Tag Archives: new year

I Resolve Not To Make Resolutions. Or Do I?

It’s a New Year! Time for a new YOU! Rah-rah-rah! Buy this, do that, be this! Go, go, go! Team awesome, here we come! Resolutions for EVERYONE!

HURRAY!

Holy shit. Are you ready to punch someone yet? You could include it in your exercise accounting. “Punched out Bob. 15 calories.”

I’m not paying attention to any of it because I don’t have the time to be awesome this month. I have the time to be “pretty good.” Maybe “above average.” Awesome’s a bit of a reach for me. Ask me in June.

However, there’s a big year ahead of me. I’m working up to Awesome.

As of this morning, I’ve survived one week without butter or margarine. This has meant I’ve eaten less bread. And because I’ve had less bread, I’ve had less cheese. It’s this whole crazy domino effect thing. Have I lost weight? Who fucking knows?

I’ll tell you what I know — my pants didn’t fit last week. I mean, collectively.

This week, things are better. And they fit again.

Still, I know what I should feel like and look like, and right now I’m not it. But I also know I need to stay sane. I’m moving in a few weeks, I have to respect my back injury and proceed cautiously, and I’m packing as much as I can on a slow-and-steady basis. Gotta tell ya: I feel it in every single muscle and I know I’m already getting fitter. I’m not sure piling on the gym-bunny visits would be smart thinking right now. More walking, sure, less butter, better bending/lifting form, and I’m doing all that.

And that’s a great start. No butter, and a zillion squats and hefted boxes, that’s a good start.

The last time I started a “diet” with a month of no butter, I lost 18 pounds in the first 5 weeks, and went on to lose 65, because I added something new to my changes monthly and had a constantly-growing mentality about the new lifestyle.

I want to have a good start on Doing New Things For a Better Me now, and not wait until I’ve moved to be smarter.

There’s only two goals I have this year; if you break it all down to its simplest terms, there’s two. One is, Be Better. The second is, Be Honest.

There are a lot of areas in my life that need improvement. To “be better” gives me a wide berth of where to go, what to do. If I improve one thing, great. There’s something else that can get tweaked. As far as being honest goes, I’ve been unhappy in Vancouver for a couple of years now and wasn’t being honest with myself about it. My life got away from me as a result. That’s what happens when you lie to yourself daily — whether it’s about a job, home, or your life.

I want to be more aware of the moment, more open about truths, and live that way. It’s better for writing, it’s better for communication and relationships.

So, honesty and betterment, in all their forms, are the goals for my year.

Oh, come on. There’s more, right?

Now, there’re a lot of things I want to do with my life this year, and I’ll be writing those goals out for myself — from weight goals and health ambitions, to money aspirations, writing benchmarks, and more — but you don’t need to know what my plans are there.

I don’t believe in that. I think as much as we can get help and support from others by way of sharing our “goals,” we can get shat upon as well.

Self-belief isn’t some unalterable force in my life. My confidence is often akin to a leaf in the wind. It goes where it blows. I don’t need people’s doubts, questions, or concerns clouding my horizon. And I can’t be finding my strength in their support or my sense of self in some fan club who rallies around me.

One way or the other, it’s on me, right?

It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it goes.

I commented on The Twitter last night that I think I’m finding my mojo, and that’s sort of what I was talking about. For a long time, I’ve been feeling sort of uncomfortable in my own skin. I didn’t feel like I had control over my life or my own actions. It was just… unright. I was unright. Maybe even wrong.

A week into 2012, and that feeling’s largely dissipating. Sometimes life just needs A Decision. Once you make the choice and go all-in, it’s amazing how much it can transform your mentality.

Of course, the fact that I’m taking my vitamins and eating better and getting a lot of physical work in the way of moving, well, THAT couldn’t be helping my mentality at ALL, right?

It’s that Domino Effect, I guess. Positive change is coming, so I’ve put other positive changes into play, and thus the Snowballing Of Awesome has begun.

Be better. It’s a start. Next month, I’ll have a new normal in my betterness, then I’ll have to be even betterer.

The best thing about having “Be Better” as the resolution is that it gives a bit of a softer focus on goals met/not. If you fall short, but you’ve still done more and been better than before, well, you met the “real” resolution. We need a kinder, gentler marker to measure against sometimes.

I hope your year is off to a similarly promising and exciting start. We could all use a little “up” in our lives, I suspect.

Happy New Year, and happy Monday, then.

A Big Thinky Post About Not Thinking

They say these early days in the new year are among the most depressing.

Mental, emotional, financial hangovers from the holidays, and even the “bottom of the hill looking up” perspective of the year to come — tons of factors affect our moody new year days.

This morning, it’s nearly 8:30 and should be lighter than it is. A storm front has parked over the city, dumping rain on the morning’s commute. The sky’s so dark my desk lamp isn’t enough to light the room with, and it’s daytime.

Today, I had planned to write some kind of optimistic “New Year/New Thoughts” type post about my goals and such for the year to come, but morning brings a weary world-view and a pensive state.

