It’s A New Year. Now What?

It’s a New Year. You’ll have to excuse my lack of enthusiasm. I used all my confetti when I actually found bakers yeast at the grocery store.

Like many others, I kind of built up 2021 as being a magical demarcation in time, that line in the sand where the bad cannot cross. I invested in a beautiful new planner a few months ago. And when I say invested, I mean it. The thing cost me $50. It is a tome, weighing in at maybe more than my mini dachshund, but it prayerfully walks me through my goals for the coming year. I was scared of it delaying gratification, so that I put off opening it for several weeks after it arrived. Can I really meet goals that I set? Maybe? YES, I CAN! And what better time for new goals than the new year, am I right?

But what I didn’t see coming? I no longer have any goals. I was set to make a plan to pay off the house, build my Ebay business, submit more writing to various publications and competitions, hatch more Spider Tortoises. After spending nearly a week in the hospital following my husband’s emergency surgery, after a cancer diagnosis, a lot of stuff has slid off my goal list. It’s hard to get stoked about building a business. I have bigger fish to fry. Or maybe smaller fish.

Now my lovely, $50 planner seems as big as a Bible and just as esoteric. Things are a little overwhelming right now, and I’m not even sure how to begin. It’s hard to think about building a business when it’s hard to even get out of bed. But it feels like defacing a fine book to put in the milestones that are actually achievable. But let’s get real. For right now, I need to dial it back a notch if I’m not going to be curled up in the corner sucking my thumb. And forget about looking at a whole year. Seriously, one day at a time is about all I can deal with.

Instead of giant goals that threaten to smother me in my sleep, I’m making some smaller, daily goals. Yep, I’m lowering the bar, but the bar is adjustable for a reason. I’m not looking to do a Fosbury flop to break a world record. I just want to get OVER it.

  • Take a shower
  • Make necessary appointments
  • Print out paperwork for necessary appointments
  • Fill out paperwork for necessary appointments
  • Eat at least one real meal
  • Do a load of laundry
  • Put on clean clothes (WOOT! I can cross this one off! Today, anyway)
  • Pick up kid from school
  • Read something. Anything. The back of a cereal box? Count it! The ingredients list? You got it!
  • Watch twelve episodes of Pawn Stars
  • Avoid politics. I keep thinking that I just need to hang on until the 20th, and the nightmare will be over. Watching the GOP misbehave does me no favors.

I think sometimes we set up ourselves to fail when we put so much weight on the new year. It can be a blank slate, but really, so can tomorrow. What’s important is not that we’re moving forward. Even treading water beats moving backward. Sometimes standing still is progress. I will hold my ground. I might even decide to put on something other than sweatpants. Not today, though. I’ve done enough.

I did go out today and bought Lumen a new bed.
And now her goal is to get it back from Penny!

Does the new year feel different than the old one for you? What are your plans and dreams for 2021?

For the record, I am fine. Just really, really tired. This is going to be a blip on our radar. Even the surgeon said “Eh, you’re strong and fit. You’ll be fine.” I’m just tired. And cranky.

A Brave New Year

Everybody makes resolutions. Some people are even all clever and make resolutions NOT to make resolutions, thus proving we can’t get away from this tradition/trend. I’m no exception. This year, I’m going in big. Go big or go home, right? Actually, it’s cold outside. Going home sounds not-so-bad at the moment… Just kidding.

2016 was a dumpster fire. I said there was no possible way that 2017 could be worse than that, which 2017 took as a personal challenge. It was not a good year overall. But you know what? That’s partly my fault. I am not going to spend this brand, spanky new year sitting passively in the passenger’s seat. 2018 is my year of being brave.

This year, 2018, I am going to:

  • Learn to knit. I don’t know a whole lot of people in person who knit, so I am REALLY going to have to go to the interwebs for this one. I have never learned anything from Youtube before, except to pee BEFORE watching an episode of Bad Lip Reading, so this will be an adventure. And for some reason, it makes me a little nervous. But if I practice knitting for a year, I’ll get decent, right?

  • Breed my dart frogs. I have a bunch of them at work. Three different species. And none of them have bred. I have done everything recommended, and I have gotten to the point of getting them in condition and getting them to call, but so far, no luck. If you have bred them before, hit me up. I gotta know what I need to do differently.

Why you little dudes take a vow of chastity?

