Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Be It Hereby Resolved ...

Normally by this time on December 31, I've got my list of resolutions written down, on a cardboard calendar insert or the equivalent, and am ready to prepare the traditional New Year's Eve nachos. The problem at the immediate moment is that I can't find last year's resolutions, which I usually review prior to writing down the new ones. I hid them from prying eyes (not the husband's or kids' because we share our resolutions with each other) and now can't remember where I put them.

Oh well! I'll do the best I can. I know that I did not achieve the resolution regarding my weight, though at the same time I very clearly slam-dunked the resolution regarding the number of times I would work out during the year. That one was the usual five times weekly or 260 times during the year, including lifting weights 104 times or twice each week. If I'm remembering what's written on the calendar upstairs, I've worked out 343 days of this year (the last day I did not work out was election day when I at least stood up, at a voting machine, for 13 hours), and lifted weights just about exactly the 104 times I resolved. I did get my brown belt in Myo Sim kendo. I did not make progress on the book I'm supposed to be co-authoring, but that's not my own doing. The principal author hasn't had a good year, and the book is one of the things that has suffered. Finally, I know I made some other, more touchy-feely resolutions, like listening more and talking less, but if I can't recall them all that distinctly, then I probably didn't achieve them.

So, what about some resolutions for 2009? Well, I always have the weight one. About six years ago, I lost 30 pounds. I've since gained just over ten of those back, and would like to lose them again. I always have an exercise resolution, and that one will stay as it always does: work out 260 days, lifting weights 104 times. The fact that I'll be away for two months suggests that I not resolve to earn my kendo black belt, though I do resolve to make progress in that direction. Having recently begun the study of Myo Sim karate, I would like to progress far enough in that to learn tumble falls, something that will help on the kendo side. Because of the way rank requirements work, this means I have just resolved to earn a yellow belt in karate since learning tumble falls is done at the yellow belt level as one works toward a green belt.

I hereby also resolve to try to be better about this whole blog thing. Since it's easier for me to meet my resolutions when they're quantitative in nature, I could resolve to post something weekly on at least one of the blogs I maintain. I actually have a list of things I'd like to post--the follow-up to the Christmas post that sits below this one, some reviews for the 42 Challenge, thoughts on taking up karate in addition to the kendo, the workouts from hell that a personal trainer has given me. Would two posts a week be a better goal? We shall see. I will put something on the list about being a better blogger, with the specifics to be worked out between now and when I write the list.

On the less quantitative side, it would be nice to resolve to stress less, listen more, create beauty, inspire thought or laughter, be a better person, end hunger, and work for world peace. Yeah, right! Perhaps the best way to try to hit some of those items is to keep in mind two quotes from others who actually did at least some of those things:

"Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth." I first found this sentiment attributed to Shirley Chisholm, though I've also seen in attributed to Marian Wright Edelman as well.

"We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give." Winston Churchill

It certainly couldn't hurt to resolve to reflect as well as reflect on those sentiments as much as possible in the coming year. Whatever your resolutions or lack thereof, Happy New Year! I can't help but think that 2009 is gonna be one heck of a ride.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Is It Christmas Yet?

If her hair were only blond then I could claim this as a holiday portrait of, yes, yours truly. Christmas always seems to bring out the best bitch in me. There are people whose house spontaneously becomes Christmasy sometime between Thanksgiving dinner and getting up early to shop on Black Friday. I am not one of them.

I have been informed by the men in the house (well, by the eldest of them) that a tree will be procured tomorrow, to be decorated in the afternoon. Hmmm. Younger son plans to walk home from the university tomorrow (a distance of about eight miles) if it's not raining. Whatever doesn't come home from the dorm room today will be coming home tomorrow ... in the same pickup truck that is supposed to bring the tree home. Unless younger son has to be out of his dorm room by noon, he may not be starting his walk until afternoon. The evening is out for decorating because elder son will be helping to judge a karate rank exam, which I would like to attend for the purposes of practicing my photography. In other words, I'm not seeing tomorrow, afternoon or evening, as an optimal time for holiday prep.

Thursday? Ha! I will be up and starting a batch of bread by not much after 6:00 so that I can get it done before meeting a friend for lunch at 11:30. I have been informed that the husband's departmental Christmas party is from 2:00 until 4:00. The evening is reserved for kendo. I only give that up for my own office Christmas party, and that was last night (yes, I gave up kendo for it). Are we seeing a pattern yet?

Unless the holiday fairies magically appear and take on the decorating chores, it will likely be Friday before things start to come together, or less than a week before Christmas. I wanted to put up the tree and decorate over a week ago, but the husband mandates that it be a family affair and not take place until dormitory move-out has been accomplished. Never mind that I will be the one bringing the majority of the decoration boxes in from the garage and sorting out what goes where. The sons will each put an ornament or two on the tree and then retire to reading, writing, or the computer. The husband will have the outdoor lights to hang since ladders are not necessarily my friends. After Christmas has been decorated, I will either take the mostly empty boxes out to the garage or whine unpleasantly until the men do that for me since simple requests for help are often countered with whines of their own.

Am I being appropriately bitchy or Scroogey yet? If not, I'll get there. Maybe one day I will learn how to make it all flow. Before marriage and family, I actually enjoyed Christmas preparation. I put up the tiny artifical, already decorated tree that a friend gave me the year I was laid up following knee surgery. I would play Christmas carols and maybe make a long chain of red and green construction paper rings to hang wherever. It was fun! Now it seems an organizational nightmare.

Don't worry. I will get over it, and we will have a real Christmas here. A tree will go up, and all the wrapped presents sitting on the furniture around the room behind me will have a home at least. My Christmas cards have been mailed, and the husband's cards have been addressed and stamped (though not by him) and had the family Christmas newsletter I wrote inserted in the envelopes. I learned long ago not to stress once I've handed him the stack of cards ready for personal notes or not as he sees fit (I've already signed the cards, too). I have done my part; if his friends and family want to blame me if/when his cards are late, I can live with it knowing that I did my part.

On Christmas Eve, I will prepare my overnight cinnamon roll dough before we go to the Christmas Eve service at a friend's church. I will get up well before the sons on Christmas morning and get cinnamon rolls ready for when we wake them up. We will play Christmas music (at last!) and open presents, assuming the men go out on Christmas Eve day and buy some for me as is their tradition. We will eat cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and I will prepare a grand Christmas dinner, and perhaps even have time to soak in a bubble bath if I care to clear out all the potted plants wintering in the jacuzzi tub under the bathroom skylight. Life will be good. No, life is good in the sense that I have the time and mind to sit here and bitch a bit. Yes, life is good. Allow me to wish you a Merry Christmas a bit early just in case you don't make it back here before the big day.