Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My Life in a Nutshell: Goals and Resolutions

Happy New Year! At least, I hope it is. And I mean hope in the truly Catholic sense… “the desire of something together with the expectation of obtaining it”.
2011 took me by surprise. Life became really challenging really fast for me, particularly beginning in September when school started, and I am wrestling with the helpless feeling that it will be like this forever. I used to think that I had a lot of room for improvement in my home organization and family management skills, but I know now that I really am doing the very best I can, right now with what I’ve got in terms of resources and energy, and it is simply not enough oomph to get all my ducks in a row. I see the light at the end of this tunnel, even if it’s a temporary one called “summer vacation”, but getting there is going to be an uphill battle.
My 2011 goals were not unreasonable, but given the complexity of the past 4 months, some things became more important and I sacrificed ideals for actuals. I could have done it more gracefully, but alas, I am human. My 5 goals for 2011 were:
Finish and clean up one project before beginning another. Keep work surfaces tidy and usable.

Well… I will give myself credit for serious effort here, if not complete success. My work area is much better than it was in 2010, and all my work surfaces are generally usable. The kitchen has also seen significant improvement after I purged and reorganized the cupboards to be more efficient, but we still fight the good fight with clutter on the countertops just like every other self-respecting American family. I plan to maintain what I’ve reclaimed and conquer new areas slowly, as is possible, and curb the acquisition of more “stuff” in every area of my home.
Give completed handmade (or store-bought) gifts rather than promising to make them.
I really did well with this one. Knowing I had given myself permission to not make a million gifts took the pressure off. I did end up making quite a few things for quite a few people over the course of the year and it wasn’t always stress-free, but I hope to plan much better for birthdays and holidays, and commit to cutoff dates after which items will be purchased if I have not been able to make what I had hoped. Real life has to factor in somewhere, right?
Plan ahead 3-4 meals per week. Make fewer trips to the grocery store.
Another goal with so-so results. I did cook more (helped by not being pregnant for 3/4 of the year), but I don’t think I really cut back on my grocery shopping trips. I think the desire to plan ahead got lost in the daily struggle for survival and I ended up wasting a lot of precious time and energy. Another goal to carry forward and keep working on. In November, I became the happy owner of an iPad, and I am steadily working on simplifying many aspects of my life, including the arena of meal planning and grocery shopping.
Update the family blog at least once every 2 weeks. Schedule at least 1 blog post per week for Domestic Bliss.
Nope. Blogging was one of the big things that truly suffered from my lack of available creative time. I don’t feel bad about it since it falls under the category of “hobby”, but since I use my family blog as a journal of our life, i really wish i could have been better about that. Sigh.
Be back at pre-pregnancy weight by the end of 2011.
Never before in my adult life would I have thought this could be the easiest of all my goals, but it was. In fact, I was at pre-baby non-overweight-weight by midsummer! Hooray for Weight Watchers! I have been staying right around my goal weight since then, and I have the tools to drop a couple pounds if things start feeling tight. Thanks to the collection of illnesses we have been suffering since before Christmas, I haven’t had to worry about extra holiday weight. The silver lining?

I’ve been struggling to feel positive lately, as is amply apparent from most of the recent posts you may read. After mulling over the wins and losses of the year gone by, I am mentally and physically preparing to alter my modus operandi to bring my goals in line with the life I have chosen. I am realizing more and more that I have responsibilities to fill every waking moment of my day, and I have no entitlement to other occupations any more that I am entitled to a full night of sleep or an uninterrupted shower.  Those are nice things which hopefully will be realities at some point, but they are not benefits of the job description. I’m in it for the long haul... better or worse, richer or poorer, sickness and health. Giving up the sense of entitlement to be creative whenever I feel like it hurts a little, but I know  it’s all a part of the process of becoming real (a la Velveteen Rabbit) and growing in maturity. I can do it. I can and I will.
So, my 2012 resolution, in three short but quite possibly life-altering words:

Less is more.

*except when it’s not.
Perhaps not so much a resolution or a goal than a mindset to guide as many of my decisions as humanly possible. I hope to waste less time, energy, money and resources when possible. Procrastinate less. Decide what is truly important to accomplish and do less of the unimportant things. Stress less – stop feeling guilty about what I can’t do and dedicate myself to what I can. Complain less. Acquire less. Unfortunately, this probably means blogging less for the present.
There are also situations where more is more, like prayer and family time and cooking healthy food and making kids clean up after themselves. Those goals are no less important, and go hand-in-hand with the overall “less is more” mindset.
I’m going to be mindful, do what I can, let go of what I can’t, and enjoy this year no matter what comes my way.
Happy 2012! Bring it on!