Obligatory New Year’s Resolutions Post

As 2014 came to a close, I’m likely one of many people that reflected on the promised improvements they made this time last year.

For me, New Year’s resolutions have always been kind of useless. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really achieved any of the goals I set for myself. I do like considering the New Year as a blank slate, though. I think dwelling on the mistakes of your past can be destructive, but setting broad goals without any sort of infrastructure to help achieve them defeats the purpose.

What good is “lose 60 pounds” if I don’t also include the steps I’ll need to actually lose that much weight? Case in point, losing 60 pounds has been my New Year’s resolution for a good two years, but not only did I not achieve that goal each year, I put on more weight.

Finally shedding 18 pounds wasn’t due to multiple resolutions; my weight loss was due to accomplishing small goals and changes throughout the year (and yes, weight loss medication my doctor prescribed).

It was setting a goal to work out four times a week and including two vegetables with dinner (something we still struggle with). It was trying desperately to avoid eating carbs for lunch and dinner. It was signing up for three 5Ks with a goal to do them without walking. It was striving to go to yoga once a week. Those little goals had more of an impact on my success than the bold statement of “lose 60 pounds.”

So, this year I’m taking a different approach to New Year’s resolutions.

In that vein, here are some small goals to get 2015 started:

Finances

Our paltry savings were wiped out when we moved to Raleigh more than four years ago. Consistent financial insecurity has caused us to put any potential savings toward chipping away at debt (medical, credit card and student loan).

someecards.com

someecards.com

While that hasn’t changed, I decided to build up our savings again by automatically drafting $20 from each paycheck. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I’m sure I’ll be tempted to transfer those accrued savings, but in my savings account is where they should stay.

Fitness

The past year, I’ve focused mainly on cardio because I only have time to do one workout each day and the dog can’t lift weights. This year, I want to do at least two days of strength training per week.

I’m not giving up running (or “running”), though. As I’ve written about before, now that I’ve reached my distance goal, I’ll be working on speed to bring down my mile time. Like last year, I’ll sign up for a few races to keep me focused and motivated.

earthporm.com

earthporm.com

I want to continue going to yoga at least once a week, kicking it up to two when it works with my weekend schedule. At the very least, I plan on incorporating yoga into my strength training routine. Sun salutations are like yoga burpees, I assure you.

(They look easy, but do 10 rounds and tell me how your arms feel the next day)

Food

We’ve been half-assing an attempt to include more produce into our diet for a while now. Most of it goes in the compost pile unused and rotten. This year, on top of wasting less, I want to start thinking about our meals a little differently.

A recent dinner of bratwurst, steamed broccoli and sautéed radishes and chickpeas / After the Knot

A recent dinner of bratwurst, steamed broccoli and sautéed radishes and chickpeas / After the Knot

We generally focus on protein and build dinner around that.

Example: We have chicken. What can we make with chicken? Chicken cutlets. OK. What else are we having with it?

Instead, I’d like to focus on a particular vegetable and build the dinner around it, even if it’s still the side dish.

Example: We have spinach. What can we make with spinach? Sautéed spinach. OK. What else are we having with it?

I have no idea if this mental change will work, but it’s worth a shot.

Dog Training

My dog is freaking awesome, but she’s far from perfect. Her recall only works in my yard and she gets so excited when she sees people or dogs that are obviously her new best friend, she lunges and barks until her harness gets twisted and people stare at me with their judgey eyes. This is Bailey’s terrifying way of saying, “I love you and I’m so happy to see you.”

Let her off leash for a picture on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Nope. I'll never see her again. / After the Knot

Let her off leash for a picture on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Nope. I’ll never see her again. / After the Knot

We’ve already started learning a new cue, “touch,” to help bring her focus back on me. We’re also working on “focus” to keep her attention there. This year we’ll continue working on these cues, along with practicing recall in the front yard, outside the boundaries of our fence.

 

And that’s it. I’m leaving it at that.

I’d like to get more organized, learn how to sew, learn a new crochet stitch, read more books, go hiking more regularly, go kayaking, and paint the hallways in my house. And if I do all that, awesome. But if I don’t, it’ll be OK.

Here’s to 2015, a blank slate.

