Spring is New Year’s, Take Two

Leave the first quarter behind. Implement your New Year’s plans now, in this second quarter.

Words of wisdom from a radio broadcast. The commentator was talking about businesses, who have, on paper, lost so much time in this new year thanks to our horrendous winter. Her advice was not to dwell on the lost opportunities of the first few months of the year, but rather to take your plans and start afresh, today, April 1st.

That’s good advice for everyone, including those individuals (like me) who have not had much of an opportunity to translate plans from paper to reality.

Our weather in the Philadelphia area has been horrendous this year — the second snowiest winter on record, and unlike previous years, we didn’t get a few large storms of 18+ inches, but a steady, near-constant snowfall. Drop in the ice storms (including one that knocked out power for over a week), road closures thanks to potholes masquerading as car-swallowing craters, frigid temperatures that were more appropriate for the Arctic regions, then stir in business/school/activity cancellations even when there wasn’t a storm, and that adds up to a lot of lost time. Instead of networking through LinkedIn, working out, cleaning house, I spent twice, and sometimes more, time just commuting back and forth to work. Getting to the gym? An impossibility when the roads are coated in half an inch of ice every night. And the power played a little game called ‘let’s see how long I stay on today’, making it a risk to keep electronics like a computer and router up and running.

Combine that with my usual project workload, and it meant I had little time to move on those plans of mine. Then my computer agreed to acquire another company, which left me wondering where I will/might fit into the new group. And I remembered — I was going to pay attention to myself, not put my needs behind everyone else’s desires.

Which brings me back to here, to you and to my plans. Before I wrote this, I went to LinkedIn and updated my profile with my latest accomplishments. I did half an hour of yoga. And I cleaned out some bookshelves. In keeping with my project to declutter, I’m listing a large number of Star Wars hardbacks onto Craigslist. I intend to list something on Craigslist at least three times a week, so my no-longer-needed belongings can go off to a good home elsewhere.

Here comes New Year’s — again.

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New Year’s Decisions

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. I do New Year’s lifestyles.

Resolutions, as all the news feeds tell us, are ‘doomed to failure.’ They imply that you are adding, or deleting, something from your existence. That a state that already is a part of your lifestyle is going to change. And we all know change is hard.

I learned, from many attempts over the years, that if you pretend that the change you want is already a part of your life, you don’t have to think. No “I’m not going to eat that donut” or “I’ll remember not to curse this time.” Just — I don’t eat donuts. If it’s already a part of your life, you don’t have to actually change anything about yourself.

In other words fake it till you make it.

End of the year is always a hectic time in my job. Without exception, for the last ten years there’s been project, or a deal, or a contract, that absolutely, positively, has to be finished by December 31st. That kind of schedule essentially requires me to work 12-hour plus days, leaving little time to plan for the next year. And so, instead of getting to New Year’s Eve and making some on-the-fly announcement about the next year, I decided to take the first month of the year and do a “state of my life” analysis.

Some parts are great, or getting there. I’m getting back in shape. I’m certainly eating much healthier. I’ve been paying more attention to my career. I got some of my outstanding craft and knitting projects completed. And I began making progress in paying off my student loans and the accompanying credit card (grad school is seriously way too expensive!).

Other areas, not so good. I literally haven’t written more than 5,000 words in the last year. My nails are a mess. I still have more clearing to do in my home. And while I paid more attention to my career, I lacked definitive focus when it came to knowing where I want to go next job and career-wise.

And so I came to Chinese New Year. Having looked at things objectively, having tested out some ideas, I have incorporated these things into my life for 2014:

1. I am open to career exploration and change. There’s no reason why I can’t look for a relocation to Los Angeles and employment in a different field, or at Disney, if the right opportunity presents itself.

2. It’s time for me to redecorate. My apartment needs some changes and possibly a new color scheme. I love blue, and this seems to be the year of blue-hued home décor. So I’ve started spring cleaning before spring, and the money I make from selling off the excess will go into some new home décor.

3. I write. Every day. I joined an online group with a pledge to write 250,000 words this year. Considering I have been known in the past to write a 10,000 word fan fiction in just under 24 hours, I see no reason why I can’t rewrite that NaNo novel from two years ago, and self-publish it on Amazon for kindle.

4. I have the time to do little things for myself. Like regular manicures. I have a (now not) secret love for nail polish, and it’s time I started regularly applying it to my nails. So what if they get chipped within two days of the manicure (thanks to the filing cabinets at work). That just means I get to try out a new color on the next manicure!

And on that note, regular posting will now resume. As a teaser? I think I love the Old Republic.

Excerpts from a (life) list

The first step to creating a new life for yourself is deciding what you want that life to be, which is a lot easier than it sounds.  Particularly if you want that life to be many things, at once.  The most organized start to that process is to make a list.

So over the last two weeks, I’ve been doing just that.  Jotting down things I want to accomplish or change, places to which I would like to travel, skills I intend to master. Tonight, I’m going to share a few of them with you, and I’m going to create a master page to keep track of them.

Early tomorrow morning, the Blue Moon meets the Full Moon.  I took a long walk tonight and admired the moon.  Not particularly blue in hue, but spectacularly white in a dark blue and, for once, clear sky sprinkled with stars.  Most of the full moons in 2012 have been obscured by Philadelphia’s rainy winter, spring and summer.

