 1/2. The importance of each of these waxed and waned throughout the year. I really struggled over the summer and early fall to accomplish much besides working, running, and keeping my head above water. I’ve also struggled to find a true focus for this blog, but since I’m enjoying writing here, it’s not something I’m too concerned with 🙂

In all honestly, I’m pretty damn pleased with myself for setting these goals and following through with them. Even the ones I failed at, I truly did make attempts to follow through. Mostly they just became less of a priority as the year went on. I added in some goals here and there, with varying degrees of success. I’m excited for a new beginning and have lots of great ideas for 2016. See you then!

How was your 2015? Are you happy with your progress? And what are your thoughts on resolutions? Will you be setting any this year?

 

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October in Review

Wow, I have had just total writers’ block lately. I have logged on so many times and just stared at this blank screen for a few minutes, only to realize I had nothing to say. At last, here’s an easy topic: last month’s progress!

I have been dabbling with Project 445. It’s been pretty great, to be honest. I love having so much time in the mornings. I’m not doing it every day, not yet, at least. But for the majority of the weekdays over the past two week, I’m up at 4:45 and won’t let myself look at work email until after 6:00. It’s been good to take that time to enjoy my coffee and read what I want to read online. It hasn’t translated into many workouts, but I’ve been reasonably active.

October was a flash, that’s for sure. I didn’t get to enjoy it as much as I’d hoped, but a lot of that was due to all the rain we’ve had down here lately. It also wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped, as work has been ridiculous and we’re still unpacking. We did get a new deck built (or should I say, we hired someone to get that new deck built, lol). We ran a fun 5k race and I was really happy with my time. Not a PR, but close. We went to Nashville for an amazing concert and stayed at a perfect Airbnb. We did a food truck night with family in our new little town, and also hit up the farmers market for local apples and burrata. Halloween was a bit of a dud, but whatcha gonna do…

We’re enjoying our new house. We’re loving the neighborhood and all the restaurants that are so close by. I’m also loving the proximity to my family, and Jack doesn’t seem to mind that at all. We went hot tub shopping yesterday. Hello, sticker shock! But I think it will be well worth it, especially after cold morning runs this winter. We’re basking in the glow of being moved in, so our marriage is doing wonderfully 🙂

In terms of goals, I have to be honest: I’m not really thinking of them. I continue to just try to keep my head above water at work. By the end of the work day, I mostly just want to drink wine and be brain dead. I’m not running as much as I was, but I think it was time for a little break and I don’t feel too guilty about it. There’s no point in forcing it.

The two biggest things I want to focus on for the fall are being healthier and finally volunteering. The being healthy part is both my diet and my workouts. I need to find another long-ish race to train for, since that really keeps me on track. As for volunteering, I’ve made a lot of excuses about it all year, which is pretty gross. I’m going to look for something now!

Did you enjoy your October? What are you goals for the rest of the fall?

Project Downsize: End Result

We’ve been settling into our new home for about a week and a half now, and so far, we’re really pleased. It already feels so much more like a real home than our townhouse did. The townhouse was spacious and shiny and new, but it lacked warmth and charm. It was exactly what we needed after the antique money pit we’d previously owned, but we always knew it was a short-term place to stay.

We struggled with this home-buying process, due to some mind-changing and some bad luck. We went from looking at 1000sf condos to almost buying a 4000sf luxury behemoth. We found this house by accident, after needing to turn around when we drove past the house we’d come to view. We were worried that we were maybe just settling on this, after having three other houses fall through during negotiations, and after wasting more $$$ than I care to admit living in a hotel. This house didn’t come without its issues either; the appraisal came in low, and we had to deal with the removal of about two dozen bats from the attic (don’t worry – no bats were harmed, and as far as I know, no one became a vampire).

But here we are, living in my home town that I never once imagined I’d move back to. And as it turned out, we ended up downsizing after all. This house is about 1800sf, which seems pretty perfect for two people who both worked mostly from home and need to have separate spaces to do so. The neighbors are so friendly – they’ve brought over cookies and a pound cake, loaned us some tools, introduced us to their dogs, and even surprised us with some free landscaping. We’re close – but not too close – to my parents, which I know will be really helpful as they’re getting older and need our help more often. the town has changed so much in the 20+ years since I graduated from high school. It’s much more diverse, with multiple tech business bringing in a global population. There are tons of new restaurants and places to shop, and the park system is amazing.

