New Year’s Declarations

I’m not normally one for New Year’s resolutions.  Only a very small group of people actually stick to resolutions, and I’m not in that group.  Knowing that about myself makes resolutions kind of pointless.  There are things I’d like to remember in 2011, however.

The key thing on that list is to look at the big picture.  Sometimes it’s a challenge when you’re a little minion ant to understand what’s going on outside of the ant hill.  Sometimes it’s impossible.  But there are things I can do to keep my eyes alert and my focus broad.

For one thing, I’d like to keep my reading pace up.  GoodReads says I haven’t finished a single book in the month of December.  (What?!)  That’s sort of okay though.  I wanted to read less and enjoy people more this year.  Goal achieved.  Now I just need to avoid a total lack of reading.

My dad’s mom reads until late at night almost every day.  She’s constantly learning and thinking, and even if she can’t remember which books she’s read, you can tell she’s always processing new thoughts.  I’d like to be like that.

Reading consistently keeps my mind not just moving, but moving outside of its own little problems.  When I’m not reading regularly, I tend to get stuck more in my world with dog hair tumbleweed and work issues and giant to do lists.  When I read, I remember the world that I don’t see every day–adventures and problems and solutions that would never touch my life otherwise.  I think reading is awesome, in case you couldn’t tell.

The second and third things I’d like to do are pretty similar to the first.  Getting caught up in the everyday means that I miss out on things I truly love.  In the last year, two of those things were painting and running.

Painting and running sound frivolous, I know, but keeping up with those things means that I’m maintaining some semblance of balance.  Just like reading consistently, those activities allow me to think in different ways and approach life from a more even keel.  They give me perspective and clarity.

So that’s it.  My “resolutions” are more like declarations of things that are important to me and often get neglected.  They are declarations that in 2011, I will remember to refocus every once in a while.  It isn’t going to be a year of doing one thing really well.  I just want to remember to look around more often and evaluate what I need and what the people around me need.  Then I want to do something about it.

Here’s to small change.

photo by CollardGreens

[Cin cin.]

Vacation Goals

I’m leaving on a jet plane on Saturday morning (can you hear John Denver in the background?), which makes me happy.  I really like airports and the whole flying process, not to mention the vacation that goes with the flying.  I even like some good, old-fashioned turbulence.

In order to get the most out of the trip, I decided to make another to do list.  Why not kill a totally unstructured week with requirements and rules, right?  Most of the Colorado goals support the main goals of relaxation and quality time with my parents, so I don’t think it’ll be too stressful.  Without further ado, here’s the current list:

  1. Go hiking.  My parents’ property doesn’t count, even if you do risk meeting mountain lions anywhere above the irrigation ditch.
  2. Eat an eclair.  There are delicious eclairs at this one bakery in town.
  3. Finish at least three books.  GoodReads tells me that I haven’t finished a book since August 14, and that’s kind of shocking.
  4. Take copious pictures of my parents’ new dog and enough pictures of their old dog to make him feel equally loved.
  5. Talk to at least one person on an airplane.  Sometimes I open up a book and dive in before my seatmate sits down.  Even though most people appreciate a quiet airplane neighbor, I occasionally think I close out nice people who want to chat.  I won’t do that this time.  At least not on every flight.
  6. Make my mom go running with me.  (Dad, want to join us?)
  7. Make a phone call from my favorite spot on my parents’ property.  I’ll take a picture to show you why it’s so great.  It was also the only spot that got cell phone reception until a few years ago.

Pre-trip goals include making a new playlist for airport entertainment purposes and getting rid of the mountain of laundry that has taken up residence in my dining room.

Planning for the Abyss

Yesterday’s haiku left a lot to be desired in the humor department.  That’s just how Microsoft makes me feel sometimes.  I had one big project that I needed to finish, and my computer decided that it wouldn’t open the Excel file that was necessary for that one project.  It made me grumpy.

Today is new and bright, however.  I even wore obnoxiously perky colors to guarantee a cheery outlook.  Bill Gates will be forced to bow to the perkiness.

Anyway, work frustration brings me to the lovely topic of work.  Work and goals.  Goals and life.

I haven’t had any real goals for the past year and a half, despite the fact that I’ve been a planner my entire life.  Having plans has always made me feel good, even if things didn’t turn out as intended.  For laughs, here are some of my past life plans:

Ages 3-5–Hug my favorite stuffed animal so much that he turns into an amorphous lump of stuffing and grey fuzz

Ages 6-14–Become a famous singer or Anne of Green Gables

Ages 15-17–Get into college and worry about the rest of life later

Ages 18-22–Become an editor, or maybe a lobbyist for free trade, or an art museum curator, or professional gypsy, or lobbyist for free trade, or banker, or travel writer, or lobbyist for free trade

Ages 23-24–Get a graduate degree so that having a job won’t involve burning my hands several times a day on coffee equipment

Ages 25-26–Oh, crap.  I don’t have any career goals anymore.

The important things in those plans did happen.  My stuffed animal definitely turned into an amorphous lump, I went to college, finished grad school, and my job no longer involves piping hot coffee equipment.  So when I arrived at the 25 and career goal-less stage, I thought I could use a few years to live without pressing goals.  I thought the lack of giant looming life changes would turn me into a super chill, go-with-the-flow type of girl.  Only that’s not who I am.  I’m still a planner.

It’s not about doing as planned.  It’s about looking into the yawning abyss of the future and convincing yourself that you’re armed to face the next step.  Instead of arming myself for the abyss, I spent the last year and a half buying a house, painting it lots of different colors, and learning how to mow the lawn and cook.  I also worked full-time and tried not to attack any Microsoft products.  It’s been a good year and a half.  But I miss my plans.

I don’t want to be floating around in goal-less land forever, so I’m working on that now.  I’m thinking and mulling and trying to come up with something more logical than “become a famous singer or Anne of Green Gables.”  Hopefully my mind has advanced since I was six years old.  When I do make a plan, I’ll be sure to announce it so that you can chuckle to yourself when I do something completely different six months later.

Untitled (#685)

Okay, I’ve been thinking about what I wrote yesterday and have come to a few conclusions.  The most important thing is that I am decidedly happy to be staying in the same place for an unknown period of time.  I have to get used to that concept, but I like it here, and staying put for a few years doesn’t mean I have to stay for the rest of my life.  It’s not like vines will grow up from my yard and trap me.  (Have you ever seen the movie The Ruins?  A bunch of college students visit an archeological site in Mexico and vines start growing into their bodies.  Things go downhill quickly.  Yuck.  I didn’t want to water my plants for a few days after that.)

I’ve also decided that I spent way too much of the last quarter century mapping out every detail of my life.  Yet, miraculously, I managed to totally avoid thinking beyond age 25.  I guess I imagined that once you find a career, everything else sorts itself into neat little columns and rows.  My columns and rows look more like a Jackson Pollock painting than anything else, so I was somewhat off the mark with that.

[Click on the image above, then on the image at the destination, and it lets you create your own Jackson Pollock-esque painting.  It’s surprisingly fun.]

My new plan, now that there’s a gaping void in front of me, is to plan a whole lot less and approach a few parts of my life more purposefully (prayer is number one on the list, painting is number two… really similar, right?).  That’s it, the entire new life plan in fifteen words.