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Looking Ahead at 2017

I love the start of a new year for a lot of reasons. I love the idea of a fresh start, an opportunity for a “do-over”, to make changes for the better. In reality, we don’t have to wait for January 1 to start over or to try to do better; every minute of ever day is a chance to change, in my opinion.

But a brand new year feels special somehow.

In years past I’ve made myself a laundry list of things I wanted to do in the upcoming year. Read “X” number of books. Run “X” amount of kilometers. Lose weight. Declutter. On and on. I would always start out the year with great intentions, and then usually by around March or so, it had all fallen by the wayside. It’s tough to keep up that kind of momentum, particularly when my lists were long and varied.

For 2017 I’ve decided to take a bit of a new approach. Instead of making specific goals for myself for the coming year, I’ve decided to broaden my scope. For this year, my one and only aim is to do better.

Do better – in whatever I tackle. Try harder. Make a greater effort. Push myself just a little bit more – when it comes to parenting, my job, my friendship, my marriage, my fitness goals. Nothing specific, just better. My ultimate goal in life is to keep growing and changing, and so if I focus for this next year on simply doing better, then I feel like just maybe I’m setting myself up for success, rather than failure. There are any number of ways that I can be better and do better in all aspects of my life. I’m excited for this.

Do better. It’s something we can all work toward, don’t you think?

2015: And A New Round of Goals

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So with only mediocre success with my 2014 resolutions, I am hesitantly deciding on some new ones for the coming year.  I want to make these new resolutions both challenging and realistic at the same thing. I know that I do better when I have things to work toward, whether I actually achieve them all or not. Sometimes the success is in the pushing of oneself. This year I’m going to call them “goals” rather than “resolutions”, which is kind of bullshit, really, since we all know that they’re the same damn thing. In any case, that’s what I’m doing, bullshit or not.

So. Here we go.

1. Run at least 2000 km. Last year I ran almost 2300, so shooting for 2000 again in 2015 is doable, I think. Hopefully I’ll bust this goal wide open. I’ve realized that it’s good for me to have a tangible running goal; it helps me push myself in this area.

2. Finish organizing the basement. Our basement storage area is also known affectionately in our family as “The Pit of Despair”. No further explanation required, really. It’s time to finally get that dump whipped into shape, once and for all.

3. Spend more time with friends.

I failed in making friendships a priority in 2014, but I don’t intend to make the same mistake this year. My friends mean way too much to me to allow that to happen. I spent way too much time last year just allowing life to pass me by, and I feel like that attitude has done damage in more than one area of my life. I can’t allow this to continue.

4. More yoga. More yoga. More yoga.

Same as last year, I’m going to aim to do more yoga in 2015. Here’s the thing — I enjoy doing it, I know that it’s good for me, so why am I struggling with this one?

5. Try meditation.

Again — same as last year. In fact, this has been a goal of mine for the past few years. So why the resistance? Good question, kids. But I plan on pushing past this resistance to give this an honest try. In keeping with this meditation goal I also want to focus on being more present in 2015. Too often I allow distractions in life to pull me away from the truly important things. I don’t want this to continue.

6. Keep on track with our financial goals.

CBG and I made a big effort to get our finances on track at the end of 2014. We even started a joint blog project together to help with accountability and keeping ourselves on track. The great news is that it’s all working! We stayed on track financially over the holidays and are gradually paying down our debt while simultaneously building up our savings. This is one of my resolutions this year that excites me and makes me look forward to the coming months.

7. Read 14 books.

When I went back and looked over the list of books I’d read in 2014, I realized that I actually did reach my goal of reading 12 books over the course of the year (there were a few I’d forgotten about!). So…in 2014 my goal is to read at least 14…a small goal for some but for me, this is a lot, as setting aside time for myself in this way isn’t something I do often enough.

8. Improve upper body strength. Sure, these legs can run for miles, but I’ve got a bit of a t-rex thing going on, with a less-than-awesome upper body. This must change.

9. Pursue creativity. This is another one that is the same as last year, but one that I feel I need to pursue further in 2015. I dabbled a little bit in photography last year, and it was so good for me to have a creative outlet. I used to be so much more creative than I am now; it’s something that I haven’t been putting at the top of my list of priorities and I want that to change. I don’t expect to become any kind of great artist or photographer or anything, but for me, having a creative outlet is important, and that’s something I’ve allowed to fall by the wayside. No more of that in 2015.

