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 veryย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  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 ๐Ÿ™‚
  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 wantย moreย 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 learnedย 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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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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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).

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

What are your plans for the rest of the summer?

Project Downsize Update

This should actually read more like: Project Downsize Reversal. Gulp. After a lot of condo shopping, cabin browsing, neighborhood scoping, and house hunting, Jack and I came to the conclusion that our plan to sell our townhouse, move into a small intown condo, and buy a mountain cabin, just wasn’t going to work for us.

First, there was the issue with the type of condo we could afford on our budget. Since we were splitting the cost between two homes instead of one, we knew we’d have to compromise on both. But when it came down to it, we just couldn’t stomach the idea of living in a teeny-tiny, older condominium, that was also going to have hefty HOA fees and wouldn’t allow us to have more than two dogs. (We currently have three, and while we have no intentions of adding anyone, we are also hoping not to lose one of them any time soon!) Part of the appeal of our plan was that we’d get to live in one of Atlanta’s great intown neighborhoods. That meant we’d pretty much be stuck in a one-bedroom, one-bath place, or deal with a much older two bedroom (but still most likely with one bath). We had to admit that we just couldn’t do it. Even if we were escaping to the mountains every weekend, that would still mean four or five days a week waiting for the other person to hurry-up-and-get-out-of-the-shower-so-I-can-get-ready-too. Since I’m now working mostly from home, it was also going to be close-to-impossible to have a decent home office, something that’s suddenly become very important for my productivity.

Another issue was all the stories we were hearing about what a pain in the a$$ owning a vacation property can be. First there is the matter of two sets of expenses: mortgage, property tax, utilities, cable, security, etc. We had also been interested in renting it out now and then to help with the costs, but then we learned more about the hassles of dealing with guests, the potential damage to the cabin, the expense of using a property management company (less hassle, more $$$), the fact that we wouldn’t be able to use it whenever we wanted (and would therefore be stuck in our tiny condo in the city over the weekend). So the reality of all this began to sink in more, and the fantasy of our cozy, airy, mountainside getaway began to fade a bit.

We started to look more at homes in Atlanta. We’ve always loved mid-century moderns/California ranches, but our house hunting showed us they weren’t in very walkable areas, and they are obviously older homes. We’ve already had a 90 year old house and there is no way we would be up for dealing with any of those issues again. Yes, 40 or 50 is younger than 90, but it’s still old for a house. We also looked at newer homes intown, but they were either tiny (there’s that one bathroom issue again) or way too expensive or a townhouse. There’s no point in moving to another townhouse; been there, done that.

Our next idea was to try to find a house a little bit further out of town, but in a community with a lake or near the river. Those homes turned out to also be older than we liked, and worst of all, they were all DAMP. That’s the problem with living in a woodsy, shady area, close to water – everything is damp. Damp = mold and mildew, which is miserably hard to get rid of (and which I’m miserably allergic to). Damp also = roof damage and stinky basements.

It makes me feel better to write all of this out, because we’re still wondering whether the decision we’ve made is crazy. This makes me feel much less crazy ๐Ÿ™‚ We are now under contract for a big ol’ house in what can’t even really be called a suburb of Atlanta; it’s more of an exurb. It’s also five bedrooms, which is most decidedly not downsizing. But here’s what it’s got going for it:

  • There is a deck off the master bedroom, so we can sip coffee and look out at the woods.
  • It has a full basement, just waiting for us to fill it with a ping pong table, pool table, music room, gym, media room, etc.
  • It has a creek in the backyard.
  • The neighborhood is so pretty and has swim/tennis/gym.
  • There is a ridiculously perfect spot for a hot tub.
  • We can walk to the grocery store and several restaurants.
  • We can ride our bikes to the Greenway and a fantastic park with a large gym.
  • We are six miles to the marina (hello, lake life!).
  • It has tons of room for entertaining and for our friends and family to spend the night. Did I mention it’s about seven miles to my sister’s house, instead of the current ~35?
  • There is room for both Jack and myself to have our own, private office, vital since we both work primarily from home.

Most importantly, it’s lovely and gracious and warm and feels like home.

We still have to do the inspection, and we’re both a little uncomfortable with the fact that we’re pretty much moving to the country. It’s one of those decisions that will probably never feel 100% perfect. We may find that we’re miserable way out there, and you’ll be reading here that we’re putting it on the market in a year or two.

But. I’m all about taking (calculated) chances and having new experiences. This could be a pricey mistake, or a very happy decision. Stay tuned!

