My 2014 “Revolutions”

I don’t really believe in New Years Resolutions. But I *do* wholeheartedly believe in goals. I’ve seen how much more intentionally I live my life when I have specific, measurable, and achievable goals to strive toward. Even if they aren’t all accomplished (such as only crossing off a handful of items from my legendary “27 list”), it has been in the pursuit of goals where I have lived the mantra that the journey is the destination. Rather than hastily decide on a resolution on the first day of the year, I’ve spent the past month or so really trying to figure out what I want to reach for and commit to in 2014.

Last year I had the idea to create goals in five different areas of my life: physical, spiritual, mental, financial, and personal (emotional). I decided to follow those same five areas as I began to think about goals for 2014. I’m calling them my “revolutions,” because of the genius that is this AT&T commercial:

A friend gave me the idea, while telling me about his new years “revolutions”, and after having a fun moment fangirl-ing together over all that brilliant commercial series, it got me to thinking. Because really, aren’t most goals at least a little revolutionary? I turn 30 this year, and I’m excited, more than I ever thought I would be. And I feel like if ever there was a time to get excited about some revolutionary change, it’s this year. I’m posting my revolutions here on my blog because I know that public accountability can only help my motivation to accomplish them. So here goes.

Physical: Do both spring and olympic distance triathlons this year, and to reach 20% body fat. 

While I’ve run pretty regularly in the past, I’m really excited to add the new challenge of triathlons this year. I am also working to really fundamentally change the way I think about food and what I consume (cutting out refined sugar again, eating tons of vegetables, avoiding dairy, etc), but trying to keep the focus on food as fuel, rather than worrying about calories and such.

Spiritual: Memorize Matthew 5-7.

There is a lot in the Bible that I just don’t know what to do with anymore. But the life and person of Jesus…I think I can pretty wholeheartedly get behind. And since the Sermon on the Mount is the biggest collection of “just” Jesus’ words that we have in all of Scripture, I really want to marinate on his words this year, to soak them in and allow them to become a part of me, and hopefully to really change me. 

Mental: Read 25 of the “Classics” that I have not yet read. 

I’m a total bookworm, most all of my friends know that. I read, A LOT. But…confession: there are still a ton of classics that this word nerd hasn’t made the time to delve into. I read many books this last year, but my default seems to be semi-autobiographies and YA novels. These are great choices, and I’ll probably continue to read them in 2014, but I want to be intentional about reading the classics this year too. So I’ve made a list.

And here’s the awesome thing (or sad, depending how you look at it), of the 25 books on this list, 18 of them are already on my bookshelf in physical form, three I have digital copies of via the Nook app on my phone, and one my roommate owns. I only have to look for three of these titles to add to my collection! (Which given my addiction to spending time in used bookstores, should be a real hardship). So I also get the added bonus of working toward my (someday) goal of reading all of the books already contained in my collection.

The list, in no particular order (and please, fellow book lovers, don’t judge me too harshly for not having read some of these masterpieces yet…):

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
  2. A Farewell to Arms, Ernest Hemingway
  3. Middlemarch, George Eliot
  4. The Violent Bear It Away, Flannery O’Connor
  5. The Brothers Karamozov, Fyodor Dostoevsky
  6. Kangaroo, D.H. Lawrence
  7. The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
  8. The Trial, Franz Kafka
  9. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
  10. Les Misérables, Victor Hugo
  11. The Prince, Machiavelli
  12. Lord Jim, Joseph Conrad
  13. 1984, George Orwell
  14. Lord of the Flies, William Golding
  15. Anna Karenina, Leo Tolstoy
  16. The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins
  17. The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner
  18. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  19. Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë
  20. The Odyssey, Homer
  21. The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien
  22. Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov
  23. Madame Bovary, Gustave Flaubert
  24. To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf
  25. The Jungle, Upton Sinclair

I think I’ll try to post a little blurb after I finish each book–not a review or critique, per se, but probably a chance to share a few passages or quotes that stood out to me, and any ways those words changed me or caused me to think further.

Financial: Establish and follow a personal budget and get rid of my credit card debt.

Unfortunately, I garnered some credit card debt during my extended stint of unemployment, and for one reason or another (medical issues, moving, working for a nonprofit!), I just haven’t been able to get rid of it. But no more! I’m gonna figure this shit out. Time to move forward.

