A New Year - 2019
Looking back at last year's resolutions and setting resolutions for 2019
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Also please note: this blog post includes mature language. If you don’t like that then obviously you’ve never hung out with me.
Happy New Year! This is the fourth year now I've set new year's resolutions on the blog (2016, 2017, and 2018), and how I’ve set resolutions has changed over the years. I’ve become more specific and more ambitious with my resolutions so that they’ve really stopped being resolutions and instead are annual goals to go with my monthly goals. And I kinda like that.
Resolutions imply to me some abstract change that is implemented immediately, like “I’m going to be a nicer person” or “I’m going to be healthier.” Resolutions are aspirational, and they suggest that some change is needed because fundamentally we are flawed. And you know - that doesn’t really sit well with me. Yeah, I’m going to resolve to make this year a better year, but not because 2018 was bad or that I’m defective, but rather because I believe in an optimistic future: a future that is always improving.
So rather than trying to set some abstract resolutions, I’m again focusing on concrete goals for 2019, with a few vague ruminations about being a better person thrown in for good measure 😉
Last year I organized my resolutions similarly to how I do my monthly goals. My resolutions were my year-long goals, and my monthly goals were the bite-size chunks to get me to those long-term goals. So how did I do for 2018?
Complete the first draft of my first novel. I didn’t do this. I didn’t even get close. I shied away from my novel like a rabid dog shies away from water. Every year I say this is a priority, and every year I drop the ball, so either it’s not actually a priority to me or I need to seriously re-think my approach to make this a priority.
Publish a short story. I also didn’t do this. I sent off one short story to one competition and didn’t win. (Surprise surprise)
Publish an article. I wanted to try my hand at some non-fiction writing for a legit media outlet since I had been blogging so much in 2017, but blogging (and writing in general) fell by the wayside in 2018.
Summary: I didn’t put myself out there at all this past year with regards to writing.
Grow my adventure photography. I’d really wanted to make sure I didn’t lose sight of adventure photography in 2018. Unfortunately, I lost sight of my adventure photography in 2018. I focused mostly on portrait work and didn’t commit to attending adventure races or events like I wanted to. While portrait work is fun in its own right, I want to make sure I keep adventure photography part of my life.
Summary: I did a lot of photography work this year, but very little of it was adventure or any serious outdoors photography.
Run a sub-2:10 half marathon. I didn’t end up doing this in 2018, but in my defense, I didn’t run any half marathon races in 2018. I upgraded to the marathon and ultramarathon! I kinda forgot about this PR goal until a couple months ago and so I started looking around for a half marathon option towards the end of the year but I already had crammed in a bunch of races in October and November, so this goal will have to wait until 2019.
Just finish a full marathon. I did this I did this I did this! I did this twice! Three times actually! I did my ultramarathon (Table Rock Ultra 50K) in September, then Marine Corps Marathon in October and then RDC marathon in November. Success!
Run 800 miles in 2018. It’s crazy to think, but apparently I ran 620 km (385 miles) in 2017, and then for 2018 I aimed to more than double that mileage. And I did just that! The final tally is in and I ran 851.8 miles in 2018! Check out the Strava summary video below, it’s kinda fun.
Summary: I didn’t focus on my half marathon goal, but I absolutely crushed it in 2018 in terms of running. Two marathons, an ultramarathon, and over 850 miles completed in 2018 - yes!!
Go on six backpacking trips. So with all the running I did in 2018 I didn’t do much backpacking. I went backpacking in March on the Appalachian Trail with Sherry, covering about 21 miles on the AT via the Standing Indian loop. Then I went kayak-packing in April in Okefenokee Swamp; I paddled out 10 miles to a platform in the middle of the swamp and slept with some gators and came back, whew! This summer I introduced my friend Emily to backpacking in South Mountains state park; we did an easy one mile hike to a primitive campsite and set up base camp for explorations for the weekend. But that’s really it in terms of backpacking this year - 3 weekends spent backpacking, and one other weekend spent camping out for Table Rock Ultra before the race.
Go hiking out west. I DID THIS!! McCrae and I went to Colorado the first week of July and we did tons of exploring: we hiked the Flatirons in Boulder, we spent a day in Rocky Mountain National Park covering over 13 miles in a day and getting up close with a glacier, we spent a day in Winter Park doing downhill mountain biking (it’s a miracle I survived, let’s be honest), and then we did a little exploring up around Fort Collins. All in all it was fantastic and I absolutely cannot wait to go back out west!