10. Make my marriage a priority. If you’ve been reading along on this blog (and CBG’s, for that matter), you know that things haven’t been great with us these last few months. Not that we’re not getting along, but that there are other factors at play (namely CBG’s depression and my current struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder) that are getting in way of us being as close as we need to be. I’ll be honest: it makes me worried. I’ve definitely been feeling the distance between the two of us and I know that if this continues, it will cause serious damage to our marriage. I want 2015 to be about making us a priority again.

 

So….that’s it. I’d like to say that I’m tackling 2015 with a lot of oomph and enthusiasm, but at the moment, I’m sad to say that I’m not. Hopefully this will change as the weeks go by. Fingers crossed.

 

Happy New Year, by the way! What goals/resolutions/plans do you have for the upcoming year?

2014: The Resolutions Revisited

So when the year began, I made a point of setting a number of resolutions for myself. Resolutions are something that I go back and forth on, in terms of whether I think they’re a good idea or not. Often I make “resolutions” for myself, but call them “goals”, instead. I’m not sure that it really matters in the end what they’re called but I think that it’s important for us to have something to work toward, whether we make these goals at the beginning of the calendar year, or at some other random time.

Because I haven’t forgotten those “goals” for myself, and because I want to hold myself accountable, I decided to revisit the list I made a year ago to see how well I did.

1. Run 1,000 km.

This one I can give a big happy CHECK! to. In fact, I managed to completely CRUSH this goal in 2014, as my final mileage for the year ended up being 2290.39 km!! It was a good year for me in terms of running. I absolutely crushed my goal, showing myself what I’m really made of, in the running department. Colour me proud!

2. Do at least 3 road races.

This one was a big fat fail, for a lot of reasons. Though I was running a lot of miles I didn’t ever actually run any official events. I’m sad about this one but I am hoping to do better with this in 2015.

3. Family vacation in the fall.

Another big fat NOPE on this front. By summertime it became painfully obvious that taking a big, expensive family vacation just wasn’t in the cards. This realization, however, did finally light a fire under our butts to get us into gear with organizing our finances and getting things on track so that actually saving for a vacation in the future is actually a whole lot more manageable. We even started a new blog to chronicle the process and help keep us accountable.

4. Finish renovating/decorating our place.

CBG and I took a week off this past November (the week that was originally scheduled to be our “family vacation week”) and spent the entire time working on spiffing up our place. We painted four rooms in that 7 day period. It was exhausting but worth it to finally get it done. We still do have a few things that we’d like to accomplish in 2015 in terms of the home decoration front, but with the painting behind us, I’m confident that we can easily get this done in the coming months.

5. Do more yoga.

This one didn’t really happen. Sure, I went to a few classes at the beginning of the year, but then my good intentions went almost totally out the window. This is something that I need to carry over into 2015 and stop making excuses for myself. Particularly with all the running that I’ve been doing lately, yoga is required to help keep my body loose and my mind happy.

6. Declutter/Get organized.

This is something else that CBG and I tackled during our vacation week (why yes, we DID pile too much on our plates for a one-week period, thanks for noticing). I made some good progress in this area (I sent something like 12 garbage bags and 2 or 3 boxes of stuff off for donation), but there is still much to be done.

7. Try meditation.

This one was a big fat failure. I thought about it many times, but just never managed to settle down and really make any genuine attempts. I tell myself that running is a form of meditation for me and I know that this is true, but I do feel that I need to try some good old-fashioned sitting still and focusing on my breath kind of meditation. I am feeling this particularly lately since life isn’t exactly fabulous at the moment.

8. Read at least 12 books.

I know…12 doesn’t seem like much. But life is busy, yo. And while I only managed to read 10 books in 2014, I always had a book on the go, and made a point to curl up with one many nights at bedtime, if only for a few minutes. It was good for me, and I feel like I will continue down this path.

9. Dedicate Myself More to Nurturing my Friendships.

Reading this one makes me sad, since I’m pretty sure I did a terrible job with it, overall. I have only a small circle of friends and I pretty sure that I failed several of them in the past year when it comes to being a good, attentive friend. That’s totally on me.

10. Seek Adventure.

This was one of those bullshit resolutions that ended up meaning exactly nothing in 2014. Adventure? Yeah, right. I was way too bogged down by life to think about much of anything outside of the practical. 2013 Sunshine who made this silly resolution needs to give her head a shake.

11. Do Something Creative (Outside of Writing)

I was going to say that that one was another failure for me, but as I sit here, I’ve been re-thinking this one. In the past year I’ve been taking a lot of photos. Nothing special, mostly just photos that I snap when I’m out on my morning run. But…I’ve been getting lots of compliments on these photos from people, even from a professional photographer friend who was quite kind in encouraging me to pursue photography a little more seriously. I’m not sure that this is something that I will ever end up doing, but it’s fun to think about. And I do love having all those photos to look back on, reminding me of those small, lovely moments when I’m out in the early mornings. Going forward I’m pretty sure I’d like to pursue photography a bit more.

