The renewal invoice for this blog domain arrived today. It was a negligible amount really, to preserve my humble archive of past obsessions (triathlon, food, writing). I wondered if it was time to kill it, but something stopped me. The urge to write. To tell. To mark. To excavate and explore and do all those things that only writing can.
It’s still January, so talking about resolutions—a word I hate but a concept I love—is still allowed, right?
It’s the energy behind resolutions I love. What a perfect way to stave off the winter blues, which we are told wreck havoc this month. For me, dreaming and planning simply make me feel alive. They’re playgrounds of possibility. How fast could I go? How might we live?
There’s truth in the notion that “a dream without a plan is just a wish;” hence the familiar craving for order, routine, and structure that sets in about now. I don’t think chaos nor spontaneity are bad ways to live, but a day filled with too many open ends (“what should we have for dinner tonight?” “Are you taking Felix to daycare or am I?” “Should I swim or bike or run today?) can actually be more stressful than one that begins, at least, with a plan.
In other words, I often feel like I’m reacting to what’s thrown at me rather than being the one in charge of my own life. I’m 39, and by the time I’m 40, I want this aspect of my life to look and feel different. Since the years I had a coach and built my days around double workouts and office hours, my days feel more like the Wild West than ever. Or maybe that’s due to the toy trains and rejected scrambled eggs now littering my floor.
All this dreaming about my so-called, ideal structured life (remember the pre-Homeland Claire Danes, anyone?) not only happens every January but also at the end of a trip. Before I spent those hours in the sky wrangling a toddler, I used to sit back, relax, and envision the newly organized life I’d live immediately upon deplaning. Since we just came back from a month-long trip which meant we were away for the actual new year turning, it feels like 2020 is just starting now. This means I’m on overdrive, with all sorts of goals and ideals competing for my attention, from the small and simple to the lofty and difficult.
I’m using this post to write out the dreams that keep nagging at me gently, and below them, far beyond what anyone else will actually read, the beginnings of a plan to take them from wish to reality. I’ve tried to pare the list back (and it’s still long!), honing in on things that seem even a wee bit doable rather than including all the things, like suddenly become a huge reader or taking up knitting, yet again. (That’s the problem with this time of year, for me, goals tend to spiral, then overwhelm, then die because they aren’t being “watered”.) Part of my plan to stay visible and accountable, even to myself, is to revisit these goals right here on this super fancy blog all year, using them as writing prompts and mini goal check-ins. (Thanks to my friend Beth for introducing me to this great quote that helped provide structure to my thinking.)
-Find a meal planning strategy that works for our family
-Shop for and cook easy lunches for all of us on Sunday nights
-Decide on household chore allocation
-Create a plan for Felix’s daycare situation
-Plan paint colors and decorating schemes (ie: print photos, buy accessories) for our new home (cue the overwhelm and decision fatigue!)
-Map out a veggie garden and landscaping plan, start worm composting
-Create more productive daily work routines and habits
-Set and achieve better career goals and check in more regularly on progress (another small one)
-Stop talking about writing and just write
-Attempt to get one thing published this year. Even a failure here is a success.
-Continue the strength training program (2x a week) that I started around 5 months post-partum.
-Continue intermittent fasting experiment that I started this past August (and took a month off from during holidays and our trip!)
-Plan my racing season/approach.
-Quit. I decided at some point yesterday that I need to quit my exercise routine as I know it. I’m not quitting anything full-stop, never to line up at a triathlon start line again!, but my workout routine has become so entrenched (ie: hours of swim/bike/run) that I need to reshape it. I think this is going to start with letting go, for one, of the need to work out every single day. Exercise takes up a lot of time in my week, and I think it’s gotten to the point where it’s actually preventing me from reaching some of my goals. (Even as I type this, I start thinking of people I know who manage multiple kids, a business, and still train like professional athletes. Self-talk: don’t compare yourself to what you know won’t work for you.) Lots of perfectly healthy and otherwise wonderful people don’t exercise 7 days a week. And maybe the shift in focus will be good for my overall fitness somehow…
-Be more decisive (see above)
-Make friends and make Victoria home (just a small one there)
-Fashion repeatable daily routines like a Friday morning writing session or a Sunday evening food prep fiesta
-Track my progress so that when I do things that get me closer to my goals, I can see the magic happening.
-Find a way to engage spiritually, exploring what that means to me in my life, now.
