I’m Starting the New Year the Same Way I Ended the Old One–Softly

I think it was my cousin Alex who posted a meme in her Instagram stories about why we go on about ending the year strong when we should be ending the year softly -resting, recuperating, relaxing. I’m paraphrasing it badly, but it still spoke to my soul.

When I saw this I was in the homestretch of a brutal marathon of projects. I was doing Book ’em, Danno, Here, Watch This with Shann, and covering three shows on Eventually Supertrain with Dan. I also had Five Minutes to do for Patreon. I was finishing up the prep for my program that I’ll be giving later this month at work. I was also working on a couple of library podcast episodes so I could have the comp time to cover my traditional birthday week vacation. And then there was NaNo, the page-a-day, the Sunday story, and blogging. Full disclosure: I did this to myself and I regret none of it. I could have said “no” to most of these things, but I chose to say “yes” and I’m glad I did. It’s just that I once again overestimated myself and as a result their were consequences.

I burned myself out. Oops.

By the time I saw this random message, I was more than ready to embrace it.

I decided to end 2022 as softly as I could.

Deadlines and schedules being what they were, there was only so much I could control. I made the executive decision not to do any blog posts for the month of December. That gave me a little less stress and a little more time to do other things. I also finished as much of my audio work as I could before December. Another thing that freed up some time and lowered the stress levels.

After that, it was all about scheduling, balancing work with rest, which to be honest, is something I suck at and should be doing anyway.

For my part, I think I did well. Even with the Grinchmas shopping, crafting, shipping, and baking, I did not end the year feeling frazzled, completely bereft of energy, patience, and will to live. I ended the year somewhat softly and it made a huge difference in how I entered 2023.

I chose to enter the new year softly as well.

I tend to ease into January anyway. After all, I’m usually exhausted and dragging myself into a new calendar. This year I’m purposely going in softly. I am continuing my practice of being mindful about my schedule. I’m taking it easy, but being productive. What are my deadlines? What is my schedule? What can I control? Where can I be soft?

After doing so much audio last year, I plan to scale back this year. I still have projects with deadlines that will get done, but it’s a matter of not letting my schedule become so overwhelmed with it. I need to pace myself better and this means saying “no” or “not right now” sometimes, even if it’s something I really want to do. I need to let myself be booked sometimes.

It was in the latter portion of 2022 that I realized how much I miss writing. After years of creativity and productivity issues, I hit a sweet spot last year that I haven’t experienced in a long time and my schedule was so crowded that I felt like I had no time to indulge in it.

This month, my birthday vacation is also going to be a writing vacation. No library work and no audio projects. Just me and writing words. No deadlines or productivity goals. Just me writing.

And if it goes the way I think it will go, that is to say well, then I play to making writing vacations a thing for the year. Find those weeks were I can just write without expectation or interruption.

I’m hoping that ending the old year and beginning the new year softly will teach me something about how I approach my scheduling and my projects and maybe help me figure out a better work/rest balance.

Let this not be one of the times I insist on learning the hard way.

Resolutions for 2013

It’s time to make my resolutions for 2013. Some I will ignore. Some I will keep. Some I will forget until I look at the list at the end of the year and am surprised that I made and kept them.

So here are five resolutions for 2013:

English: New Year's Resolutions postcard

1. Don’t get dead.

2. Have a good time.

(My two go-to’s that I have usually have no trouble keeping.)

3. Choreograph an entire belly dance routine to a song. I tend to start doing it and then get bored and quit. I really need to get some follow-through here.

4. Sleep more. I feel that only good can come from keeping this resolution.

5. Sing louder while making dinner. I prefer the kitchen to myself while I cook. Maybe louder renditions of “I Touch Myself” will persuade the people in my house to vacate the room while I cook.

It’s just a thought.

New Year Hopes

I’m one of those people that is pretty superstitious about transitioning from one year to the next because my aim is always to go into the new year with the idea and aim to make it better than the last. (I’m sure that nobody wants to make their new year worse than their last, but I’m sure some people wouldn’t mind holding pat; either way, neither here nor there in terms of this post.) I always go into each new year with specific hopes and goals. I wouldn’t call them resolutions. Resolutions are made to be broken. Hopes are meant to be had and goals are meant to be achieved.

My hopes and goals are one in the same. I have them and I’m going to work to achieve them. Here are some of the goals and hopes I have for 2012.

-I want to be happy. I’m a firm believer that happiness is something you create and I’d like to create a lot of it this year.

-I’m going to continue the practice of positive thinking. This one is hard for me. I’m a natural pessimist. I expect the worst, anticipate it for every little thing I do. I’m like Eeyore in that respect. Whatever I do, I attach a certain cloud of gloom to it. I’ve been working on correcting that outlook and I plan to continue that effort.

-I want to succeed in my ventures. This is going to take hard work, I know. Harder work than I’ve been putting into it, I’m sure (I’ll never feel like I work hard enough). But, it’s also going to take the positive thinking. Continuing my work with an anticipation of success instead of anticipation of failure is a must. I need to put myself out there more and not be afraid to sell  myself and my work.

-I want to have fun. Sometimes I’m so dedicate to work and making money to pay bills (even when I have some sort of regular paying day job), that I forget to stop and relax and have a good time. I’ve been known to put fun on my To Do list. Might as well put it on my goals list just to be sure it gets done.

-I want to purge the excess from my life. I am a packrat by nature, not hoarder levels, but I’ve still managed to accumulate more than I need or want. I need to continue to get rid of it. I’m already selling some things on eBay, but a full-scale rummage sale is going to have to  happen this year. I’ve been avoiding it because of all of the work that goes into one, but this year I need to put my laziness aside and get it done. The dead weight needs to go.