Personal/Emotional: Work to learn about, accept, and even love my body

It’s too easy to focus on all of the things we don’t like about ourselves, especially when it comes to physical attributes. I want to really work on that this year, to re-teach myself about the beauty and the mystery and the wonder that is the body I have been given, as it is now (not as it has been or as it could be). A few tangible things I want to do are:

  • write a love letter to my body in the form of a spoken word poem (and to maybe be brave enough to perform it?!)
  • to become comfortable enough to wear a bikini (for the first time, gasp!) in public (which really doesn’t have much or anything to do with my fitness level or fat content, but rather the way I view my body and what is and isn’t “acceptable” about the way I present my body in a public place)
  • each month, to pick a physical attribute of my body that I have hated or put down or been ashamed of (in the past or presently), to re-focus my gaze on the good, the beauty, the practicality of that attribute, and to find a way to use/engage/inspire a way to serve or bless others in connection to it. (I might have to get very creative the month I focus on my butt…) ;)

The second part of this goal is where I get to reward myself. I am going to set aside a little money each month, and if (a big IF) I can accomplish (or at least make significant progress toward achieving) all of my goals this year, I’m going to finally get a big tattoo I’ve been dreaming about for a good while now, probably one that spans my right rib cage and part of my side/lower back. I have a few ideas of what I might like, but I’m also excited about what ideas might germinate this year about content and design.

//

It’s an ambitious list, I realize. I think I like it that way. I want to live my life, not simply allow my life to live me. Hopefully these goals can be a part of actualizing that concept.

I’d love to hear feedback about my ideas, or about ways you hope to revolutionize your life this coming year. Any and all forms of encouragement are always welcome.

LET THE REVOLUTIONS BEGIN! :)

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“counting the heartbeats”

The seconds turn into minutes,
ticking away one by one.

Those are my heartbeats
I hear,
pounding in my head
marking off the time
marching toward

something.

Just not
the something I need.

I lie here
stomach in knots.
Mind buzzing,
head aching.

The sleep I so desperately long for
staying just out of reach.

But the heartbeats…

the heartbeats soldier on.

When I miss “my people”

I haven’t been sleeping. Ok, that’s not quite accurate. Once I finally get to sleep, I’ve been sleeping fine. It’s the getting there that seems to be the problem.

It’s not unusual for me. I internalize stress, anxiety, sadness, and a plethora of other uncomfortable emotions in ways that often affect me physically. So I wasn’t surprised, when, after I told her about it, my mom asked me why I wasn’t sleeping. I didn’t have a ready answer for her then; I honestly wasn’t sure.

I was more surprised later realizing what the “why” actually is this time around.

I’m lonely. Incredibly, desperately lonely. So much so that I wasn’t admitting it to myself, as if subconsciously I knew that acknowledging the fact might pull me under.

I returned a week ago from 11 glorious days spent with my beloved family. And I miss them so much it’s a tangible hurt sometimes. I know my deep affection for my family is not necessarily “normal” these days, but I’m don’t care one bit. I am incredibly grateful for them and blessed to have them in my life. Whether it’s the cool thing to do or not, my family means the world to me. They are my lifeline.

But they’re not here. Not in Phoenix. They’re in Edwall, Rancho Cucamonga, Medical Lake, Spokane, Palo Alto, San Ramone, Bellingham.

And neither are my (non-biological) people. The friends who have become as family to me? In Seattle, Boulder, Wenatchee, Silverdale, Japan.

Try as I may, true community has been difficult for me to find in Phoenix. Some friends, yes. People I enjoy hanging out with, absolutely. But “my people”? The people that I am comfortable sharing all of my messiness and junk and quirky humor with? The people who get me and know me and love me unconditionally? The people I can ask favors and help from, who let me know that I am needed, who offer themselves without being asked?

I can’t will those kind of relationships into being. And I just can’t quite seem to find them here.

I had anticipated some of this before I made the choice to move back here. I knew I would be giving up the close proximity to my family. I knew it would be difficult at times. I don’t regret that decision, not really. I believe this is where I’m supposed to be right now. Not forever, hopefully, but for now.

It’s just that I don’t know what to do on nights like these.

I don’t want to lie here, unable to fall asleep, but aware of how alone I feel. Because in the silence and the darkness, the weight of loneliness can make it hard to breathe. Instead, I’ve been frantically filling my spare moments with cleaning and organizing and books and movies, waiting until my body takes the choice of staying awake away from my brain, until utter exhaustion takes over.

My sleep issues tend to be cyclical, which on the plus side means this inability to fall asleep probably won’t last indefinitely. And who knows? Maybe one of “my people” is just waiting to be discovered, in a stranger or an already friend.

But for tonight I’m lonely. I’m alone. And I still can’t sleep.