At one point during the summer, when we’d gotten bad news on yet another house and I was feeling frustrated, a friend said something along the lines of don’t-worry-everything-happens-for-a-reason. It totally annoyed me and I just laughed. I really don’t believe in that line of thinking, but I do believe in making the best out of things. Finding this house, while not fate or “God’s will” or anything, was absolutely serendipitous. It was a happy accident (so far, at least!). It wasn’t something we ever would have imagined we’d want, but here we are, feeling content, and looking forward to lots of home projects (and hopefully not moving for a good long while).

It’s Moving Week!

Well, it seems to be official: we are closing on our new home on Thursday and moving out of this hotel on Friday. Finally! It will be a full six weeks since we left the townhouse, and six MONTHS since we started the whole buying/selling/moving process. Along the way, we’ve changed our minds a few times and learned a lot about what we really want. Or at least what we think we want right now 🙂

Since we’ve been under contract and I don’t have any chores (one good thing about hotel living!), I’ve had a lot of time to think about life in our new home. The house is 40 years old and mostly renovated, but there are many projects we’re considering for further updates. We’ll have about half an acre, so that means we can add yard projects too.

I have my goals for 2015, my goals for the second half of the year, my goals for the fall, but I want to add some goals for life in our new home:

  1. Grow stuff. The yard needs a lot of clearing and planning, but I really want to try to get some fall/winter crops planted before it’s too late. It might just be some container gardening a la The Barefoot Budget, but I’m hoping we can grow some lettuces at the very least.
  2. Bake bread. Yes, I’ve been mostly low-carb, and I want to continue that, but I also want to try some new bread recipes and really understand the nuances of bread. I’m excited to try this low carb recipe, as well as this hearty, seedy braided bread on a rainy Sunday morning 🙂
  3. Prep meals. I loooove seeing other people’s posts about meal prep/planning. I’ve dabbled in it a bit in the past, but I want to really commit to it now. It’s just so appealing to think about spending a few hours on the weekend getting myself ready to eat healthfully during the week. Also I really want an excuse to buy these.
  4. Stick to a budget. We’re going to try something different this time. We are quite committed to earning travel rewards via our credit cards (which, yes, we pay off in full each month, like the grown-ups we are try to be), and I don’t want to give up the free flights and hotel stays. Instead, we’re going to use those credit cards to buy gift cards each month. We’ll get them for our usual grocery stores, gas stations, Starbucks, etc, as well as our favorite clothing stores (anyone else obsessed with TJ Maxx/Marshall’s?). Once the gift cards are used up, that’s the end of our ability to spend in that category for the month. I’ll keep y’all updated on our success/failure here 🙂
  5. DIY. Jack and I are the worst about doing-it-ourselves. We will pay anyone for anything. (The one thing I refuse to pay for is house cleaning; it just makes me feel super lazy to not clean up after myself.) But this time around, we’re going to force ourselves to in-source. There’s no reason we can’t learn to tile our own backsplash and fix up our own yard. We’ve done much harder things together and love the sense of accomplishment.

Here’s hoping my motivation and excitement will continue once we’ve actually moved it 🙂

Hot Times in the Suburbs

Hellllloooooo!

You’ll be glad to know I am in a much better headspace today than during my last couple of posts. We moved on Friday and are settled in at our awesome little hotel. (Seriously, if you travel with your pets, this is the BEST brand we’ve found. They don’t do doggy happy hours or anything, but they’re super pet-friendly AND you get a kitchen and yummy free breakfast daily!) All of our stuff is in storage. I had no idea how much the move was hanging over me. I thought all my stress was from not having a house to move into and from work, but apparently a large part of it was being unsettled, with everything in boxes, and trying to get the townhouse ready for the move. Now that it’s finished, a weight has been lifted!

I’ve come to understand that now is not the best time to be on a diet, so I’m chilling on my Lose Ten by Summer’s End goal. Yes, it might be just excuse-making, but everything is too chaotic for me to be successful. I’ve found myself stress-eating for the first time in my life. It sucks. So I’m just trying to be gentle with myself, and make mostly smart/healthy choices. The good news is that I continue to stick with my running, I’m working out again, and today I’m going to hot yoga for the first time in probably three years.

