Epiphanies from These Pandemic Years (Lazy Quitting)

Whatever I say at this point in the pandemic, it is said with the realization that privilege, luck, and some precautionary measures have all played a role in not yet getting Covid. While the psychological effects of isolation have been different for each and every one of us, introversion played a huge role in my resiliency. This time gave me the final push I needed to embrace who I am – someone who likes people in micro-doses and can be content for long stretches of time on my own. It’s not news to me, but in the past I made an effort to do things and spend time with people with whom I’d simply rather not. I have a partner, a kid away at college, and I’m feeling the quiet desperation of time slipping away. This is all to say that there is no compelling argument for me to be out in the world.

I’ll graduate in three months with a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, a few months shy of turning 56. It sounds like a made-up degree, like getting a Doctorate in the Folding of Fitted Sheets or a Bachelor’s in Sleeping at Inappropriate Moments (degrees I also have), but the tuition bill was very, very real. In my twenties I dropped out of grad school midway through a Master’s program in Russian Linguistics. I was haunted by that failure, but even then, I knew it was the right thing to do. Now, just as cognitively I might be deteriorating at the edges, I’m reorienting my entire life in the direction of writing and teaching. The heat is on.

In the middle of everything, my brain chose to give me some clarity of vision. Epiphanies come when we can step away from busy lives, quiet our minds, think about what we keep and what we let go. There’s a lot I’ve decided to stop doing, from consumer practices to volunteering. I’m not sure who I’ll be if I’m not compulsively saying Yes, I’ll do it. I’d like to find out. I’d like to find out how much less I’d purchase if I can’t do it from the comfort of my home with a single click. It’s the uninterrupted focus of the empty nester. Oh? This is who I’ve become? Who do I want to be? And on darker days, is this it?

The funny thing about embracing who I am is that I don’t necessarily want to write about it. I’m enjoying just being and not doing a running commentary on my life. This blog is the only place I’ve done that over the years and it seems, that like the current zeitgeist, it’s turning more and more inward, becoming less and less interesting. Hence, the long periods of time without a new post. I’m not particularly enamored of my own opinions, at least not enough to foist them upon you. So what to write about?

Perhaps curiosity will be my guide. I keep thinking about Socrates’ description of the mind being like an aviary full of birds, with each bird representing some piece of knowledge that we snatch out of the air as we need it. The thing about birds though is that they flourish best when outside of a cage or else the only knowledge one will have is that which is in the cage – in current parlance, an echo chamber. It is maybe the reason why writing is sporadic. I need to set the birds free to see where they take me.

Outside the chickadees have started calling to one another – an early sign of spring even as the next snow storm moves in. I’m daydreaming about gardening, flipping through seed catalogs, and imagining the freedom of no more grad school, no more nonprofit board meetings, fewer distractions. Maybe it’s not the birds I’ll be following. Maybe I am the bird.

2022: Better on Paper

Neon pink and green computer upload bar going from 2022 to 2023.

Much like my personality, 2022 looked a lot better on paper than in reality. It turns out that in 2022 I became the repeater of tales. Oh, did I already tell you that story? Three times? I’ve started doing this chuckle that makes me cringe, but seems reflexive and unstoppable. I now officially have a belly, which makes it feel uncomfortably like someone is sitting in my lap every time I sit down. Not prone to being slender, I was always going to end up here, belly chuckling while I tell the same story I just told five minutes ago. This is not to say I’m not making a game effort of caring about my health, my conversational abilities, or whether or not I chortle myself into a heart attack. But I can’t say I’m caring caring. It’s been a rough year or five.

It’s human nature around this time of year to assess where you’ve been or where you’re going. I had to pull out my planner to see what the hell I did with 2022. Apparently, I took a lot of people to doctor appointments. I taught some workshops. Showed up regularly for a writing group. Continued with my grad school courses. I wrote a lot, but it didn’t feel like much. I worked out, which felt like a lot but didn’t look like much. I volunteered, mostly because it gave me a license to complain about the state of the world. No one could answer my griping with “if you don’t like it, do something about it.” Well dammit, I did. Problems solved, right?

A red and black clock winding around itself.

We’re constantly exhorted to be present. Now I’m so present, that last year and the next are not real to me. I don’t feel the urge to meticulously plan at the moment. Perhaps, too, I’m firmly in my winter of discontent and not strolling on the sunny side of the street. My ambition needs a lot of vitamin D. But I’m not all self-denigration and snarky-ness. I have a lot that I’m grateful for at this moment. My daughter, a year after stopping chemo, is thriving and preparing to move out into the world. My mother moved from out-of-state and for the first time in 40 years, we live close to each other. I’m feeling the “circle of life” thing acutely these days.