Project Downsize Updates

I still don’t have a functioning laptop ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I am writing this via an iPad. The attached keyboard does not have a functioning U key. ย It’s surprising to me how much this tiny inconvenience makes me not want to write at all. #firstworldproblems #modernlife #imadiva

Anyway. The past few days have been a flurry of activity regarding Project Downsize. We’ve seen a few condos, made an offer on one (too bad it was already under contract), and met with two listing agents to get their thoughts on our townhouse. I think we just missed the great condo deals that were here earlier in the spring. The affordable ones are flying off the market, under contract the same day they are listed. This bodes well for selling our own home, but has been frustrating in the search for our downsizing.

The reality of this search has been eye-opening. We have talked and planned and discussed thoroughly the desire for less space and to split our time (and money) between an intown condo and a mountain cabin. But it was not until we went to visit the first listing that it really started to sink in what this actually means. It’s going to be a big change. It’s not really the space that’s an issue. We really are fine living in much less room. We loooove to get rid of clutter and throw stuff away. We want everything to be useful and have a purpose. We like the fact that being in less square footage means we’ll be closer together ๐Ÿ™‚

It’s the neighborhoods that are the issue. They will be a downgrade. We are super spoiled right now, and we love our ‘hood. We spent a lot of years in less-than-desirable areas and it makes me uncomfortable to think about returning to that. It also means we’ll be going from fairly new construction to something that’s 30, 40, 50+ years old. That makes me nervous about potential problems that come with age. Our last home was 90 years old and was a constant heartbreak.

It’s been surprising to deal with this unease. I know change is scary, but I was unprepared for this anxiety. I really felt we had this completely figured out. I don’t want to say I’m second guessing ourselves, but there is a seed of doubt. We keep saying that it will all be worth it when we are out there cabin-hunting. But for now, as we’re hustling to see crappy condos that people are getting into bidding wars over, it’s not really much fun.

Project Downsize: Condo Shopping & Garage Clean-out

Yesterday was really fun and productive! I might be a wee bit hungover this morning, but it’s guilt-free since I still got all my work done ๐Ÿ™‚

We started the day with a 10k run. This is the last long-ish run before next Saturday’s half-marathon. It was a pretty good run, and the longest distance I’ve done since my latest bout of cold/flu/food poisoning/immune system crash. I’m still totally freaked out about the race next week, but whatcha gonna do…

We ran through the part of town we’re most interested in moving to, and drove around to look at a couple of specific neighborhoods afterwards. It was a perfect spring day in Atlanta, and there were so many people out walking their dogs, exercising, and heading to the local farmers’ market. This is one of Atlanta’s few foot-friendly areas, and seeing everyone out and about made me excited to possibly live there. One dilemma we’re having is whether we’d want to do a high-rise condo or a small townhouse. I love the idea of the high-rise, but I’m pretty sure I would be miserable trying to take our three dogs up and down in the elevator twice a day. The townhouses are older and not the best-looking, but it would be much easier with the dogs, and they have little private backyard/patio areas. We could maybe get a hot tub!

After our run, we had mani/pedis and took a long nap. Then we tackled the garage. This was the big pile o’ stuff we were facing:

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We had to decide what we wanted to try to sell on Craigslist and some of Jack’s hobby sites, what was trash/Goodwill, and what we’d save for next month’s garage sale. We only spent about an hour on this and accomplished a ton. This is the Craigslist pile, lots of home decor and small electronics/appliances:

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And this is what we’ve got left for the garage sale:

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Not pictured is our patio furniture, which we’ll hopefully be able to unload on Craigslist as well.

After the garage project, we got cleaned up and met some friends out for dinner. The food was disappointing, but I did have this drink:

20150411_190526A green cocktail! Freshly-juiced cucumber, basil, lime and vodka. Getting my vitamins along with a buzz ๐Ÿ˜‰

Advice time: Have you ever lived in a highrise? Did you miss your privacy?

Project Downsize: Closet Cleanout

In my last post, I was feeling very upbeat about tackling some closets. I took care of the hall closet at the bottom of the stairs, and the closet in the office. I moved a ton of stuff out to the garage sale pile. And I even remembered to take pictures! Success all around ๐Ÿ™‚

These are my befores:

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They both were pretty much just catch-alls for junk. Lots of decor I no longer care for, wrapping paper, old computers, office supplies. I threw out a fair amount of stuff, but most of it went into the garage sale pile.

This was The Pile before:

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And this is The Pile after:

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It’s so much bigger it had to be a landscape-view!

And here are my closets after:

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I love having these pictures to remind myself of the progress. I should probably start doing this for weight loss/getting toned!

This weekend, we’re planning on tackling The Pile, trying to get it organized and deciding what we’ll put on Craigslist. Is it sad that I’m actually looking forward to it?

Happy Friday!