  • I am going to put my interest in plants to use. I am going to grow some things to sell at the local Farmer’s Market this summer. I can’t stop myself from growing plants. It brings me joy and energy. If I am stressed, I can soothe my spirit by checking up on a cinnamon tree or a root peeking out of a fig cutting. And since I have no self-control where it comes to growing stuff, I can maybe share my joy with others. And make a little cash. To buy more plants…
  • I am going to learn how to make saagwala at home. I love Indian food. I have attempted curry, and I’m good at the recipes I have. Now it’s time to learn saag.
  • I am going to vote in any election that pops up. It’s my civic responsibility, and I’m going to take it seriously.
  • Call my representatives when there are issues I am concerned about. Which is, like always.
  • Add ALL my reps’ numbers to speed dial so I can leave them messages in all of their offices. I currently only have one number each in my phone.
  • Produce 2 pieces, either short story or essay,  to submit somewhere for publication. This means re-learning how to write a short story. Eek! But it’s time to start building my wall of rejections. Or acceptance, but it’s the rejections that make us stronger, right? I am gonna be STRONG!
  • Actually submit these pieces. This is me closing some loopholes.

And here’s the big one. The one that is the biggest change in my life. Are you ready? Am I ready?

  • I am going to go the entire year without buying anything I don’t need. I read a book by Dolly Freed called “Possum  Living.” It’s a non-fiction book by an 18-year-old. She and her dad spent 3 years living like possums (not eating them!). They ate what was around them – raised chickens in the cellar for meat, raised gardens, saved money however they could. They spent about $1500 a year. Even in 1978, that was chump change. And her motto when it came to buying things was “Not now, maybe later.” That’s my mantra for 2018. I’ll unpack this whole goal in a separate blog post, and I’ll keep you posted on my progress throughout the year. A surprising amount of planning goes into inaction, really. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this. It’s just a few minutes long and worth a watch!

How do you plan to make 2018 your lap dog? Inspire me!

Of Cats and Bags and Accountability

So, like everybody else on the planet, I made a few goals. Goals are nothing without action, and action comes only with accountability. Or something supercilious like that. Basically, I have happy things to share, so bear with me.

One of these goals was to be more intentional about my eating. The Christmas season was a culinary free-for-all, and I’m paid for it in the end. My giant back end. There that is. Christmas technically lasts until January 6th, so I had a whole bunch of days before dealing with that one. But I have. I am eating a good breakfast every morning. And I must tell you that Belgian waffles with chocolate chips and whipped cream is a good breakfast. I would venture so far as to say it’s a great breakfast. What? Don’t look at me like that. There were strawberries, too. And some powdered sugar, and… I digress. Anyway, intentional eating has been a success.

I’m being very conscious about my to-be-read list. It grows smaller daily. Mostly because I refuse to add anything else to it for a while. I am making a little headway. It’s hard to divide time between crazily devouring pages and crazily creating words of my own. But I have not brought anything home that I didn’t add to my TBR list. In fact, I have taken very little out of the free bin at my favorite used bookstore. And that, my friends, is progress. The bin is bigger than a coffin and has been stuffed to the brim with free books. FREE BOOKS! I have come to understand that free isn’t actually free, since it costs me bookshelf space to store. If I don’t have a reasonable intention to read the book in the next couple of months, back it goes. It’s almost like I’m growing up. I said almost. Don’t be afraid.

And here’s my most exciting top secret news. I had planned/hoped/dreamed/wished  to finish my current manuscript within the first couple of months of the new year. And  (drumroll, please) now (Helloooo? Where’s my drumroll? Desk, head, keyboard. I’m not picky. That’s better. Thanks!) it’s done. The first draft, of course. It’s warty and ugly and not fit for human consumption (yet), but it’s finished. I’ll be moving into rewrites and beta-reading over the next few weeks, which is more exciting than I thought it would be.

But am I content? No. I’m so ready to start another project! My husband thinks I should blog for a little while instead, but I think that’s mostly because he knows if I get involved in another book project immediately, we will never finish Downton Abbey. He’s probably right.

I have a new goal, too. I want to rework my blog page and add some drop down menus and categories. This one will take me a while because I’m not sure I can make that happen on this theme. Changes are coming. It’ll be fun!

So how is your list coming along?

Oh, yeah. The title promised a cat. I meant it figuratively, as in letting out a secret , but when I looked at my latest upload of photos, there were 107 new ones, mostly of my cats. It seems I am missing Piper more than I thought, and my way of dealing with it is to take a blue-million snaps of the two cats we have left. Meet Kisses. Until I work through losing Piper, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of her.

This is me every morning in winter. Every, single one.

This is me every morning in winter. Every, single one.

False Starts

I started running again. When you read that phrase, the image in your head is likely one of an elite athlete forced to take a break from their training finally returning to the sport in triumph. I’m going to let you think that.

I am not a runner. My husband is. He’s like a greyhound at the track, long and lean, and likely to chew on your library books. Okay, I made that last bit up. But he’s a runner. 30+ miles a week qualifies him for the label. My one mile a day, three days a week running the Padawan to school does not.

I don’t like to run. If I could get healthy and fit by being beaten with a wooden oar, that’s the option I’d probably choose. I’m short and wheezy and asthmatic, clearly the makings of a top tier competitor.

