Thursday, February 21, 2013


Resolutions are interesting because there's a lot to be learned whether you keep them or break them. This year I made five resolutions as a way to set the general tone for the year. Overall, my wish has been to nurture my creativity and to be satisfied with what I have. I think that for 2013, so far, I have found myself living in the spirit of these themes. It's been enjoyable to think about them, reflect on them, and make choices for action based on them. I have found it comforting to come back to these two themes as a way to remind myself of my priorities when things get a little turbulent and that they have helped me live more intentionally toward things that are important to me.

In terms of the five actual detailed resolutions, I have been quite successful with three of them and have completely struggled with two of them. As I've said, the ones that I struggle to keep are as interesting to me, if not more so, as the ones that I've been more successful in committing to. As I fail, I am reflective and try to seek out the answers as to why I could not honor my commitment to myself in that area. I attempt to define the nature of the struggle. Was it too far afield from who I really am? Is fear blocking my success? Even with my successful resolutions, there are times when I don't want to follow through on them, and yet I push through those times. Why do I do that with the successful ones and why do I choose not to push through the resistance with the others? Resolutions are as much an exercise in self-knowledge as they are in behavior change. All things we attempt of our own free will are instructive regardless of the results.

So getting to specifics, here are my three, so far, successful resolutions:
1) Take a photo everyday. Since the beginning of the year, there have been only two days that I have missed, and on both of those days, it slipped my mind during the hustle and bustle. There have certainly been days that I haven't wanted to take pictures, especially in the past few days, when I am just plain bored with winter and the things I see everyday. I have pushed through - seeking help and lowering my standards being the most successful strategies to do this. It also helps that I've created a self-imposed weekly accountability by posting photos to this blog.
2) Cut $8,000 from our annual spending. Despite the fact that a leak from an old toilet just cost us a water bill five times our usual bill, things are going well on the frugality front. The key has been to make cuts in areas that require self-control vs. the areas of budget designated for "crazy shit that happens when you own a hundred year old house." I have been tracking our expenses for years in a spreadsheet, and this year, for the areas we want to decrease, I created a formula that subtracts what we spend from the budgeted amount. When we hit zero, there's no more money to spend in that category. It really helps me mull over every purchase. I'm especially proud of how much we've cut our restaurant spending, especially since focusing on cooking at home both nurtures my creativity and makes me feel satisfied with what I have.
3) Make peace with the house we live in. For a while I was obsessed with real estate listings and/or remodeling plans depending upon which way I was leaning to feed my dissatisfaction with our house. This year, I've been quite successful in putting my grand schemes aside. I'm enjoying the calm that comes with just living in the house rather than obsessing on the many ways it falls short. I've also done some things to connect more with my neighborhood, including revisiting our neighborhood school, and determining it is the best place for Charlie to go to kindergarten next year. That has been my most exciting revelation of the year.

In terms of the ones I struggle with:
1) Go outside more. I even structured this one to be less specific because I know myself and how much I try to avoid being cold. It has been a struggle this winter, although I did take advantage of the snowfall we had when the temperatures were in the thirties to go out and play with the kids and even build a snow man. Spring is coming, I hope to improve my track record. And hopefully, having Charlie at a school we can walk to come fall will increase our outside time in an easy way. All hail down vests and long underwear!
2) Write two pages five days a week. Dudes, why can't I write five days a week? Why can't I write two pages when I do write? Why do I get so scared? Why do I dread it? Perhaps I can work myself back into this resolution in a meta way, by exploring the answers to these questions in writing. I'm not ready to give this one up yet, and am seeking strategies that will make me dig deeper to do this. Look, I'm so blocked on this that I can't even write very much about why I can't write. Plus the baby is crying so I'm out of time...

Like I said, it's instructive, and it definitely has kept me moving through my life with intent rather than falling back on habit.

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