I usually don’t make New Year’s resolutions because most of the time I abandon them before I even start them, and it’s all very disillusioning. But this year I was inspired to make some resolutions thanks to my guilty pleasure, a podcast called “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.” Before I discuss my first resolution, I’d like to talk a little bit about Gretchen Rubin and her podcast. I’m fascinated by her. She’s a woman who lives a life of extreme efficiency and precision and always does the things she says she’s going to do. Her advice is always practical and almost always obvious. She tells you things you already know but don’t particularly want to do because you were hoping for some kind of magical (easier) solution. Things like: Exercise! Eat right! Sleep more!
And to that advice I say: I know, I know, I know! But I can’t! I won’t! I quit!
I guess you could say I started listening to this podcast ironically, (hate listening, really) but several years later, I’ve listened to every single one of her podcasts (there are over 200) and I’ve read all her self-help books, something I’ve never admitted to anyone, until now. I find her podcast and her books very…calming. I can’t say they’ve changed my life in any meaningful way (at least so far), but she has provided me with many hours of aspirational relaxation. I look forward to her podcast on my Wednesday morning commute. She makes me think that if only I implemented these very practical tips, I too could be a Gretchen Rubin. A little more about Gretchen: She loves categories and systems. She is proudly rigid and disciplined. She is self-directed and self-motivated. She is, basically, my polar opposite. Where I am haphazard and uneven in my approach to life, she is laser-focused and persistent. I am extremely, painfully, petulantly envious of her, and of her life. I want what she has, but I also know I don’t have the drive or doggedness to have what she has. She lives in New York City, takes walks in Central Park, hangs out at the public library, researches to her hearts content, writes books on subjects she is passionate about and has successfully avoided carbs for years.
Anyway, all this to say that she started this 18 for 2018 thing last year (obviously, 19 for 2019 this year) and for some reason, even though I usually hate gimmicky/motivational types of things (because I am a nihilist at heart), I decided to give resolutions a try this year. I couldn’t think of 19, but I did think of 13, and because I’m not Gretchen Rubin, these are not ordered by importance, but they are as follows:
1.) Buy myself a nice pair of emerald earrings. I love green. I love emeralds. I love earrings. Yet, I own no emeralds. These could even be my signature piece. When people think of me, maybe they will think of my dazzling emerald earrings too.
***So I didn’t purchase emeralds…they are out of my price-range. But I did get some character congruent gold-plated turquoise earrings that pretty much look exactly like the ones in the picture below. Update: Lost one of the earrings already. Update #2: Lost earring found at my sister’s house.
2.) Establish a family tradition for our new family, such as “hike and bagel Sunday” on the Sundays my husband is off. Something my daughter can look back on fondly. Also, I love bagels, especially lox bagels and I would be happy to eat them in the name of family tradition. Update: still working on getting my husband to commit to a consistent work schedule. I did try to start some Christmas traditions this year.
3.) Get a really nice agenda that won’t fall apart by April.
4.) Volunteer, preferably at a not-too-far-away park. This could also be a family thing. I’d like my daughter to grow up with the notion that volunteering is important and fulfilling, so I think it’s important that I actually volunteer myself for something. Update: I’ve done nothing. I’ve decided to try volunteering on a quarterly basis because I have commitment issues and can’t handle more standing commitments than I already have.
5.) Find a weekly activity for my mom and the baby, like a playgroup or story time. My mom babysits my daughter full-time, and I’d also like them to have an activity that both of them can remember fondly.
***Since originally writing this, I found out the local library has story time and music groups, and signed them up. We’ll see how it goes. Update: Hiatus during the summer, but I’ve signed them up again.
6.) Find a book club that’s a good fit and commit to it, even if I have to drive 30 minutes. It’s only once a month, after all. I’ve been going to one near my house for a few months, but it seems to be geared more towards people who joined a book club so they’re forced to read at least one book a month. Update: Still going strong.
***Decided I like my current Ashburn book club. It’s diverse, the perfect size, I enjoy the book selection, and the conversation flows well.
7.) …and also having to do with books…I tend to gravitate to white lady fiction writers, and I’d like to expand my reading comfort zone. I’d like to read more nonfiction, more writers of color, and maybe even try a fantasy or science fiction book. I would love suggestions. Update: I continue to read, almost exclusively, white lady fiction. I was going to tally up the number of non-white-lady books I read this year, but that feels wrong. I’ll just say I need to do better.
8.) Make an album of the baby’s first year. This is so daunting. I was good about this for a grand total of two months. Now I have thousands of pictures to sort through and every time I think about getting started, I get so overwhelmed that I don’t do anything. I’m going to dedicate 30 minutes on Saturday mornings towards this project. Update: I got as far as December (2018). I REALLY REALLY NEED TO DO THIS. Anyone have any good ideas on how to document memories in a less time-consuming way?
9.) Paint three water color pictures and give these as gifts. As a kid, I loved to draw, but I think it’s been at least three or four years since I last created any artwork (unless you count the Microsoft Paint (non)masterpiece below). I actually signed up for an county-run art class just down the street from my job, so I’m thinking I can accomplish this pretty easily. BTW, my class is called “Painting with Jan.” I’m so excited. Update: Jan’s dad got sick and the class was cancelled three sessions in. But I guess I could still paint. Update #2: I did not pain anything after Jan’s class.
10.) Completely finish one short story, be brave and submit it to literary magazines. I have about four billion unfinished short stories, but I have a follow through problem. Update: I’ve written nothing. Update #2: I neither wrote nor submitted anything this year. Not one thing, except for a handful of blog entries. Is it time to acknowledge I am not, in fact, a write, and don’t, in fact, have talent?
11.) Get a pair of versatile and comfortable lace-up ankle boots. I just love the way they look. I’m talking about those boots that are somewhere between hiking boots and general use boots; boots that say “I’m a progressive, flannel-wearing outdoorsy kind of person.” Update: I have not done this. This is no longer a priority.
12.) Finish C25K. I’ve gotten close – so close – but I’ve never actually completed the entire program. Update: I haven’t started this. However, I am walking about 4 miles a day. Update #2: I started this and quit around week 5. Ugh. I am horrible.
13.) Expand my social network. Prioritize friendship more. Update: Still not doing great with this. But I did make one work friend! Update #2: I now have a few people I talk to at work beyond the usual “how are you? How’s the baby” small talk, and one I’ve hung out with outside of work.