Obligatory New Year's Post
"Since it's traditional to break my New Year's resolutions, I think this year I'll try for being fat and lazy and see what happens."
"I can't believe it's been a whole year since I didn't become a better person."
"My New Year's resolution is to stop lying to myself about making lifestyle changes."
I don't do resolutions. At least, I don't do them well. Never have and likely never will. When I was younger I used to make resolutions as more of a gag. Like "eat more chocolate". Back then I still had a metabolism that could meet that challenge head on and open up a can of chocolate flavored whoop-ass on it. But it was sorta like the way I jokingly gave up things for Lent. Not being Catholic -- or even a more traditional Protestant, I suppose -- I never really took Lent seriously. So I would vow to give up things like heroin. Or Formula 1 racing. Or my trapeze act. Boom. Done.
Eventually, I gave up giving up things for Lent. That one stuck.
When I actually started making real resolutions, I dutifully fell in with all the other folks who go into them with the greatest of intentions but then (a) forget, (b) give up, (c) stop caring or (d) all of the above. And while they were sincerely made, they weren't any better than those facetious Lenten sacrifices when they fell by the wayside. And like those, I eventually stopped making them. The more I thought about it, the more I began to believe that they were just destined to fail by their very nature. In short, while I still see New Year's as a symbolic time of resetting and a reminder that life is a blank page and we choose what to write on it, I no longer see it as some magic catalyst for making changes. Rather, I believe that every day -- every moment of every day -- is that blank page. The person we are and the world we live in is shaped by what we choose to do with it.
I'm certainly not saying that I have it down. Quite the contrary. There are times when I fill that page with vitriol and anger. There are times when I callously rip the page up and throw it into the trash. There are times when I just doodle mindlessly through the day like some Junior High version of me sitting in Ms. Wiley's Civics class. And there are the numb days when I sit staring at the emptiness and hardly write anything at all on it. And these all affect who I am and how I approach the next empty page.
All that to lead up to this. I have no New Year's resolutions. I do, however, know that there are some things in my life that have needed to change for some time. And then two articles -- this one on Wil Wheaton's blog and this one from Entrepreneur magazine hit my Twitter feed within a couple hours of each other. I guess you could say that they inspired me somewhat to kick some things into gear. Some of these changes will take time to make. Some will even take time to even get started on. But they are things that I want to actually stick so I'm not rushing into them blindly. Some are trivial, others more meaningful but likely only to me, and yet others could prove to be quite consequential in the long run. The fact that I'm beginning at the turn of a new year is, as the great philosopher Bob Ross would say, a happy accident. I put them here for transparency and accountability, which is the purpose of this blog to begin with.
Try new things
I mentioned to Len the other day that my motto for this year is "If you're not making mistakes, you're not trying anything new." When I started having kids, my life got very conservative. I stopped taking risks in the name of maintaining stability for my family. That cost me a lot of personal growth opportunities but in my heart I believed it was the responsible thing to do. I'm not so certain of that now. I mean, look how everything fell to pieces in spite of that supposed stability. So now I intend to open myself up to -- and in some cases, seek out -- new opportunities. I
want need to take more risks both professionally and personally (read: emotionally). I need to learn new things, meet new people, live more intentionally.
I want to continue working in some creative ways. I'd like to keep writing more -- and hopefully better -- songs. My poetry is nothing to write home about but it gives me a much needed cathartic outlet and I want to write more. And, in the spirit of the item above, I might even try something new. New woodworking abilities. Art. I've even got some ideas for a book rattling around in my head.
Drink more water. Eat fewer carbs. Cut out added sugar. Blah, blah, blah. We've heard it all before. But, yeah. I need to do all that. I want to actually learn about nutrition and eat accordingly.
Along with better nutrition comes the dreaded exercise. I've actually lost about 25 pounds from my maximum weight but I've hit a bit of a plateau that I can't seem to break through. Maybe it will be better now that the holiday season is over. We'll see. But I need to exercise anyway. I use to do so on a regular basis but it's far too easy to get out of that habit and stay there. I may look into the local gym. I have a treadmill at home but for some weird reason I find it easier to get up and go somewhere else to work out than to use what's right in the same room.
