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This shirt has not made an appearance in public yet. But soon.

I joined a gym last week. I’ve been meaning to join for a while. I should have joined back in November or December.

I have been once since I joined. It was super crowded. This is a deterrent for me. I’m just not interested in spending an hour inhaling 200 people’s sweat or awkwardly waiting in line for the adducter machine. I am going to try to go at different times to see if it’s better. I keep telling myself it will be better once the “we’re getting healthy!” resolution bunch decides they like going to the wine bar more than the gym on Monday nights.

[Not that I condone such choices. Okay, I totally condone such choices. Exercise is good. So is the wine at my wine bar, though.]

There are actually quite a few deterrents for me. I don’t have great track record with food and exercise and healthy balance. It’s sometimes difficult for me to recognize if I’m overdoing it (or under-doing it) in the moment. Those realizations usually come after the fact. I’m getting better, but it’s still a struggle.

I am comforted (and also saddened…it’s complicated) to know that I am not alone. In our training last week (interpersonal violence intervention training – more on this later this month), we ate lunch together every day. And every day – with different tables and different people – I had some version of the same conversation:

Person 1: I’m eating this delicious pasta/pizza/bread.

Person 2: It’s sooo good. But sooo bad. *eats hungrily*

Person 1: I know. But it’s okay. I’m going to do an extra hour at the gym/skip dinner/jog to my car/walk my cat.

Person 2: *nods with understanding*

We are grown, highly educated, professional people, and we still felt the need to voice a justification of our food choices and what extremes we’re planning to take to overcome them to our coworkers. We walk into meal situations assuming that people will be judging us for what we are or aren’t eating.

On the one hand, I’m not sure those assumptions are always accurate. I mean, I can’t remember the last time I looked at someone’s plate and thought to myself, “Self, they really shouldn’t be eating that,” or “Self, they should be eating more.” So maybe other people don’t have these thoughts either. If I’m thinking about their food at all, it’s more along the lines of, “Self, that looks delicious. Where can we get some of that?” Or “Gross. Pot pie.” [Which I recognize is a little judgey, but that’s what you get for eating disgusting things. My judgmental thoughts. Which I probably won’t actually voice. Probably.].

On the other hand, we probably feel the need to make these justifications because somewhere – maybe many somewheres – in our experience, judgments have been voiced. Or stared. Most people don’t need any words at all to get those messages across.

I don’t have an answer. I know that I need to make better food choices sometimes, but I also know how much better my food choices in general are now than they were even six months ago. So…progress. I know that I have more energy when I exercise regularly, but I also know that how often I exercise (and really even whether or not I exercise at all) has no factual bearing on my worth and value as a human. I know that what other people think shouldn’t matter and that often they aren’t really thinking about me at all anyway, but I also know that my feelings don’t always sync with that knowledge.

Maybe there’s some balance in there after all.

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Friday Five2

I love structure. I am comfortable with making vague goals, because I know that as soon as I voice them, I already have structures in mind for achieving them that don’t necessarily come through in words. But if, like me, you are interested in improving your reading diversity, choosing products that are both better quality and produced by better business practices, and ridding yourself of all the clutter/debris/extraneous mess that you have stashed in your home, here are a few more structured ways to do that.

  1. Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2017 reading challenge. I like that she has reading for fun and reading for growth challenges. I also love her highly organized tips (including printables) for tracking your reading and that she offers the chance to join an online book club for those who want social support.
  2. Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge is my favorite challenge for finding things to read that I never would have read before. They, too, offer social support via their Facebook group and give you the opportunity to meet in person with people you’ve met via the challenge. Bonus – discount on an order if you finish the challenge!
  3. Inc.com praises ThirdLove bras. I NEED ONE. Also Thinx, which has great ramifications for women in countries where feminine hygiene products aren’t readily available. A lot of people have tried them and sing their praises (even though the HuffPo article says “total disaster,” indicating that the chooser of that title doesn’t understand what the words total and disaster mean), so I’ll spare you my personal recap when I try them. Unless they’re terrible, which I don’t anticipate.
  4. Peter Walsh is doing a 31-day decluttering challenge this month. Each day takes about 10 minutes, so it’s not too late! Go! Go! This is not a drill!
  5. And bonus – for those hoping to up your donations to charities this year, here are some tips from Consumer Reports on how to choose a charity that uses the money in the way they claim to use it.