There’s been some grappling with semantics in my head when it comes to the way forward. Goal is such a mismanaged word. Resolution sounds like passing legislation. I’ve settled on intention over the last couple of years. It feels very Gen X of me to use such a squishy, noncommittal word. Goals: Whatever. Resolution: Never set goals again. My intention has crystallized into: Spend my time and energy in ways that support my values. It feels more like a foundation that informs everything above it.

I’m not fond of bumper sticker philosophies and feel unadulterated shame when I utter them aloud. Be present. Breathe. I’m basically reciting the secrets on how not to die. Next: put one foot in front of the other. There is, however, something about having a quick set of reminders or mantras to keep yourself on the path. In a world that wishes nothing more than to have your attention everywhere, all the time, staying on track has become pretty damned important. I’ve been thinking a lot about what my guiding principles need to be for this next year. I’m going to share them here so that friends and family alike can mock me next year.

Woodcut of woman writing at desk in front of laptop. Dragon is coming out of screen.

Do work that is meaningful to me. I started off with do meaningful work, but that is undefined and doesn’t stop me from getting co-opted into someone else’s idea of meaningful work. This isn’t a high-minded concept of altruism. It’s a reminder that I either a) need to make sure my time and energy is spent in ways that serve my values and b) I need to re-frame things that feel like chores in a way that underscores their importance to me. e.g. I want to clean the bathroom, because I value having a clean house versus I have to clean the bathroom. Meaningful work to me involves writing and supporting other writers, learning writing pedagogy and developing curriculum, and promoting writing workshops. My own writing means revision, revision, revision, and finding an agent for my novel. Some things have to fall off the list. My organization volunteerism is the first to take a hit. No more leadership roles that require meetings and administrative work. My role as a full-time parent is downshifting to on-call status. Meaningful, but no longer all-encompassing.

Dark blue heart filled with pictures of green veggies.

Eat well. This means something different to each person and is part of a bigger picture. For me, it means not eating after 6pm so I can sleep. Eating a home-cooked, nutrient-dense breakfast, because it’s my favorite meal. Beans and greens. Whole foods. Non-heartburn inducing foods. Gradually eliminating meat and caffeine from my regimen. Likely becoming a very farty person which will continue to support my destiny as a suburban hermit. Continuing to hone my skills as a gardener so that I don’t have 265 tomatoes, 45 onions, and 3 carrots (not good at the planning!). I like the phrase eat well because it speaks to a level of self-care I’ve not afforded myself for the last decade. It’s affirming and not loaded with all the garbage language of fad dieting and fat bigotry.

Cartoon drawing of a pumpkin with muscle-flexed arms.

Exercise regularly. I’ve worked out my whole life. I am one of those people who actually likes a good workout. However, it is disconcerting to work out as if I’m an athlete, yet look like a human pumpkin. It’s a combination of aging/hormones/living in the sandwich generation – caregiving for both children and parents. But I’m coming out of that phase and it’s time to turn my attention to my health. My challenge isn’t a lack of training or knowledge, it’s a lack of consistency, combined with that whole thing above, the eating bit. Subject to depressive cycles, workouts are the easiest way to give my brain a needed boost. Catch-22. When I’m on the downswing, the easiest thing to do is nothing. My intention for this next year is to do something, anything on the regular. It means tracking workouts so that a two-day break doesn’t turn into two months.

At my last workshop we discussed setting writing intentions. I asked the question “What do you want to have done by this time next year?” The answers were as varied and delightful as could be. Self-knowledge, starting small, and a positive framing are foundational ways to get where you want to go – and plenty of compassion and forgiveness when you have to hit the restart button. My hope is that next year I won’t have to look at a calendar to see where the time went, because I will be living with intention and not just because someone told me to breathe.

What are your intentions for 2023?

In Which I Become Unquantifiable

Drawing of fitness band and smartphone with statistics on it.

I’ve boxed it up. After four years of consistent and unwavering usage, I have taken off my Fitbit, unlikely to ever be used again. The level of self-awareness from this device has now reached the point of diminishing returns. It just became a habitual accessory with curious bits of information that I ignored.

I recently deleted my Goodreads account, despite having filled lists with hundreds of books. I never wrote public reviews, felt guilty using a reductionist rating system, and wondered why I was advertising a solitary habit that I had done all my life without fanfare.