Hike 60 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Eeek this definitely didn’t happen. I only did one section of the AT this year and that was the Standing Indian backpacking trip. With that trip I increased my mileage on the AT from 63.3 miles to 84.0 miles, so that’s 20.7 miles in 2018 on the AT. So I covered a third of my goal distance.
Hike 60 miles of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. So…I have to do some math on this. Because I didn’t end up specifically section hiking the MST this year, but I was definitely on it. A lot. There was a lot of overlap with trails I used for trail running this year and sections of the MST, so let’s see:
Bits of Hanging Rock State Park: 4.9 miles
Bits of Hillsborough River Walk: 0.7 miles
Race Across Durham (20 miles out and back on MST): 10.2 miles
So that puts me at 15.8 miles covered on the MST trail (25.8 if you count out and back miles). Plus an assortment of odd miles with Falls Lake that I’ve never accurately tracked, but it’s okay.
Complete the 52 hike challenge. I actually remembered to track my hikes this year, but came up a little short of 52 hikes. I did 40 hikes. And…well…technically that includes a lot of trail running, but I figure those count as hikes, right? They’re just…really fast hikes…
In any case, I did 40 hikes this year totaling 330.43 miles and 38,250 feet of elevation gain. Whoo! So that’s an average of 8.26 miles per hike and 956.25 feet elevation gain per hike. I had a few hikes that were the one mile minimum to count, and then quite a few (13 actually) hikes that were in double digit mileage.
The one thing I’m a little disappointed about is that I signed up for the Adventure Series for the 52 Hike Challenge. The idea was that you try to check off different types of hikes as part of your 52 hike challenge. Types of hikes include sunset and sunrise hikes, forest hikes, river hikes, national park hike, etc. I checked off most of the types of hikes, but there were quite a few that I missed, including: National Preserve, National Recreation Area, Ocean Hike, Stewardship Hike, and Reflection Hike (journal). The stewardship and reflection hikes were…idk, a little weird, because I always reflect about a hike and journal afterwards, but I didn’t do any hikes that were specifically slow and included stops along the hike for journaling (except for Standing Indian, but I used those days to count for other hike types). And then the Stewardship Hike is odd, because I tend to pick up trash that I see on a trail on every hike, but I didn’t do a hike specifically intended to pick up trash. So I didn’t count those, even though I probably could have.
But for some of the other hike categories I’m actually pretty disappointed at how hard some of those categories are: for example there are 18 national recreation areas, but my closest option is in West Virginia or Georgia. There are 21 national preserves, but Alaska has a monopoly on those with 10 national preserves in that state (it’s mostly because you can fish/mine/drill/etc. in national preserves - hence the acres designated in Alaska). But then again, I have no excuse as to why I didn’t get an ocean hike done, except to say that our beaches were severely hit by hurricanes on the weekends I’d planned to go to the ocean (like staying an extra day at Atlantic Beach after Tuna 200).
If I were to pick hike categories, I’d probably keep most of the same categories but switch up some of these categories that are hard to accomplish if you’re not in some cool outdoorsy state like Colorado, California, or Alaska. I’d add in some categories like “National historic and scenic trail” hike and “Hike with a kid” or something. But I didn’t invent the categories, soooooo…
Go to Iceland. Ooh, so McCrae and I had the opportunity to go to Iceland this summer, but we instead went to Colorado. Don’t get me wrong, both destinations are awesome, but we just chose to go to Colorado this year instead.
Hike in Patagonia. Gahhhh this didn’t happen unfortunately, though I’d love to make this a big goal! I think I have a friend of mine convinced we should do a Patagonia trek eventually; I’m not sure if it’s in the 1 year plan but it’s definitely in the 5 year plan.
Get social with my hiking. So I didn’t get social in the way I thought I would, but I’ve definitely gotten much more social with my outdoors activities. I initially thought that “getting social” with hiking meant I’d go to meet-ups and organized group hikes, and yeah, I did a couple of those. But mostly “get social” this year has meant bonding with some trail running buddies and organizing outdoors activities with some co-workers and even converting (well, facilitating…I can’t take credit for the transformation) one of my best friends into an outdoorsy person.
