Tag Archives: resolutions

How to Make 2015 Your Final Sucky Year

31 Dec

 

 

 

New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. This week, radio show hosts all over the country laughed haughtily at the thought that America would stuff into gyms across the nation for one solid month, only to trickle off to the actual gym-goers (the ones who were there before the New Year) by February.

 It appears that as a society we’ve become accustomed to making light of our supposed inability to find the time, energy, or resolve to – well – have resolve.

I think that’s a real bummer, man. We’re better than that. And all our sitting around reaffirming each other’s mediocrity isn’t doing us (or the human race at large) any favors. Why do we do that? Probably because it’s cozy. I know from personal experience that it’s far more comfortable to sit on the couch with my fat rolls tucked into my underwear playing video games and eating the entire box of macaroni and cheese than it is to announce my intention to do otherwise and then act on it.

That last part is key – the acting on it part. You usually have to put on pants for that.

This is about more than going to the gym, though that tends to be the most common resolution. This is about taking control of your year, and consequently, your life. If that means gym visits and personal health, so be it. It probably means something else.

How was 2015 for you? What happened?

For me it was pretty terrible, all things considered. It was full of cancer and seizures and suicide. It brought job losses and emotional turbulence and big, difficult moves. It wasn’t a repeater for me, you know, if I have my way and all. But I don’t measure my years by what happened to me; I can’t control any of that. Instead, I measure my years by what I did and how I navigated them. And part of that is whether I accomplished my resolution.

How many times have you thought about what a waste of life it seems to be to work, sleep, and pass away? Have you ever considered that you work your entire life for the promise of retirement and that by the time you retire, you don’t really have the friends, income, or energy to do the things you imagined you’d do? How often have you thought about all the things you would make time for or do or improve upon if or when you have the time to do it?

The nice thing about a new year is that it’s an easily defined point in time. It’s an obvious and complete cycle. It’s an opportunity for you to acknowledge the level of suck you have in a specific area and vow to improve upon it in a concrete way by the next year. It doesn’t have to be a time to mock how we’ll probably never change. It can be a time to authentically reflect on whether you’ve grown as person – and it should be.

You don’t have to declare some monumental achievement. You could try to progressively get better at something (dancing), or take on a specific adventure (go to another country). You could try every day to do one very simple and small thing consistently so that by the end of the year you’ve formed a real habit (eat breakfast when you wake up). Whatever it is, make it something that speaks to the voice in the back of your brain that yoinks at you and says you should do it and that you’d be happier, healthier, and prouder if you did. If you’re not a newcomer to resolution-making, then you should go big. Go scary. Pick the undoable and figure out how to do it. Those ones are my favorite.

It’s fine to be worried or afraid. There’s a reason you haven’t been able to do whatever the thing is yet. Maybe it’s hard to find the time or the energy or the courage. But you’re going to. And it all starts with finding the thing, calling it out, and acknowledging that you seriously suck at it.

There are a variety of ways you can go about this, friends, and while I don’t have any failsafe map for you, I do have a few suggestions. I have maps for 1-Day Challenges, 30-Day Challenges, and Year-Long Challenges up there in my handy dandy menu on the right (How to Suck Less). There isn’t any one right way to go about personal growth, but there’s definitely a wrong way and it’s to stay stagnant.  You could make this the year that you rekindle an old, lost friendship. Or the year that you finally sorted through everything in your attic. You could trace your ancestry or join a club.  I’ve used my recent years to conquer crippling anxiety, to do new and terrifying things to make my life more interesting and filled to the brim with stories, and to run 10Ks and half marathons.  I can tell you with certainty that the years that I sought out to do something specific were filled with intention and mindfulness and growth. And the years that I didn’t were dark and dull and wasted.

This may beg the question of what I’m signing up for this year, but I’m going to wait on that. I’ve got my plan and I have every intention of executing it. But for now let’s focus on you. Don’t worry about starting exactly on the 1st, either. Your year starts when you say it does. Take the time that you need to genuinely assess yourself, your inhibitions, and your wants. Find something measurable and set up the goal posts. Then move. Reflect. Move. Reflect. Growth is inevitable.

It’s time you took control of your life, don’t you think? Next year you should tell the story of what you did with your time, not of what happened to you. And don’t worry – if you feel like giving up, think you don’t have the time or energy to keep on keepin’ on, or if you massively fall on your face – you’ve always got my saga here, chronicled in great and embarrassing detail for either encouragement or commiseration.  Start small, or go big. Do you. But certainly do something.

Last year could be the very last year that you sucked. If you want it to be.

See you in 2016. 

 

Smuggle Me to Canada

11 Dec

My Canadian voyage draws nearer.

It’s difficult. Gas money to the north is tight, it’s going to be cold, and I have questions.

