Friday, January 7, 2011

Resolutions 2011

It's January 7…a little late for resolutions. So, first and foremost, a promise that I will not be making future promises on timeliness. Let's just acknowledge now that this is no longer a strong suit. And while we're at it, no promises on increased social networking either. Twitter and facebook serve their respective purposes, but I don't need extra of either in my life about now - I'll continue to try to utilize them both, hopefully effectively, but without going overboard. 

This post is entitled resolutions, but truly, these will be my best efforts. I don't enjoy making promises I can't keep (I hate false expectations), nor do I particularly enjoy the stress associated with struggling to keep those promises I shouldn't have made in the first place. So, I am best efforts girl, not a resolutionary. I can live with that.

New Blog Format and Design
Okay, I could totally make this one a promise, because I've already taken steps to make it happen. I'm so excited!! For a very long time, I've continued to attempt to write a food blog without my heart being into it - it's time to acknowledge that my life is different than it used to be and for me to move on to the next stage. I'm still a girl that loves to eat, but that's just a small part of me. The idea of simultaneously capturing more of my identity and letting my creative juices flow has me rather stoked. Don't worry, I still expect there will be plenty of the food I do so love.

Letting Go of my Need to Control and Accomplish
I plan to make a plan for scaling down maintenance. I do not have enough time in my day to be vain about appearance, so my hair and skin care routines need to be minimized. I'm working on both of these processes, but a post looking for suggestions will probably follow (although, admittedly, such a post is a little vain in and of itself). The gym and Pilates, that maintenance is a must, so those will not be hours cut from my life. Plus, I feel immensely better when I run and stretch regularly.

I'm also cutting back on financial management. I love me some pie charts and experience a release of tension when I balance the checkbook, but Charles Schwab has yet to make a mistake with our accounts. There's no reason to expect that things will go awry when I stop writing down every little transaction. It's okay to cut back in this area and handle the finances on an as-needed basis. Plus, Schwab employs a lot of people to do these things for me. I should take advantage and let them tell me how to set up systems that don't need me to be so actively involved. I'll be honest - the process began this month, and I'm already having trouble letting go, but this is something I can cut back on, and I'm trying. 

Beginning in February, I will be taking a photography class. At this point, I don't know if this one will be more or less time-consuming. Is it silly to stress over crappy photographs and not feel like I'm documenting my beautiful son's life properly? Well, yes, I know that it is, but it's something I do. So, this is my attempt to remedy my little hyperventilation. We'll see how it goes. By the way, if anyone is looking to sell a used SLR, I'm looking for a lower-end model to use in my class to figure whether my abilities will be worth an upgrade to a nicer camera.

I will accept my commute home for what it is. I will not obsess with attempts to proactively find my way through traffic that will continue to exist, whether I want to will it away or not. The first step is acknowledging that I am a passive-aggressive driver. Actually, I'm just aggressive, and it's the worst kind of aggressiveness, with little to no introspection involved. I scream at people for doing to me what I do to others. I take it as a personal insult, even when I expect other drivers to deal with me. (Let me just note here, in my defense, that my son is never in the car during my commute. He actually has a spectacularly mellowing affect on me and my driving. His presence has a way of instantly putting things into perspective. For that, I'm grateful.). The other step will be letting go of the ideal that it's an accomplishment to pick up baby H earlier from one day to the next. I have this strange sense of pride in saving five minutes of commuting time, and it results in some of the aforementioned aggressive driving techniques. C has suggested listening to a book-on-tape as a way of feeling like the commute time is not wasted. I think he might be on to something, so I'm looking for a good literary listening choice to start.