In any case, I think this is probably one of the greatest improvements in my life: I finally have friends that I can share my outdoors experiences with and who share my interests. I finally have friends who want to camp out with me and spend all day on a trail and go climbing. I have friends who want to get into backpacking and who can share that sense of awe I feel when I’m experiencing something incredible in the outdoors. And that right there is one of the richest improvements of my life.
Complete Wilderness First Aid training. Yeah, this didn’t happen. There were several times when it was offered and I went to sign up for the class but either it was full or I had a conflict, so it just never worked out. I still want to do this though.
Summary: While I hardly went on any true backpacking trips this year, I actually had a year that was full of outdoorsy activities. There was lots of trail running (lots and lots and LOTS of trail running!) and some trips to big hiking destinations. But best of all, most of these outdoor moments were shared with friends this year, which has made my life richer. I didn’t achieve all my goals in this category, but I do believe this category was a top performer in my life this past year. Here’s to many other years like this.
Climb 5.9 routes consistently. I guess I achieved this. I’ve been trying to push myself and push my grade at least once a month and I’ve been consistently doing that. So while I’m climbing 5.9 routes regularly, it’s still a toss-up as to how well I do it. I usually need to take a break on these routes, either because they’re more physically demanding or because I get stuck and I need to lean back and plan my next few moves. And yeah, sometimes I resort to cheating to get through a move, but most often the cheating is to reassure myself mentally to get through a move (like resting my hand on another route’s hand hold) rather than needing it to get through a move. There are days like earlier this month when I power through a 5.9 on a super tall wall and I feel great, and then there are days where I am utterly defeated by 5.9s. So I’m not sure if I’m always sending 5.9 routes consistently, but I at least consistently attempt to climb them.
Boulder at v1 level. Bahhhh I actually was doing pretty well at bouldering for a while (as in I was doing it regularly, not as in I was actually any good at bouldering), but I haven’t been doing as much of that recently. Still, I’d say V1 is generally a correct level for me when it comes to the boulder wall.
Climb outdoors at least once. I did this!! I didn’t go on a guided tour like I thought I would, but I tagged along with a group from my climbing gym to Pilot Mountain this summer…and YES, IT WAS AWESOME!
Summary: Well, it was quite a year for my climbing I guess. I hit all my goals and feel like I’m ready to progress.
Get blissed out and and get my flexibility back. I…didn’t do this. At all. I mean, I can still touch my toes at least, but it’s pretty discouraging to remember how flexible I was before. I’d like to get that back.
Do a 40 mile bike ride. Hahaha does 40 miles on a bike count across multiple bike rides?? Lauren and I went on a super fun 26 mile bike ride this summer (Lauren, let’s do it again!) and I went mountain biking a few times with McCrae, but I never did a 40 mile bike ride in one go.
Try mountain biking. Heh. I did this. I wasn’t super enthusiastic about doing this, but I did it anyways. McCrae and I went to Winter Park while we were in Colorado and explored Trestle Bike Park. Trestle is a downhill mountain bike park; they re-use the ski lifts and ski slopes and make some epic downhill mountain bike trails during the summer. And that was my first experience on a mountain bike. Ever. Downhill. On super steep slopes. At 10,000 feet elevation. On a rental bike. With the occasional jump thrown in for fun. And it was my first time on a ski lift too (look Ma! No hands! Omg omg omg don’t look down, there’s no soft powder below us, just sharp boulders…panic!!). It was a rough start, but it was a start.
After the “I almost decided not to marry you because of that downhill mountain biking” experience McCrae did manage to convince to get me on a mountain bike twice more: once at the US National Whitewater Center when we rented some bikes and hit up the mountain bike trails after whitewater rafting, and the second time at Crabtree for a Santa Cruz bike demo. I guess mountain biking gets easier the more you do it? I dunno, it’s still a hard sell for me.
Summary: I’m not flexible. But I actually did some mountain biking this year, with some totally epic crashes in between shredding some gnar and getting stoked and…wait, did I use all those words correctly? These rad young mountain biking kids and their lingo…I just can’t keep up with them.