One by one, I began to look at all the ways in which I was tracking and quantifying my life. Counting calories, making lists, tracking exercise, inventories, writing journal entries. I’ve done these things one way or another since I was 13, keeping a running list of flaws and excesses and not quite getting things right. It is a lifestyle geared towards being better – until the time, energy, and devices become a replacement for a life. It’s a sterile proof of life. Would you know me by my steps, my carbohydrate intake, my reading peccadilloes? Does the nebulous, contradictory shape of my being need data for definition?

Orange and red rays of streaming data.

Perhaps menopause, and all its accompanying mood swings, seismic corporeal changes, and the catching of breath before entering the final third of my life (if I am lucky) has sent me off the deep end. I do not wish to live in a data-driven world, dragging cookies with me from one internet site to the next, ads popping up to tell me just what a screw-up I really am or that despite how messed up the world is, I should be buying this device and make sure I’m getting apps that tell me that I will never, ever be good enough.

It’s frightening to leave my life up to me. Ever since I cut heel holes into leg warmers and wore collarless sweatshirts to do Jane Fonda’s ab blasters, I’ve expected services, apps, people, books to give me the magic answer that will make me good enough. I am capitalism’s most perfect mark. Got a problem? We know you do. Buy this. Listen to the guru. Download this app. Purchase these magic beans.

I’d been staring out of the window watching the birds and squirrels in the yard when my phone beeped to tell me it’s time to meditate. Wasn’t I just doing that? Perhaps if I just let myself be, I’ll be drawn inexorably to what I need. I can listen to myself or make Pavlovian choices, dropping down into a sitting pose on a beep. App deleted.

If I sound strident, I am. It’s uncomfortable – this unregulated, un-tracked being I now inhabit. At 53, I see where I have robbed myself – of joy, of adventure, of passion – in an effort to be good enough. My life feels like a succession of apologies and renovations. At times, when I thought I was reinventing myself, I was just swapping out new tracking methods, different-colored charts, but really it was the same old plan. Stop being me.

In 1982, “I’ve Never Been to Me” by Charlene was on the charts. We used to snicker at the song, saying things like Well, I’ve been to me and it wasn’t that great. Jokes as a cry for therapy. I did therapy too. But I was so concerned that the therapist would think I was a nutjob, that I processed and packaged my feelings. When I told her I was going to stop therapy, she felt satisfied with my progress. I am, when push comes to shove, a skilled liar. Mostly to myself.

Megaphone with words on it like feedback, opinion, and view.

So how does one unravel self from a world eager to define it for you? How does one stop speaking the language of critique and review and feedback? How does one disentangle what it means to be human from what it means to be a citizen, consumer, a content regurgitator?

As part of an MFA program, I am required to do workshops. I hate workshops, but not for the reasons one might assume. Feedback is nominally useful, because most workshop feedback is organized around a disparate group of readers who don’t know the writer’s intent. It’s a messy process and less useful than one might imagine. I decided to no longer read with a critic’s eye and it has changed how I approach the work of others. I approach it with curiosity – what is the writer trying to do? How can I help them do that?

Keyboard with shopping cart key.

This shift in my approach is bleeding over into other areas in my life. Approach with curiosity. The adjustment period is awkward. You can’t miss how people talk or write – all the pronouncements, opinions, critiques about everything. Were we always like this? How have we been trained to see and point out the flaws in the most minor things? I heard the phrase deficit advertising to explain how we are convinced to buy, buy, buy through the calculated strategy of making us feel as if we are not enough. We are vicious critics of ourselves. That’s a problem, but there is probably an app for that.

Is the absence of planning, tracking, and logging in, a plan in and of itself? Perhaps. It feels more like scraping away the distractions to see what is there. Who am I without data? Who am I without the automatic longing for something else and the ongoing, constant data feedback from my life? Does this body still have good bones?

So here I am, a nebulous, unfocused, undefined being. I do not know if I have maintained a good carb-fat-protein ratio. I have not met any personal goals today. I’m not sure how many books I have read this month. Or if REM sleep comprised enough of my night. I do not know how many steps I have walked today. I just know that I am moving in a different direction.

Administrative Note: I have not included a recording of this post and will not for the foreseeable future. I wanted this blog to be more accessible and to provide other options for those people, of which I am one, who get way too much screen time. The problem is, I’m not very good at creating recordings. After trying a lot of different configurations for a duct-taped sort of studio and using free recording software, it still takes an inordinate amount of time and effort. It stops me from writing here, because of the work it will entail. I’m not famous or in great demand or even paid for this. When I am any of those things, I will find someone who knows what they are doing and they can record it. Until that time, I’m going back to the basics of writing.

