I love New Year’s. I love the celebration that is New Year’s Eve — whether saying goodbye to an amazing year…or good riddance to a terrible one. I love the hopeful, fresh slate that a new year brings. And I especially love when I grant myself* a little downtime to reflect.
*4+ hours on an airplane with no wifi = “granting myself,” but I’ll take it.
There are some things, upon reflection, that I’d like to change. I’m not talking about tectonic shifts, rather just some general nudges in a direction that I feel is important. I recently came across a quote that said, “If it’s important, you’ll find the time, if it’s not, you’ll find an excuse” and YES. It’s time I embrace what is actually important.
And maybe just ignore the rest.
I feel the passing of time so acutely these days — it’s like a weight, pressing on my chest. If I dwell (and I sometimes do dwell) I can’t shake the feeling that I’m somehow…running out of it. This feeling isn’t ominous (like my impending doom is right around the corner), but rather…a welcome reminder that life is so fleeting. Maybe it’s because Raines is turning 12 on Sunday, and I really, REALLY remember being 12. Or maybe it’s that lately he says goodnight, and then walks into his room and closes the door, leaving me standing on the other side, remembering how his fuzzy head once felt nestled underneath my chin.
I want to do this right. This whole “life” thing — I want to do it right for me.
I don’t fully know what this means. Not yet. When I think about what I love to do, how I want to spend my time…I know I love to write, I know I love to travel, I know I love to cuddle my kids to sleep and spend all Saturday morning reading, and go out every Friday with our friends. I know I love to dance. I know I have a borderline unhealthy obsession with my husband — but he doesn’t seem to mind, and I’m trying — really hard — to not have a borderline unhealthy obsession with my sons but NO PROMISES. (Apologies to future daughter-in-laws. I’m trying so hard not to be crazy.)
Anyway. I have a small set of resolutions to focus on this year. Some are just goals, actually, some are about making my life easier, but most have to do with time. Spending it wisely. I want to — like old bear says in this book (one of our absolute favorites) — “choose your days”.
Dear Old Bear, The Keeper of Time & Keys, I choose to….
…Prioritize working out
There is nothing I can do, in terms of both mental and physical health, that beats working out. There’s nothing I can eat, nothing I can give up, no amount of sleep nor vitamins that beats the high from consistently working out hard. It is my king and queen of feeling good.
…Cook at home more (& eat vegan 90% of the time)
I’m not a vegan. I love a good burger and cry happy tears over aged Gouda. And don’t even get me started on a properly made french dip au jus. OMG. But dairy has been the long-time culprit of my digestive woes and messes up my skin. And meat…well.
Meat is, quite simply, not great for long-life and terrible for the planet.
I can accomplish my vegan goal by simply cooking at home more often, saving meat (and dairy) for special occasions or little treats.
I have a few weeknight vegan recipes to share that even my boys will eat (most are slow-cooker friendly), but would love to know if anyone has recommendations! My current go-to for desperation weeknights (aka nights when the fridge has NOTHING) is this 20-minute white bean chili. It can be made with pantry ingredients (and an onion).
I was also really inspired by The Blue Zones Kitchen cookbook that Scotti bought my Mom for Christmas. Researchers from National Geographic studied several cultures with really long lifespans, then went and interviewed them about their culinary techniques and traditions. It’s a beautiful, inspiring book and a really sweet peek into others’ lives. (The recipes look delicious, too.)
…Read a picture book to my kids at least once a week
I still read to the boys every night, but we’ve moved on to chapter books — they’re science fiction nerds like me. I know that they’re technically too old for picture books. But then again, so am I. Yet I love these sweet stories, the questions they spark, the points of view considered, the art that inspires. And I notice…whenever Scotti is visiting and I read to my niece…both boys come and listen. Someday they will be 100% completely over picture books. but until then, I’ll make a point to bring them back into our weekly rotation.
A few favorites to start?
- The Book of Mistakes (ooo…this author also has a new one out about empathy and kindness) — this one is a joy to read, and usually inspires a bout of drawing. It’s nothing short of amazing.
- Sophia Valdez, Future President – all of Andrea Beatty’s books (Iggy Peck, etc.,) are favs in this house
- Rumpelstiltskin by Paul Zelinsky – nobody captures the eeriness of fairy tales as well as Zelinsky. He tells the traditional story, with darkly gorgeous illustrations. My boys used to love these — can’t wait to bring them back out.
- Choose Your Days – the book I mentioned earlier. It’s about a little girl who is born, grows up, and realizes she only has a few days left. “For work undone. For play postponed. For music unsung.” It’s a beautiful and comforting take on the natural process of living and dying. And the central message “choose your days, make them happy or gray” is one I repeat often to the boys. (“I KNOW, MOM. CHOOSE MY DAYS BLAH BLAH,” says Pax.)
…Just make the appointment already
I know first hand how important those icky adulting appointments are. And since 2019 was literally the first year I didn’t have to deal with breast cancer on the daily…I slacked off. But this year, it’s time to get back on track. I’m behind on flu shots, dentist appointments, and I really need allergy shots. I CAN DO THIS.