What all of this really means is that I need to take some more time for me to relax, to read books, nap, to do nothing even when there's food to be cooked, cases to be reviewed, and errands to be run. Even when there are incomplete projects at work, I'm going to try my best to leave on time, not bring those projects home, or worse yet, think about them when I'm supposed to be off the clock. So many friends and family members have encouraged me to just chill, and I say it to myself, but I never really follow through on this advice. Instead, I try and try to get little tasks done, and then those tasks build, and little by little, I become more and more stressed and not a fun person to be around. That has to stop, and I'm going to truly devote my best efforts to this particular one.

Reducing Travel Expectations
Our trip to Disney taught me a few lessons in traveling with toddler. Like, for instance, there will be no trip to Germany/Switzerland this summer as I may have liked. It's too much to ask from the little guy. Or, that sometimes, we will just have to fork over the extra cash to make things comfortable for him (a larger hotel room, checking a bag, the extra seat, and shipping the baby gear, for example). I think that big trips will be few and far between in the next few years. Family outings at rented houses, with rooms and relatives on hand, will probably be more regular. As will long weekends, of which the prospect of planning gives me a pick-up for the gray winter upon us now. I think a mommy day-trip (probably still need to get daddy's vote on this one), family ski getaway, and possibly a childless anniversary trip may all be in order for 2011, plus the multiple wedding weekends we have to look forward to this year. Perhaps Europe can wait a few more years for the growing family to cross the pond again.

Figuring Out What to do With My Professional Life
I am a bureaucrat. It is what it is. I lawyer for a living, and to provide our family's healthcare. I can accept that role and feel decent for helping to meet my family's needs. That said, it's always worthwhile to consider if there may be something more fulfilling, more meaningful, more intrinsically satisfying in my future path. It's been a long while since I felt a good deal of passion for practicing law. I felt a little better about it when I returned to only part-time work, but I'm back to full time now. I don't know if my lack of passion relates to my job specifically, or the legal profession at large. I plan to devote a good deal of thought and prayer to this subject. 

Another facet of this issue that I can no longer ignore is this little voice in the back of my head telling me I'm meant to teach. Part of of me says shut up - you spent far too much money on schooling and are far too invested in your current path to change it now - you made your choice; any other dreams are over. But another part of me wonders if it's in my genes (my parents both taught public school for 30 years, and so far, have only been able accomplish an "attempted retirement" from teaching). If I am truly being called by this little voice, I don't want to ignore it.

If I'm being honest, my two favorite jobs ever were (1) waiting tables throughout college, and (2) interning at the St. Louis prosecutor's office. Does this tell me anything about what I should do? No. Neither is exactly a career choice for a new mother. Plus, I have financial considerations to address. These are the things I know I want out of my career (and that I want a career; I'm not made to be a full-time stay-at-home mom - I have a need to be doing - and that's okay for me to accept that) - passion, feeling part of a community, feeling like I'm doing good, balance with my personal life (i.e., maybe less than full time work), and less stress. How I accomplish those things, or even go about figuring out how to accomplish those things - I'm clueless.

Okay, now you all have truly dealt with nothing less than a lengthy journal entry. For those who are still hanging on, thanks for your patience and thanks for caring. Less babbling next time - I promise! ;)


Manimal said...

Best of luck on all those best efforts, I think all your readers will be thrilled with the new format and experiences!

Capitol to Capital said...

Agree on commuting just being what it is. I lived on audiobooks when mine was longer. I got them from the Arlington Public Library. You can actually get the cds, or if your car is fancy, download them and put them on your iPod to play through the car. This has its frustrations since uploading them can take forever and iTunes is a cranky piece of crap. @WaffleW for suggestions, she listens to a lot of audiobooks too. I recently heard Frank Bruni's Born Round, Roald Dahl's Boy, and Water for Elephants. Also a good time for the 50ish minute This American Life, or something trashy like Chelsea Handler.

W. Mark Felt, Sr. said...

Great ideas for audiobooks (and Arl. Co. library as a resource) - I've wanted to read Born Round; oh, I loved Water for Elephants (sad about the idea of a movie; I don't think it will translate well to film). Do we think the public library carries Chelsea Handler?