Clearing the Deck

This morning I got around to writing my last holiday card. Many people will be surprised to receive anything from me. I’m pretty hit-and-miss with correspondence around this time of year. I’m ridiculously insistent on writing personal notes, so sometimes I can’t even get started, since the task seems daunting. This year, though, has been more contemplative in nature. I took the time to do it. I’m ending the year on a good note, so that I can begin the next with an empty slate. No odds and ends left undone.

canstockphoto58759250I wrote up my work plan for 2019 yesterday, but I’ve been churning things over in my brain for the last month. I rearranged my study, got a new rug to spruce things up. Cleaned up my computer and did back ups. I now have a work calendar separate from my duties as mom, spouse, and household maintainer. For weeks, I’ve been listening to motivational books, thinking through my daily routines, writing lists, and basically getting my shit together.

It’s been the undercurrent to an uneven season of grieving the loss of my mother-in-law and holiday rituals. For the last year, our family has been in a holding pattern, where death seemed imminent, but not quite possible. And then it happens and it feels like a surprise. But the surprise is not just in the absence of the person, but the absence of the routine built around the person. Life collapses inward a bit.

The shift in time and energy, being snapped awake by a reminder of impermanence, the new year on the horizon – all these things have propelled me forward. I have to live my days differently. I’ve been practicing a long time, trying on and discarding habits that work or don’t work. I’ve been making my life more about writing than laundry. I’ve reached out and connected with other writers. The time for practice is over. Batter up!

canstockphoto3020214That isn’t to say that I won’t have to make some adjustments to my grand plan. Some things will still be untenable, no matter how good it looks on paper. My schedule and work plan are written in pencil for a reason. I think it’s going to be a slog, to shift into a writing work schedule from just “writing when I feel like it”. Moods tend to be a bad barometer for productivity, so my goal is to work anyway. Hello Excuse. I see you. Now go sit in the corner while I work.

So I prepare for the new year not with a burst of unrealistic goals, but with a sense of determination and an understanding that it will likely suck for awhile – the discomfort, the tension and pull of old habits, the voices in my head that tell me I’m ridiculous or untalented or incapable. Change is difficult, even changes that are simply a shift one way or another. What I do know is that this time next year, I want to have a different story to tell.

What do you want your story to be in 2019?

Some resources that give me a mental boost:

Books

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

I just started reading this book and had trouble putting it down. Compelling narrative, but also some immediate great lessons about being a writer. I’m going to have to take notes.

This Year I Will…: How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution or Make a Dream Come True  by M.J. Ryan

This isn’t a magic pill, but she draws from a lot of useful sources and I enjoyed listening to the audiobook.

Small Move, Big Change by Caroline Arnold

I’ve recommended this one before. Important because she writes about how to create a workable goal for yourself and what that process entails.

Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by John Ratey

Sometimes I just read things like this for reinforcement of what I already know. Occasionally there’s a tidbit that sticks and I add it to my own personal motivations.

The Art of Possibility by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

The audiobook is great for those who love classical music, as it breaks each chapter with music. But there were a lot of ideas that I wanted to write down, so I bought the book as well.

Videos

The Power of Vulnerability” by Brené Brown

Hillary Rettig on “Overcoming Procrastination and Perfectionism

Inside the mind of a master procrastinator” by Tim Urban

Podcasts

The Good Life Project with Host Jonathan Fields

The Life Coach School with Host Brooke Castillo

A Writing Retreat in The Green Study

The Green Study will return on April 1, 2018.

I’ve made some progress over the last couple of months on both my novel and some essay writing, and I’ve reached that point where I need to do a final push to meet internal and external deadlines. I’ll leave you with some thoughts before I head into Michelle’s Writing Month (MeWriMo).

On Vulnerability and Writing

When I wrote about book reviews earlier this month, I began to think about the nature of being a writer in today’s world. If I’m deep into writing, I have no armor. I find after spending a lot of time writing, even going to the grocery store feels like an assault on the senses. I’m exposed. A hermit crab without a shell. I wince at the overhead speakers and all the beeping noises of the register. People seem too loud, the lights too bright.

canstockphoto17784854I have to harden up a bit again, develop a wind break against the sensory onslaught. And this is only to physical sensation. What about those writers who read a review of something they’d published, something they’d poured themselves into, only to be eviscerated by a careless reviewer? The Amazon hit piece: This sucked. I want my money back.

