Monday, December 31, 2012

Welcome Back, Me!

I've been pondering this obsession I seem to have with making resolutions at the end of each calendar year, assessing them on my birthday six months later, and then starting it all over six months after that. I also seem to have some obsession with making these resolutions public. It started with a resolution to put the laundry away before retiring for the night, something I did not publicize in my embarrassment that the bedroom was typically home to twin laundry baskets, and we went through the clean basket each morning in search of this or that item. Resolving just grew from there, though I tried to simplify things a bit a year ago. And let's just say that the six-month review is good to go for today as well.

So how do I satisfy the obsession this year? My cousin-in-law, Debi, called 2012 her "year of just because." In that vein, I'm thinking of 2013 as my "year of why the hell not." As younger son put it, the question to ask is not "why?" but "why the hell not?" I'd have to say that that about covers it for 2013, or at least the first half of it. I've committed to trying something about which I feel quite intimidated, a GoRuck Challenge. If you read through the comments on the aforementioned page, you'll see one from me asking if it's reasonable to think a 56-year-old woman can finish one of these. You'll also see the reply from one of the GoRuck founders that yes, it's quite reasonable in that it is more of a mental than physical challenge. Yeah, well, I have some problems in that regard, too, but hey. Why the hell not? Both sons are signed up, and both encouraged me to register. A friend who is one of our karate instructors said that he'd do it if I did (there's was a special in which two people could register for the price of one). It mean 137 days (according to a countdown widget that younger son put on my smart-aleck phone) of serious preparation, but the party at the end could be a doozey.

A couple of years ago, one of my resolutions was to try to learn to speak some Vietnamese. I bought a fairly cheap computer program and found it not very helpful at all. I did discover that a little goes a long way, though, scoring lots of points in Hue last spring by simply saying "thank you" in Vietnamese whenever appropriate. I gave in to all the reviews of Rosetta Stone and the incentive offered by having spent what it costs and purchased the three levels of Vietnamese they offer. It took three tries to get the first lesson finished to an acceptable level (I went from 70 percent correct to 79 percent to 92 percent at which point I was offered the chance to move to the next lesson), but I can see how the program is working. It really is immersion of a sort, and you really do start to make connections. There's no next trip to Vietnam scheduled, though I'm hoping for one in 2014. Hopefully, that will be enough time to learn a bit more than the "thank you" I already have.

And that's it. I think that's enough. I've been vacillating about keeping up the quickie photo blog that replaced the photo-a-day blog I did for the year in which I was 55 or bring my blogging efforts back here. I'll give it some thought over the next couple of days. The two things above will require some focused attention. There's also this thing called a job that clearly comes before time devoted to writing here. The martial arts I don't want to give up, and the creative efforts I'd like to do more of. How many balls can I keep in the air at one time? We shall see. In the meantime, happy new year. I think it's going to be a good one.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

If Today Is Your Birthday ...

From today's Washington Post: TODAY'S BIRTHDAY / JULY 1: You get the lucky break you deserve this year. This month features well-considered financial and lifestyle decisions. August brings new friends, harmonious partnerships and shared adventures. October shows you the way to make more money. Family grows in November. Compelling new interests crop up in January. Aries and Virgo people adore you.  

As translated or interpreted by older son: July: Choose new exercise/diet plan & it works! Commit to Pig's Nest (family compound in country), plan purchases. August: Meet hobo. Go into business w/ hobo. Road trip! October: Sell snarky gun/election themed crafts. November: Other son gets engaged / gets someone preggers. January: Kills deer.

The Post one is probably more likely, though the son one has possibilities. I guess I'll have to start hanging around the tracks, though, if I really want to meet a hobo.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Road to Hell

I had good intentions of blogging here in the last six months minus one day. I really did. Does it count that I blogged a seven-week trip elsewhere (though truth be told, I still have at least one more post to write)? At least regular blogging was not one of the resolutions I made, unlike at least one earlier year. At the midway point of the year--which also happens to be my birthday--how am I doing on those resolutions for 2012? I made them more general this year, in hopes of being better able to meet them. Let's see if that helped.

