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?

 

Christmas Wrap-up

How was your Christmas? Did you survive? Was it wonderful/stressful/all of the above?

I think this may have been the best Christmas ever for Jack and me. We stretched it out over several days. Anyone else think Christmas should always be a four-day weekend? It was perfect!

We did our little celebration together on the 23rd, then spent the 24th getting doing some last-minute shopping, wrapping presents, and getting ready to host our families. Christmas Eve we had Jack’s daughter and her husband stay with us. They’re vegan, so I had a fun time cooking these yummy stuffed shells for them. Side note: we found out we’re going to be grandparents. (!!!) OK, for me, I’ll just be a step-grandparent, but that still counts! They shared this fun news with everyone over the holiday 🙂

My parents and my sister’s family joined us Christmas afternoon for dunch and presents for my niece and nephew. I put out tons of food from Trader Joe’s, so that kept things much simpler than if I’d cooked. We all hung out and played with the kids. It was nice! That evening, my stepson and his wife came over, along with their best friend. We ordered a Chinese food feast so again, we wouldn’t to cook. This will probably become a tradition 🙂 We did presents with all of them, after which, my stepdaughter and her husband headed home so she could rest (she’s having a rough time with her first trimester). The others spent the night with us, and I will admit that things went way too late for me and got way out of hand. We all enjoyed the hot tub and Jack’s new ping pong table, but I was so ready for bed by midnight. Jack somehow stayed up with them until 3am, god bless him.

The day after Christmas, we cleaned up the mess from the night before. Then I headed over to my parents’ house for yet another Christmas. I made a chocolate pie with my niece while we waited for my brother’s family to arrive – I can’t stress enough how freaking good it was. My mother made lunch for all of us, then we did more gift-giving. 90% of it was for the grandkids, which makes it more fun 🙂

That night, Jack and I were happy to have the house to ourselves. We watched a movie and had some drinks and relaxed. The next day we tried to get up early but slept in til 8:30. After a run, we met Jack’s daughter, her husband, and his son to see the new Star Wars movie. Mixed reviews from the group, but I loved it! We then made it home in time to watch the Falcons beat the no-longer-undefeated Panthers, which sort of made up for Louisville’s two-point loss to Kentucky the day before. Another movie, some hot-tubbing, and we were in bed by 10:00.

So now it’s back to work, for a couple of (chaotic) days. New Year’s Eve is the anniversary of our commitment to each other, so we’re looking forward to another celebration later this week. This one is sort of a milestone – 15 years! I’ve spent a lot of today writing down some of my goals for 2016, what I’d like to work on and what the planning will look like.

Did you have a very Merry Christmas? Are you thinking about your resolutions, or just enjoying the rest of the year?

 

 

Truth!

I enjoyed Slacker Runner’s A Little Truth Time post yesterday. So much so, I wanted to steal her idea and do it myself!

Truth: I woke up at 4:30 this morning and counted down the minutes until my Starbucks opened at 5:00.

Truth: I desperately wanted a Holiday Spice Flat White. Then I saw they are 280 calories, so I settled for a Caffe Misto with a shot of espresso added. Calories saved: 180.

Truth: I have been taking Unisom to help me sleep every night for almost a year. Last night I decided to go without, thus explaining why I was awake at 4:30 this morning 🙂 Also explaining the super intense dream I had about falling in love with my Uber driver!

Truth: I am loving this warm weather in December. First, we totally got robbed of a nice fall because it rained for pretty much 6 weeks straight. Second, I don’t need it to be cold to be in the Christmas spirit. I’ve always loved the idea of a warm, SoCal kind of Christmas. Also, I read that this warm weather is because of El Nino, not global warming, so we should all shut up and enjoy it.

Truth: I have a Chapstick addiction. I have them everywhere: my car, most rooms in the house, my office, my purse, my coat pockets. My stepdaughter asked for Chapstick for Christmas and I TOTALLY GET IT.

Truth: I am feeling uninspired to go running lately. I am prone to burnout and have learned not to fight it. I have been going on lots of long walks instead, and yesterday I did some intervals, so that was something different at least.