Writers talk about not reading their reviews and I used to wonder if it was an issue of ego, but now I think it’s necessary protectionism. Reviews serve no purpose for writers. The work is done. Writing to audience specifications will not create better art.

International Relations

I’ve noticed a lot of readers from countries where English is not the main language. With all the available tools we have to translate, I would encourage you to engage, practice your English here or write in your first language, and maybe we can learn a little more about your language and country. You are welcome here at The Green Study.

canstockphoto7037830I just started studying Chinese, but also have some German, Spanish, French, and Russian under my belt. I spend a little time each day studying, using apps like Duolingo and Memrise. Lately, too, I’ve been using Quizlet to improve my geography knowledge. There is something about learning location and language that brings the world closer to home. And it’s excellent exercise for the brain.

At a time when our U.S. leaders seek to sow discontent, we must free our minds and open our hearts. The U.S. is shedding experienced and knowledgeable diplomats, so we must step up to the plate. We must reach out, talk to each other, make connections, learn languages, read internationally, and not allow our leaders to define our relationship with the rest of the world.

Microresolution Update

It works. It really works. Back in December, I did a post series on resolutions with the intent of doing monthly updates. I’m a little late, but I’m sure no one is losing any sleep over it. I ran into trouble when I kept picking the wrong resolutions. I kept modifying until I finally hit on a couple more that worked. The results, like the resolutions, are small, but have shifted me more towards my personal goals than not.

canstockphoto8037195Writing: I have written every single day now for almost three months. As soon as I log into my computer, a blank Word doc comes up, and I am writing. My current resolution is a nightly habit of planning the next day’s writing. I don’t always follow through on the list, but I’ve given myself a map and travel with it as far as I can. As long as I’m still moving, that’s progress.

Fitness: I’ve mixed up my workouts and avoided my usual pitfall, which is to progressively add more weight and distance and time until I burn out for weeks on end or get injured. Whatever I do is fine, as long as I do something. The sun is out today and the sidewalks have finally melted off – it’s a walk for sure.

Nutrition: Forcing myself to eat only at the kitchen table has completely changed how I approach mealtimes and snacks. It is now a ritual and not a dash-and-grab. In the words of Caroline Arnold: small move, big change.

canstockphoto11693411My latest microresolution is eating food that requires me to slow down. Soup or salad and fruit for lunch. Unless I slurp cold soup with a straw, it’s a slow meal. And the time it takes to peel and eat an orange is meditative. I can feel my relationship with food changing, becoming the pleasure it should be.

Lifestyle: For the last couple of months, I made the resolution to always log off my computer by 7pm. This has improved a lot of small, meaningful things for me. I have more conversations with my family, I read more, and when I’m ready to go to bed, I sleep.

What is the most significant thing about taking a long time to make small changes, is that it changes the narrative from one of failed resolutions to that of incremental victories. This has given me a sense of optimism about my ability to make change and the confidence I’d lost in the repeated failures of bigger goals.

I still get a little impatient, but after seeing how consistent I am able to be when I whittle down to the smallest resolution, I’m going to keep at it. Five new habits in three months? That’s 20 new, positive habits a year. Where will I be then? I’m kind of excited to find out.

Gratitude

canstockphoto4839212Thank you to the many readers and commenters who have connected with me here. The blog is now six years old. It has learned to walk, wipe its own butt, and doesn’t drool quite as much – with only an occasional temper tantrum. It would have languished long ago if not for the people who read it and those who take the time to share their thoughts and perspectives. Thank you!

Have a great month of March and I look forward to reconnecting in April!

So You Want to Start a Resolution…(Part 2)

This is the second part of a three-part post. You can read the first here.

canstockphoto17363632I am in the giddy, excited stage of discovering something new that most people already know, but I’m a slow learner. If my friends and family hear the word microresolutions one more time (“It’s not even a real word!”), they will likely be making some of their own that involve earplugs and duct tape.

Inspired by a lot of reading and a desperate need to make some changes, I made two small resolutions four weeks ago. As a result, I sleep better, read more, eat fewer calories, and have written 40+ pages (10,500 words) in the last month that I would not have written otherwise. Painless, immediate results.

What is this magical elixir you speak of?

I log into my computer in the morning and then I log off at night.

Wait – what? This post is a scam!