Normally I wouldn’t fret over questions. I would take comfort in the fact that two heads are better than one and that when Dave and I are together he will take care of the things I openly struggle with on this blog, like navigation…and a steady supply of clean pants…and managing my Skittles intake.

Do they have Skittles in Canada? Are they weird Canadian Skittles or like, regular Skittles? I want American Skittles. I’m a patriot.

Regardless of the Skittles situation, I don’t have Dave’s help on this one because I’m flying solo. What are the roads like? What if I don’t understand the signs? What if there are lots of assumed Canadian normalcies that I don’t know about and what if I don’t answer the questions at the border correctly and what if the states won’t let me back across the border because they don’t believe that a young healthy American woman would launch herself across the border at a prime stage of life or that she would choose Canada as her first international adventure and what if they interrogate me?

I remember when my family once went to Niagara Falls they asked my mother her nationality at the border. She answered “Pennsylvanian.” I don’t think I’m really set of up success here.

Can I bring my cats? Can I take cats across the border? I have a complimentary pass for two to the Museum-of-Something-Kind-of-French-Sounding. Could I redeem that pass for say, my cat? Because it’s unlikely I’m going to befriend a Canadian in less than a day in a way that says “Hey, I’m totally normal and safe and I know this is fast but you should totally go to this museum. Which one? I don’t really know. Where? I’m not sure – can you tell me? Here’s my American coupon for your Canadian land attractions. Show me to this so-called ‘museum.'”

I might be able to use my extra pass to try to pick up a male specimen. I could pretend to be a mysterious American who is looking for adventure in Vancouver and just happens to have a pass for two to the Museum-of-Something-Kind-of-French-Sounding and see if my quirky American wiles are successful across the border. I guess that’s not really pretending because I actually am all of those things except looking for a Canadian male.

That might also be a classic serial killer tale. I’m not sure which. The differences between the serial killer tales and the best friends forever tales can be quite minor.

I have dreams that in Canada they find my squinty right eye and half-hunch appealing. Those maple leaf lovers might hop on this in a hot second. Especially if I bring my cat.

By the way, Dave doesn’t read my blog. I discourage it. So if I disappear someone is going to have to alert him that I could be trapped in Canada with a perhaps-serial-killer.

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I don’t know if I’m going to be able to pull off this “go to a new country” resolution before the end of the year. I have the passport and I have the voucher that’s redeemable for a place to put my head and a place to go when my head wakes up. As long as I eat something in the midst of all that, I’ll have a full-fledged whirlwind tourist experience in only 24 hours. I just need to get the money to eat. And to drive there.

The voucher includes valet parking. I like the idea of my tired little car going all the way to Canada and then getting to sleep with all the fancier cars. That’s if my little car doesn’t tire out on the way. It’s used. Very used.

My whole adventure is littered with tiny problems. Mostly they’re financial but I figure I’m two complete steps closer to crossing a border than I was this time last year. A tax return or an unexpected ebay sale or a few laborious babysitting stints and I’m on my way to The Great North. I briefly considered a little online fundraiser to see if people would fund a 20-something white female shut-in getting some culture, but I can’t imagine that resounds loudly with a large population of crowdfunders.

That, and I might need to call on that one for my potential 2014 365 Project, wherein I try to save $10,000 in a year or have to donate an egg.

I haven’t had a 365 with an ultimatum before, but I figure hey: let’s go right for drastic. I’m going to need that crowdsourcing card when I’m faced with two months left on my ultimatum without meeting my goal and I’m starting to reeducate myself on the effects of being hopped up on hyper estrogen.

That’s unofficial, by the way. I still have 20 days to finalize the plan. There are a lot of things I suck at so there are a lot of things to consider conquering, not just being poor. While I’m at it, I encourage you to consider taking up a 365 as well. I’ve pulled this soapbox out a lot of times so you can read more about why that’s the best decision you’ll ever make in your life here or here or here.

Or here.

Or here.

Just, you know, think about it. You have 20 days. And maybe after enough of my readers have tried it (like this one), I can finally convince Dave to do it too. I’m like Oprah but instead of giving away cars and books and flights with John Travolta, I’m giving away hesitant year-long commitments.

Seriously though it’s awesome and every year of your life you don’t do a 365 is basically a waste, as proven by myself in the dull, dark year of 2012.

So here’s the plan: I’m going to continue to find ways to scavenge for dollars to fuel my car to Canada to complete my 2013 resolution, I’m going to work on a post that sums up my 365 for 2013 (dubbed Project Fatass 365) I’m going to figure out the details of my 2014 365 Project, and you’re going to consider slightly the possibility of completing a 365 Project as well.

It seems I have a lot more to do than you. Maybe you could do more than “consider slightly.” Perhaps we can upgrade to “consider moderately.”

We’re running out of time, people. Twenty days until the end of the year. Get your goals together and let’s debrief after I conjure creative ways to raise money in ten days or less.

