As a person who considers the first day of the month or week as a clean slate waiting to be filled with my best intentions, you’d think that I’d be all over New Year’s resolutions, but you’d be wrong. Maybe it’s my basic lack of interest in doing what everyone else does. I really don’t like being a cliché, you know? Of course, I do consider how I might improve my navigation through life and a new year certainly provides an excellent opportunity to implement changes. Here’s what I’ve come up with for 2018:
- Amex for groceries. I know people who pay all their bills with credit cards for the purpose of earning rewards and I’m going to dip my big toe into that pool of potential points. I always pay my balance in full, but have to admit that it feels weird to purchase necessities with a credit card. I’m curious to see how much more quickly I can earn rewards and think it makes sense to try this for a full year as an experiment.
- I’ve got some new cities in my sights for 2018 and I really couldn’t be more excited. What can you share with me about Rome, Salzburg, Vienna and Prague?
- Decluttering and simplifying my living space. Do I really need all of the clothing I own? If I’m not using it, do I really need to keep? It seems like life would be more pleasant without as much stuff – contrary to what many believe but an idea I’m hoping to embrace. Maybe this book will help? (Thanks, Lori!)
- Increasing contributions to my 403B. As a teacher, I’m fortunate to have a clearly defined salary schedule and I appreciate that. Since I’m in the last 10 years of my career it’s time to start upping my contributions to my retirement account. I don’t imagine myself completely giving up working before I’m 60, but I need to make hay while the sun shines and that means socking away as much as I can while I’m still earning a good income.
- Yoga at least once a week. Mentally, physically and spiritually I need it. And really – how often can one address all of those areas in one place in 75 minutes?
What’s on your list for the new year?
As late fall inches closer to winter and the days get shorter, I’ve fallen in love again with running. Last night’s run was pretty satisfying. My thoughts were as strong as my legs, the temperature was perfectly crisp and the air was scented with wood smoke. It was a pleasure.
Sometimes running feels really difficult. It doesn’t always bring satisfaction, which is frustrating because when you work really hard at something you kind of expect it to get easier and feel good. But, when your right glute continues to scream and your left knee decides to tweak and it’s dark and cold, well, running can suck.
Last night, though, nothing hurt. My feet were warm, cradled in new socks, and didn’t seem to mind pounding the sidewalk for 5 miles. The comfort with my physical self freed me to consider my state emotionally and mentally – where I’m at and where I want to be. Am I satisfied with my one precious life? How can I make it more fulfilling? Do I need to make changes?
It’s just about time to flip a page on the calendar for the last time for the year. 2018 is right around the corner and I’m already looking forward to it. Every day we get a new chance to fall in love, every new year brings with it the possibility of it being the best one ever. I’m getting ready. Are you?
- My children – even on the days when I can’t understand their actions or attitudes.
- A brother whom I never doubt, even when he just makes stuff up.
- Friends whom I’ve known for so long that I don’t have to explain to them where I come from because they were there.
- More recently made friends with whom I share interests like running, attending fun events and learning new things.
- Health and the ability to get up in the morning and run a 5k without batting an eye.
- The belief that each day comes with an opportunity for positive change.
- A profession that gives me a chance to work with interesting kids and adults and have summers off.
- An ability and means to express myself creatively.
- The opportunities I have to travel and see new places.
- A former husband with whom I can coparent without drama or conflict.
- My home, in a neighborhood of good people, complete with creature comforts, a well stocked kitchen and a dog who brings me joy.
- The knowledge that my life is full of blessings and that every single new day is a reason to feel appreciative.
- Challenge your body, but don’t forget to respect it.
- Know your limits.
- Listen to that voice in your head.
- Visit new places.
- Eat good food.
- Be kind.
- Love with your whole heart.
- Cultivate and nurture friendships.
- Get outside – fresh air cures so much of what ails us.
- Be honest even when it hurts.
- Keep moving.
- Teach your children coping skills.
- Spoil your dog.
- Speak your mind.
- Pay your bills.
- Get involved.
- Maintain your car.
- Keep excitement in your life.
- Be grateful.
When I run, I think. Last night I was thinking about the turmoil in our world – the terrorist attacks in our country and abroad, the conflict between our elected representatives and the folks they’re supposed to represent, the wave of anger that sometimes feels like it’s going to drown our country…it was pretty dark. The four letter word that seems to be most prevalent in all of those conditions seems to be hate, a word that I try not to use.
As the miles started ticking off, I began considering all of the other four letter words that I’m more inclined to use and realized how many of them have positive, even joyous, connotations. As I started listing them in my head I knew I needed to jot them down for the days that feel dark and populated by those who would rather hate than love. Here are my top 50, in alphabetical order. You know, because I’m a librarian and all.
What are your essential four-letter words?
- Five hours and two quick flights later, it is possible to be parking your rental car on King Street.
- My curls look best when my hair is dirty and salt water and sand are my chosen hair products.
- Charleston has far more liberals than I expected. There were even Bernie stickers!
- Where to eat and where they worship are two things shared frequently by residents.
- Speaking of where to eat, grits, biscuits, cinnamon rolls and mac and cheese would be my downfall eventually. I’m a carb girl.
- I can change my clothes in a car like a boss.
- The humidity in Charleston in August is a whole ‘nother level. I hope I remember this when we get hit here in Albany by elevated levels of heat and humidity.
- Downtown Charleston is beautifully compact and so very walkable.
- It’s a swamp – not a criticism, just an observation. There is water everywhere.
- Dining out, going to listen to music and having a drink solo is far preferable to not getting to do those things because you’re traveling without company.
- Life is satisfying when what you feel on the inside is radiating out for people to take note of. Case in point, this message from my AirBandB host:
I was so thrilled to see all the ways in which you discovered Charleston! You totally amazed us with your level of independence. Loved it!
One of the roads taken on this trip.
Do you ever have a day or two or three when it feels like you must be doing something right in your life? I mean, how else can you accept the good fortune that you’re experiencing? It almost makes a person believe that old adage about how if you’re happy inside, you’re happy everywhere you are. There’s no other way to explain the feeling of loving everywhere you go.
This trip has been remarkable. As I sat facing the charm of Rainbow Row, I had a hard time processing how lucky I’ve been in Charleston. The rain cooperated and only came at times that had no bearing at all on my activities. That’s saying something considering it rained 3 of my 5 days there. The people I’ve talked to have been friendly, the drinks cold and the food terrific. I scored parking each time I needed to and only hit legitimate traffic once – and that was on a draw bridge. It couldn’t have been a better solo trip.
You know, I didn’t grow up expecting to ever be in a position where I could indulge my itch to travel. I’ve come a long way since my first trip to Florida with one of my dearest friend’s family when I had $50 in my pocket, and that only because my brother gave it to me as I left our house. Along the way I learned to travel inexpensively, meals from grocery stores and delis, low budget accommodations, lots of self guided walking tours…you get it. It was good practice and I learned a lot.
Memories were made and I’m heading home with what feels like a new piece in place in my life’s mosaic. What’s your next destination?
“So shut up, live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry”
– Jack Kerouac