-Commit to no TV or technology certain nights a week and read, call a friend, or do a creative project instead*
-Designate certain nights as alcohol-free*
*Last night was a success on both the latter points and while it was hard at the moment, I feel better this morning for making choices that align with my goals. Who knew?! Habits are well-worn mental trenches lined with comfy pillows and warm blankets. I crave that nightly drink because it brings me to that place. (I’m not against daily drinking, by the way, it just seems like one of many good places to practice making different, and perhaps somewhat better, choices.)
-Take stock continually of my possessions and clothes, give away the clutter and learn to consume less/continue to buy used.
-Invest in greener products around the home.
-Find a way to volunteer, donate, or contribute to my community and the world not out of guilt or duty but in a way that resonates with and energizes me.
While I’m a reasonably productive person, I seem to never quite be able to reach the point in the whole goal-setting realm that I want to. This is why I’m always, always resolving and rarely feeling like I’ve made it (or at least made progress). By March I can barely remember what I envisioned for the year. Come May, I’m back to living hour by hour, and by September, it’s the full-on Wild West. No wonder we all crave the magic and spiritual unplugging that the holiday offer.
With a new home and a busy little family, it feels imperative that this year is different.
So, using my dreams above as a guideline, here are some real actions I’ve taken or am taking toward them. This is my plan for a more structured life, with room for experimentation; a more predictable life, with room for improvisation; and a more ordered life, yet with plenty of room for messiness and joy. In other words, here’s how I’m hustling in 2020.
-Find a meal planning strategy that works for our family. (Action: I ordered a Panda planner, after hours of research on the best productivity and goal-setting journals out there.)
-Shop for and cook easy lunches for all of us on Sunday nights. (Action: Use above journal to block out Sunday afternoons and eves for this.)
-Decide on household chore allocation. (Action: Discuss with James and schedule in journal and on G-calendar.)
-Create a plan for Felix’s daycare situation. (Action: Open houses and registration dates all in G-cal)
-Plan paint colors and decorating schemes (ie: print photos, buy accessories) for our new home (cue the overwhelm and decision fatigue!) (Action: I have the paint chips and have decided on our white and lower kitchen cabinets. Decide on paint colors for all rooms by January 31, schedule this in journal. Schedule 2-5 other projects in journal, ie: printing photos.)
-Map out a veggie garden and landscaping plan, start worm composting. (Action: I went to a workshop on Sunday and met a whole bunch of rad people who are going to help me with a few of these goals! Decide on 5 things to grow this year and schedule in journal. Attend worm composting workshop on March 21.)
-Create more joyful and productive daily work routines and habits. (Action: delete Strava from my phone, decide if I want to make 2020 the year where I don’t track workouts…see below.)
-Set and achieve better career goals and check in more regularly on progress (another small one!)
-Write more. (Action: I’m writing this post. My friends who used to keep blogs are moving their stories to Instagram and other platforms, which is awesome and inspiring, but I just paid to renew this damn domain and that’s practically a fee to get me to write more. “Shitty first drafts,” (Anne Lamott’s words), here we come. I’ve disabled comments because I don’t want to think about whether people read these…because I know they don’t. So if you’re a subscriber, be warned. This might now be what you signed up for.)
-Maintain my routine of strength training 2x a week. (Action: 20 classes purchased for Oak Bay Fitness, and tried their Functional Fit classes in December and loved them.)
-Continue intermittent fasting experiment after a month off. (Action: doing it!)
-Plan my racing season/approach. (Action: I joined a women’s race team, Element Racing. Yikes!)
-Quit. (Action: I am experimenting today with envisioning this goal as quitting “training,” (ie: the hours, tracking, and mental dedication) and instead start simply “exercising,” aka moving my body as often as I can, and in new, challenging ways. Some of this will include the swimming, biking, and running that I love, but the focus will be different. Action: delete Strava from my phone.)
-Be more decisive (see above). (Action: decide on paint colours/brands for all rooms by January 31.)
-Make friends and make Victoria home. (Action: join women’s race team, gardening group, attend all neighbourhood Tuesday night potlucks.)
-Fashion repeatable daily routines like a Friday morning writing session or a Sunday evening food prep fiesta. (Action: Schedule these in journal and with James.)
-Commit to no TV or technology certain nights a week and read, call a friend, or do a creative project instead. (Action: Schedule these in journal and with James.)
-Designate certain nights as alcohol-free. (Action: Schedule these in journal and with James.)
-Take stock continually of my possessions and clothes, give away the clutter and learn to consume less/continue to buy used. (Action: Do a closet inventory once a month, buy most house purchases used even if it means waiting longer for it.)
-Invest in greener products around the home. (Action: Ongoing.)
-Find a way to volunteer, donate, or contribute to my community and the world not out of guilt or duty but in a way that resonates with and energizes me. (Action: Ongoing.)