Canada, I’m sorry for the delay; I’m coming. I’ll figure it out.

It might be time to put smuggling on the table. 

Adventures in Backsliding

6 Nov

Well, it’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted, my Jillian Michaels and running-infused workout plan has deteriorated into frequent light walking and lifting (cereal boxes), and as I write this, I’m stuffing my face with fifteen American dollars worth of beef fried rice. There is also an egg roll. And some Scotch, because I like to marry my trash with class.

In short, this:

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I ran a 10K about a month ago and in the time that’s passed it appears I’ve become a bit of a loser. Perhaps loser is a strong term. I can be hard on myself when I’m shame-slamming takeout.

This happens. I’m trying to find a way to get it to stop, but it is a pattern I can’t deny. Sometimes I like to project my own personal trends onto the general human population, and I think that’s actually kind of a fair thing to do because I do represent a small percentage of the human population – the people who avoid laundering underwear until they’ve exhausted their emergency underwear and swimsuit bottoms – the people who find it difficult to stay in little boxes in big towers, jabbering about minutia that determines whether an enormous corporation gives money to another enormous corporation – the people who sometimes want to look at their student loan debt and then look at their empty cupboards and make the former feel better by ordering beef fried rice so that they can immediately alleviate at least one of their issues at hand. Deliciously. While simultaneously rocking a huge hole in the crotch of their jeans.

So that’s me. I’m America. A fraction of America, anyway, and I’m a pretty serious backslider.

I frequently, on occasion, find myself in quite a schlump after quite a bit of gained ground. It’s a bummer. One likes to think that one has learned a lesson and is forever freed from it, but the fact of the matter is that after I go crazy for months at a time trying to conquer everything at hand, I will reward myself the best way I know how: sitting on my couch in unclean clothes and eating food that probably isn’t what it was marketed to me as. And then I will feel so ashamed by this that I will continue to self-soothe in a similar regressive pattern until I rebel against myself and go back into months on conquistador setting.  

It’s frustrating. Mostly because I spit my brains into a public forum where it appears the subjects are cats, food, discomfort in a variety of social situations, gaining ground, and losing ground. After a while of writing about these things, you start to notice yourself.

But it’s okay. I’ve got moxie. And I’m still a young whippersnapper but I’ve been around long enough to realize that there are two  Jackies on the spectrum of Jackiedom – the one that’s a pile of cheesy poof eating, unshowered slop that plays Warcraft all day and has literally no human interaction, and the one that’s in magazines and giving speeches and leading a very happy group of folks in doing whatever they all happily want to do, and that every day is a choice to continue the struggle against the former and to get closer to the latter. If I ever get to the latter and am asked how I got there by young hopefuls, I hope I have the courage to admit that it was a series of backsliding and pounding theater-style boxes of Milk Duds.

 I did achieve some things, though, in my time away from general live achievements. For example, while I was lounging in my pajamas using my sickness as an excuse to drink Scotch and split-screen watch Netflix and browse useless Internet musings, I learned that Chinese takeout containers are designed to conveniently unfold into a sort of semi-normal plate, and that has really served me well in the 30 minutes. So that’s nice. Payoff is nice.

I guess it’s that time again. That time where I look at every single thing in my life and scrutinize it relentlessly until I’m so disgusted that I spit shine my entire house, go for a 3 mile run, register for a race, organize my to-do list in terms of 1-week, 3-month, and 1-year goals, and thoroughly groom my cats for good measure.

I suppose that as long as I backslide only a little less than the amount of ground that I cover in my motivated periods, I’ll always be moving forward. So there’s that. I’m on the move. I’m getting things done, one overhauling/backsliding segment at a time.

Resolution reevaluation time is approaching quickly, however, so I really have to get my sloth gremlins at bay. I’m supposed to be in the best shape of my life by the end of December and I was doing pretty well there until I convinced myself that 20 minutes of light walking per day still met my exercise quota. Which, technically, it does – but light walking isn’t going to burn off this Chinese. Or yesterday’s. Or last week’s. My vagina doctor said so.

That, and I told myself I’d travel outside the country this year for a resolution. Last year I got a passport, and this year I’m supposed to use it. So far, the closest I’ve gotten to international travel is ordering contacts from the United Kingdom.

Time to get on the ball. And since I’m pretty broke, I guess that means I’m going to have to just make it work. Looks like I’m hopping a Megabus to Canada.

Conquistador setting, commence. 

Project 365, Round Two

2 Jan

Well, it appears that I’ve renewed my domain for another year, so here I am on the couch again on a Wednesday night wondering what I have in my head to share.

By now you all know the answer is absolutely nothing.  And I appreciate you sticking around to listen to it.

