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Resolutions: lean and clean in ’18

January 3, 2018

Happy New Year, party people! My gosh, there were times during the last 365 days when I wasn’t sure we’d see the ball drop again, but we got there. Somehow. And thank goodness, too, because Mariah just couldn’t leave things like that. I rang in 2018 with the two oldest chicks (Sloppy Joan passed out to Spirit about an hour shy of the mark), my in-laws and my bro. It was everything you’d expect from 35 … a well-glazed ham, a counter full of Crock-Pots and a red wine hangover that began before I even went to bed.

I’m sure it comes as a shock to no one who reads this thing regularly that I am a huge sucker for the new year. As a seasoned ball dropper myself, I relate to the ceremony of it all. Admittedly, I get super romantic about the promise of a fresh start; the optimism, the possibility, the lies I can tell myself in the two weeks leading up to January 1, and the way I almost totally believe them.

I spend a lot of time plotting out my resolutions. I take them seriously, and I love stumbling across other people who take them seriously, too. It makes me feel validated and more secure in my ill-fated hopefulness. But to find those people, you have to kiss a lot of frogs first. You have to hear eight thousand times, “resolutions are a joke,” “I don’t believe in that shit,” and “My resolution is to stop making resolutions.” (So witty, that last one.)

Goal-setting is not everyone’s glass of Sunny D. I get it. Far be it for me to hate on someone who’s satisfied with the way their life is rolling along. That’s commendable! Grab a cup of joe and cuddle up with that joy, I say! Just don’t be a dick to those of us who still consider ourselves a work in progress, k?

So, what’s to become of this desperate little seeker in 2018?

After much deliberation and polling my social circle and complete strangers alike, I have arrived at my list for the year ahead. There are always some repeats from previous lists, either because I didn’t get the job done last year, or because I’m enjoying it so much, I want to keep going. This year’s no exception. I’ve already walked a bit down the path on some of these and, either wandered off into the woods to drink moonshine with the natives, or have miles yet to go.

2018 Resolutions

  • No sugar + No dairy
  • Very little meat + fish
  • Meditate at least 15 minutes a day, every day
  • Exercise in some fashion 6 days a week
  • Write something (non-DSS or work related) and put it out into the world
  • Less things, more experiences
  • Create space to love myself and my life

No sugar + No dairy.
We’ll hit this one right out of the gate, starting January 2. The hope is, we can really focus on these big bad guys for 30 days and then just carry that momentum forward. Not new information here, but the sweet stuff is public enemy No. 1 for this mama. Sucrose, fructose, maple, honey, cane, corn, brown, molasses … you name it, I’ll roll something in it and eat it. I can’t get enough. The butter, the cheese, the milk, the ice cream, I can tackle those lovely temptresses. Especially with so many semi-palatable replacements.

Very little meat + fish.
This one is also at the top of the list, but we’ve already started tiptoeing down the vegan path. I’d say our carnivorous consumption is down at least 50 percent. I’d be lying if I didn’t say that sometimes, a juicy burger or BBQ pulled pork sandwich just really gets my cavewoman heart a pumpin’. But, I will also say that, after going 14 days with no animal products, eating a pound of cow feels like swallowing a sofa. The sooner we can all get on board with easing up on things that moo, squeal or cluck, and being more mindful about the care they were given when they roamed the earth, the better off our planet will be.

Meditate at least 15 minutes a day, every day.
I’m phasing this one in after 30 days so I don’t completely fall apart before we hit February. I’ve had Headspace on my phone for months, that orange circle taunting me every time I see my home screen. When I make it happen, it makes me so happy. I have this recurring meditation. My mind just automatically plays it. It lives somewhere deep inside me and when I let some quiet in, it surfaces like a hug from my calmer self. The problem is, I rarely let the quiet in. I’m going to get better about that.

Exercise in some fashion 6 days a week.
Between Beachbody OnDemand and my gym membership, it should be harder for me to miss a workout than to get one in. But nevertheless, I often find 500 excuses to sidestep the sweat. For my sanity, I need to get back into a routine and start moving. I’m toying with trying a trail race in 2018, and would also love to find a spin class that fits into my schedule. Working toward a goal is always the best motivator so we’ll see what my fitness journey looks like over the next 365 days.

Write something (non-DSS or work related) and put it out into the world.
By far the most intimidating resolution on my list, I have a few ideas I’m staring at from a 3,000 foot view. I would love to do some research, get some words on paper, and send them out into the universe wrapped in lots of genuine love and intention. We’ll see, we’ll see … the thought is both exhilarating and nauseating.

