A New Year

It’s a new year. It feels much like the old one in many ways, but it will be so much different in many others.

2008 was a banner year for us. It will always be a very special year for us, for many reasons, not least of which being the year our daughter was born and the year we brought her into our family. And it was a good year, and looking back, we realize just how blessed and how lucky we truly were — and are.

But 2008, for all its joys and wonders and firsts, was also pretty exhausting and stressful. It was at times a very hard, stressful year — even though a lot of it was what they call “good stress”, it was still stressful. So I am not sad to see a new year begin.

I am looking forward to what 2009 brings. It will be a year in which we just get on with it. We will spend the year growing and learning as a family, which is nice. We can find a new “normal”, however hectic and busy that may be, and carry on with the adventure of life as a family. And for the first time in a long time, there will be nothing hanging over our heads, no elephant in the room, as there has been for the past 5 years.

It should be interesting.

A lot of people look on the new year as a fresh start. It might be. New Year’s Day is just another day, but because it is a special day, people take it as a day of change and make resolutions to themselves to make their lives better or different somehow.

Well, our lives are already very different. Our new year actually happened on Ethiopian New Year, and boy howdy, did we make some changes.

But I think it would be good for me to mark this calendar new year by making some sort of efforts at personal change as well. It has become apparent to me over the last 4 months that my life is never going to be the same, and That Baby will ensure it is never boring. So it seems like a fairly natural thing to embrace that and see if I can’t make some changes in my own life.

I am a firm believer that New Year’s resolutions are not necessarily always a good thing. I think that people set themselves up for failure a lot of times in their resolutions, setting them too highly or too broadly and making them almost impossible to attain. I know I have done that. And then it’s just depressing: “I said I would do this and then I didn’t. I suck.”

So instead, I want to make some new year’s SUGGESTIONS. I want to make some new year’s ENCOURAGEMENTS. I want to set some goals that are positive and would be nice to attain, some things that I can work towards. And there’s no option of “failure” — only the option to reset and start again tomorrow if today doesn’t go well.

I will write them down, so I have something to refer back to. But it also gives me a little psychological kick in the pants to have it written somewhere for all to see… because that way, I have a bit of motivation to actually DO something. It’s OUT THERE. Bah. I can’t avoid it.

So here’s what I suggest for myself.

  • I want to work on setting realistic expectations. Our lives have had such a quantum shift this past year, it’s hard to know what is realistic anymore, and consequently I am setting expectations for myself about what to get done in a day or what I should or should not be doing that just cannot get done. Seriously. One day of a feverish baby can turn a week of housekeeping on its head. Even a day when your child is feeling clingy or needy or whatever can throw a work schedule off completely. So I need to figure out how to re-think how I plan my days, what I can realistically expect to do or want to accomplish, and how to say no or let go of other obligations. That last bit will be tough, given my drive to be the world’s “go-to” girl.
  • I want to work on patience. I have a lot to work on. I lose my patience when I am tired, or when I am feeling under the gun when I have over-scheduled myself. I hope that by improving my expectation-setting abilities, patience will come. But also, I have to learn to just chill out about a lot of little things. And express myself more positively about the things that try my patience.
  • I’ve got some personal habits I want to work on. Little niggling things. Like biting my nails. Wearing my glasses instead of squinting all the time. Procrastination. Stuff like that. I know kicking habits is hard, but I want to be conscious of them so I can go “Dude? Seriously? Don’t do that.” I figure if I can be more aware and catch myself out on these things, maybe I can work on improvement.
  • I’d like to work on healthy eating habits. I haven’t got the best eating habits; I never have. I eat too much, and not regularly, and I have made too many meals out of popcorn or cookies or whatever is easiest. I also haven’t got the best grasp of what a realistic amount is for a normal person to eat. And this is something that directly affects my daughter — good eating habits are something she will learn, or not, from us.
  • To go along with that, I’d like to work on losing some weight. I am on the heavy side, what some would call “chunky” or “big” or even occasionally “powerful”, but really what it is is a bunch of excess weight on a medium frame that just looks like muscle.  I have come to terms with my excess weight in recent years, but that’s not necessarily a good thing. I’m tired of feeling like Chunkor Mommy, Destroyer of Desserts. And I am tired of being tired. My joints hurt. And I don’t look good. So I want to lose some weight. Note that I didn’t say “get in shape” because, honestly? I was in fairly good shape and still heavy. I mean, riding 30-40 km a day and still way over my ideal weight. So, I need to drop some pounds. To do that, I will try to work on my fitness AND work on healthy eating. And that’s also going to require some serious thinking about the course of my day, but I have already talked about working on setting realistic expectations around my day.
  • It would be nice to get more sleep. Both BDH and myself need more sleep. But with Stinkerbelle around during our days, the only time we get for “us” or “me” time is at night. We stay up later than we probably should doing these things. And so, we need to find a balance. It’s not hard to do; it’s just sticking to it that’s hard.
  • I want to work on being just generally a more positive person. It’s something I have been working steadily on for the past few years, and I am doing well. So I want to keep doing it. I want to continue being nice to people I meet, particularly in thankless service industry jobs and things like that. I want to continue erasing years of conditioning to make self-defensive nasty comments about others, and think well of them instead. I want to continue avoiding gossip. I want to continue saying hello to strangers on my walks (it’s a very bizarre Ontario thing to walk by someone on the street and avoid acknowledging their existence at all costs). And I want to continue to surround myself with positive people and avoid the negative ones.