If you were looking for structure to some of your goals, hope this helps!

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2017 Resolutions

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I have a stocking that’s mine (on the right) and a stocking that’s a reminder that I’m not alone in the world. This is the first decoration I put up every year, and it’s my favorite. I like starting the season with the hope that  life will not inevitably always be the way it’s always been.

I love this time of year. I love the invigoration of setting new goals. I am nervous about this year because of the political climate, but I am refusing to give up hope. I am anxious, but I am determined. I am sad, but I am unwilling to settle for wallowing.

My goals for 2017 are pretty simple. Most of them are a continuation of things I’ve already started to do. Some of them are specific, but most of them are unruly, because the main goal is to embrace the wild.

  1. Wild is my word for the year, and I want it to spread throughout my world like fire. I want to burn away all that is not true, beautiful, just, and good. I realize that’s a tall order, but I can’t very well start my year of wild by taming my expectations.
  2. Read 100 books.
  3. Learn conversational Spanish.
  4. Continue to make my home a place that is welcoming and does not hinder the life I create. This life looks like cozy nooks and a well-stocked kitchen, pantry, and bar for spontaneous hospitality. This life looks like flowers on the table and blankets on the couch. This life looks like finally getting the last of the boxes unpacked from the move last summer.
  5. Continue to improve my health and well-being. This will probably look like a significant weight loss. I have 22 more pounds to go to reach my birthday goal, but as – much to my chagrin – I no longer have the metabolism I had when I was twenty, this will probably look more like 15 pounds, which is still pretty great. This will also look like pearls in my ears, red on my lips, and cute shoes on my feet, as emotional well-being is often manifested in how I care for myself physically.
  6. Finish at least one manuscript and publish a 2018 calendar.
  7. Run a 5K.
  8. Go on a writing retreat (can be alone or an official one with a group).
  9. Get paid for writing in some way. This can be as simple as submitting a piece for publication and having someone say yes, but I want to see tangible proof that it’s something I can do.
  10. Continue/establish beloved traditions. I want to have baking weekends. I want to have parties that people come to expect every year. I want to have traditions that are just mine – that embrace the single life I have now instead of waiting on other people to have traditions.

Do you make resolutions? If so, what are they?

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This is my favorite running shirt. I approve of anything that is simultaneously a Firefly fandom squee and a notification that I aim to kick ass.

As my one word for 2016, true has been brutal. Part of this brutality is that I thought it would be easy.

I’ll just pause a moment for everyone who knew better to stop laughing.

It hasn’t all been terrible. I have fine-tuned my life significantly to form it into something that is truer to who I am. That part has been invigorating. In some ways, I am significantly more at home in my life than I was a year ago.

All this change has been uncomfortable, however. I have discovered the sharp edges of certain aspects of myself that were only hazy forms in the back of my mind before, and they’re not all pretty. Some are upsetting. I’m not as honest with myself as I would have liked to think I was. Admitting that things are true about me that I desperately want not to be true is disheartening. And the process of deciding what to do with these realizations has been excruciating. It’s not finished, but I wish it were.

I’ve been reading through The Road Back to You for the last couple of months, and I wish I’d read it at the beginning of the year. I’m a One. I am a perfectionist and pretty hard on myself. True is the calling of the Ones – for our principles to 1) be high and right and 2) be congruent with our behavior/life/outcomes. The cognitive dissonance often created by this pursuit (as, alas, we are not perfect) is very stressful to us.

Stress is anger-making (although we prefer to call it “frustration”). It’s no wonder, therefore, that Ones are part of the Anger Triad (or as a friend affectionately calls it, the Chaos Trio). Rather than feeling the guilt I would have expected when I read this, I felt relief. It offered an explanation for my anger rather than the condemnation I’m used to receiving for it. It also confirmed my choice for my one word for 2017 – wild.