Have you ever seen the movie First Knight? So good! Well, in it, King Arthur of Camelot (Sean Connery) dies and a bunch of knights, including Lancelot (Richard Gere) float his body out to see on a bunch of twigs and then, once he’s far enough away from the shore, shoot flaming arrows at it to light him on fire as Guinevere (Julia Ormond) looks on. In my mind, those twigs and body are my work and the flaming arrows are the publishing world. Clearly I have some issues to work through.

Less things, more experiences.
A favorite returns in 2018! I love, love, love this idea. I have stuff. I have a house full of gadgets and gizmos and garments and groceries. When I look around, i feel both blessed and burdened. To be honest, I would give most of it up in exchange for the chance to stand on a mountaintop with my tribe. I love smelling the air in a space I’ve never seen and seeing the reflection of the world in my daughters’ eyes. No blanket scarf or super juicer can top those moments. When it comes to spending money, insert a pause and consider putting your pennies toward places rather than pieces.

Create space to love myself and my life.
This is obscure perhaps, but also, so clear to me. I jam pack my days with the tiny functions of my family. Lunches and ponytails and bus schedules and Instant Pot recipes and baths and pajamas and Judy Blume books. I can easily fill the five waking hours a day I spend with my husband and chicks with tasks and caretaking. This does not make me unlike every mother in every corner of this planet. But between the morning, work and evening rush, there has to be a little room to breathe. There has to be some unscheduled space. I need to create a place to play. I don’t know what that looks like, but I know it’s lacking right now.

I can only explain it by sharing the way I feel when I hike. When I don’t have cellular data, or an agenda, or a plethora of first world amenities, I feel liberated. Like I’m opening my wings after keeping them under a lead jacket for months. But I don’t think it’s just the scenery. I think it’s cutting the tether to my everyday. I’d love to find a more convenient, accessible way to achieve the same freedom.

What are your resolutions for 2018? If you’re into that sort of thing. Whatever the goal, I hope the next 12 months are full of tender, sweet moments and joyous, soul-stirring triumphs. I wish you loud giggles – from your own belly and those of little ones – and restorative quiet. Glennon Doyle always says, “We can do hard things.” And I think I’d like to do some of those hard things this go around. Giddy up!

Thoughts

These three resolutions made the cut

January 5, 2017

Happy New Year, you beautiful souls!

I don’t know what your Christmas looked like, but mine was fantastic, to the tune of a tummy-flattening stomach flu (second time in three weeks), a 103 fever for Spike and 2500 rainbow loom bands scattered across the floor like birthday confetti thanks to Sloppy Joan. Ahhhh, the holidays. A time of sugarplums and pure insanity.

Anyway, you blink and Bam! A brand new year has arrived. Everybody’s so excited to see 2016 go and I’m over here all just like fine with the ways things are. [gulp.] But I’m going to put my big girl pants on, stuff some optimism in my pockets and step boldly into 2017 with my chin up and hope in my heart.

The best part about turning the page? Resolutions. I love ‘em. I do. I typically come in at around eight goals because, you know, I’m desperate for improvement, and I typically hit one or two. Last year I checked off backpacking, trying one new thing a month, and I’d like to think talking less and listening more, but that’s subjective.

This year I got a little … we won’t say less ambitious, we’ll say wiser about resolutions. I hear a lot at work about setting SMART goals. They should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely/Trackable. Ohhhhhh! That makes so much more sense than saying, for instance, “I want to stop living by a schedule” or “I want to be a better human”.

Also, while I was enjoying some much-needed, stay-in-my-jammies all day time over the holidays, I came across Gabrielle Bernstein’s Facebook Live on goal setting. “Don’t make them negative,” she said. “Put a positive spin on them.” So, instead of saying, “I’m not going to let myself eat crap anymore.” You might say, “I’m going to truly fuel my body.” Find a way to take all the terrible things you need to quit and make them sound pretty. I’m up for it.

So, I see you 2017, and I’m comin’ for ya. Here’s what I’ve got my sights set on …

We’re tackling our fourth Whole30 in this house, and this time, the hope is I can reintroduce every food group but sugar. I have not kept my addiction to sugar a secret and it’s time to say goodbye once and for all (except for birthdays and warm donuts). Parting is such sweet sorrow.

I’d also like to push myself to get stronger. I always look down at a scale, but I’m starting to think scales are stupid. I want to look over at a bicep instead. I want to feel like a badass and have the package to drive the message home. I find the weight room at the gym to be such an intimidating place, filled with men who really, really use the mirrors. I need to get in there in the new year.

