Sunday, January 02, 2011

"Any Time of Year" Resolutions

Ringing in the New Year, Dec 31 2010.
This may seem surprising to some, but I've never really made personal goals for myself. Professional ones, sure, lots of those, some of which have been realized and others of which are still a pipe dream. But I'm not usually one of those people who sets an annual goal for myself come January. I'm not planning on losing 20 pounds, getting out of debt or quitting drinking (heavens, no!).

Resolutions are created to be broken, in my opinion. And what's so special about January anyway, that makes you want to do something then? Why not September, or whenever the thought pops into your head?

This is the time of year, though, that I tend to look back at the year that was and reflect on whether or not I've made any progress on the objectives I've set for myself.  It turns out that many of my on-going goals are also some of the most popular New Year's resolutions. Who knew that I was so predictable?

1. Spend more time with my family. Done. Well, maybe it's a work in progress, but my job change has done a lot for me in spending time with my family. Not being on the road on a nearly-weekly basis has been incredible for all of us. It's allowed me to have a social life, my children to spend more quality time with me and my husband to take his running to a new level.

My next iteration of this is to spend more quality time with my family. I can honestly say I spend too much time glancing at my iTouch, reading the latest Twitter feed or commenting on Facebook. I love social media, but I need to have conversations with my kids while looking them in the eyes.

2. Be more patient with  my kids. Hmm, maybe there's a connection -- I start spending more time with my kids and suddenly I need an extra helping of patience. Kids can test anyone's patience and mine seem to have a knack for pushing mine to the limit. This was one Wayne and I both had to commit to so we could literally tag team a situation before one of us lost our cool. It feels like we're making progress and our kids tend to get on the straight and narrow before my ears start steaming like tea kettles, but this is an on-going mission.

3. Learn how to sing or play guitar. Belting out tunes while driving alone in my car doesn't count as singing, at least not in my book. I'm not looking to be the next pop star, but I wouldn't mind being able to hold a tune in such a way that it doesn't make my kids say, "Mommy, stop singing."

If not that, then I would really like to learn how to play guitar. I nearly got guitar lessons for Lindsey and I but then it fell through and I haven't pursued finding a different teacher. It's on the list.

4. Get more competitive with my skating. I surprised myself by completing a half-marathon inline skating race last summer, and averaging 14 mph in the race. (Go 14 mph in your car, then imagine doing that on skates with no vehicle surrounding you.) I learned that I underestimated myself, that if I had the courage to get out there I would be quite competitive and have a damn good time, too. I plan on discovering more of the biking/skating paths through the Twin Cities, and also doing my first full inline skating marathon this summer.

5. Read classic books. I realized several years ago that my reading list was so long and my free time so short that I would never in my lifetime read all the books I wanted to read. In my lifetime. Every time I turn around I'm putting another book on that damn list, but only taking one or two off every month.

Life is full of choices and I realized I was filling my head with garbage. Entertaining, schlocky garbage, but garbage all the same. I decided that I would pick one book every other read that would be a classic, something I either was forced to read before but didn't enjoy, or one I've never had to read but probably should. After all, why not expand my horizons instead of reading yet another vampire series?

This year I devoured more novels by John Steinbeck, my new favorite author. Love, love him. I discovered "Anna Karenina" by Leo Tolstoy, the first Tolstoy I've ever read. I read "Giants in the Earth" by O.E. Rolvaag and "The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass," which was heartbreaking in its truth.

I re-read "Walden Pond" by Henry David Thoreau, which I had to read in high school but didn't understand. This time I highlighted passages -- his philosophy only makes sense to those who have been on this earth longer than 17 years and comprehend life's brevity. I read "The Sun Also Rises" and another Ernest Hemingway, then re-read a William Faulkner which was just as senseless the second time around as the first.

For Christmas my dad gave me Volume I of the autobiography of Mark Twain, just published, at his direction, 100 years after his passing in 1910. It's massive, 650 pages of text alone (approx 50 pages of appendices, indices) in what looks like 9 pt type. Apparently there are two more in the works (thus the designation "Volume I.") Can't wait to dig in.

So I guess I do follow the typical New Year's resolutions: spend more time with friends and family, learn something new, and get fit (not necessarily in that order). I just don't decide in January to do these things. Guess I'll report back next January and let you know how I did!

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