Hear me out. I have two major personal goals in my life right now. I want to be a paid published writer and I want to be as fit and healthy for as long as I can be.  I am not published and my shirt buttons could become deadly projectiles should my belly continue to expand. This is all to say, that my reality is far away from my goals.

canstockphoto2656709The authoritarians among us would just bark “Write!” and “Calories in, calories out!”. Most of us know that easy answers are easy to give, but much harder to live. And if you’re truly skilled, like me, you’ve built layer upon layer of self-defeating behaviors. No single action could pierce that crust of hardened habits. The first stop on the way to any resolution is an honest assessment of those habits.

 

Finding the Tipping Point

I’m on track, taking care of business for the day and before I know it, I’ve blown the day doing things that aren’t remotely useful for meeting my personal goals. Where did I go wrong? It seemed to me that it was logging into the computer that did it. From that point on, all good intentions were gone and I was pulled along by habits – news reading, email sorting, blog surfing. Logging into the computer was where I needed to start with a resolution.

I decided that my first resolution was that I would immediately, upon logging in, write 250 words (a single page, double-spaced). I could do nothing until those words were written. I didn’t care what they were. It just needed to be the first thing I did.

In conjunction with that, my second resolution was that I’d log off the computer every night by 7pm.

Making It as Easy as Possible

Despite my long history of making life more difficult, I focused on making my resolutions as ecanstockphoto2658109asy as possible to accomplish with additional cues. I set up my computer so that a new Word document would open as soon as I logged in. The first thing I’ve seen on my computer every day for the last 28 days is a blank page. I’ve written poetry, rants, laments, essays, and silly lyrics. The task took me all of 15 minutes and I wrote an average of 380 words per session.

Every night at 6:45 an alarm goes off, letting me know that I will need to log off by 7.

Letting Everything Else Go

These were my only resolutions. That was all I had to do. I had to let go of all my goal baggage. There were things I wanted to work on – working out more consistently, improving my diet with more nutrient-dense foods, sharpening my foreign language skills. I still did some things to support those goals, but they were not required and didn’t sidetrack me if all didn’t go to plan. I only had to do two very small things.

Framing the Present

Let’s start off with a few clichés. Life is short. It’s the journey, not the destination. Be present. All of these are about today. When working out my resolutions, I made myself write down what the immediate benefits would be.

canstockphoto19357489Writing those 250 words would do this for me:

  • Start my day off productively
  • Start my day off positively (no news is good news)
  • Improve my writing skills

Logging off at 7pm would do this for me:

  • Prepare me for good night’s sleep.
  • Leave room for better choices, like reading or interacting with my family.
  • Less likely to make poor eating/caffeine choices to stay awake.

Scope Creep and Resistance

Initially, my resolutions seemed paltry. How was I going to get healthier this way? How was I going to get my novel past the revision stage? I felt the old tug of desperation tugging at me to do more, that these things couldn’t possibly be enough. I had to fight the urge to GO BIG. I’d gone big before and for the three days it lasted, it was glorious. Going small is for the long game.

If you’re like me and you get all happy-lab-puppy excited about new things, you might decide to tell your friends and family about your resolutions. They are also part of the GO BIG culture, so will likely be underwhelmed by your mini-goals. And they’ve heard your intentions before. The nice thing about easy, attainable goals is that you don’t actually need a support group for them. Maybe keep it under your lid. Wet blankets can often dampen resolve.

Unintentional Consequences

While I could imagine the possible benefits of my two small habits, they’ve turned out to canstockphoto6502520be so much more – in measurable ways. I was at the point of thinking that maybe I needed to give up my ideas about being a writer, but I rediscovered how genuinely happy writing makes me, not just as an end-goal pursuit, but in the moment. This meant the overall tone of my day improved. I was not seeing the headlines first thing in the day. It meant that before I absorbed the bad things in the world, I was first in touch with the joy.

Sleep had become a real problem for me – whether it was hormonal or anxieties, I was not well-rested, stayed up too late, and woke repeatedly at night. Logging off my computer earlier changed how I spent my evening. First of all, it made me realize how very tired I really was – a missed cue masked by a surfing habit. At loose ends, I prepped better for the next day, settled in with a book, or just engaged with my family a bit more. I slept better and longer. It also ended my nighttime snacking habit, which meant less heartburn, fewer calories, less restlessness. Good sleep is a magic potion unto itself.

What’s Next?

canstockphoto0201754

So while I can write my self-satisfied posts about my new habits, I am still far away from my big picture goals. Trying to decide what to do next was like starting all over again…

Tune in tomorrow for So You Want to Start a Resolution, Part 3

Building your resolutions, Jenga Tower or Rock of Gibraltar?