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Hi, 2012. I Will Rock You

2011 was pretty awesome. I kinda got married to the love of my life. There are few things that could really top that.

As I think about everything that I want for 2012, I need to go back to 2011 and take a look at what I’ve accomplished…or didn’t accomplish.

From 2011

Drink more water: I started drinking way more water once I got myself a Camelbak water bottle over the summer. I call it a sippy cup for adults because it’s spill proof. I would drink two to three of those a day and used it over regular glasses. Problem is, when I can’t find it, I go back to bad drinking habits. I haven’t seen the thing in three days, and my water consumption went down. Looks like I’ll be running to Target to pick up another one.
Eat better foods: Chuck and I began going to the farmers market for our produce over the summer and it really has been an awesome thing. We got local, in season fruits and vegetables, which we added to our diet. In the fall, we decided to focus on a vegetable-based diet, which has been a great switch. When we cut meat out of our diet, we opened up our budget for eggs and dairy from pasture-raised animals. When we do eat meet, which is only a few times a month, it’s also pasture raised.

Take care of my body:
Considering that I gained 10lbs recently, I’d call this one a raging failure. I’ve gotten a little better with some of the other things, including using more moisturizer, but if your body is a temple, I went at mine with a wrecking ball.

Improve wardrobe: 
I was forced to improve my look when I began working at the tutoring center. Jeans every day just wasn’t an option. In the fall, I began doing this whole, skirts with tights and boots look that’s in right now. I bought my skirts at Goodwill so I didn’t have to spend a lot of money. Not only do I look less frumpy, but I found that skirts – paired with tights – are more comfortable than pants. I’ve also started wearing more jewelry, which dresses up anything I wear.
Expand this blog: Umm…well, I’ve since revamped the look, but I never relaunched it like I wanted. The blog definitely grew, which is awesome, but I never did want I wanted to with it. My brother did create a logo for me, which I plan on using at some point.

Become a full-time writer: This was the most important resolution I made last year. I should be damn proud of myself for making it happen and making it work. Maybe I’m not “full-time,” but I do make at least half of my income by writing. I absolutely love it, but only time will tell it it’s going to be sustainable. Chuck and I have big plans for 2012 and most are contingent on an increase in income.

Become a better copy editor: I still suck at this. I really do. But, I’ve gotten better since working at the tutoring center where I’m constantly grading students’ writing. I’ve also starting learning all of those basic grammar rules that I was NEVER taught in school. Sachem – yeah, I’m calling you out on this – did a craptastic job teaching basic grammar (subjects and predicates??? Had no idea what a predicate was until recently) and despite not knowing anything other than what I learned playing Mad Libs, I was a good enough writer to place out of all of the basic writing courses in college. Those basic writing courses would have gone over all of this stuff. Considering I actually make my living as a writer not knowing any of these rules is nothing short of a miracle.
So, overall, I was fairly successful at keeping my resolutions in 2011. I may not have succeeded 100 percent, but I definitely made really great strides toward improvements.

Ok, 2012

For 2012 I want to continue with all of the good changes I’ve made in my life. I want to continue eating more healthy and drinking more water. I want to wear sunscreen every day and dress myself well. I want to continue life as a writer in whatever capacity we can afford. And I want to continue honing my writing skills.

Here are some others:

Get in touch with my inner old lady: I’d like to do all of those things that our grandmothers grew up doing, but are only now finding their way back to the mainstream. I want to learn how to sew, can vegetables and crochet things that aren’t in straight lines.
Get organized: My organizational system sucks the big one. It makes keeping track of things incredibly hard and something needs to be done. I have already created a list of things I will need to start doing this. From paying my bills to sorting coupons, I need to figure out a system that works and that is simple enough that my lazy self can keep up with.
Buy a house: With interest rates at less than 3 percent, how can we not take advantage of the housing market? We do lack a down payment but there are definitely things in place to help low-income and first time home buyers like ourselves. I’d really, really like to take advantage of that.
Increase our income: But to do that, we need to increase our income. We have reached a point that we can no longer scrimp and save. Sure, we could not buy pasture-raised milk, but the $2 extra per week is worth having healthy food. You can only cut so much before you have to start raising revenue (hmm…sounds familiar, don’t it?). I have my fingers crossed that Chuck will start school this semester, which would help us out much sooner than starting in the fall. That will bring our income up by nearly 50 percent. We could continue to live the way we do and put a considerable amount away each month. This would also help us eliminate the credit card debt we’ve accumulated. Either way, I have to find a way to increase my contribution to our coffers.
I’m hoping that by sticking with these resolutions we’ll be setting ourselves up to be in a pretty good spot for 2013. I’m hoping that will be the year we start growing our little family.
What are your goals for 2012?