It’s been exactly 2 years since I wrote my very first post in my very first 365 Challenge: to fire up a blog I once adored and had let sit dormant for years. It was far more successful and fulfilling than I could have imagined and I’ve become an advocate for 365 Projects, much to the irritation of my friends and family.

So it’s a new year and I need a new 365.  I didn’t do one last year; I think I was right to have taken a break.  It was a big challenge and a big payoff.  And I really missed that sense of satisfaction when the ball dropped of knowing I’d spent 365 days working on making one very specific thing about myself better.  I mean, what a waste of a year, right? 

Well not a waste, but you get what I’m going at here.  Last year was good to me.  I got out of a corporate job that was sucking the life from my body and replacing my blood with black sludge.  Instead, I decided to go back to school to get a dual masters, not knowing how exactly that looked or how I would pull it off financially.  I lost twenty pounds and put ten back on (I’m choosing to celebrate the net -10), and I spent more time with my family and friends than I have in a long time.  All in all I’d say that’s a pretty darn good year.

But I’m a monster that can’t be satisfied with mere short-term human achievements.  And let’s face it: if you’re going to force me to keep writing by continuing to read, I’m going to need some subject matter besides awkward elevator conversations, how upset I get when old ladies cut me off when I’m shopping for produce, and my soon-to-be-famous million dollar ideas (if you have money to waste and want to sponsor me, please reference Exhibit A, Exhibit B, Exhibit C and then wire me the money directly so I can squander it on my inventions).

I was going to tell you something when this all started.  Oh, right.  I’m going to run a 10K.

Oh man I just wrote it.  It’s right there staring at me, all big and 10Kish.

Well I thought about how it felt to finish a 365 the first time and I thought about what thing I could spend 365 days working to improve that would best-affect me in the future.  And that answer is my fat ass.  I shall dub it the Fat Ass 365.  I will spend every single day of this year doing something fitness-related for at least 20 minutes and I will celebrate my success with a 10K.  I already looked up the race.  I have the race.  It’s a go.

I thought I’d invite you all to join me and we could get jackie blog t-shirts and make a team and conquer world hunger or cancer or the dwindling population of honeybees together, but then I realized that if I did that you might actually come and I might have to deal with the anxiety of meeting several completely foreign people and that I might die of a panic attack before I even get to achieve my resolution.

So no, you can’t know which race. You might find me and inadvertently cause my death. That would be a shame.

This is somewhat about the 10K and much more about the fact that I need to seriously incorporate movement into my daily life.  It is a simple fact that I am happiest when stuffing my face with junk food and watching television or playing video games.  This will never change about me.  I mean, I can do other things and try to replace it and even if I’m successful, I’m always going to wish deep down that I could just be in front of a screen stuffing my face and filling myself with disgusting self-deprecation that will breed in my mind and cause my own self-destruction over the course of several years. So this year, in order to help keep that natural adoration at bay, I’m enacting Operation Fat Ass 365.

I remember when I was just knee high to a grasshopper envisioning my 20’s.  Specifically, my late 20’s. I pictured what most lower middle class kids picture: a family and a nice house and great holidays and a job I don’t hate.  Of course then I grew up to be a member of the Boomerang Generation, a bunch of over-educated late bloomers with poor job prospects and an abnormally high sense of cynicism.  So I can’t really have any of those things little Jackie envisioned for herself at the moment (Sorry, little Jackie, but someday you’ll grow up and realize being a kid is all about being stupid and wrong all the time. Deal with it). 

There is, however, one thing I envisioned that I can absolutely do – and that’s be in the best shape of my life.

I mean it’s now or never, right?  I turn 27 this year.  That’s like, 3 years away from 30.  I have to imagine that someday in the near future, kids, self-loathing, and hips twice my size are coming my way and before I give up all hope of ever being the kind of person who can run for 6+miles and/or fit into single-digit clothing, I’d like to give myself a fair shot by forcing myself to face my fat every single day for 365 days.  And then of course running a 10K so I can be sure something tangible came out of it: a certificate and a t-shirt.

There’s no doubt in my mind I’m going to hate it.  But that’s okay because I’ll have lots to write about.  I love to write about things I hate. And eventually I’m going to get sick of running and I’m going to have to do things like take dance classes or go to Zumba (Lord, help me).  And those, my friends, count as Lollipop Tuesdays.

I’m already in the midst of my next one. Tune in Tuesday for the goods.

So that’s what my 2013 looks like: sweaty and disgusting. I hope yours looks fantastic too.  And in all sincerity I hope you consider a 365 Project (it’s not too late!) or at the very least, one single Lollipop Tuesday for yourself.  That way when I cross the finish line we can both celebrate.  

Happy New Year folks; thanks for reading – especially the seven of you who were with me from the start.  You’re all puddings.  Now tell me what your 2013 self challenge is. 

By The Power of Grayskull. ♣

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