Part of the new year thing: I’m reading again. I want to read in bed for a few minutes every night.

Guy having a moment at Vancouver's English Bay.

When I was at coffee last week, in one of those weird chance encounters we sometimes have*, the book The Power of Now came up. Eckhart Tolle’s new-agey classic was born here in Vancouver, and people have mentioned it to me at several points in my life, but I’ve never capitulated and read it.

The thing is, I knew about it in ’97, when I was 24. My mother got it for Christmas that year. She’d been friends with some new age bookstore guy named Brock Tulley, and friend-of-a-friend thing, got the book, read it, and was trying to implement it in her life.

It’s one thing to try and change your mental state, but you can’t imagine away making only $25,000 in the two years before your death from cancer.

Times were very hard for her then. I watched her read this book and try to be “different”. She died broke and with cancer. What can I tell you? That was different.

So, yeah. The book’s been a hard sell on me.

But I’m reading it now.

[deep breath]

I suspect this will be a mind-blowing read on a few levels.

First things first, I’m not a spiritual person in the standard way. The beliefs I have, well, I couldn’t nutshell them for you if I tried. I’m in transition there. New age is not my bag, really, but trying to explain what I do/don’t believe would be a mess.

On Facebook, my religion is “It’s complicated.”

Raised in the Catholic Church and exposed to their duplicitous behaviour, my beliefs come from my life experience and not much else. So, forget “God” and all that. Let’s talk about us and our world-view.

As I age, I see what our thinking and perspective does for us, and I believe we’ll probably never have a clue about the brain’s full capacity. I believe many of us let our thinking cloud who we are, and that it takes a long time to muddy ourselves up.

This book talks about mindfulness in ways I’ve been thinking about lately, so it’s perfectly timed.

I’ve been remembering how I used to think about the world, and ways I used to look at the world around me, and questioning when I lost my wonder, and how I can get it back.

Wistful writings on the “girl I used to be” crop up here from time to time, and I suspect I’m not alone in the wistfulness.

There’s who we want to be, and there’s who we become. For most, somewhere between there and here, we derail. Every now and then, though, we get a chance to right the way. I can’t help but think I went off track somewhere.

People can lose their focus after seeing wrong so long that they can’t see straight when the light comes on.

If given the chance to “fix” what’s wrong in their lives, I imagine most people couldn’t tell you what the actual problem is. Why aren’t you what/who/how you want to be?

For three or four years I’ve tried to figure out what was going on, and in the last year I’ve sort of figured out that it’s two different things. One, my headgame’s all awry. Two, this city’s life comes with too many built-in obstacles and I got no room to breathe.

This year’s about putting my money where my mouth is. It’s about moving to a place that reduces the obstacles, culls the distractions. It’s a little cheaper, but it’s a lot more livable for me. Jumping on that wave of change ain’t enough. I need to get my headspace into the flow too.

There’s so much mental clutter from recent years, it’s in my way. I can’t undo my past, wouldn’t want to. I’ve earned my now-showing grey hairs.

But this overthinking is hurting me.

For a long time, I’ve had to try to be conscious about how I walk / sit / stand / sleep, because a long-term back injury does that to you. I’ve thought so hard about it that it now turns out I’ve been overthinking and overcompensating, possibly sustaining the injury as a result.

For example, I have long contracted the wrong muscles at the wrong time, standing that way too, and it’s destabilized me. Standing up and breathing, it’s second nature to us. It’s not something we’re “taught.” But when that second nature goes awry during an injury or illness and we never correct it, what’s the fall-out?

Well, now I know what it is first-hand when we unlearn who we are at the most basic level. For me, I’ve unlearned a lot of myself, including life basics, like breath. (And apparently 75% of adults are doing it wrong.)

That simple advice on “breathing through the belly” and “walking one inch taller” might actually be changing my life.

Long story short? I haven’t even been “being myself” properly.

Three years on the other side of trying to “understand” my injury, and dumbing it down — just breathing and learning how to hold a neutral back, just being — might be all my back really needs.

And it blows my mind that I’ve thought myself into ill health.

I’ve stopped listening and feeling. I need to focus on what my body feels like, not its symptoms. I need to see the big picture — how posture and breath affect everything I do in my life, because they’ve been crippling me.

The Power of Now seems about connecting to the moment and being really present. If I were, then what would life be like? Would I have let things go this long, this far?

It’s great timing, because I’ve had one episode after another lately that affirm this need to focus on my breath and be mindful of my posture, and live completely in the moment with awareness of the little things I think and feel.

I’ve been killing myself to improve my back and all I need to do is breathe? Crazy shit.

Oh, dear readers, don’t worry — I won’t become some Zen happy-la-la girl who signs her blog posts “Love and Namaste” or anything. I’m a smart-ass at DNA level and that’ll never change.

Laughing more, though, I could handle that. Having more fun. And this is part of the journey to getting to that, I think. Should be interesting.

