Tag Archives: resolutions

chasing the light

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It’s gray here, and icy. We’re under an ice storm warning, and almost everything is closed – all the schools, a lot of the businesses. M and I are working from home, and the girls made their own schedules for the day. E and F are now playing jointly – from 11:40-noon, and I don’t hear any bickering. So far, so good. According to their schedule I have a break at 12:10  – an appointment with a stack of girl scout badges and a hot iron. There seem to be numerous snack breaks on the paper as well. Whatever gets us through.

This image is getting me through at the moment. I’m nearing the point where the light returns again – at least long enough to squeeze in some short runs after work. I’m trying to be patient, to flex those indoor muscles while I wait. It’s paying off, I can feel it. A few weeks ago I mastered a difficult head stand pose; I’ve never had the kind of upper body strength that I have now. Last night I was able to raise and lower myself in a what resembles a vertical, inverted series of crunches, for a dozen times before I had to return to the ground. When I started physical therapy three years ago, I could not touch my toes without bending my knees. I was tasked with tiny exercises for my feet, but I knew that commitment needed to eventually extend to the rest of me. That decision has changed me in ways that I could never have imagined or predicted.

In a few weeks I’ll flip back over, finding the ground beneath my feet again, stretching in new ways for a new year. I haven’t set any specific goals for running or strength training or yoga this year, outside of enjoying the practice. Chasing the light on a regular basis, and introducing it to our home in new ways. Those are my resolutions for this year.

new year, new year

At the start of every year, I always wait for this feeling of renewal – some sort of burst of energy to overtake me on January 1st. It never does. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the fact that we’re never at home for the holidays – so any desire to wake up bright and early on the first day of the year and tackle some long overdue house project or fill up the trunk for a trip to Goodwill doesn’t get very far. Even if I were to set some crazy goal like Run Every Single Day in 2016!* or Run a Zillion Miles in 2016!* it would still hit the back burner for a bit because, well, I wake up in Iowa, and only crazy people** run in that sort of weather. I’m (sort of) okay with cold weather, but I’m not foolish enough to think I can successfully navigate snow and ice. If you’ve ever seen me walk across a wintry parking lot you would understand – I have a greater fear of slipping*** than I do of any sort of rodent or reptile or flying or heights. I’d rather drive down an icy street than walk down an icy sidewalk.

*I have amazing friends who set – and meet – goals like this, so you’ll note that I labeled the goals as crazy, not the goal makers

**Your goals might not make you crazy, but running around waist high piles of snow when it’s seven degrees outside certainly qualifies you for the title.

***Does this have a name? Let me check. Yes, it does! Pagophobia. I’m a pagophobic. Not to be confused with phagophobia, which is a fear of eating, which I don’t have. Obviously.

I actually received several very nice gifts that will make cold weather running more palatable, but I got very ill on the way to M’s parents house last week, and the resulting medication I was on made me really nauseous and dizzy, so I took it easy during our visit. To say that I’m excited for my core and cardio classes tonight is an understatement. My body is craving movement after so many hours in the car.

The point I’m dancing around here is that I always give myself a little time to settle on and settle into any resolutions that I might make. It takes us a little time – a week or two at least – to really get back to normal. There’s always a moment when, upon returning to our house after the last trip, I look around and sigh, frustrated at the accumulated piles and messes, the holiday decorations still in full force, the gifts received, but not even unpacked, the remnants of gift giving strewn about. The little one always makes a beeline from the car to her third floor bedroom to shut the door and decompress; the rest of start the evening’s march, a ballet of sorts, up and down the stairs dozens of times. If we manage to scar our children in any way, it will most likely be related to going up or down stairs with empty hands. The unforgivable sin in our house is walking past a pile on the stairs – and ignoring it.

Last year I dodged the whole resolution idea by stating my intentions for the year. And while we might have missed the mark a bit on some of our intentions for the house, I definitely think I carried through on my goal of practicing openness, stretching myself. It might seem like a bit of a cop out to restate the same thing for this year as well, but I’m going to anyway:

“Listening to that piece made me more aware of what is driving my intentions this year – to stretch my body, to craft a home, to open up more in my writing. It has nothing to do with goals of perfection – the perfect body, the perfect kitchen, the perfect blog. It really has to do with openness. Less opening, the verb, but more openness as a practice. Widening the backdrop of this life a bit.”

I’m hoping to push myself a little further in all of these areas.

Stretching my body: last year, at the ripe old age of forty, was the first year in my entire life that I really committed myself to building strength and flexibility. It’s not an overnight transformation, but I’m honestly surprised at what a difference a regular practice of challenging fitness routines can make.