Truth: I am late feeding and walking the dogs this morning, and Jack wanted me to wake up him about now, but everyone is sleeping so soundly and I’m enjoying my quiet time – I don’t want to wake anyone up! Even though my Caffe Misto is all gone 😦

Got any true confessions you want to share?

 

‘Tis the Season

It’s so almost Christmas, y’all! Of course my workload has been intense, but I feel like maybe (fingers crossed) things are lightening up and I’ll get to enjoy the rest of December. It’s been crazy so far. Jack and I spent a few days in Chicago, eating ALL THE FOOD. We were lucky enough to have great weather – sunny and in the ’50s. I’ll take it! We walked all over and tried to eat at as many great restaurants as possible. The Girl and the Goat absolutely lived up to the hype. If you go, get the cauliflower, or just make it at home. We also ate at one of Rick Bayless’ restaurants and got the burger from Au Cheval. Normally when we travel we aren’t such tourists, but since we only had a couple of days, we wanted to hit at least a few of Chicago’s more famous restaurants. And they did not disappoint!

We also got a hot tub! Finally! I cannot even remember how long I’ve wanted our own hot tub. We have rented so many mountain cabins, only to never go hiking and instead spend the weekend in the hot tub. The delivery came at an great time, as we’ve both been dealing with back/neck/hip injuries and this is crazy therapeutic. I know some people hear “hot tub” and think “ew,” but for me, it’s relaxing and comforting and I love that Jack and I just hang out and talk. And maybe have a mimosa 🙂 Much better than vegging out in front of the TV or ignoring each other while we’re on our laptops.

We decorated our new home a little over the top for Christmas. I don’t know how many strands of lights we put up. We also hung ornaments in the bushes, and Jack got a couple of those inflatable things. (Not a fan, but it’s his house too and it’s cute how excited he was about them.) Our TV room is like the coziest room ever. We finally got the fireplace in working condition, and I hung up our new stockings. I even totally dorked out and hung up stockings for the dogs. And did I mention they have their names on them? Barf 😉

We’ve been so busy, meeting our neighbors, doing house projects, exploring our new town, managing my volunteer projects, catching up with old friends, being buried in work. This past weekend was my niece’s 6th birthday party, and this weekend is my Dad’s 73rd, so we’re spending lots of time with family as well. Somehow, we even feel like we’re kind of on top of the Christmas plans too. We sent out our cards and have like 75% of our shopping done. Last year, we took our families to the beach instead of giving gifts, and turns out we really missed gift-giving. Also, this is the first year (in 15 years! crazy!) that Jack’s kids will spend Christmas with us. True, they definitely aren’t kids anymore (they are in their 20s and 30s), but it’s still going to be awesome having everyone spend the night here and be together on Christmas morning. ❤

In other news, my back is doing much better and I’ve been able to do a few short jogs over the past two weeks. I also FINALLY got motivated enough to get back on the diet train, and I’ve lost about 6 pounds so far. Eight more to go – hopefully in the next 5 weeks before we head down to Mexico in late January. So far December has been a much healthier month. I’m eating primarily a vegan diet, and this amazing weather (today’s high is supposed to be 70, with sunny skies) is motivating me to be outside. I’ve done something athletic every day this month but one, and that was the day after we got back from Chicago and I was exhausted and slammed at work.

I’m also continuing to think about my goals for next year and what my resolutions are going to be. So much of what I’m able to accomplish will depend on what my job is like. There are times when it’s 70 hours a week and times when it’s 30. I still haven’t mastered the art of working from home either. I tend to be productive until mid-afternoon, then I hit a wall. In an office setting, I could talk to my co-workers or walk to get coffee or something, but here, I end up playing games on my phone or taking a nap with my computer next to me in bed. Not so good 😦

But for now, I’m going to keep enjoying the holiday season. Jack and I are so damn lucky to have the lives we have, with our families near us, in our cute little house, with our awesome marriage, and with laps full of little dogs. It’s so important to remind ourselves of that when we’re pulling our hair out at work. We are so blessed 🙂

How is your holiday season going? Do you have a love/hate relationship with this time of year? Are you thinking about your goals for 2016, or are you just enjoying what you have right now?