…Just buy those tickets already
I also have to stop putting off the making of plans. I tend to wait until the last minute (dithering the whole time), I almost never RSVP (yes, I’m a horrible person), and for a family who likes to travel as much as we do…this propensity of mine has made things really tough. I’d like to start by being more of an adult. Specifically, I need to buy those plane tickets well in advance, commit to a couple of plans, and ultimately lower my expectations that everything must be 100% fully researched and 100% absolutely perfect.
And maybe responding to an RSVP once in a while wouldn’t kill me. (I can hear my friends’ eye rolls from here.)
…Will replace mindless social media scrolling with something I actually care about
I have so many random goals (learning Spanish is a big one), so many books to read, SO many ways I want to be spending my time…and yet there I am, mindlessly scrolling through someone’s IG feed.
I don’t expect to completely give up on social media, but I’d like to back wayyyy off. So. I’m planning to completely disconnect from social media several nights a week, and next time I find myself mindlessly scrolling, I’m going to take the opportunity to do something that is important to me, like:
- Practice Spanish
- Read recipes in a magazine (guilty pleasure)
- Sit on Mike’s lap
- Stretch (Mike bought one of those rollers — painful but SO GOOD)
- Actually use one of those facial masks…or maybe that micro-derm kit I always forget I own (similar here)
- Bake something (vegan? har har good luck with that one…)
- Do the balance board thing so I can retain my youthful dexterity and continue to dominate my boys in sports (except for skiing, boooo)
…If it’s not sustainable, press pause
I want to — gently, carefully — take a more sustainable approach to the things I buy. I know the best approach is to simply buy less, to keep — for years and years — the things I have.
But what I’m talking about here are new purchases. If a purchase I’d like to make isn’t sustainable…I’d like to press pause. I’d like to take a a moment to make sure there isn’t a sustainable option that’s equally good, or pause and make sure I really do need this item.
Individual choices are not going to solve climate change — we know this. But I really resonated with this recent NYT piece on how overwhelming climate change feels, yet it’s the small steps that keep us engaged:
In that vein, there are a bunch of small steps I can take (eating vegan more often is one of them…it helps offset my travel habit). A few others I plan to take on?
- Switching to an insulated coffee mug (that’s slim enough to easily hold) – I need to break my to-go coffee habit. I’m currently looking at this one or this one. Might be worth ordering several to test (anyone else interested in the results??).
- Getting rid of single use plastics – whether it’s little silicone bags, pretty re-useable straws (we have these) or swapping out cleaning supplies for something like Blueland (I just ordered the starter set)…we’re on a mission to get rid of as much single-use plastic as we can. (Has anyone found a good replacement for laundry detergent? I’m currently looking at Dropps…)
- I’m sticking with sustainable sneakers – if there’s ever a category where I love the sustainable brands more than the others…it’s sneakers. My personal favorites are Adidas Superstars, Everlane Tread (I have this pair), or Vejas.
- Sleep on it – I’ve found that my purchases are more thoughtful (and, quite frankly, fewer) when I sleep on them for a night.
…Re-think my personal clothing budget to better align with long-term happiness
AKA..I don’t need another sweater
I keep spending money on pieces that, OK, I might love in the moment, but I’m still left with uncomfortable underwear and slide-on slippers that exacerbate an old foot injury and jeans that don’t look good with the boots I’m wearing. So. Why not spend my money on pieces I really will use the most, for years to come? Pieces that will not just ‘spark joy’ but actually solve a problem?
So. I made a list of Current Clothing Problems That Make Me Annoyed and here is the start of my 2020 sartorial to-do list:
- Figure out which jeans go with which boots (trial & error) – I’ve got skinny jeans figured out. I know, after years of wearing them, exactly which boots look cute with skinnies. The problem, however, is that I’ve now amassed a few pairs of mom jeans, straight leg jeans, boyfriend jeans etc., And while these styles always look good with high heels or sandals….winter is always a problem. I need to lock myself in my closet and try them all on with my various boots and just figure this darn thing out.
- Heated ski boots – instead of going through 30+ disposable toe warmers (that only work marginally well), I need a pair of heated ski boots. My boys can literally ski all day, every day, and not having to deal with freezing toes will make my life SO much better. (Either these or these, if anyone else is in the same boat.)
- Maybe heated mittens and a coat, too? Probably overkill. But am thinking about it, haha.
- Comfortable no-show underwear – this pair is my current favorite (after trying six other recommendations), but I’m not 100% sold. Am thinking I should make all of the TME contributors try a zillion different pairs and then vote. Yes?
- Slippers that aren’t mules. I hurt my foot a few months ago, and it keeps coming back to haunt me. It gets worse when I wear mules (or any sort of slip-on shoe). I had been refusing to buy another pair of slippers because I have several already…but now I’m either grumpy, walking around with freezing cold feet or limping. UGH. FINE. I’m looking at either these or these (neither are sustainable, but I know I’ll be wearing UGGs for years.)
I guess, in short, my New Year’s resolutions can be summarized: Workout, Eat Mostly Plants, Cut Out Plastic, Act More Like an Adult, Stop Buying Stupid Stuff, and Choose How I Spend My Free Time Wisely.
What are yours?