____

*I’m a big fan of the idea of serendipity. If you run into someone you like, but don’t know well, like I did, at my acupuncture session last week, and it happens to end at the same time, and you both happen to have a free 30 minutes, then go to coffee, because maybe — just maybe — there’s something greater afoot, and you might have something to learn from them. Naturally, I bought the book 10 minutes later.

Not For You: Undoing the Undoings, And Writing

Just another cliche sunset shot. Taken at Vancouver's English Bay, looking south, in December 2010.

I’m writing again.

Let’s not talk about resolutions. They’re stupid. I’m just trying to undo some of my undoings. There have been a few. Simply achieving the undoing of undoings will lead me to a pretty wonderful place this year.

With writing, my goal is very simple: Try to write every single day.

I’ve been forgetting that I’m a writer. I’m not sitting down to build word cities anymore, and I wonder why my emotional landscape seems so barren.

Writing is a verb. It’s helpful to remember it requires doing.

There are those who claim inspired writing is like trying to catch fireflies or something else as fleeting and unlikely.

Like, you see a bright spark and chase it. Sometimes you catch it, sometimes it eludes you. The point is, you give chase. You try. You look in the darkness and hope some spark finds you, that you can catch that spark and embellish it, create something illuminating and amazing.

Oh, bullshit.

The truth is, inspiration comes easily when you have work ethic. By writing every day at a certain time, it’s almost like you can turn inspiration on within five minutes of pounding the keys. I know, I’ve been there.

Only twice in my life have I resolved to write daily on matters that move me. Both times I managed to segue into the best writing of my life. The first time, it shattered six years of writers’ block. It was simply a matter of working on it, daily.

Instead of thinking a thought, write it. Simple.

I know this. I know it takes work. Scheduling, regularity, routine. These are a writer’s best friends.

In the manic ways of our modern world, it’s easy to forget how simple work ethic — a little every single day — adds up over the long term. Writing compounds like any other effort.

I’ve had a terrible time with writing in 2010. None of it went as I wanted. Much of what I did has been worthy of trash heaps.

A false start here and a false start there, sooner or later it all feels false.

Hemingway said he wrote as an exercise of truth-finding. Any writer worth their salt, he suggested, was one who sought truth and wrote truth. The truth shall set you free… and make for some pretty entertaining reading.

The kind of writing I aspire to requires exactly that. It’s easy to lie to you, but insufferable to live with lies. Through my year of failed writing and wrong-perspective-having, I feel like I’ve danced through a darkness filled half-truths and white lies — leaving stories incomplete because incompletion is better, more true, than inaccuracy. Why end a story when you’re unhappy with the conclusion?

Anyone who complains about how hard it is to find a pair of jeans to buy has never tried to find a story to write.

I’m at that point, too, in my writing journey, where I question my creative instincts. All of them.

Is that story really one with legs? Can I make it walk? Does the journey have a point? Should I bother?

Creatively, I’ve been filled with false hopes for some time. That fog is starting to lift. My clarity is returning. I’m remembering that writing must be a daily pursuit. More importantly… I’m wanting it to be a daily pursuit.

Two truths:

1) I like myself better when I’m writing well.
2) I only write well when I write often.

Pretty simple to add 2+2 on days like this.

For the first time in years, though, that daily writing will be private. All in the name of The Book That Will Be Written (TBTWBW).

It’s the new year. Ahhh, that silly marketing ploy to sell us calendars filled with puppies and bikini-wearing babes.

In theory, the year is unwritten. Unmarred upon the page. Waiting for me to give it adventure, love, humour, drama, pathos, and more. Just a naked page, yielding to whatever I desire to impart it.

I like that feeling.

2010 was a hard year for me. It started poorly and pretty much stayed there. I had a lot of moments of light-in-darkness, but I ultimately let my year get the better of me — personally, writing-wise, professionally, physically, and more.

Life happens.

I’m not a big fan of New Year festivities and think they’re largely overhyped, but this year I’m ready to flip the script on the Year That Was. And for whatever 2010 wasn’t, I’m grateful to the things it suggested could be possible. I’m grateful to experiences like speaking at Northern Voice 2010, the people I’ve met, the bucket-list items I checked off.

But those 2010 moments were few and far between.

I’m not in some “thank god it’s over” naive mindset that the date somehow implies everything has changed.

I realize my life is pretty much exactly where I left it last week. Financially, spiritually, and more. But I don’t care.

I know any change that comes this year will be self-driven. I’m aware any writing that comes from me will have to come from me, be OF me.

I get it. I’m nowhere better than I was before “2010” flipped off my calendar.

And yet.

And Then It Was 2009

New Year’s Eve Morn and my coffee soon runs out. Snow’s still melting all around us. The sky is indecisive about the day ahead, black as fuck on one horizon and sunny to beat all hell on the other.

Is it a statement about the year that passes us by today? It was this way or that, and never anywhere in between?

Because I don’t know about you, but mine was never very middling. Hard as hell most of the time, but when it was good, my god, it was like I kissed the sky. Continue reading