-I’m going to make some changes. Big and small, things need to be changed. Sameness can breed stagnation and I’m afraid I’ve got ponds of it in my life. Change isn’t easy, particularly for someone like me. I like to be safe and secure, but that yearning has actually had the opposite effect. I don’t feel that way. I feel more like I’m in a prison. The only key to my freedom is change. Just another thing I can’t put off doing for another year.

The nice thing about having hopes and goals is that success lies in trying. Even if I fail, there’s a certain amount of success that I made the serious attempt to do these things. That’s more than I can say for not trying at all.

2012 Resolutions

I’m happy to say that I kept my resolutions from last year for the most part (that not losing too much weight resolution counts since I may have gained a little weight). It’s now time to turn my attention to 2012.

Here are my five resolutions for the new year.

1. Not get dead. My guaranteed-to-keep resolution.

2. Dance. I feel 2011 was lacking in dancing. I’d like to do more of that.

3. Take pictures. I forget to capture life’s moments. I need to make a goal of that this year.

4. Give. I’d like to do something for one of my favorite charities, even if it’s just spreading the word.

5. Have a good time. This is my other guaranteed resolution. I will always find a way to have a good time.

New Year’s Resolutions

It’s New Year’s Eve and today is the day that people all over make resolutions that they’ll probably keep until about Valentine’s Day if they’re really dedicated. I like to make resolutions, too, but I don’t like failure, so I like to make resolutions that are easy to keep.

Here are my five easy-to-keep resolutions for 2011:

1. Don’t get dead. This is my resolution every year and so far, I’ve done a fantastic job of keeping it.

2. Don’t lose too much weight. A little is fine, but I don’t want to go total transformation crazy.

3. Eat Oreos on occasion.

4. Don’t start smoking again.

5. Have a good time.

I’m pretty confident that I can keep those resolutions.

Easy or hard, fun or serious, what are your resolutions for the new year?

The Holiday Gauntlet

Every year I run the holiday gauntlet. I’m sure lots of people do it, but this isn’t about them; it’s about me.

The gauntlet starts with Thanksgiving. I attend dinner with my dad’s side of the family at my Aunt Jo’s. Some years I’m responsible for shuttling the nieces down, too. It’s a nice way to ease into the craziness that follows in the weeks to come.

From that point on, it’s a matter of wrangling presents, buying them if I can afford it or making them if I can’t, wrapping them, mailing them, piling them up with the rest of my Christmas paraphernalia in the corner of my room. This likely takes me until the week of the holiday because I’m lousy at coming up with gift ideas in a timely fashion, and if I do come up with something, then I tend to misjudge the amount of time I have to get it. Somehow, I always managed to squeak in under the wire.

My middle niece was cursed with having her birthday exactly a week before Christmas. My mom doesn’t put out any Christmas decorations until afterwards so she can have the day and of course, I’m there for it to give her present and enjoy some cupcakes. It’s like a warm-up.

The week of Chrstimas is probably my most dreaded week of the year. It’s the logistics of trying to squeeze in as many Christmases as necessary so everyone is satisfied (this happens when you have divorced parents, divorced grandparents, and traveling grandparents). One year, I ended up doing six Christmases in four days. It was a nightmare and I’ve resented Christmas ever since. Typically, though, I usually have no more than three. Last year, I only had two. This year I’m only having two. It’s like a vacation only having two.

Part of the headache of doing the Christmases is the traveling. A trip to my mom’s is usually no big deal, just a twenty minute drive. A trip to my Aunt Jo’s is about the same amount of time, but in the opposite direction. But there have been years in which I drove to my mom’s on the 23rd and 24th for Christmases and then on Christmas drove north to her house, picked up the nieces, drove south to my Aunt Jo’s, had Christmas, then drove north to take the girls home, then drove south to take myself home. The entire Christmas ping pong trip ends up being about 150 miles. It’s a lot of driving for a day full of food and presents and sometimes crappy weather.

Sure, other people drive that distance in a day. My grandparents pretty much have to in order to make their Christmas rounds. But, I think it’s more exhausting to drive it like a fish on speed trapped in a small bowl.

After the mania that is Christmas begins the slow cool down. New Year’s Eve is a raucous affair for a lot of people, but for me, it’s a quiet business of a marathon of some sort (last year it was Mystery Science Theater 3000) with some snacks, sparkling grape juice, and a friend or two. Nothing big, nothing drunken, nothing fancy. Just a quiet ringing in of the New Year.

My oldest niece’s birthday is January 11th and, you know it, I’m there for cupcakes (or cheesecake) and presents. It’s the last trip I have to make and by that point, I’m tired of driving 51 North.

The gauntlet ends on my birthday the next day, January 12th. My mom usually just lumps my birthday in with my niece’s, which has led to some interesting birthday cakes over the years. I can’t blame her. By that point, all of my friends and relatives are tired of celebrating things. Even if I had the energy to do anything special, I’d most likely be doing it alone. The last time I went out on my birthday, I was twenty-six and ended up puking at the bar, so maybe it’s just best I’m too tired to do anything anyway.

It then takes me until Thanksgiving to rest up for the next run.

This is why the people who love Christmas baffle me. I think of them like I think of people who enjoy running marathons; it’s hard for me to enjoy anything when I’m struggling so hard just to breathe.

Despite the craziness and my Grinch-like demeanor, I do enjoy the quiet, sweet moments with family and friends. And the food. And the free stuff.

Rob Whoville!