I wrapped up my kinda-sorta-new-years-resolutions at the end of October, two months before year’s end. My goals weren’t overly ambitious but simple and to-the-point: 1) to read twenty books 2) to make ten new recipes and 3) to make ten visits to the local lake/park. As of now, I’ve read thirty books this year and went past the ten new recipes as well.
During the year I updated my progress in March and again in August. To keep myself on track, I simply wrote down the three goals and the associated number on loose-leaf paper and whenever I did one of the goals, I wrote in on the list. Writing it down was key – I looked forward to adding new entries and seeing my progress.
I have reclaimed myself as a reader. I’ve said it before but the internet – and how its use affects the brain – had a large part in diminishing my reading. I hadn’t realized how bad it had become but I don’t know when I last read twenty plus books in a year. I had to reclaim my ability to truly focus and pay attention. See, what I am thinking now is that, on one hand there is Entertainment and Distraction while on the other there is Learning and Challenging. I had slowly slid further into the former category as years passed.
To be fair, there are things in life which can take away from any desire to spend a lot of time on learning and challenging one’s self. Obligations, problems, illnesses, depression, and grief are but a few obstacles. When you’re in a place where – for whatever reason(s) – just keeping your head above water is taxing, setting and accomplishing new goals and challenges sounds like an absurd prospect.
So, while I’m not delighted with myself that I wasn’t challenging my mind or learning enough for some time, I do know that along the way, I wasn’t always in the right state to be intellectually ambitious either.
And don’t get me wrong, I’m a bit fan of Entertainment and Distraction! I just think you have to balance them with more enriching pastimes.
I think I got burnt out on learning in college and allowed myself to coast along for some time, figuring I’d done enough and needed a break. But, uh, college was decades ago!
Most of the books I read this year were nonfiction, but not all. One of the year’s best finds was The Friend by Sigrid Nunez, a novel I saw recommended in Esquire magazine. It’s a beautifully written book, a great read for anyone who’s ever had a friend or a close connection to an animal. I am grateful to have found and read it.
I’m excited by reading, the way I used to be (before the internet). I’ve also started reading the aforementioned Esquire magazine again more faithfully. I subscribed for several years but had let the subscription go several years back; I thought the magazine was trying to become more like Maxim (to draw and keep younger male readers) which is not something I read. There was only so much I wanted to know about men’s suits too. Not sure if I want to subscribe now but I’m definitely interested in staying an Esquire reader.
The reading was the HUGE thing this year but committing to making new recipes was beneficial too. Sometimes I tend to fall into making the same things because I like a sure thing when it comes to FOOD. I like knowing that I will enjoy my meal. Trying new recipes takes away that guarantee. That being said, I found new recipes to love, like Easy Walnut, Date and Coconut Treats and Grandma’s Pizza. Writing them down on my Resolutions list keeps me from forgetting about them. In fact, I had kind of forgotten about the walnut/date/coconut treats (which I first made last January) but seeing them on my list jogged my memory – why haven’t I been making them?!
Oddly enough, getting myself to visit the local lake park ten times, a really easy resolution, took more doing. Several months went by when I didn’t go at all (although I was busier with other things in that time) and the assault on a local woman on Labor Day weekend affected my feelings about visiting there. I never heard about any arrest so I assume there wasn’t one. And it isn’t as if I always felt safe there before; I always feel I have to stay alert which kind of detracts from the point of communing with nature.
I see now that my three arenas of resolutions covered several crucial aspects of life: learning, eating, and being in nature. I’m glad I had these different areas and not just one of them. It was fun to do this, fun to see the entries adding up. Finishing up the last of them two months early and surpassing two of them is better than I could have hoped to accomplish. There’s no question my Kinda-Sorta New Year’s resolutions worked out very well. I’m better for them and feel I’ve definitely jump-started myself. Now I’m thinking about what I might like to set out to do in 2019.