12. Inspire and Be Inspired.

Eh. I don’t know what to say about this one. I’m not sure that I’ve been an inspiration to anyone else out there, and it was probably a little arrogant of me to think that I would be. The good news is that in a lot of ways I managed to inspire myself, which I suppose, all in all, is pretty good.

As for 2015, I haven’t set any goals or resolutions yet. After looking at my “list of failures” from 2014, I’m not sure if there’s actually any point in doing it. Guess I’ll have to think on that one some more.

2014: The Resolutions

I’ve been really hesitant to write down my resolutions, to commit them to this blog and all 4 readers that I have. But I’m going with the whole idea that writing down goals and sharing them with people help to keep us honest when it comes to these things. Accountability and all that jazz.

So here we go. My 10 goals for 2014. Feel free to call bullshit on me when I fail to live up to them without a damned good excuse.

1. Run 1,000 km.

This one was inspired by my friend Alison DeLory, who committed to, and attained, this particular goal in 2013. I’ve never attached a certain mileage goal to my running like this. This will be challenging for me, as I don’t have a treadmill; most of these 1,000 km (621 miles) will be run between March and October, since getting out during the winter is always tough for me, thanks to icy sidewalks, dark mornings and cold temperatures. Even accounting for all of this, I think that 1,000 km is attainable for me, if I make a focused effort during my prime running months.

2. Do at least 3 road races.

Last year the only road race I did was walking the half marathon with CBG back in September. It was great, don’t get me wrong, but this was his goal and I was merely there for moral support. Wedding planning and not feeling 100% physically for most of the summer meant that any kind of training was put on the back burner. But with the wedding out of the way, and me feeling a lot better physically, there is nothing stopping me from taking part in some official road races. I don’t know if it’ll be 10km races, half marathons, or if I’ll shoot for another full marathon, but I do know that I want to add to that race bib collection! I’m sure the specifics of this one will take form as the year progresses.

3. Family vacation in the fall.

CBG and I promised the kids that we wouldn’t take another vacation alone together without taking them someplace first. With the wedding in 2013 and CBG’s employment situation being less than ideal, a family vacation just wasn’t in the cards. But it’s game on for 2014, and I’m going to do my best to scrimp and save so we can take those kids of ours on a family adventure.

4. Finish renovating/decorating our place.

When we first moved into our place in the summer of 2012, it needed a lot of work. And a lot of things were done. But again, this is another area where things went off the rails a bit as we focused on the wedding. We’ve still got more than half our place to paint. We need more decor. We need some more furniture. Although the place feels cozy and “us”, its still not where I want it to be. But by the end of this year, I want the painting to be done and for our place to finally feel like “ours”.

5. Do more yoga.

I love yoga and I know that it’s good for me. Between all the running and working a desk job, being able to stretch everything out is a good thing. In the last couple of years I haven’t made the effort to pursue my yoga practice like I once did. And dammit, I have every intention of changing this. So really, since I did basically NO yoga in 2013, “more” in 2014 should be pretty attainable.

6. Declutter/Get organized.

Five years ago when I moved out of my ex-husband’s house, it was with very little. I remember how empty the little two-bedroom apartment that I moved into with my girls, felt. I was basically starting life over from scratch. And now, five years later, we’re still living in a small space, but our little house feels like it’s bursting at the seams now with so.much.STUFF. I think that because for a while there I had so little, I find it hard to let go of what I have now, even if it’s things that I don’t necessarily want or need. But I’m feeling that the time has come. My life is now full of friendship, laughter, love and joy…I don’t need it to be filled up with material objects.

7. Try meditation.

I’m well aware of the fact that I’m not very good at slowing down. I’ve long been drawn to the idea of meditation, but I’m not so sure that I can slow my mind down enough to do it. But in 2014 I’m going to give it a try. At least then if I decide that it’s not for me, I know it for sure. And who knows? Maybe I’ll discover something that I love.

8. Read at least 12 books.

I know…12 doesn’t seem like much. I used to love reading, and always had my nose in a book when I was younger, but that’s something that’s fallen by the wayside a bit as I’ve gotten older. I often “peck away” at a book here and there, maybe reading 4 or 5 books in the run of a year. I want to get back into the habit of reading, as a way of slowing down a bit more and making time for me, doing something that I love.