Grow the blog. Lol this is laughable. I seriously neglected the blog in 2018. And yet…I still got some pretty decent growth. So hey, less effort, more eyeballs? That’s cool.
Summary: Less effort. More growth. Still counts as a win, right??
Read 20 books. Hey I did this! I read 24 books in 2018. More than half were audiobooks, which I’ve now decided is acceptable, since I try to listen to books that are interesting but not literary on audiobooks. This usually means listening to pop fiction novels or non-fiction memoirs (usually focused on running, let’s face it). In general this works out, though I do have one major regret for this year: I wish I’d read Madeline Miller’s Circe* as a physical book and not as an audiobook. Don’t get me wrong, the audiobook was enthralling, but that book resonated with me so significantly that I wish I had a physical copy of it.
Books I physically read included a couple by my high school English professor Nicole Sarrocco (Lit by Lightning* and Ill-Mannered Ghosts*) as well as Emma Cline’s The Girls* and Claire Messud’s The Burning Girl*. But really the majority of my time and energy spent reading physical books this year was on Jeffrey Eugenides’s Middlesex* and Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicle*. Of course, it was time well spent. But daaaang that was a lot of time spent on those books.
In case you’re interested, here’s my Goodreads yearly summary: https://www.goodreads.com/user/year_in_books/2018/43041290
Summary: Solid list of books this year, including a couple that will stay with me emotionally for a very long time.
Go to Germany. Noope. Didn’t happen. It was a pretty ambitious goal for 2018 without any travel plans though.
Summary: If I want to travel abroad I need to plan in advance and not just say “Oh, I want to go somewhere this year…” Uh huh, plan ahead, Miss Last-Minute Liz.
In summary, I’d probably say this wasn’t the year I had planned to have in January 2018, but it’s the year I loved living. There were a couple other surprises thrown into this year: I worked on a massive project that was altogether stressful and exhausting but was also a very good source of professional growth for me.
And oh yeah. I got married. I might have (intentionally) forgotten to tell the world for like…7 months now. But that happened, ring-a-ling-a-ding! McCrae and I signed a piece of paper in Colorado and eloped in July 2018. Did you know in Colorado you can get married without an officiant and without any witnesses?! Hehe, it’s awesome.
So I got married. And ran an ultramarathon. And did cool stuff at work. And ran two marathons (including my first ever marathon). And I kayaked with alligators. And I camped out on a mountain and fled down the mountainside in the middle of the night to escape insane lightning and hail. And I tried downhill mountain biking on epic Colorado slopes. And I climbed outdoors. And I did all the other daily things that make up a year in a life, and it was a pretty good year.
So 2019 has a lot to live up to. Let’s see what I might have planned:
When I was trying to figure out my goals for this year, I worried about what to do for the cover image. (I know it’s a silly thing to worry about, but I couldn’t come up with any brilliant ideas for a while.) As evidenced by previous years, my flat-lay attempts are atrocious. I’m just not the type of person who has neat and tidy things to grab for cute flat-lays and my eye just doesn’t naturally look down. No joke, my desk right now has a smattering of flash drives and hard drives, piles of pens and pencils, a unicorn tape dispenser, lots of post-its, my pineapple planner (and half a dozen other planning sort of books) and…no joke…a bag of croutons (don’t ask). I don’t have any cute desk curios, my notebooks are obviously well worn, and plus I finally managed to kill off my last succulent and we all know you can’t have a flat-lay without a succulent. So flat-lays were out of the question. So what else was I going to do? Should I dress up Ryder for a year-long photo? I wasn’t too keen on that idea because Ryder is still recovering from his surgery and he’s a hot mess (and plus I didn’t plan far enough in advance to order any props for the scene). So what should I do instead??
Eventually a vision of sorts popped into my head. Mason jars. And holiday lights. Yeah, both of those things are a little cliche, but that’s what I had in my mind. So after spending a little too long playing around with the lighting this morning I finally came up with a shot that was acceptable. It’s still not quite exactly what I had in mind, but hey, did you know that Christmas light strands flicker?! You think those lights are on constantly but my camera will prove you wrong. Hmph.
But I digress. Mason jars! And holiday lights! It’s pretty simple, but it’s a symbol I’d like to take up for 2019: to take the empty jars in my life and fill them with light.
