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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On Minimalism

I have long considered myself to be a minimalist. As the movement has grown, I’ve enjoyed reading about the many personal journeys to minimalism. I’ve kept my home, my desk, my car clutter-free and pared down the stuff we have in our home. I made it one of my resolutions this year. I planned to sell our townhouse and move into a small condo. I really thought I was on my own personal journey towards full-fledged minimalism.

But something was holding me back. Part of it, which I’ve heard others echo, is that I’m way too into being prepared to get rid of all the things. I like to have “exactly what I need” to take care of a problem. I like to have choices in what I wear. I appreciate the right-sized pot or pan to prepare a meal. I’m glad we have room to entertain and a separate space for working at home.

Over at Our Next Life, I read about a concept called “right-sizing” your life. They discuss their choice to live simply but to still have enough space for themselves, their books, and the things they need to truly enjoy their lives. This has resonated strongly with me and I’ve been thinking about it all week. I’m a little bit embarrassed about the choice Jack and I have made to move to an even larger space than we are currently in. I discussed the reasons for this choice in detail here, and I feel like this is the best decision for us right now, but I’m still very self-conscious of it.

Considering it from the perspective of right-sizing our lives helps me to further understand that this move is the right thing for us, at this moment in our lives. Yes, it’s much more room than we could ever need, but we couldn’t find the other things we wanted (proximity to family, room to store a boat, a basement, amazing light) in a smaller house in our price range. We aren’t going to lose our minds and abandon our desire for less clutter, or to decide we’d rather buy stuff instead of having meaningful adventures. This move is just getting us closer to a lot of those adventures. (And giving us the space to host our friends and families without being on top of each other or worrying about sleep schedules.)

Our goal is to continue working on conscious consumerism. We’re not trying to impress anyone. We have been guilty of this in the past, and we’ve learned from it. We’ll only be buying things that contribute to our happiness. I think this house is going to be one of those things.

Project Downsize Updates

I still don’t have a functioning laptop 😦 I am writing this via an iPad. The attached keyboard does not have a functioning U key.  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 🙂

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.

April 2015 Resolution Check-in

Can you believe it’s May already?!?!?!?!

April was a very busy month, I suppose. And it flew by! Time for my monthly check-in…

Resolution Progress

  1. Handstand: FAIL. I barely did a plank in April, as I was super focused on running, and then recovering from our race.
  2. Debt: MIXED. We started the month strong, tracking our daily spending and not indulging ourselves. The second half of the month, not so much. I did make a couple of extra payments on our credit card debt, at least.
  3. Being anal: Like last month, I’m not really feeling like this is an issue for me right now.
  4. Half-marathon: SUCCESS! Now I just need to get back into a better running/strength training routine.
  5. Downsize: SUCCESS. I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets, the downstairs closets, and the garage. I also started in my bathroom and closet, but that’s still a work-in-progress. We had our garage sale this morning. We made about $160 and got rid of more than I expected.
  6. Meditate: FAIL.
  7. Booze: FAIL.
  8. Counseling: Not currently a priority.
  9. Writing: SUCCESS. I am writing here less frequently but more thoughtfully. I’m still trying to decide what to focus on here 🙂
  10. Eating: MIXED. I didn’t lose any weight, but I’ve been eating more healthfully. I also made the switch back to vegetarianism, which makes me happy.
  11. Minimalism: See #5.
  12. Empathy: SUCCESS at home; FAIL at work.
  13. Volunteering: MIXED. I tried to donate blood again, but went to the wrong location. I did donate a fair amount to a local cause and to the Nepal earthquake victims.
  14. Travel: SUCCESS. I had a good trip to Portland. I learned a lot about myself. I will cover that in a future post.
  15. Job: SUCCESS. I’m making a lot of positive changes at my current job, and my role has really expanded. I’m also interviewing with another company, for a primarily work-from-home role.

Overall, I am feeling pleased about last month. For May, I’ll be focusing on continued healthy eating and getting rid of stuff at home. I’ll also make strength training a priority. Jack and I have a trip to Asheville planned for our 5th anniversary, so of course I’m excited about that 🙂

How is your spring going? What will you be doing now that it’s warm again?

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 🙂

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 😉

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 🙂

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!

On Productivity

I wonder how much my mood, my optimism, my health, and my productivity are affected by my hormones. I hate to be a slave to hormones, but I think I might just be. I wonder how much of my current positivity and enthusiasm has to do with where I am in my cycle. I probably should have a better understanding of this at this point in my life 🙂

ANYWAY.

Today I am feeling great. I am working from home, which is likely contributing to my good mood. I also had a very strong run this morning, so the endorphins + finally not feeling sick are adding to my optimistic mindset. I am up to tackle some Project Downsize-related projects today! In between work projects, of course.

I will remember to take before-and-after photos this time. I may do a bit more work in the kitchen, but I think I’ll focus my time in our office. I have been cramming anything and everything in that closet; I don’t even remember what’s in there anymore.

Jack has been doing an amazing job lately, selling stuff online. He got rid of all his radio-controlled airplanes and all of his old musical equipment. I think he’s going to take all of that money and use on a very nice vintage acoustic guitar. It’s really motivating me to go through our closets and garage sale piles to see what I could sell on Craigslist for more money than I would get for it at a yard sale. Of course I’m super paranoid about Craigslist. I won’t let anyone come to our house, and I will definitely be careful about meeting them someplace safe.

Do you have bad/good stories about your Craigslist experiences? Do you think it’s worth it to try to squeeze a few extra bucks out of our stuff?