Friday, January 01, 2016

Happy New Year!

Isn't there some saying or tradition that whatever you do on New Year's Day will set the tone for the year?

I got eight hours of quality sleep. It was glorious.

Today the Christmas tree is coming down. It's another of my New Year's Day traditions. It's time to reclaim the house from the holidays and make room for the yoga mat.

2015 went by so fast. It wasn't a particularly good year, though it had its great moments, like welcoming a new granddaughter in January. Mostly, however, it was soul-crushing grind, with a long commute to a disappointing job, Murphy's illness, and for me, a general malaise - the grind wore me down. I didn't magically bounce back with the job change, because it came with mourning my bossy little boy. I miss him so much, it's crazy. A neighbor has a Yorkie that looks a lot like Murphy in his healthy youth - Lucy has the same body shape, facial expressions, and charmingly bossy little ways. My neighbor asked me if I would get another Yorkie. Right now, I have to say no. I feel I had a one and only perfect Yorkie, and any other would always suffer from the comparison. This is not to say I wouldn't get another dog eventually, but I can't help thinking no other Yorkie could live up to the legacy of the Little Man. I'm not seeking a second dog right now, either - if a dog comes my way, it'll be meant to be.

But I digress...2015 was a year of highs and lows, and mostly of the daily grind. I've been taking stock of my life, as I tend to do at this time of year, and I'm making some changes in my habits. Wine is no longer welcome in my house until I lose 20 pounds, and then it will return only rarely for special occasions. The yoga mat is going to have a prominent place in the living room (which is why the tree is coming down today.) The salty snacks I love to nibble all day at the office are being replaced with crunchy raw veggies and healthy dips. I have a closet full of clothes I love, and a drawer full of very nice shorts, and I am going to be wearing all that stuff by spring (because I can't freaking afford to replace it all).

I have a pretty new Fitbit Charge - mine is the plum color. I love it, and I do find it very motivating and enlightening to see how many steps I REALLY get each day. Unsurprisingly, I am far more active on weekends and always get in far more than 10,00 steps, but work days? Some days I'm barely half as active as on weekends. My goal for January is to hit 10k steps EVERY day, weekdays included. My new job has freed up at least an extra hour of after work time, and I am not going to fall into my depressed habit of dragging in the door and heading straight for the bottle of wine in the fridge. Today the fridge contains iced tea, and water with lemon, and on Monday I will head to the office with a generous supply of veggies to reach for when the need to crunch something hits.

These healthy changes will also have the fringe benefit of saving some money. It was a rather spendy holiday season, with three grandchildren to spoil this year, in addition to the other splurges and bouts of unexpected expenses. And hard as it is to face reality, I must confront the fact that Baby the Faithful Subaru is now 10 years old and starting to show her age. I have a couple of debts I would want to pay off before I even contemplate a car payment. And as I take stock of my life, I realize that I have everything I need, and most of what I want. This little HP Stream is a perfectly adequate little PC. My only gripe is that the touch pad isn't all that responsive, but again, for $200, I wasn't expecting a Cadillac. It's a perfectly serviceable Kia. I have a good camera, a good phone, and a house full of craft supplies to satisfy my creative needs. Other than food, cleaning and paper products, I honestly have no need to shop for the next several months!

This is going to be an interesting experiment: can I honestly buy only the necessities of life for the next three months? Wine is not a necessity. Yarn, I have on hand. Books - books are tricky, because I do consider them an absolute necessity, like food and water, and as I've ranted many times, our library system has one copy of anything worth reading and an 80 person wait list for it. Books are in the "necessity" category for me, but I've found a lot of wonderful new authors via the Kindle library on Amazon, so I think I can get by with a monthly book budget of, oh, $20, without feeling at all deprived. Because I HATE feeling deprived.

When I was a little girl, my father, a Depression-era kid, used to constantly recite the old saying, "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without," and I hated it. I really, really hated it. To my child's mind it conjured images of deprivation - once I "used up" my coloring book, would I ever get another, or would I have to "do without" forever?

It made me hoard my treasures, and I think it carried over into how I behave about things I love as an adult. As an adult with discretionary income, I absolutely love to buy yarn, beads, notebooks, pens (nice stationery is one of my weaknesses), yet at the same time, I had this deeply ingrained fear of "wasting" those lovely things on an "unworthy" project. (We can discuss how I was raised to believe everything I did was somehow unworthy another day.) It made me reluctant to "waste" that fabulous yarn on anything but the most "perfect" pattern. It didn't stop me from buying the yarn, but it made me reluctant to cast on, lest I "waste" it on something unworthy, or take on a project above my skill set and fail.

The combination of deprivation thinking and a deep desire to create left me with an inventory of yarn, notebooks, pens, colored pencils, beads, etc. that I take out and admire once or twice a year, vowing to sit down and do something with them "someday." I am declaring 2016 to be Someday.
I am going to "use it up and wear it out," and if the project is less than fabulous, I am going to chalk it up to a learning experience and try again, because that's how creativity works. I don't have to "do without" unless I choose to, and there is always more.

Willa is still in the hospital, and her parents had champagne and take-out in her hospital room last night. She's improving slowly, and the doctor is optimistic that she's turned the corner, but her oxygen levels are still fluctuating when they try to wean her off. But she's alert, smiling, playing and eating, so this too shall pass, just very, very slowly. Nobody can explain why an otherwise healthy 11 month old was knocked down so hard by a very common childhood virus. My son told me yesterday that their friends' 18 month old is in the same hospital with the same condition, and a third child is also sick, but so far is recovering at home. They've traced the common thread to a Christmas party they all attended on the 18th, so that mystery has been solved. Nobody can explain why two otherwise strong, healthy kids ended up in the hospital, but they are getting better, and that's all that matters in the end.

And now it's time to De-Christmas this house. Happy New Year - onward to a creative and healthy 2016!


KatyaR said...

Happy New Year! I'm with you on buying all the pretty, shiny things that make me happy. My apartment is full of them. If I'd quit buying stuff, I wouldn't suffer at all.

I'm glad you like your FitBit. I have a Jawbone UP that I bought on a whim almost 2 years ago, not with the intention of losing weight but of helping me track my sleeping patterns. I think they really help you stay motivated.

I hope Willa is out of the hospital soon. What a way to end the year!

Caroline said...

Happy New Year, Catherine! we're still standing despite the grinding motion of the universe, so I count that as a marginal win and onward, eh? I wish you a better 2016 and a healthy Willa to enjoy it with. Hugs!

besshaile said...

Yeah. Love me some good wine but ... it really has to be a more then than now now and then thing. Ditto the (multitude of plastic bins of) yarn no matter how cool stuff looks in the WEBBS catalog.

I like the 3 month moratorium on shopping. Except a trip to Ulta for the good shampoo.

LOL. Happy New Year girlfriend. I'm so glad Willa's on the mend.

wednesday said...

Glad to hear that Willa is getting better, though I know her parents (and you) wish it was faster. Fingers crossed that she gets to go home really soon.

If you want to save on books for your kindle, you can sign up for BookBub. You register your tastes in books and favorite authors, and they send you a daily email of what's free or very nearly from all the major retailers and publishers. I have found several new authors to read, and been alerted to bargain prices on other books I've had on To Read list.