So, with that in mind, what sort of light am I trying to capture in 2019?
Focus. Write like a motherfucker.
Commit to your writing. Make it a priority. Year after year I talk about how I want to write a book and publish short stories and write more in my journal and on the blog, and yet I never do it. (Okay, I’m pretty good at writing in the journal, but that’s about it.) Right now I’m not really sure what this resolution means for 2019 and how to measure that I’m committed to and prioritizing writing, but the first step to fixing a problem is recognizing the problem. If I’m not following through on my writing goals then clearly something is amiss and I need to do a little soul-searching related to that.
I was listening to Cheryl Strayed read her book Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar* on audiobook over my holiday break and one of the advice columns included is “Write Like a Motherfucker.” It’s actually fairly early in the book, and the column hit me like a slap to the face.
I want to call myself a writer. I convince myself that I have sentences in me that need to get onto a page, and yet I refuse to do the difficult work of writing anything coherent. The fact that I have not yet written a novel is entirely my fault. I’ve written enough content in my lifetime for 60 novels, and yet I have not done the work needed to produce anything of note. No, not even of note - I haven’t done the work needed to produce anything. I know the fear of failure and the pressure of doing something "incredible” has been a huge barrier, but Cheryl Strayed is right: I’ve “finally reached a point where the prospect of not writing a book was more awful than the one of writing a book that sucked.”
So. Liz. Stop worrying that your book will suck. It will probably suck. You’re not Flannery O’Connor, so just shut up and write the damn book. Even if it sucks (because it will).
Make your own light.
Don’t just capture the light that’s out there. Make your own light. So this is actually something that applies not just to my photography in the literal sense, but also figuratively in my life. I’m finally seeing light differently. Instead of just noticing serendipitously pretty light and snapping a pic, I’m beginning to see how that light exists, where it comes from, how it’s manipulated, what the quality and quantity is, and how it affects the scene. I’m starting to learn how to recreate beautiful light, and I’d like to have more control over light so that I can intentionally create beautiful light instead of just stumbling upon it. That means patience and practice and working in a planned scene with my own lighting sources. It’s harder work, but I think it will be worth it.
This has been one of my favorite quotes since I first heard it in high school, but I always just assumed I was the mirror. I thought the best I could aspire to was to reflect other lights. Maybe it was a lack of confidence or a lack of internal vision or something more lacking and empty in me, but I had never thought of myself as a candle. I want to change that. I want to be the candle; I want to make my own light. I want to fill empty jars with light and send those bright missives into the wide world. I want to be the candle.
Go faster. Go farther. Keep going. But don’t go it alone.
Run another 50K. I think my ultramarathon is one of my favorite experiences of 2018 and I want to keep pushing myself and my distance. I want to keep tapping into that community of ultrarunners and find other people who share my passions.
Run two marathons. I really do love the marathon distance and I want to keep working on that.
Run a 4:30 marathon. It was kinda a shock that I PRed by 15 minutes on my second marathon just two weeks after my first ever marathon. My current marathon PR is 4:35:15. Shaving off five minutes won’t be easy, but I can do it.
Run a sub-2:10 half marathon. It might help if I even attempt a half marathon this year, ha!
Run a sub-27:00 5K. You know what I don’t do a lot of? 5K races. It might be nice to see just how fast I can go this year.
Run 1000 miles in a year. I ran 851 miles in 2018, so I think 1000 miles in 2019 is doable. Better yet: I want to do as many miles with a smile on my face, and to run as much as I can with friends.
There may be many miles to go, but I don’t have to do it alone.
Have fun out there. And spend as much time as possible outside.
Go backpacking 5 times. I need to make sure I prioritize this. Bonus points if I bring friends.
Hike 50 miles on the Appalachian Trail. I want to keep whittling away at the miles and section hikes.
Hike 50 miles on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Ditto the above re: AT.
Complete the 52 Hike Challenge. I fell a little short in 2018, but it’s been fun to track my progress through the year. I want to attempt this again mostly because it’s fun to see the miles and elevation change rack up.
Hike abroad. You know what I haven’t done? A decent international hike. It’s time to change that.
Complete Wilderness First Aid training. Oh yeah, I still want to do this. Safety first!
Do at least one Sunday Stroll a month. It’s not hard - I just need to make sure I do this.