I need more of what scares me in my life. For example, Hank surprised me with a trip to see one of my besties in Florida in February and let me tell you a secret … come close … closer … closer … this is going to be really embarrassing for one of us … I have never flown by myself. Yes, I am 34 years old. Yes, I do grownup things like pay bills and buy food to cook it and keep a household of people alive. Yes, I am terrified to fly by myself. But I’m doin’ it! I love the feeling after I do something new and it turns out completely fine and, on top of that, it’s awesome. And most new things are just like that.

I want to use my vacation days for vacation and not just sick kids and furniture deliveries. Americans throw away like 600 million vacation days a year. Let’s all agree that’s just sad. When I think of my happy places, with my happy people and all I’ve yet to experience, I just want to turn in PTO and get going. Twenty years from now a house filled with things won’t mean shit compared to a heart papered in postcards from beaches and mountaintops, signed by my four favorite people (plus me, of course).

About two weeks ago I started on this one. I began unfollowing every major news outlet on Facebook, Twitter and email notifications. No more “Alerts” or “Updates”. I find that the majority of what’s published poisons my spirit, and the pieces I need to know always find me in other ways. Peace, to me, is better than drinking from the fire hose of negativity fed by our popular media outlets. It’s just noise at this point, and everyone wants to shout so their voice can make the ugliness even louder. Well, I don’t.

The second prong in this approach is the adoption of a flow rather than a routine. This one will actually be pretty brutal for me. If we’re buds, you know I live and die by my schedule. Up for the gym by 4:40 a.m., out the door for school and work by 7:16 a.m., lunch at noon, snack at 3 p.m., dinner on the table by 6:30 p.m., kids in bed by 8 p.m., melatonin at 9 p.m., nothing after 10 p.m. It is the fabric of my being. It’s ingrained in me the way Let It Go is ingrained in my children’s vocal cords. But living in a flow might look more like …

4:43 a.m. – I think I’ll sleep in a bit and do yoga at home instead of running at the gym.

Noon – I’m not too hungry yet, maybe I’ll finish up this story and then grab a late bite instead.

7:30 p.m. – It’s bath night but we really should go for a bike ride instead, it’s so beautiful out.

8 p.m. – I feel flustered. I think I’ll meditate for 15 minutes.

No one – and I mean no one – would describe me as a gal who can just roll with what comes, so this one’s my wild card, but I’m optimistic. Maybe sugarfree me will be more malleable, too.

Whatever goals you set for yourself, I hope the next 360 days bring you hope, love and lots of wholehearted contentment.

Thoughts

That was my last chance to be cool

May 18, 2016

“We were going to move to Michigan and grow medicinal marijuana … Wait, I didn’t tell you that?”
“No.”
“Oh, yeah, it was kind of like our last chance to be cool before we accepted that we’re just, you know, parents.”

FArm

One of my dearest friends (who shall remain nameless) has always ranked fairly high with me for her boisterous laugh and Devil-may-care disposition. This is a girl who bought a $500 pair of Louis Vuitton sunglasses on a mild buzz in Hawaii, only to break them rolling down a sand dune in Indiana. She barrels through life with the dance moves of Elaine Benes and the humor of Chevy Chase. And while I’ve never known her to be neither apologetic nor mundane, she’s incredibly endearing, with a backstory that will break your heart and a loyalty that can’t be deterred by distance.

When my friend got married and then, a few years later, had a little nugget, it meant a change to her usual shenanigans. It’s all fun and games when you get to be the crazy aunt, and blow into town with hot pink-colored bubbles and 10 pounds of chocolate then go home when their diarrhea sets in, but when the scoots are on your hands, it’s a messy adjustment. And while, like all new mothers, my sweet friend was relishing her new role, she had also undergone a mini identity crisis. I was seeing her on the other side of that crisis, fresh off accepting a new 8-to-5 position with a bank chain.

“You know how in your 20s you waste all of this time just assuming something cool will pan out?” she said. “Like some brilliant, badass job will just fall in your lap and you’ll live this amazing life. Well then I think you spend your 30s just slowly accepting that none of that shit is actually going to happen, and that a boring desk job isn’t just ‘to hold you over’ and you’re a mom now and, not that that isn’t wonderful, but you know … It’s just so … not what I thought. So, we thought we might start a pot farm in Michigan. But we aren’t now. So … I guess this is it!”