I am sure there are more. But there are a few to start with. No resolutions in the traditional sense — so no room for failure. Only room for improvement.

We’ll see how it goes. 2009 looks promising.

6 thoughts on “A New Year

  1. Wow… good for you – you put a lot of thought into your “suggestions”. May I offer an idea around the food thing – a few years ago I was really struggling with trying to put good, healthy food on the table for my husband and me. We both work full time and I never had the energy to think about what to make or to remember to take something out of the freezer etc… So, I started meal planning and it has been the best thing ever. I actually plan for a month at a time (but you could certainly do a week or two instead). I plan out the meals and account for leftover days. Then I can plan my grocery list (and even know when I need to pop in to the store between big shops for fresh things). We both know what we’re having everyday (so no disagreements about what one or the other doesn’t want!). The plan helps make sure that the right things are out of the freezer in time and the best part is that it has meant that we actually try new things. I try to put one or two new recipes into the plan every month and then we vote whether they stay on the list or go! The other thing I alwasy struggled with was getting salad on the table with dinner. So, now I use spinach instead of lettuce for salads – spinach lasts longer so I can make a big salad on Sundays and keep it in an airtight container and just serve up single servings with dinner throughout the week.

    I will confess that the plan sometimes gets strayed from when we don’t actually feel like whatever is on the calendar for that day, but for the most part it is the best things we’ve ever done (aside from getting a cleaning lady!).

    Now, I’m off to make some of my own suggestions… you have inspired me!

    Happy New Year… A

  2. So, I was thinking to myself today that it was time to shed the chunk I gained. So, how’s about we do it together?

    Even though, you’re likely to do better than I am, it would be nice to have SOMEONE to be accountable to in a nonjudgmental way.

    Whaddya say?

  3. Andrea — what a great idea! Your plan inspired me. Yesterday I sat down with some cookbooks and decided I would try to implement some sort of menu plan. I have done it in the past but with BDH’s last-minute soccer schedule it really threw a wrench in the works. So I have to figure out a way to work around that. Plus, I want to figure out meals that can be in-progress while I am bathing/feeding/tucking in Stinkerbelle, so that the work is done ahead of time. So, things like crock-pot meals, and stuff I can put in the freezer ahead of time to just take out and heat up. So it is going to take a bit of planning and preparation on my part, until I can get into a rhythm and figure out what works and what doesnt, but I think it sounds great!

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