Push your comfort zone.
Climb 5.10 routes. I climbed my very first 5.10 in December! I very reluctantly attempted it after McCrae cajoled me into trying it, and yes, it was hard. But it was a good kind of hard - the kind of hard that makes you grit your teeth and grow. That’s what I need.
Climb outdoors. I want to learn to set anchors and start feeling comfortable with climbing outdoors.
Get lead certified. I’ve been putting this off for a long time, but I don’t think I can keep delaying. It’s probably time for me to start working on some lead climbing, even if the idea scares me.
Take some climbing clinics. My climbing gym offers a lot of clinics; I need to start signing up for the ones that interest me. Stop being scared and put yourself out there, Liz
Boulder at V2 level. Yeah, I know, you don’t want to do this. Tough stuff.
Go check out a climbing gym in a different city. There’s this YouTube channel (EpicTV) that tours different climbing gyms pretty regularly, and it’s actually really fun to see the different features at different gyms. While I probably won’t turn into a super cool climbing gym YouTube star (ugh, I wouldn’t want to be a copycat anyways) it would be pretty cool to do a day trip or two to check out some other climbing gyms. McCrae and I did explore a climbing gym in Fort Collins last summer and it was tons of fun to play around with their huge climbing ramp area!
Do a pull-up. Eh, this could fall under the “Other Fitness” category, but I mostly want to do this to help with my climbing. I’m absolutely terrible at pull-ups, and I’d like to finally change that.
Get flexible again. I need to make sure I set aside time regularly to stretch and meditate.
Do a 40 mile bike ride. Haha I just need to do this!
Get stronger. Strength is physical and mental, and I want to be stronger in both ways. If I incorporate strength training it can help me be a stronger person physically and mentally.
Keep coming up with super fun RhoTREATS outings! And do a few outings open to everyone I know. For the RhoTREATS outings we’ve done a couple hikes, went to the US National Whitewater Center, and we spent a day at the indoor climbing gym. I’ve got a few ideas for 2019 that I’m looking forward to organizing, and there are several other people (not coworkers) who have expressed interest in doing some fun outings, so I want to make sure I organize a smattering of fun events throughout the year.
Take time to read.
Read 20 books. This was a pretty reasonable goal and I’m happy to maintain that for 2019.
Read 2 books in German. Before that part of my brain rots away I’d like to use it a little more.
Move and be moved.
Go to France. WE’RE GOING TO FRANCE!!
Get 10 more stamps in my NC State Parks passport. So the NC State Parks has this program where you get a park passport book and if you go to the North Carolina state parks you can pop by a park office and get your passport stamped for that park. It’s kinda silly and it’s probably supposed to be for kids, but it’s also pretty fun. Bonus points if I do all 41 parks in one year!
Stop stressing over this and just have fun.
Grow the blog. Well, if last year was any indication, I can just post less and the blog will magically get more pageviews, right?? ;) Quality over quantity. Screw regularity. And just have fun.
Have fun with some video. I’ve got a GoPro and I’ve played around with a couple videos this past year, but I’m still pretty novice. Still, it would be fun to experiment a bit. Plus I hear YouTubers get all the best sponsorships anyways ;)
Do a blog series. My friend Jill and I have been talking a big game about a blog series, and we need to sit down and actually do it! Jill, take note. You bring the questions, I’ll bring the camera. Let’s start making some fun posts!
You don’t have to be perfect, but you do have to work to be better.
Budget. This means knowing how I spend my money and planning how to spend money in the future.
Don’t completely neglect the house. I don’t love being at home doing homey things. Obviously things like running trails or doing a sunrise hike or climbing up a cliff is way more exciting than drudgery like keeping a clean house or fixing roofs, but even if those tasks are awfully tedious, they’re still important.
Eat like you’re a grown-up. Meal prep. Cut sugar. Cut dairy. Cut meat. Cook more. You’re a grown woman, make your own damn food.
Sleep 8 hours per night. Sleep deprivation isn’t cool. Especially when you get cranky.
Study French. You’re going to France! Be ready!
Stay current on German. It’s not hard; use that bit of your brain every once in a while.