2011? BRING IT!

This year was pretty crazy. Half way through it, I got engaged and moved to a state 550 miles away from where my hometown. I have never been so broke in my life, but I also have never been so fiscally responsible. 2010 is definitely the year I became a grown-up.

For 2011 I have a few minor goals and some pretty big ones.

 

Life Resolutions

Drink more water: I think my body would appreciate not being so thirsty all the time.

Eat better foods: Going completely organic might not be in the cards, financially, but I’d like to add more fruits, veggies and non-processed foods to our diet. With a plethora of cooking equiptment I’m hoping that will come to me for our wedding, I think we can continue making healthy home-cooked meals that aren’t loaded with processed crap. I want to do more research into growing our own food in tight and dark conditions. My apartment is great, but doesn’t get much light. I also plan on looking into vitamin therapy after seeing this amazing documentary called, Food Matters.

Take care of my body: Now, don’t get me wrong, I shower every day, brush my teeth use deodorant, etc., etc.. But, sometimes I get lazy and I’ll go to bed without washing my face. As I creep toward my 30s it’s probably a good idea to start using a good moisturizer every day instead of just went I shave my legs and when my hands are dry. I could also stand to actually visit the dentist for an annual cleaning, if I ever get insurance. Of course exercise falls into this category. I’ve already started working out more and my plan is to make it part of my routine and thereby making it a part of my life. I also want to get to bed earlier as sleep plays a large part in having a healthy lifestyle.

Improve wardrobe: Since gaining a lot of weight, I have been a pretty frumpy dresser. My awkward figure and short stature makes finding clothing difficult and I just sort of gave up. Clothes shopping because way too depressing. While I continue to work toward losing weight, I need to dress the figure that I have and find stuff that isn’t so frumpy. Poor Chuck has only known me as the girl is sweaters, t-shirts,  jeans and pajamas. I think he can count on one hand how many times he’s seen me in heels. He is pretty much unaware as to how I look in a pair of nice dress pants. This isn’t just for Chuck, but for me as well. My self-esteem is already at an all-time low and dressing in clothes that don’t fit me well is just adding to the problem.I got some money for Christmas and hopefully I can stretch it into a decent collection.

Writing Resolutions

Expand this blog: I still have a lot to learn about blogging and the wedding industry in general. I absolutely love doing this and I want to continue to expand on it. I want to start adding real weddings and expand on my “Bride Recommended Vendors” page. I want to learn some more design so I don’t have to use some lame WordPress template that clearly screams, “I’M NOT CREATIVE AT ALL!!!!!” I have yet to decide if I want to start taking sponsors. I’m a big fan of non-profit media, but if I want to accomplish resolution No. 2 I’m going to have to consider it.

Become a full-time writer: I don’t really care how it’s done. I don’t care if I’m a full-time freelancer or if my blog becomes profitable enough for me to do it full time, of if I find a full time gig in the writing industry. I just want to make writing my life again. Of course this is also dependent on where Chuck is in his job search. We have bills to pay and keeping a roof over our heads and that yummy food in our belly is more important. But, I am going to work hard to making it a reality.

Become a better copy editor: Anyone who reads this blog on a regular basis notices my habit of not seeing mistakes. It’s not like I don’t proofread before I hit the publish button. I do! I swear! I’m just a terrible copyeditor. My brain works faster than my eyes so I’ve already finished reading the sentence before my eyes have picked up the mistake and sent it over to my brain for processing. I’ve already been trying to write my posts ahead of time so when I actually publish them they aren’t fresh in my head and I catch mistakes more easily. If I want to be a successful writer, I really need to practice the basics of writing.

 

If you can help me reach my New Year’s goals or if you want support reaching yours, contact me at LIBudgetBride@gmail.com.