9. Dedicate Myself More to Nurturing my Friendships.

The last few years I haven’t spent as much time as I should with my friends. I have some pretty amazing friends that I love spending time with, but you know what life is like…it’s busy for all of us. And between work, home, my kids and my husband, nurturing my friendships is something that sometimes falls by the wayside. I plan to make a bigger effort with this in 2014…to showing them how important they are and how much I value them.

10. Seek Adventure.

A little vague, yes. I’m not 100% sure what I mean with this one, to be honest. There’s adventure to be found all around us, and I want to make an effort to seek it out. Adventure in the every day.

11. Do Something Creative (Outside of Writing)

Sure, I do a lot of writing, but at this point, I don’t really consider it a creative outlet. I used to be a creative person, but somewhere along the way it’s fallen a bit by the wayside. Creativity is like a muscle…if you don’t use it, you lose it. And I feel like I’ve lost a lot of it. My hope is that creativity has “muscle memory” and getting it back won’t be all that tough.

12. Inspire and Be Inspired.

My main goal for 2014 is to live an inspiration-worthy life. Inspiration doesn’t necessarily come from huge gestures or major life events; often it happens in the small, every day moments. I will also do what I can to seek out inspiration in my world. From the people and places around me. In both expected and unexpected places. Inspiration is all around me, and 2014 will be the year that I pay attention to that.

new opportunity

Thoughts on New Beginnings

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Like most people, the end of the year gets me thinking. About the year past. About the year to come. About life in general.

There’s something magical about the end of the year for so many people. The new beginning. The fresh start. Rebirth.

On January 1st we look ahead at the year to come, full of promise and possibility. Fresh, with no mistakes in it. We are free to imagine a better life, a better self. We make promises about the things will we accomplish, about the people we will be. And in the moment that we’re making those promises, we absolutely mean them. And then, as the days, weeks, and months slide by, most of us lose sight of those promises. Perhaps we slip a little bit, and think “what’s the point?” and give up on ourselves entirely.

There’s always next year, right?

The thing is, January 1st is just an arbitrary date that we’ve all assigned a meaning to. It’s all one big agreement that we’re in together. And along with the agreement that January 1st is significant is the agreement is that this is our only opportunity in 365 days to start fresh, enact change, do something big and positive.

The truth of it is — this is complete and utter bullshit.

We don’t need an arbitrary date to tell us when we can do something new, make a change, reach for something better. Every single day is a fresh start. Each morning we’re given the opportunity to begin anew. Make changes. Do something unexpected or different. No matter what happened the day before, we have the opportunity to start again with each new day. It’s one of the beautiful things about life.

The problem is that most of us simply get in our own way. We’re weighed down by our own self-beliefs. We keep ourselves reigned in by these perceptions of who and what we are, that, in most cases, were likely handed to us by other people anyhow. I mean, how many of us have formed our sense of self based on what others have told us we are, all of our lives?

In the past I’ve been a bit jaded about this whole idea of New Year’s Resolutions. This year, however, I’m making myself a whole long list of them. And when I “fall off the wagon” come mid-January — like the rest of the planet — then I’m going to get back up on that wagon and keep going. Because a fresh start doesn’t need to wait for January 1st, or the first of another month, or even the first of a week. We all get a fresh start every single day, in every single moment.

And I plan on making the most of every fresh start that I get.

2012: Year of the Bad-Ass

This year, for the first time in at least 5, I decided to make New Year’s Resolutions. A whole damn list of ’em, in fact. I was going to write them out here as a public declaration of my intentions, but then decided against it. After all, it doesn’t *really* matter what those resolutions are, it just matters that I’ve made them. A whole list of them – did I mention that already?

I wrote out my list a couple of days before New Year’s. The list is vague enough to be doable (“Pursue something creative”) and gives me plenty of room for interpretation. It also contains a few concrete items as well (“Run another half marathon – or two!!”). I’ve basically covered all my bases – finances, health, parenting, personal, creative and spiritual. I’m feeling good about the list.

All of the items on my list are totally do-able, but I’ve decided that if I don’t get them done – screw it. I’m not going to base my self-worth on a list of items I wrote in a frenzy one night before New Year’s Eve. This is The Year of the Bad-Ass, and us Bad-Asses don’t allow ourselves to be fenced in by arbitrary rules. So sure, I want to give meditation a whirl, cook more real food, and read more in the coming year, but even if I don’t, I know that I’ll find something else to stretch myself to the limits of my own bad-assery.

Because that’s what Bad-Asses do.

Did anyone else out there make any New Year’s Resolutions? Feel up to sharing?