I sat there feeling so oddly connected to what she was saying. The conversation got me thinking about all of the Michigan pot farms in my past. Naturally, as a writer, I was going to move to New York City a la Carrie Bradshaw and write a tantalizing weekly opinion column. Then I was going to write a side-splitting non-fiction book that put me on the Oprah circuit to stardom. I was going to run off and hike for a few months straight. I was going to write a screenplay. I was going to be that woman who runs (in a sports bra and shorts only) behind my jogging stroller. I was going to start a creative firm with 2 of my best girlfriends. I was going to freelance in the mornings and explore in the afternoons. I was going to give a mother truckin’ TED talk.  I’m not the best mathematician, but I can estimate with a great deal of accuracy that I did 0% of those things.

NYC

And it all left me wondering when in the hell we all just gave up on being cool?

I mean, I dabble in cool things, sure. I partake in the occasional adventurous hour or two, but on the whole, all of those big assumptions of fame and splendid accomplishment from my 20s just fizzled out. I don’t know where they went, exactly, but I’m guessing it was off to some other 20-somethings ego. I started to envy the fact that my free-spirited friend actually went so far as to explore her medicinal marijuana operation. She at least entertained the notion that cool had not evaporated entirely in the presence of her smart wardrobe and comfortable working woman flats. I can’t remember the last time I considered such a move without including the words “401k” or “accrued time off” or “career path”. Blech! Who am I? What is this pure vanilla caked all over me?

Every night when I finally power down and roll to my side, I try to touch base with God. I thank him for my family, for my home and for my health. I ask Him to place His hands on the ones who are hurting or suffering or sad. And last night, I asked Him to make me a vehicle for something meaningful. To type it, it seems a bit self-important. Like I think I’m destined for greatness or something, but that’s not the intent. What I mean is I don’t want to waste my days or my words. I don’t want to wake up in my next decade of life feeling like I conceded all of the best things I have to offer in exchange for stability or savings that sit in a bank. I want to be open and gutsy and do something bold for the betterment of someone. I want to be cool for the greater good, gosh dang it!

Tune in Today

The big reveal

December 31, 2015

Goal

For a goal junkie like me, it shouldn’t come as a shock when I, right here on this blog with tens of dozens of followers, officially declare my unyielding love for New Year’s resolutions. I am, after all, an aspiring optimist. I embrace the idea that, even though I haven’t been able to pull something off for the past 365 days (or 33 years … whatever), the changing out of the calendar, as cued up by Jenny McCarthy of Singled Out fame, will somehow bring about the strength and willpower and skill necessary to finally climb that mountain … give up those sugary snacks … pump up that flat tire.

“This is it! This is the year,” I proclaim every January 2 (January 1 would just be unrealistic, cocky and disrespectful to the due process my hangover demands). And I mean it, too. I go into it guns blazing, ready to fight the good fight in the battle of habit vs. headway. I print off lists and pencil in reminders and attack the first month with all the gusto of a potential Bachelor suitor at her first cocktail party. Eye on the prize. Forward ever. Backward never.

In the spirit of the aforementioned optimism, I’m going to drop this particular line of commentary off right here and gloss over the point in the year when the wheels inevitably fall off the wagon and I find myself in a parking lot eating Ritz crackers dipped in chocolate and drinking gas station cappuccino listening to the new Adele CD, working through all the feels. Yeah, I think we’ll just stop there and move on to the goal portion of this post.

First, let’s journey back in time.

Resolutions for 2014
1) I want to practice mindfulness/meditation.
2) Have a fit pregnancy.
3) I want to find a passion project, something that isn’t tied to work that encourages me to stretch as a writer again.
4) I want to play more with the girls.
5) Move forward with our dream of backpacking.
6) Try to stay positive at work.
7) Stop living by a schedule!
8) After this baby gets here, it’s time to get IN THE BEST SHAPE OF MY LIFE.
9) No more yelling.
10) I want to start celebrating other people more and making them feel special

Resolutions for 2015
1. Meditate (10-20 5 days a week)
2. Run the half in September
3. Backpack at least twice
4. Kick sugar addiction
5. Write something more than subject lines.
6. Quit. F-ing. Smoking.

So, being generous, I’d say I’m 4 for 16. The numbers could be stronger, I’ll admit. I’ve checked off some important ones – the cigs and the half – and I’ve thrown a few into this year’s group for a third consecutive round. Who knows, maybe this really will be their year. (Meditation, I’m lookin’ at you, kid.)  After a great deal of deliberation, and with some input from the peanut gallery, here is the big reveal – my list for the year ahead. This is it. I’m really doing it. Forward ever. Backward never.

Resolutions16

Feel free to share your own resolutions or give me unsolicited but helpful advice regarding any of mine. Anything goes!