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Friday, January 8, 2016

this and that

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


I tried to come up with something more clever than the word "resolution" but then decided that there's nothing wrong with resolutions! The new year / fresh start/ blank page type of energy is real, and it's fun to make the best of it while it lasts. 

The past few years I've resolved to become more organized with an emphasis on minimalism. I've succeeded in some areas (my closet and general 'toy' clutter) and failed in others (spending, being more organized about finances and paperwork, meal planning, eating cleaner and simpler- the list goes on). I officially received the message LOUD AND CLEAR that it is easier to live a messy and complicated life than it is to live one that is streamlined and simple. 

This year I'll continue to strive for streamlined and simple without being too hard on myself when things get messy and complicated.

So- to that end, here are my 2016 New Years Resolutions :-)

1. A clean car
Not clean from the car wash, but just neat in terms of removing all of the ridiculous items that accumulate in my car over the course of the day. I wish I could blame my messy car on my children, but the truth is my car was equally (if not more) messy before I had children. I spend a lot of time in my car, and some of my most precious time is the drive to and from school. On the legs where my kids are in the car, we talk about their days, their friends, we practice spelling words, we listen to our favorite songs on Spotify or listen to Kids Place Live on the radio. I sometimes wish for a shorter ride to school, but I'm usually grateful for the quiet-ish time we have together in the car.

On the legs where my kids are not in the car, I either catch up with my two closest friends or parents or husband, or I listen to books on tape. Usually some combination thereof. I have managed to "read" so many books that I would have never had time for if it weren't for Audible and the school commute.

So- when my car is full of books and water bottles and paper trash and shoes, it's a little stressful. It's not nearly as nice as when it's clutter free. I'm not sure how much I buy into feng shui and all that, but I do feel genuinely calmer and more focused when my car is cluuter-free. Plus it's safer. Plus it's not embarrassing if someone has to unexpectedly ride in my car.

2. Stop using credit cards
Credit cards are not a good thing for me. I wish I was someone who could easily "see" the state of my finances across 20 different bills plus several credit card accounts, and that I could successfully take advantage of all the enticing credit card points, cash rewards and airline miles, but after 37 years on this planet, I realize I cannot. A debit card + checking account + savings account provides me with the clearest picture of my financial situation. Credit cards free up cash, but facing that balance at the end of the next month is just delaying the inevitable. Also, I tend to treat credit card money as only slightly more valuable than Monopoly money. Cash in a checking account forces me to be a lot more frugal. This will be a tough one for me. Goodbye dear AmX card, we've had some really good times together. :-(

3. Cut cable
Last week our Internet was out for a few days (which was actually sort of blissful) and I realized that we watch next to nothing that is actually on cable. I watch specific shows on Netflix or Showtime or FX- all of which can be viewed via streaming options. And the kids (who don't watch any TV on weekdays) watch either DVDs, movies we own on iTunes (we have a pretty impressive collection) or streaming Netflix. I think I'm paying wayyyyy too much per month for something that we don't really use. The tricky part will be figuring out sports for my husband, but I am confident that it can be done. I particularly love that this resolution requires a one-time effort and then I can say "I did it!" I can successfully mark off an entire resolution with a few phone calls + trip to the Comcast store to return equipment.

4. Read better books
Books are really impactful to me. A good author's "voice" lingers in my head and really infiltrates my thoughts for days or even weeks after I finish a book. I'm not in a place in my life where I can travel a lot, so reading quality books is the next best thing I've found to expanding my world. But the key is 'quality.' I can enjoy a good guilty pleasure book as well as anyone, but a steady diet of beach reads can be just as toxic (for me) as a steady diet of junk food. Plus there are hundreds of classics that my BA and MA in English didn't leave time for including a lot by Hemingway, Woolf, Austen, Twain, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, etc. I'd also like to re-read the Goldfinch and Secret History (by Donna Tartt) and finally get through The Little Friend (same author). Currently I'm reading Jane Eyre & scratching my head as to how I've never read it. It's amazing.

5. Write everyday 
When I turned 30, I promised myself I'd write a book this decade. Whelp. I'm rounding the bend into 40 and still no book. Well, plenty of chapter 1s, but no chapter 2s. Maybe a decade was too much runway. At any rate. I have two solid ideas (for novels) that I'm exploring plus I have this blog. So I'm eliminating my excuses for not writing, right here, in writing. :-)

After reading Liz Gilbert's book Big Magic, I've become aware of how important creative endeavors can be to my happiness. And for me, writing is my skill. Writing is where I feel confident. I know enough to know what I don't know, and enough to know where to search for answers. I'm not a crafter, or an interior decorator, or a photographer, or a painter, or a drawer, or a particularly gifted cook, or a singer or any kind of musician- but I do feel comfortable expressing myself with words, and it makes me feel happy when I feel I've done it well. But for a long time, I've been a writer who doesn't write! And this feels terrible. On the one had, it's a waste of a talent, and on the other hand it is actually facilitating talent wasting. Each day or month that goes by that I don't write, I get out of shape mentally. I lose my style, my voice...my attention to grammatical detail goes out the window. I'm actually writing this resolution last, as a mere afterthought, but it should probably be #1 because I think it will make the biggest impact on my 2016. 

So there they are. I aimed for more concrete, Ben Franklin- style resolutions. Ones that I can clearly say "yes" or "no" to as opposed to just "eating clean" (which usually becomes 'well...eating 80% clean' by February and continues its downward slide from there). 

I'd love to hear your plans and thoughts about the new year. Did you make resolutions? Are there any major goals you're working towards? Any ingenious resources to help you get there?

Thanks for reading, and Happy 2016.

Friday, October 30, 2015

happy weekend, happy halloween

  • I just pre-ordered this book for the girls. Hah. Who am I kidding? I pre-ordered it for me.

  • College me would've claimed this song as a personal anthem. Cringe, but 37 year old me loves it too.

  • 100 years from now, critics will look back on these post-millenialish years as the golden age of American TV drama. Movies are unwatchable, sitcoms are flailing, but shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Homeland, VEEP, Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Newsroom and this - a new favorite are stunningly good and creative.