Make one more habitual change to reduce waste. No straws, reusable grocery bags, reusable coffee cups, compost bin, fanatical recycling, mostly plant-based, natural deodorant, menstrual cups, non-disposable pens and inks, and very minimal use of paper towels - I’ve got these down pretty well. I still have the occasional cheat moment when something’s super inconvenient (like wiping poop off my dog’s butt; I’m going to use a paper towel for that, sorry), but there’s still room for improvement. Maybe this will be the year I am more mindful of packaging? Like buying items in bulk instead of assuming I can recycle everything. I’m kinda bad about that - “It’s fine, I can just throw this in the recycling bin!” And that’s how you get a trash can that only has doggy poop bags and a recycling bin that’s constantly overflowing. Reduce is the first word in the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” mantra, because it has the biggest impact. Reduce your footprint, Liz.
Regularly send snail mail. Remember how many letters you used to write to your friends? Be more consistent. Put some light into some (figurative) jars and send them out into the world.
Put some letters at the end of your name. Certifications. Advanced degree. It doesn’t really matter, but start working on your alphabet soup.
Previous years I’ve set an intention word for the year like “grow” and “breathe” but honestly, I think that’s rubbish. That intention lasts for as long as my attention span and then it’s onto some shiny new opportunity. I’d put in some complaint about my jumping about from shiny object to shiny object, but there’s a benefit to being an opportunist: it means I say yes to things and I’m okay with being flexible. If I weren’t, then I wouldn’t have said “yes” when Jill first brought up the idea of the ultramarathon, or I wouldn’t have said “yes” when I was asked to take on more responsibilities with the project at work. The intention word may be fine for a month, but, just like yearly goals, it’s good to have something to focus on, but it’s great to be flexible.
On the other hand I’m somewhat anxious about committing to so many goals this year (I mean, what? are 42 goals too many?) but I also believe that it’s good to set some structure and expectations for the year and then fill in the rest of the jars with…well…daily life. So back to the mason jars...have you ever heard of the adage that there was some professor/wise person/preacher/sage/student/kid/mom/whatever who showed up with a bunch of jars one day and a pile of rocks, a pile of pebbles, and a pile of sand? And then they proceeded to fill the jars with the different items, and they showed that the best way to fill a jar is to put in the rocks first, then the pebbles, and then the sand. The rocks were the most important things, the pebbles were the medium important things, and the sand were trivial things. The idea is you can’t fill your jar first with sand (ahem Netflix and Facebook), because then you’ll fill your jar and you won’t have space for rocks or pebbles. So my goal categories are my rocks (plus things like my dog and McCrae and normal work and family and friends I guess, lol) and then my goals are the pebbles. I want to fill my jars as much as possible with those rocks and pebbles - cram all those suckers in - and then if I need some filler sand then that’s fine. Except I want my rocks and pebbles to glow like Yooperlites because I’m so frigging extra. 😉
But do I have too many rocks? Can I actually fit all those rocks into my jars? I made a bucket list over break because I reasoned if I can figure out the big epic things I want to do with my life then I can plan my rocks and pebbles accordingly. I thought maybe I could even take out a few rocks and pebbles while I’m at it and focus on becoming an expert in something rather than diluting my attention. But yet I can’t seem to let anything go. My bucket list was two pages crammed with tiny text - front and back, no spacing for columns, just bullet points of everything I want to do. And the list ranged from “get close to a volcano” to “run a marathon to all 7 continents” to “hike the PCT” to “climb a rock tower” to “write a book” to “take an award-winning photo” to “be a #girlboss” so every category was represented. How could I possibly pare down my categories then? Stop writing so I can focus on photography? Stop hiking so I can focus on running? Stop doing any extra-curriculars so I can focus on a career? None of that seems acceptable; I hoard experiences like The Collector hoards Marvel Universe oddities. I firmly fall into the trap of wanting to have it all, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad or even feasible. Am I filling my jars with rocks and pebbles, or am I just biting off more than I can chew?
I don’t know that answer, so I’m going to give myself permission to let my goals adapt and change as needed. Because life is defined by change and how we handle that change. So these aren’t resolutions. They aren’t even firm goals. These are more like…guidelines. Suggestions. Nudges into the right direction. This is the basic skeleton of a year, and it’s my job to give that skeleton life, or to completely remake the structure as needed.
But no matter what I do, I need to fill my jars with light.