And so, without further delay, Ten Things I’d Like to Do:

1.  Spend a solstice at Stonehenge.  I have been fascinated with Stonehenge since I first saw a picture in my grade schoool history book.  At the time, being enamored of King Arthur, I whole-heartedly embraced the “Merlin built Stonehenge” legends, and decided that somehow, I was going to travel all the way to England (a far distance for someone from my little town) and walk among the stones.  Over the years, I’ve religiously watched every special on the circle and read every article with the latest scientific discoveries about its construction.  While I’m thrilled to see how much we have learned since my school days, I was disappointed to learn that you can’t actually walk within the stones.  Except on the summer solstice.   Whatever other purpose(s) Stonehenge was meant to serve — monument, burial site, religious or healing center — it has continued to faithfully show us that crucial moment when summer truly begins.  And so I want to stand there, among the crowd, and feel that magical moment when the sun touches the stones.

2.  Relearn archery.  No, this isn’t listed here because I want to be Robin Hood or Katniss or Legolas or Hawkeye (although he is my favorite Marvel character).  I learned basic archery in college, and fell in love with it, not just because of the romance associated with a bow and arrow (see, Robin Hood et al above).  For me, it was the concentration, the focus, the fact that it uses virtually your whole body to achieve the goal of hitting one little spot on a target.  Drawing, aiming — it’s a form of moving meditation.  As an often-distracted, overworked college student, the peace I found in that hour-long class was a treasure beyond price.  A feeling I want to recapture in my life today.

3. Attend Comic-Con.  While we’re on the subject of Marvel, like probably half the world, I want to attend Comic-Con. I often joke that I need to time a visit to my company’s California operations to coincide with the Con, but I haven’t managed it yet.  As someone who devours comic books, fantasy movies and science fiction TV shows, Comic-Con just had to be on my list.  Enough said about it.

4.  Run a marathon.  I used to run regularly, both in college and for years afterward, until I injured my knee dodging a car that was careening towards me.  As the carrot waiving in front of me on my quest to get back in shape, I’ve decided I want to someday run/jog/fast walk a marathon.  It’s a test of fitness, but even more so, of willpower.  I see the fact that I can stick to my healthy eating plan, work out regularly, start getting in shape, as steps to building up my willpower so I can run that incredible distance.

5.  Draw a picture.  Right about now you’re wondering — what?  The fact is, my stick figures don’t really look like stick figures.  I can paint an abstract image, or copy something out by tracing it, but when it comes to free-form pencil or ink drawings that are recognizable as people, animals or even an apple, well, let’s just say my drawings would make Picasso proud.  It’s a matter of training my eye, I’ve been told.  And since there is a project I want to do that involves a lot of drawing, I will need to train my eye soon so that I can begin the work.  Failure is not an option here, as this one task is a step to a second, larger task, which then goes even further to a very large project.

6.  Spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square.  Something I’ve attempted to do for — years.  Decades?  I’ve made at least five separate plans to head up to New York for the big event, and each time, something happened to someone in the group and we ended up watching it all on TV.  I will get there — if I keep trying, eventually I will get there, right?

7.  Attend an opera. I think I was about ten years old when I saw my first opera — Die Fledermaus on PBS.   I was in love.  The costumes, the staging, the voices.  I sat enthralled when Der Ring des Nibelungen was broadcast over several nights.  Over the years, I’ve caught various operas on various stations — but I’ve never seen an opera live.  I’ve attended I-don’t-know-how-many rock concerts, classical concerts, Tanglewood events, plays and musicals, but I’ve never attended the opera.  I want to dress up, sit in one of those tiny and uncomfortable seats and watch as people with enchanted voices bring Wagner or Verdi or Strauss to life.

8.  Learn to juggle.  On a daily basis, I successfully juggle projects, clients and outside agencies.  I have not, however, managed to master the art of juggling small objects in the air.  That egg will be tossed up, and it might survive the first pass from left to right hand — but ten seconds later it’s a mess on the floor.   I spent a half an hour on a street corner in New York watching a juggler and wishing I had that level of dexterity.  The fact is, I do — or at least I could.  I can maneuver tiny knitting needles, fold an origami crane and sew tiny little stitches on costumes.  I’ve decided that, if I can do those things, I should be able to move past the dropped egg stage and learn to juggle.

9.  Work on an archeological dig.  I originally planned to study anthropology/archeology, but discovered I was allergic to the dust.  It’s hard to maintain an efficient and accurate dig site when you’re sneezing all over it.  And so I switched to journalism, and then made my way into law and business.  But I’ve always harbored a sneaking desire to go back and put a few of those early lessons to use.  What to others would seem tedious, bent over a tiny square of earth, delicately moving grains of dirt to see if there’s anything under them, is the same to me as waiting for Christmas morning and the joy of opening a present.  You never knew just what Santa had brought for you — and you never know just what is hidden in the next layer of soil.  Whether it be here in the US on a small, local dig, or somewhere exotic like Greece or Russia, I want, at least once, to experience the profession I had hoped to call my own.  And no, the allergy isn’t a problem any longer — I outgrew it.

10. Make an origami menagerie.  Years ago, I learned how to fold a crane, the symbol of peace.  I’ve made a number of them over the years for holiday decorations.  But there are hundreds of other animals, floewers and symbols that can be folded from beautiful paper, and I want to learn how to make more than just the elegant crane.  Tigers and dragons, hawks and owls, whales, flowers and stars, made from delicately-colored and patterned paper or brilliantly-hued metallic foil, can delight the recipient, amuse the maker and instantly turn a bad mood into a joyful one.   It’s an art form that I think is brilliant — all you need is a square of paper and your imagination.

Twas the ‘eve of Full Moon,

And all through the house,

My imagination was stirring,

With dreams bigger than a mouse.

Yes, I’m not that great at writing poetry.  Hopefully, I”m better at accomplishing things on my list!