This coming year, I’m going to embrace the wild.

Wild is a natural progression from the last few years of beauty and fun and true. Wild encompasses them all and sets them free. That is exactly the kind of year I’d like to have. That is exactly the kind of year I insist on having, despite whatever effort the world might have to squelch it.

Wild abandon – I want to learn to hold resources, such as money and time, more loosely. I don’t want to treat them irresponsibly or in a way that is destructive, but  I could stand to regard them less fearfully. I want to develop a practice of derailment. Half of what stresses me out when the news is especially terrible is how it derails my whole life. I even toyed momentarily with the notion of not reading so much news, but then I promptly dismissed said notion, because I know I’d be doing so in order to hide, thus thwarting my ability to be informed about how to pursue justice. So instead I want to embrace the derailment. To thrive within it. To stop worrying so much about it. And to definitely stop apologizing for it.

Wild survival – Wild things are obsessed with staying alive. They are acutely aware of dangers and how to avoid them. I want to pay closer attention to my survival instinct. I want to resist laziness and continue pursuing my health goals that I set last March. I want to take care of myself emotionally instead of ignoring warning signs until they become so tangible that they become a detriment to my well-being and productivity.

Wild liberation – My word for the year could just as easily be “free.” With all that threatens to oppress in this world, I want to be a force pushing in the opposite direction. I imagine this upcoming year will present many opportunities to do so.

This is just the beginning, but I am excited (and also terrified…three parts excited to one part terrified isn’t a bad ratio) to see what this year of wild brings.

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My 2016 Year in Review

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A year of moving, fandom, and wine.

Many things have been written (videoed, spoken, sung, interpretively danced) about how rough 2016 has been. Many of those things have been written here. So I’ll not rehash those. We have enough to worry about coming up.

My personal year has been pretty productive despite the challenges and heartbreaks of the world.

My major resolutions all fell under the umbrella of my word for the year – true. I’m going to talk a little more about that next week as I tie it into my word for 2017, but true was quite motivating. And really hard. I also made a list of twenty specific things I wanted to accomplish, only six of which I completed, but two of them were pretty big things, so it seems like I did more. True to character, I bit off more than I could chew, but I still ended up farther than I was a year ago. Progress, not perfectionism. I should make that my mantra.

This year’s accomplishments include:

  1. Finding a new job and new place to live that are more in line with who I am, what I need, and what I’m good at
  2. Starting a newsletter (second letter comes out tomorrow – subscribe here to get it!) and using the social media accounts I enjoy in a better way
  3. Throwing my Hemingway party, which was a smashing success
  4. Finish (most of) a 5K
  5. Read a lot of books I loved

Things I would have liked to accomplish but didn’t include:

  1. Reading a lot more books
  2. Getting something I’ve written published
  3. Regular piano playing and regular dancing (other than in my living room, of course, where the dancing was indeed rampant)

I feel pretty good about my year, especially given how much the world in general sucked.

How did your year go?

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When I think “true,” food with friends always comes to mind.

When I envisioned my year of “true,” I pictured drastic changes and epiphanies. I pictured having a lot of “A-ha!” and “Eureka!” moments. I resolved to embrace big moments of being who I am.

Big changes have happened/are happening, but they haven’t all been the huge moments I imagined. This, it turns out, is true to life for me as well.

In one week, I get to start moving over to my new place. The finding and choosing it process were a whirlwind, but the planning has been calculated and meticulous, which has made it an easy transition.

I started my new job, which was a big change, but also not. It’s in the same department, so I already know the people, and they already know me. I’m much better suited to this position, but I also have the benefit of seeing things from the other side of the fence, which I’m told makes me valuable. I’ll take it.

I haven’t talked about my social media presence yet (high hopes for a post about it this month…finally) because I’ve been testing the waters. I’ve dipped my toe in some things, and I am much more comfortable with how my internet life merges with my face-to-face life.

