January 14th, 2015
Oh, so late. It is now two weeks passed the first of the new year, and I have not written down a single revolution for 2015. Maybe it’s for the best. To not have a Revolution in mind for the year. Still, I need organization, but I think a better phrase might be that I need simplification, simplicity, even, in 2015. The last year was a good one–so many terrific things happened: our boy turned four, which is a delightful age; the disease remained stable, which is always a source of worry; my writing year went well, which filled me up in ways I find hard to express (ironic, isn’t it–a writer struggling with self-expression?); and my job remained both in-tact and fulfilling.
I had ten Revolutions last year, from Write to Sustain to Make Dinner–and, in a small way, we made gains in all of these areas. And that’s my takeaway from 2014 leading into 2015, making small, consistent changes works, for me. Ever-so slight differences that add up over time, like riding your bike to work almost every single day for over six months, which carried over into riding the ancient (thanks Sam!) exercise bike I have in the basement whenever I’m home in the evening without other plans. Managing, over time, to lead a more active life, which has rolled over into our family life, too. My favourite parts of the weekend these days are the Saturday afternoon visits to the community pool and the Sunday morning visits to the skating rink. I am wholly more active this year than last, and some of the baby-prednisone-disease weight has come off, seven kilos so far. I didn’t think it was possible, but it is–it’s just as easy for me to watch Sons of Anarchy on the bike as it is on the couch, and I’ve got a routine now, a pattern, and it’s working for me. Tiny steps.
It’s the same for writing. I’ve got a half-hour, maybe three times a week. It’s not much, but I managed to finish a book this year, and have started a grand publishing experiment. I’d like to stay on that track, too. It works, for me.
So, in light of this, and how late I am–I really think I’m going to stay focused this year on small changes. And I’m only going to have one Revolution, just one, and it’s as above:
I think the word encompasses so much of what I want to accomplish over the next year, and while I want to do more–more writing, more reading, more travelling, more movies, more exercise, more, more, more time with my family–in order to get there, I need to simplify.
Like most people, I am my own worst enemy. Make life so much harder than it has to be, and by bringing the focus back down to what’s simply in front of me, what my goals are, and they are not exceptional, I think I can keep on the path of small change equals big difference path I found myself on for much of last year.
So: simplify my spending, which will help us get out of debt; simplify my routine, which protects my body; simplify my worry, which will calm my system down and keep the disease at bay… and on and on and on.
Feels too easy, as I write these words. Feels, almost impossible, when I think of the constant, churning of my mind. Feels, as though I might regret it, but I’m going to try anyway.
December 30th, 2013
I’m a little terrified to revisit my New Year’s Revolutions from last year, and I am sure that I did not succeed in making any changes. Except, that when I look them over–I actually managed small changes where I never thought possible. I never made it to the gym. But I am finding small ways to be more active. I rode my bike far more this summer. I’m walking more than I was a year ago, just to and from the subway, but it’s something. I’m not sure I did well with being more patient, but that’s an ongoing struggle. I certainly failed on the blogging part, but I did manage to read over 60 books this year, which is certainly more than last year. We have had an epic year for change–we’re in a big boy bed, we’re migrating out of all kinds of baby habits (pulling and tugging in some areas, ahem, toilet training, the bane of my parenting existence)–and I found time for myself. Let me repeat that–I found time for myself. The all-encompassing, suffocating parenting feelings are still there sometimes, mainly on the weekends when I’ve spent 48 straight hours with my son because he refuses to sleep in his own bed, but we’re all a little bit older, a little bit wiser. We’ve discovered the joys of an afternoon playdate. We can let our boy roam around the house unsupervised to an extent because he’s mainly playing and not actively engaged in activities that could wholly injure him. And so, here we go, for 2014–here are my Revolutions.
1. Start. Finish.
I’m revisiting this revolution from last year because it’s important to me. I managed a large-scale writing project this year, a rough draft of a novel, and it felt terrific. Like so many of these things, it may never see the light of day, but I proved to myself I could do it, and that was a feat in and of itself. The other amazing part to finishing the bits and pieces you start is that of feeling of accomplishment. The place where your life is controlled, in some extent, by you–and it’s empowering.