My absence from the sport can be explained partly by some trouble with my leg. It hurt. Like, a lot. I don’t go to the doctor. I have my reasons. They aren’t sound ones, but I’m a big baby an adult. So I did what anyone would do. Nothing at all. Until I could barely walk. I was finally referred to a physical therapist.

Turns out I’m made weird. My foot does something freakish I should have outgrown when I was 15, resulting in a calf that’s roughly 30% larger than the other. No wonder I run like a duck.

The actual therapy part is painful, and I don’t mean a little. It requires The Stick, a series of giant beads strung on a PVC stick. It’s used to apply pressure up and down the tightened muscles of my calf. The rotten bit is that I cannot use this device properly by myself, which means engaging an assistant. And he hates it.

He’s a little soft-hearted, I guess. He doesn’t like to hurt me. I don’t know it’s the screaming. Or the tears. Or the kick to the groin. But for some reason, after two sessions he has been reluctant to help me. I try to motivate him, to get him in the proper frame of mind for the task, but there are only so many times I can key his car or pee in his running shoes before he takes out a restraining order and I’m right back where I started. What’s a girl to do?

Anyway, I ran again today. After several long weeks, I went to the track. It has less to do with New Years resolutions than the sure knowledge that I’m going to die if I don’t. I’ve had a series of migraines lately and have come to the understanding that if I don’t develop a good way of dealing with stress, my head is going to quite literally explode. So I ran.

It was just a mile. Four little laps around the track. I could do that easily. Except I discovered that when I run, I lose the ability to count to four. I think I ran four laps. Maybe it was three. “Four” comes after “one,” right?

39 degrees is warmer that I thought it would be, and I did eventually need to peel off my sweatpants. Next time, I will try really hard to make sure I’m wearing shorts underneath.

I had hoped to process some plot lines for the novel I am working on, but I was not successful. Unless that plot involves lots of wheezy breathing and vows to never, ever do this again. I’m sure I’ll have better luck with that next time.

If there is a next time. Maybe exploding head isn’t as bad as I thought.

Throwing Down the Gauntlet

I’m in for it now. You may have already met Cujo. I changed his name. Because he asked me to.      Koko the E-reader didn’t make him feel tough enough, you know? So he’s Cujo. But lest he think himself bigger and badder than he should be, I’m buying him a pink cover.

The pink cover isn’t the problem. The little light that may or may not come with said pink cover is not the problem, although if it arrives without the light, I’ll be annoyed. The problem is with the device itself.

He still works great, don’t get me wrong. I’ve been reading for hours a day for the last many days, and he’s still half-charged. The battery isn’t the problem. Nor are the buttons that actually explain what they are for when I push them. I’ve been far less frustrated with this reader than I ever was with the Kindle Fire. The problem is what Cujo contains. Books. Lots and lots of books.

Manufacturers seem to think that a great selling point for their gadgets is the books that they have preloaded onto them for free. FOR FREE, mind. Never mind that the very same titles are also available at the Gutenberg Project, and there they are also…wait for it…free. So these little beggars come loaded to the gills*** with books.  Mine came with 103 titles, and thanks to Gutenberg and my good friend, sj, I’ve added about 10 15 more.

Every single title has one little word at the end, haunting me, taunting me, challenging me. One tiny little word. Unread.

100+ awesome books, we’re talking classics, and none of them have even been looked at. I don’t know if the person who owned the device before me was a complete and total slacker, or if the used bookstore simply returned the reader to factory specs before they put it on the sale floor, but it’s the saddest thing I have ever seen. All those books failing to fulfill their literary destiny. Know what’s even sadder? I haven’t read them, either. Not most of them.

I’m going to fix that. Over the next couple of years, I am going to read my way through all of the books that are on my e-reader. Even the ones I’ve added myself. Even the ones my friends have sent me as gifts that I might not have picked up otherwise.  I’m allotting a couple of years here because I don’t plan to give up the rest of my life. Sometime in the next six months, my name will come up at the library for Jim Butcher’s latest, and I will have to take a cruise through the Harry Potter series again. And let’s not forget about Lord of the Rings. Plus I’m doing some writing of my own. But I will read these suckers. All in good time.

At the end of this challenge, I know that I will find myself enriched beyond belief, and maybe chock full of vitamins and minerals. Kind of like a breakfast cereal. I’ll be a better person, a wiser person. An older person with iffy eyes. At least one of the above.

So who’s with me? Anybody else want to tackle a daunting to-be-read list? Let’s conquer this mountain of books together!


*** This is a figure of speech and in no way implies that e-readers and other electronic devices have gills or are otherwise suited to aquatic life. They are not and object vociferously to swimming lessons.