Crafting a home: I’m going to do my best to enjoy the process, and I’m so excited for some of the things we have planned for the house. I’m going to commit the same sort of rigor and discipline to the planning and implementation of those projects, large and small, as I have to working out.

Opening up more in my writing: I’m going to try and worry less about what I’m going to write about or how I’m going to say something, and just write. I’m also going to try not to worry so much about the quality of the photos. It’s the artist in me – and the perfectionist – but I need to be okay with the fact that photography is a difficult, and unstudied, medium for me.

Outside of the big three above, I have a few smaller goals. I’d like to run in a few races this year – maybe not huge ones, but I’d like to participate in a few larger running events outside of my normal solitary practice. I’m still considering trying a half marathon over my birthday weekend in April. We have some exciting travel lined up! And some relaxing travel, too! And I want to continue to push myself in the kitchen. We do dinner well. The girls would love some more variety at breakfast, and I’d like to help E make a better school lunch at least a few days a week. And after all of this recent travel and shifts to our regular diet, I’d like to get better at our travel diets as well. We spend a whole lot of effort complaining about the sorry state of eating options when we’re not at home, but not a whole lot of effort being imaginative or proactive with a solution.

So here’s to good intentions, a fresh start, and a dent in my laundry piles this week! 2016, I’m ready.

good intentions

We’re back from our holiday travels, and feeling about the same as we always do in this first full week of January. Dead tired.

I know many people find the holidays relaxing and the start of the new year rejuvenating, and I might just be a teeny bit jealous of those people. True, there are occasional naps that happen over that time period, as well as long stretches of lounging around in pajamas past a respectable hour. But those road hours will catch up with you – we put almost 3200 miles on our car (and our bodies) in five weeks. Just the sorting and the packing and the hauling and the stuffing of the car – down three stories and out to the street, then back again, repeat, then repeat again. Our little Volvo with its little trunk and seats gets stuffed to the brim (each stuffing takes an hour or two), and we wedge ourselves in with little wiggle room to spare. The middle days are fun and full, but the road is long and boring and we’re bleary eyed and road food bloated and bickering by the end.

Monday returns, and everyone else in the world seems refreshed, sweet greens juiced, and glowing from the extra workouts. They have organized closets and their holiday decorations are tucked away in rubbermaid bins, glitter and pine needles vacuumed off the rugs. There is a half completed jigsaw puzzle on the dining room table and their resolutions are posted – with visual aides! – and they include “spend more time with the family”, which means around the jigsaw puzzle and not shoehorned into a rest area toilet stall with an obstinate five-year-old continually setting off the auto-flush sensor because she can’t just sit still and finish the job. We always arrive home in the last hours of the last day, to a cold house and an empty refrigerator and an overflowing mailbox with soggy bills. We try to locate four toothbrushes and four clean pillowcases and collapse into bed before the machine starts again the next morning, like it or not.

Last night (a Monday night), I geared myself up to go back out into the frigid temps and pick up groceries for the week. My list was relatively uncomplicated, but even stops at three grocery stores didn’t cover it. The produce shelves were bare, even the basics were gone. Apparently everyone else restocked their pantries over the weekend, and vowed to eat more greens. At ten minutes until ten, on a Monday night, in the produce section of Whole Foods (my third and last resort for the elusive and exotic cilantro and yellow onion, sarcasm intended), exhaustion set in. It felt like everyone else in the entire world had their act together except for me. My closets are a wreck, the swags of greenery on the house have turned brown, the tree is drying out and half the lights don’t work. There is glitter EVERYWHERE you look, and the surface of my dining room table hasn’t come up for air since JUNE. If you opened up a jigsaw puzzle at my front door, and then moved through the house trailing pieces behind you along the way, you wouldn’t even notice them. I’m intentionally ignoring all the resolution lists everyone is talking about at the moment because I just can’t visualize any of them right now. I can’t imagine getting more sleep because I can hardly see my bed. I’d be more present and relaxed with my family, if I could locate them among the piles.

I don’t have a real solution for this situation short of the obvious (and rather miserable) option of staying put for the holidays. I like the holidays. I like our family. Those are pretty significant things in and of themselves. This really isn’t about those things. I just always enter January feeling like the worst version of myself. Worn down, stiff, and snippy, and sort of like I’m missing the party. Getting a good weekend in should help, but it’s Tuesday still, and there isn’t a longer week on the calendar than the first full week of January.

…..

I have no resolutions this year. Last year I set goals, and as M pointed out on one of our car rides – “You kind of knocked last year’s goals out of the park.” Every once in awhile it’s good to set some hard and fast goals and see them through. For 2015 I’m leaning more towards good intentions. I’ve got several of those knocking around in my head. I’ll write them here, as a note to myself, when they get a little clearer. And my house is a little cleaner.