I did bits and bobs of yoga. Went to acupuncture once. Listened to a bunch of meditation audio books. Read about meditation. Tried to sit still. Put my legs up the wall a whole bunch. Listened to hours and hours and hours of classical music. And, still, it just wasn’t enough. The integral part for me to stay healthy is to keep calm. And, I need to do it without medication. Without terrible food. Without it taking too much time because I have so little of it. The easiest way? Taking a deep breath. Way way way down into bottom, as far down as it can go, kind of breath. As much and as often as possible.
I can do it here. I can do it there. I can do it anywhere. And I found a groove in the latter part of the year that I want to continue. I have so many ideas. And finding a place for them that’s out of my head, well, that’s the goal.
Over the last twelve months, so many things have changed. Work is busier than ever because of our new structure, but I have a wonderful team. I’m teaching again, which was both rewarding and extremely hard last summer, and looking forward to it. The upcoming year will most likely prove, again, to be the most difficult but also the most rewarding of my career. I’m invigorated by work these days. It’s taken almost a decade of working in publishing to arrive at this point–the perfect marriage of job description + my particular skill set + the right company + great opportunities. Now I just have to continue to work hard, to try and be a good manager, and to prove to the naysayers that our industry hasn’t got a cold, isn’t on death’s door, but is alive, vibrant and innovative.
5. Make Dinner.
Whether it’s me cooking on the weekends or my husband throughout the week, I want to make more dinners, have our boy explore more food (because he’s effectively stopped eating anything except about three dishes), and use what we buy by having it end up in our belly’s instead of the green bin.
6. Stay Organized.
Somehow, in the fury of my daily life, my organizational skills have collapsed. I need a better system. I’ve been using a great app on my iPad called “Wunderlist,” and it’s terrific. But it’s not the same as being organized from the core up. My drawers are a mess. My closet even worse. Being disorganized is expensive, as I’ve discovered, but over the last few months, I’m slowly working to climb out of a crazy hole somewhat of my own making–and if I can start the way I mean to finish, setting my clothes out the night before, bringing my lunch, and keeping track of all of our lives, I think my messy mind might improve.
One year I’d like to read 100 books in a year. It’s funny, because clawing out time for reading means giving up other activities, mainly watching television or putting myself into an internet coma. Two changes that I find impossible to make. I find it implausible to even suggest a life without television and movies (and why would you want to?), but I could spend less time watching the crappy stuff that fills up the hours, and get to bed earlier a couple nights a week so I can read. More short stories. More small press publications. More poetry. More. More. More. More words.
What do we really need to be successful in this life? For me, it’s thinking a lot about the experiences I want to have with my family. The parts of the world I want to see, and how I want to see them. For there to be a world for my boy, we need to live within our own boundaries. What does that mean? Cutting down on the stuff. Working with what you have. Making. Gardening. Baking. Fixing. Reusing. Recycling. We are familiar with these concepts. And we take it seriously. But like saving money. Even 10% more can be accomplished. And that’s what I’m looking to do–cut 10% out of my life, reduce it in every way possible. I’m going to think more concretely about this over the next day or two with more thoughts on exactly how.
In this picture, there are so many ways that I can take it apart–I’m still so chubby, my roots are growing in rapidly, my glasses are old and crooked, my skin is dry, and flaking in bits–but that’s not at all what I was thinking at the moment it was taken. In that instant, after flying downhill with my boy on a sled, I was blissfully, stupidly, happy. And those are the moments that I know are important. We all need more moments like this–where we’re free for a split second of everything else in our lives except joy. Having them can’t be planned per se but they can be recognized and celebrated by not being so hard on ourselves. Therein lies my goal: to not be so hard on myself.
10. Take Pictures.
This one is self-explanatory. And will, hopefully, not be the only Revolution I manage over 2014.