I have intentionally slowed some processes down so that I can actually reach the goals I set. One of my successes in this area has been in health. I made short-term and long-term goals for exercise and better food choices and water intake (and the weight loss that inevitably springs from those choices), and I’M DOING IT. I’m so excited about that. It’s amazing what setting reasonable goals will do. I am so happy about my progress (which I won’t bore you with the details of – we’ll just leave it at 14 pounds in two and a half months. Yippee!!) that I have stopped keeping up with the reward system for my short-term goals, because reaching the goal (things like 10, 25, 50 days of good hydration, exercise, good food choices, etc.) is its own reward.

What I would like to improve this summer are the “true to delight” resolutions. I want to read and cook more (once I get moved – until then, it’s salad and sandwiches, friends). I want to entertain again. I want to get back into my writing seasons rhythm (although I’m proud of the progress on Epic Meal Planning).

Did you make resolutions? How are yours coming?

 

I’m linking up with Marvia Davidson for Real Talk (do I ever actually do this on a) Tuesday.

 

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Isn’t this a pretty picture? Insert fella to sit here with. Also, RIP, Spats. 

In keeping with my word for the year – true – and meeting resolutions, I’m doing pretty well. New job? Check. New place to live? Check (in June). There are many ways I’m making my life truer to who I am and where I want to go.

I can’t help but notice something else on that list of twenty things I’d like to do this year. Go on a date.

Heh.

I have not had a proper date in…I don’t even remember when.

If I were design the perfect guy to sit on that porch with (because that’s how it works, right? You just put in your order?), he would have these five characteristics:

1. Charming – When I tell people I like charming men, they think Neal Caffrey on White Collar. But really? What I find most attractive about Neal is that he looks like Matt Bomer and dresses like a member of the Rat Pack. I don’t mean pleasantry designed to get you what you want. Not smarmy pseudo-niceness. If it has an easy on-off switch, it’s not charm – it’s manipulation.

When I think of charm, I think of people like Finch on Person of Interest.

Or Marshall on Alias.

Or Wash on Firefly. Or, for the most part, Xander on Buffy.

These characters have many differences, but the thing they have in common is that they say and do things that are 1) ADORABLE and 2) genuinely delightful. They’re not afraid to get excited about things, and they often go out of their way to be pleasant. When they give you a compliment, you know it’s sincere, because their only agenda is to encourage you (see every speech Xander ever gave. I mean – “You’re not special; you’re extraordinary.” That’s just a good friend.). And if you mention that they’re kind, they tend to brush it off. They’re not even looking for credit. They get blushy and nervous, and that’s charming, too.

2. Witty – I like funny people, and I find a lot of different things funny. Give me someone who can deliver a one-liner with panache, and I’m hooked. I want someone who makes me laugh so hard I cry. And they need to find me just as funny, because I’m a riot. Recognize.

3. Veering near the very liberal side of Christian – I’ve heard that it’s easier to make a life with someone who is going the same direction you are. This preference is more pertinent to a potentially long-term relationship than an afternoon coffee date (which technically, is all that this resolution requires, so that’s as far as my current commitment goes). But as long as I’m designing a dream guy, I might as well throw this in.

4. Musician – First, I get music. That alone would be enough. But musicians – particularly those who study music seriously or perform professionally – tend to have this particular kind of persnicketyness that I enjoy. I like the way their minds work. It’s mathematical in its precision. Also…music.

5. Ambivert – I have often said that I need to match with an extrovert, because if I’m with an introvert, we’ll pretty much never leave the house. Forget that you knew us – you’ll never see us again.

But I think I would prefer an ambivert. Someone who is extroverted enough that they need to be social on a regular basis for their sanity but also who is introverted enough that they’re ready to leave the party when I am (or within a half and hour of when I am. I can be reasonable…ish.). Someone who will encourage me to try new things and will gently pressure me to go dancing because they know I love it once I actually get there, but also will totally give in when I, with wild eyes that just cannot take any more socializing that day, say, “Let’s skip it, order a pizza, and binge-watch West Wing.” Give me someone who says yes to that.

So if you know this guy (and he’s single – because I do not share – and oriented toward the ladies – because I’d like to be his preference, too), send him along!

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