In 2012, I shall be healthy. I've done this for the most part, especially since my physical in May. I'm putting much less caffeine in my body on a daily basis, and trying to snack only on fruits and vegetables. Since a friend's summer vacation from teaching started, I've been going to the gym with her in the mornings. This has made it easy to add some weights back into my fitness routine. I'm not doing the Lazyman Triathlon this year. One, having done it twice and one of those being in two weeks rather than a month, I know I can do it. I'd rather not have what I do for exercise limited to the Lazyman's swimming, biking, and running. Be healthy? Check!

In 2012, I shall produce at least one something for which I feel a sense of accomplishment in several areas: writing, photography, fiber art, thinking. If I finish the last post or two on the trip blog, I would consider that an accomplishment. There were posts I could have written but didn't, but they were of a more general nature and would have had fewer photos. Several of the photos in that blog still amaze me, particularly the faces I showed here. Fiber art, I'm still working on, but with six months to go, I'm not too worried. An idea that delights or amazes me? I've actually had a couple that I hope to expand in posts here or elsewhere. Accomplish somethings? Check!

In 2012, I shall make progress in my practice of Myo Sim karate and kendo. I'm doing that, and in the four areas I mentioned even. Thanks to the sons, I've regularly worked on my kendo sparring, and have been told by fellow students that they see the improvement. I feel a bit more confident about my kicking in karate and my diagonal cuts in kendo though much work remains. And that's okay. If it were all that easy, I would have gotten bored with it by now. Myo Sim practice? Check!

It seems I should have been writing very general resolutions all along, since this is by far the best mid-year checkup that I've had. I feel better physically and while there have been some emotional dips in the road this year, feel better psychologically for now, today, anyway. As with the practice of a martial art, if life were all that easy, we might have gotten bored with it. I'd also have two fewer blog posts in a given year. Should I add a new resolution as a postscript, to run with scissors and a sword here more often? We shall see.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Good Intentions and All That

I've been posting my resolutions here for a couple of years now. There's really nothing like failing abjectly out in the open or feeling as if more people read this blog than really do and everyone knows I worry about my weight, caffeine intake, etc. I laid out the 2011 resolutions here, and offered a mid-year, birthday update here. Looking at things at year's end, did I really fail abjectly? No, though I really only succeeded at two of the overly specific resolutions I started with. I did, in fact, run, ski, bike, swim, etc. 700 miles to nowhere; the final total was right around 1,005 thanks to a valiant push the last 10 days or so of the year. I also succeeded in noting something to be grateful for or otherwise appreciate each day of the year. I did this thanks to a friend who gave me a boxed set of cards, one for each day of the year. The completed set is now moving to my studio, to my shelf of precious things. The rest of the list? Fuhgedaboutit!

My thinking for 2012 was to make much more general resolutions, a difficult task for someone who has worked in the planning field with measurable goals and the like. After I inked the list I'll put below onto the obligatory piece of cardboard, I read an article that advised making only one or two resolutions and making them quantifiable. Not this year, at least not for me. Here goes.

In 2012, I shall be healthy. I will watch what I eat and drink. I will work on getting stronger, perhaps by getting back to the weightlifting that I largely dropped when I added Myo Sim karate to my practice of Myo Sim kendo. Finally, I will try to act with more mindfulness, not flying off the handle or jumping to conclusions that may or may not be valid.

In 2012, I shall produce at least one something for which I feel a sense of accomplishment in several areas. I will write something, be it a blog post or letter or story or whatever, about which I feel pride. I will take one photograph that knocks my socks off; it doesn't have to knock anyone else's off, just my own. I will create one fiber something and one other something that needed to be created and will beautify the world. Finally, I will think of one idea, just one, that amazes or otherwise delights me.

In 2012, I shall make progress in my practice of Myo Sim karate and kendo. In kendo, I will work extra hard on diagonal cuts and sparring. In karate, I will work extra hard on kicking and channeling my anger outward, away from myself.

How will I know if I am succeeding at these? I'll figure that out, I guess, as I go along. I may not recognize the piece of writing or the photograph or the other things at the time I create them, but I'm hoping that as the year wears on, I will know which ones they are. Each day, I will try to keep being healthy near the front of my thinking. Does this mean I won't occasionally eat or drink too much of the wrong thing and that I will never skip a workout? No, but I will try not to obsess about it at the same time as I will try not to let it happen too often. In six months, when I turn 56, I'll do my mid-year assessment and hopefully feel better about the preceding six months than I do now about the preceding year. Stay tuned for details!