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January 7, 2015

New Year 2015

Happy New Year!

I know, it's already almost a week in. But I'm saying it now. Happy New Year.

This year, I'm focused on goals. Hopefully not obsessively, but in a healthy "Wow, I'd really like to get my poop together" sort of way. I have a long list of goals and food for thought, but the ones I want to share here have to do with nuggets I stored up over the holidays. I probably won't do them justice because I've already switched back to work mode, I'm caffeinated, and I only have a half an hour until I head out to go climbing (part of one of my goals), but I'll try anyway.

First, one of my goals is to post a blog entry each week through February 13. Thanks go to my friend Jane for organizing a beginning-of-the-year challenge. We get to pick our goals, put $100 into a pot, and either get it back or surrender it depending on whether we stick to our plan. My plan: post one blog entry a week (already stated), cook one real meal a week (the type that has lots of leftovers), and move my body for at least 20 minutes at least four times a week, with at least two of those times being yoga. It may all sound simple, but I'm going from zero to something, so I'm feeling pretty good about it. A bonus is sitting for five minutes a day in meditation five days a week. So far, starting on Sunday: One yoga, made coconut shrimp, three sits, and I'm going climbing tonight. And this.

There's so much really that I want to write about. (And thank you for emphasizing that, caffeine.) (I considered giving up caffeine but decided against. I did give up solitaire on my phone, which is hard enough.) But this is what I've been wanting to write about for the past couple weeks.

I went home for the holidays. It's not unusual. But this time, I was particularly fixated on goals, on mantras, on perspectives on life. On reflecting on the past and on looking toward the future. I was rewarded with some great insights from the people I spent time with. Thanks, everyone.


[Nothing like listening to that silly Christmas album your cousin sent your mom as a joke about 20 years ago. Steve Berens, look familiar?]

A special thanks right now to Elizabeth Shier. Her advice for her friends these days: Do what you can, with what you've got, right now. (I think I'm getting that right.) AND, in conjunction with that, No excuses. This blog entry is dedicated to her.


[Happy belated birthday, Elizabeth!]

Other nuggets:
Be appreciative. From Julie Grundberg, who is working for Doctors Without Borders and described her experience working and living across the street from a refugee camp in South Sudan. I love being able to eat, drink, sleep comfortably, and have access to health care facilities, let alone everything else I get to do and be from there. Basic needs = met. The group of us who got together on a houseboat in Portland over a weekend were able to talk philosophy, life directions, choices and art and other things we get to worry about since we have what we need. I wasn't the one to point this out, but I can certainly appreciate it.

Learn to live with less. From Rebecca Ricards, who shared that one of the beautiful things she's learned over the past several years, as she's purged and consolidated to spend stints overseas also working with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), is that she can live with few possessions. And that it's liberating. She said she'd heard or read (I can't remember the source) that everything we have takes time and energy. If that's how we want to spend our time and energy, great, so long as we're aware of that. I have so much stuff. And it takes me time and energy, at the very least every time I move. On a more constant basis, the extra shampoo and conditioner bottles in my shower serve as just that much more of a barrier to me motivating to clean it. So, one of my goals is to organize, and purge. I'm going to use up the extra products, for example, so I can keep it simple. Sounds silly, but it's just an example.

Don't make plans around others. From Aaron Bartel, my brother. I stress about being in the right place at the right time and about doing right by the people around me. He empowered me to make some plans of my own rather than waiting for things to fall into place around me. Thanks, bro.


[My brother and his dog, Roxxie. She's ridiculous. Apparently even her vet said so.]


[See? Ridiculous.]


[But seriously. She's a silly dog.]

Find the orchids in the onions. From Todd Peterson. One night on the houseboat we took turns sharing a high spot and a low spot from our lives in the past seven years (the amount of time it had been since a lot of us had seen each other). Our orchids and our onions. Todd shared about breaking his back, and his response to that. Which seemed like an onion. Until he said it was his orchid. Because that experience made him realize how fragile we are, how close he came to paralysis, how much of what we have in life we take for granted. This gets back to the be appreciative bit, but also was a great lesson in making the best of things, and not only that but really finding the gift in hardship. I could learn a lot from Todd. (I'll work on it. Maybe I'll sit with that tomorrow....)

Be a giver. From Elizabeth Shier and others, by example. Elizabeth was cleaning while I was cozied into the couch enjoying conversation. It was okay that I was cozied into the couch enjoying conversation, but I also want to be a contributor, in life in general but also on the small scale of sharing a houseboat for a weekend. I'm not always good at that--at being the one who works to take care of a camp or a home--and I'd like to be better. I'd like to be the type of person people want around at events like that because I help make the wheels turn.


[A plate of delicious and nicely presented food is a wonderful way to contribute to a group. I think Sal put this one together.]

Work to help others. From Julie Grundberg, by example. She's working for Doctors Without Borders, for goodness sake. She's found her niche, and I'm terribly happy for her. She's working logistics to get aid to the people who most need it.

Be confident. From multiple friends, by example. I love to see confidence. It inspires me. Not overconfidence, not false confidence, but lack of self-consciousness. The feeling of accepting self. It's a powerful and beautiful thing.


[Part of the crew I spent two nights with over the holidays. Friends from Antarctica. For context... the last time I went down was ten seasons ago. (Yikes!) And it's nice to know I still have good friends from it. This is an amazing and fun group of people. Or maybe just an amazingly fun group of people.]

Hope your year came in gently and happily and that this is a good one for you.

Posted by beth at January 7, 2015 2:37 AM

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