My goal is to just enjoy the rest of the summer. We haven’t gotten to do much of that, since we were showing the house and then packing it up and looking for a new one. We are going to make an offer on another house today (fingers crossed that third time’s a charm!) so I’m hopeful that’s the end of the house hunting. Our hotel is really close to my family, so I plan to spend as much time with them as possible. I also plan to work from the pool, enjoy the greenway, eat tons of salads from the Whole Foods right down the street, and do some hiking on the weekends. We’re here for at least a month, and since chores are basically non-existent, I might as well take ALL that time for being good to myself 🙂

What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Decision Fatigue?

I’ve been avoiding this space recently. I have written a couple of posts and ended up throwing them away, since they mostly ended up sounding really whiny. My thoughts have generally been pretty whiny as of late. I’m over myself right now!

We are set to close on the sale of our home this Thursday and will be moving into a hotel the next day. I’ve been well aware that this date is approaching, but the reality is sinking in and is starting to concern me. After the deal fell through on our first potential house, the search continues – we’ve looked at too many to count and were in negotiations on one, but things got weird and the listing agent was acting really shady. So we walked away from that one before wasting any more time (and money!).

It’s sort of been interesting, watching myself unravel a bit through this process. On the one hand, Jack and I are prepared for this move as we have been for no other. We could have moved out this past weekend, we are so packed up and organized. We have basically nothing to do this entire week, until the movers come Friday morning. Who can say that? I’m thinking it’s because this is the one thing we actually have control over, so we’ve been over the top with it.

But other than packing up, the rest of our lives feels up in the air. I think we are both suffering from decision fatigue, as well as feeling unmoored. As our home search has expanded, we’re starting to wonder whether we should buy an older home to renovate, so we can get closer to what we want. But if we’re already tired of deciding things, would that be a smart move? We have a friend who builds and renovates houses, so he would be a great partner and would surely help us to narrow down our choices. But can we handle six months in a rental, with our stuff in boxes? Would we destroy our marriage by having to choose the exact right backsplash or the most perfect paint colors? Is now a good time to even make the decision to make a bunch more other decisions? I don’t know! Work is draining me, not finding a new house is draining me, thinking of all the money we’re going to waste in our temporary quarters is draining me most of all…

What was that I said at the beginning, about being whiny? Ugh.

Have you had any experience with building/renovating a home? Is the process worth it? 

July in Review

just realized I didn’t do a review of my goals/progress for last month. It was a crazy month, but still, this makes me feel pretty scatterbrained.

TOO-MANY-TABS

{INPIRATION: momentarily tapped out}

Anyway. We didn’t get the house. The appraisal came in waaay under the agreed-upon price. There was no way we were going to make up that big of a difference with cash at closing, and the crazy seller wouldn’t budge. Good luck to him with that, btw. Now we are starting all over again, with the super fun difference that we’re moving in a week and a half. To a hotel. I love me some hotel stays, don’t get me wrong. I loooove hotels. But living in one, for at least a month, with three dogs and two people who mostly work from home (work from hotel?) — that is no luxury. It’s also a giant waste of money, as was the cost of the home inspection and appraisal we just paid for on the house we didn’t get. Good times!

I’m also pretty much failing on the lose ten pounds goal. I’m up, I’m down. I have a few really good days and then blow it all when my boss takes us out or I spend the weekend in Louisville. I’m struggling with balancing my eating while working from home. I mean, I’m literally five feet from my fridge. I need to be better about going into the office (or at least not working in my kitchen).

At least my running is going pretty well. I ran four days in a row last week, which I never do, and the second two were better than the first two. I have to say though: this summer is a bitch down here in Atlanta. The temperature got into the 90s in May and hasn’t gotten out. It’s suffocating. It’s sticky. It’s NOT FUN. It’s not even pleasurable to be at the pool because it’s pretty much been like bath water since early June.

We also had a reasonably frugal month. We’ve been really good about not going out and not buying lunch. We didn’t buy any clothes. We had our wine at home. We ate through most of what we had in the pantry and freezer and really limited our grocery budget. Good thing we did that, since this move is going to be much more expensive than we had planned. (Did I mention we have to live in a hotel for a month???)

This is much less formal review of my 2015 goals because I am not feeling very formal right now. I am feeling a little beat down instead. Remind me never to change jobs, go on a diet, and buy a new house at the same time again, ‘kay?