Get better at cleaning, organizing and decluttering
Pretty much self explanatory. I'm lousy at cleaning. My place isn't a pig sty by any means but it's never really, really clean. Part of that can be blamed on the pets -- sweet beared Moses, the hair is constant -- but part of it is that I just don't really think about some things until, for example, I look down and think, "Wow! How long have the baseboards been so dusty?!?" or I happen to touch the top of the stove hood and realize how greasy it has gotten. It's always something and I'd rather that be the exception than the rule. I need to get rid of a bunch of old stuff that's not needed anymore and is just taking up space. I'm a pretty simple guy and don't much care about having a lot of stuff. There are things that I need/want to keep but there's plenty more that just needs to go away. Someone else can make much better use of it and I'd feel much better about it if they did. And the stuff that I do keep needs to be more organized. I tend to let the clutter get the better of me if I don't actively work at keeping it in check. My hope is that the organizing part will be easier when there's more room to work with after the decluttering part.
Figure out how to decorate
Hand in hand with that is trying to come up with some way to make my place feel more homey. I do NOT have that part of the Suzy Homemaker gene in me at all. I've looked around for ideas some but I'm constrained a bit in what I can do since I rent. In short, I would like this place to feel more cozy. It's a bit utilitarian and sterile feeling sometimes and it's not always a relaxing place to be. I have some ideas but I'm not sure how they'll work out. I guess I'll just have to try and see.
More random acts of kindness
I love randomly doing things for people anonymously. I regularly pay for other people's meals at the drive-thru. Now and then I buy gift cards and slip them to people without them knowing. I want to do more of that sort of thing. It is such a small price to put a smile on someone's face and make their day better.
Renew some old friendships
Over the past year, I've been actively working to reconnect with some people whom I've lost track of over the years -- some of whom are reading this (Hi to the Ohio H-burgs and AMBM in VA) -- and I want to continue that. I've never been really good at keeping in touch with people and I'm really working to change that. In some cases it's just been that we all moved off in various directions and life happened. In others, I need to apologize to them for being kind of a cad in some ways. In all cases, these were people who were important in my life at one time and whose friendship I have missed since.
Engage with more people I don't know
I'm a huge introvert. [Motto: "We're here, we're uncomfortable, and we want to go home!"] And while it is easy to use that as a justification for not interacting with people, I can at least recognize that doing so robs me of the opportunity to get to know some really good people. And my life is, therefore, the worse for it. I want to change that. I've been at my church for a year now and there are still people who I've seen almost every week and yet have not introduced myself to. There's no excuse for that other than my uncomfortable feelings. That is going to change this year. Additionally, I want to get more involved in community outreach which means meeting a lot of new folks.
Deepen relationships with people I do know
In addition to the renewed old friendships mentioned above, there are people who I know and see all the time, people I work with, or local friends who I only see occasionally. I'm still breaking free of the habit of keeping people at arm's length and I want to begin to build -- or in some cases, rebuild -- my friendships with them. Again, it's usually because life happened and we all got busy but I'm going to try to be more intentional about staying connected with them and getting to know them better. Sadly, for some people, being "friends" on Facebook is enough. That doesn't work for me. For a number of reasons I don't -- and won't -- use Facebook. More importantly, though, that's just such a surface connection and there's no depth to it. I want to actually know my friends and that means having conversations with them. Even if that is only through email or an occasional phone call, there needs to me some sort of meaningful exchange. I hope to get those conversations started but conversation requires both sides to participate. If others aren't of the same mind as I am, well, I guess there's not much I can do about that.
These aren't things that will change overnight. I'm sure I won't even start some of them for a long time. And some may never even get off the ground at all. But they are changes that I would like to see at some point. More important than any of these, though, is to deepen my relationship with God. Loving Him, loving His creation, and bringing Him all the glory and honor should be my ultimate goal in all I do. I'm not there. I doubt any of us really are. But I'm trying to shift my focus from myself to Him more and more. I'm looking for ways to be His hands and feet to the little piece of world around me and to show His love to others.
I wish you more happiness than you can handle, dear readers. I wish you lives filled with love and joy and laughter and the occasional disco ball. Because, well, disco ball. What's not to like?