Where I Allow Myself to be Messy

After I started writing again, my mom called to tell me she was worried about me. And I get it, I really do. I don’t have the privilege of seeing her day in and day out anymore. We talk a few times a week, but it’s easier to hide on the phone, when I don’t have to look her in the eyes and honestly answer the question, “How are you?” (though I promise I do try to be honest).

Most of my writing comes out of tension, though. I have a lot of good days. Taken as a whole, I have a whole collection of good moments, interactions, situations, and exchanges since I have moved back to Phoenix. It’s just that I have never much been motivated to write about the good. The great? Perhaps, although those moments seem to be few and farther between. But it is the tension, the questions, the need to figure out what I know (or don’t know) that spurs me to write.

Strangely enough, for me, this blog is almost the antithesis of some of my other social media presence. Facebook becomes a snapshot of the beautiful moments, the profound thoughts, the comedic gold. It tends to be where I present the best sides of myself, if only the good moments bordering on the mundane. Here on my blog, though, is where I show the less-than-best sides of myself. Here I capture the moments I need to wrestle, the things I don’t have figured out, the words that spill out of me when I can no longer hold them in. It’s messy here. It’s not very pretty.

I have struggled with that side of writing most of my life. On my blog in the past, I regularly felt the need to tidy things up, to come to some sort of conclusion or resolution. To some extent, I still actively fight against that compulsion. But largely, I just don’t have the energy anymore. That is not to say I have no answers, or no resolution; rather that I grew unbelievably weary of trying to force them to be there in places where they hadn’t organically occurred (yet). Let’s be honest, pretending is exhausting. In beginning to write again, I simply don’t have it in me to force those areas to be neat and tidy.

I think both sides are important. I actually think Facebook is helpful in reminding me to rejoice in the small happinesses, that everything doesn’t have to be so serious. This space is helping me work through the other side of the coin; where I allow myself to be unkept, untidy, unanswered.

If you follow my blog, thank you. I hope this space, these words, are helpful to you. Thanks for joining me in this process. Thanks for being a part of my process.

“Drowning”

It is good to know,
I suppose,
that one is drowning.

Less helpful,
though,
if what you are drowning in is unclear.

Water?
Fight to keep breathing,
to reach for the surface.
Find the strength to move.

But if quicksand?
Halt.
Stop fighting.
Find the will to be still.

If you don’t know?

When I don’t know what I’m writing about

I’m hesitant to write on nights like this one. Usually I feel urged by something–heard, read, seen, thought, proposed, etc. I might not know exactly where I’m going, but I have some vague sense of what is pushing me there. The writing process is what helps me to figure out.

The writing process is what helps me figure it out. 

Ok, yeah. I guess that’s why I’m writing tonight. Because I can feel the compulsion welling up inside of me, even if I really don’t know why. There’s nothing I really know I need to work out. Just this desperate feeling that writing will make me better, make me feel a little less desperate to crawl out of my own skin.

//

Is it weird to say that I’m worried about myself? Either way, I suppose that I am. I’ve got some classic signs of deepening depression, and I’m worried. I suppose that I am self-aware enough to know is something good; but knowing doesn’t mean I can seem to avoid or counteract them entirely.

Also, I’m really good at pretending. I should be, I spent most of my life perfecting the damn art.

Maybe that’s why I’m compelled to write. I need people to know it’s a struggle. And I don’t seem to be very good at telling them face-to-face.

It’s hard unlearning to pretend.

//

It might sound equally as weird to say I am also hopeful. The beauty of being human is that we are constantly changing. I’m not the same person I was the last time I battled depression. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I grew up a lot too. My circumstances are different, my faith is different, my head space is different.

And this is perhaps the first time I can remember where I’m actively taking steps to be healthy, even while knowing I’m probably on a downswing.

Writing is a part of that. Even when I finish, and I’m still not really sure what the heck I was writing about.

“Am I brave enough to keep asking?”

Questions without answers.
They used to scare me shitless.

Some of them still do.

I’ve learned to live in the tension with others;
we’ve found an uneasy co-existence, of sorts.

But I realized something.

Now,
I might be more scared of the answers.

“The Storm”

Standing here, I inhale the sweet, cleansing,
intoxicating smell of the rain.

I ponder.
Why do I love the storm?

Wind swirls around me,
tousling my hair,
shaking the leaves of the giant palm tree overhead.

I’m reminded.
My favorite kind of weather
is a storm.

The more violent the tempest,
the more alive
(yet at peace) I feel.

I wonder.
What does that say about me?