November in Review

I have been away from this space for awhile. Partly due to my workload, partly due to a bit of a social media break, partly due to volunteering, partly due to the holidays, etc etc. I’ve been dealing with some crazy back pain for the past 3+ weeks as well, and all the meds make me need a LOT more sleep. I haven’t been getting up before 6:30, much less at 4:45, lol.

I’m a little bummed that I haven’t had as much desire to write here. When I first started to think about blogging, I wanted to it be funnier and more essay-like. But then I quickly fell into making it all about my New Year’s resolutions. I made some good progress during the first half of the year, but the second half, life has been much more overwhelming than I prefer. I haven’t made much progress at all lately, even after editing and re-prioritizing my goals. I haven’t done any of my new house goals, though I am doing a bit better with my goals for fall.

As has been my refrain for the past several months, I’m mostly just trying to keep my head above water. With one exception: I’m finally making the time to volunteer! After reviewing my progress in October, I felt really crappy that I had done almost zero volunteering this year. I started looking for opportunities in my area and ended up finding a couple of nonprofits that were looking for virtual help. I’m now doing social media for two groups that are near and dear to my heart: an organization that helps spay and neuter pets for lower-income families, and a farm that rescues and rehabilitates unwanted horses. It’s been a lot of work so far and I haven’t figured out the best way for us to work together, but I’m really happy I can help out in some manner 🙂

The rest of the month was a blur. Work keeps on being intense; I can’t tell you how many days I’ve almost cried from the stress. Because of my mysterious back injury, I’ve had to take time off from running. I have gone on short walks the past few days, and not only are they not hurting, they seem to be helping. I’m hopeful that continues so I can get back into an exercise routine. As for our new house, we’re still working on decorating projects – although I will say we have outdone ourselves in terms of Christmas decor outside.

I’m continuing to mostly stay off Facebook. I do have to go on to post for my nonprofits, but I really haven’t been looking at anything personal. I find myself playing stupid word games on my phone with the time I used to spend on Facebook. Not the best use of my time, but a step in the right direction I think!

I read something yesterday about making December the beginning of your plans for the new year. So you don’t have to start your diet, but maybe you find some fun recipes and put together some plans for January. Maybe you don’t start running, but you take a couple of leisurely walks and think about what your route is going to be once you’re up to a 5k. I’m going to take this month to think about what I want 2016 to look like. Will I be job hunting? Will I be vegan? Will I train for another half-marathon or will I start swimming instead? Thinking about this now, planning for it now, I think will help me be more realistic and have a better chance to succeed.

What are your plans for December? Are you focused on the holidays or are you looking ahead to 2016?

 

 

 

My Facebook-Free Experiment

In my last post, I wrote about realizing how jealous I felt when looking at Facebook sometimes. Despite all my deep-seated rationalism, I noticed I was having a lot of negative vibes when seeing what everyone was up to. We had a disappointing Halloween, and the next morning I was almost angry at how much fun it looked like everyone else had had.

I work from home most of the time, so I’m spending a lot more time by myself than I am accustomed. I think I started relying on Facebook more to keep up with everyone, and to take breaks during the day. I can’t just turn to the person at the desk next to me or walk over to my friend’s cube anymore. So instead I was logging onto Facebook a LOT more than normal, thus I spent a lot more time comparing myself to everyone else. And yes, I totally know we’re all curating our social media lives. No one is posting about their routine and dull Tuesday afternoon any more than I am. We’re all on there to brag a little, to show the best/most fun/cutest version of ourselves.

My first step was to remove the Facebook app from my phone. It’s crazy how often I picked up my phone in a moment of boredom or downtime, waiting in a line or annoyed with what my husband was watching on TV, to go check FB. Totally a thoughtless habit. Now I’m checking Instagram, which generally doesn’t give me the same jealous feelings, or playing a game, or opening up the Kindle app to read a book for awhile. I went from Tuesday til Sunday without checking FB on my phone. Then, on Sunday morning, I logged and immediately started feeling jealous and lame. Exit Facebook!

This week, I’ve checked in a couple of times, but only given myself a couple of minutes to read posts. And it’s making a difference. I hate to admit that I’m so shallow, but sometimes I am. Even now, when I’m happy with my job and love my house and my marriage is going well and it’s almost the holidays – I’m still envious of what other people have. Ew.