My smaller 2013 un-resolutions

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Photo: Oriental Trading

Happy early New Year, everyone! Being highly superstitious, I never wish a happy early anything – heck, I won’t even change my calendar until the new month or year arrives. But I’m soooo ready to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013 with open arms.

This year has been tough. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that main challenges included the passing of a grandmother, the unexpected – nay, completely blindsiding – passing of my cousin and the murder of a childhood friend. Dealing with so much, along with adjusting to my promotion at work, meant less running, minimal writing and, ultimately, more stress and sad days and a nice 20-pound weight gain.

Needless to say, I didn’t achieve most of my un-resolutions for the year:

1. Run a half-marathon.

Um, nope. But I did begin yoga again after a year-long hiatus and have fallen back in love with it.

2. Officially change my name (this may be tougher than running a half-marathon from what I hear!).

Check!

3. Take a creative writing class.

Sadly, this went on the backburner.

4. Eliminate my debt (my current payment plan will allow for this).

I’m two months away, then I’m throwing the biggest party for myself EVER.

5. Build up my savings account (I have a particular number in mind).

In progress, but not quite where I hoped it’d be.

In my ongoing quest for better balance, I’ve set some smaller goals for myself for 2013:

  1. Run a 10K
  2. Get my shoulder stand to a point where I’m calmly breathing while holding the pose (versus flailing my legs around as I try to stay up)
  3. Finally take that writing class, even if it’s just a one-day workshop, to kick start my creative writing
  4. Give myself 10 minutes when I get home from work each day to reconnect with my husband and review the day, giving him my undivided attention
  5. Learn to cook three new meals without filling the kitchen with smoke, yelling for my husband to help in a panic or giving up and ordering takeout
  6. Continue to build my savings account
  7. Remind myself every day of all I have to be grateful for
  8. Think “I should” less and “I could” more

Like last year, these are goals I’m excited to work toward rather than resolutions I feel like I have to (or should!) make. I’m looking forward to ringing in 2013. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year. After all, it’s an odd-numbered year (they are always good ones!).

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My 30-day meditation challenge

2012 has been a true whirlwind so far – in a good way. Work has been challenging, yet fulfilling; I’ve been pounding the fake treadmill pavement and zenning out at yoga twice a week; and my husband and I have been able to get some much-needed R&R together, now that the holidays have passed.

But more is coming up. I’m about to register for a memoir writing class (it’s always been a dream of mine to write my story – I’m not sure what that story is, but I’m determined to find out!) and begin volunteering again for a local animal rescue group. So I’ve decided to begin meditating. I just read an article on Shape.com about celebs who’ve battled addictions, and almost every one credits yoga or meditation, in part, for their recovery. Rewind a couple months ago to an article I read in Elle about self-control. Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., a psychologist at Stamford University is quoted as saying:

“Each time you have to bring your mind back to your breath or mantra, it remodels your brain­—strengthening your will, quieting your cravings, and improving stress ­management, impulse control, and self-awareness. Over time, [meditators’] brains become finely tuned willpower machines with more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, as well as regions of the brain that support self-awareness. As little as five minutes of meditation a day can alter your brain, she says, if you do it consistently.”

More willpower, self-control, motivation and creativity? Sign me up!

I’ve tried meditating in the past to no avail. Here’s what tends to happen:

Okay, now I will clear my mind and focus on one word: breathe.

Breathe.

Breathe.

Breathe.

I wonder if I’m breathing correctly.

Uh, I’m so critical of myself. I need to discuss this more with the psychologist.

Oh no, did I remember to reschedule my appointment with her?

Her new voicemail system is so confusing.

Becky, breathe.  Focus.

Breathe.

Breathe.

Breathe.

This is nice. I can feel myself relaxing. And this bed is so soft.

It’s so quiet in here. I should have put on some music.

Like Enya. Love her.

She makes me think of flowy, long dresses. Hmm. What am I going to wear out dancing this weekend? A dress? Skinny pants?

Becky, BREATHE.

It’s been about four minutes. Close enough. I have to go call my psychologist.

You get the point. A grade-A meditator I am not. But in the spirit of my mantra this year – “Be not afraid” – I’m willing to try it again. So I’m embarking on a 30-day meditation challenge in which I’ll devote five minutes per day to some serious mind-focusing and breathing.

I’ll check in periodically and let you know how it’s going. In the meantime, please send any meditation tips or stories on how it’s changed your life. I’d love some more inspiration!

My un-resolutions

The NYE feast

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had as great a New Year’s Eve as I did. The husband and I stayed in, dressed up and indulged in an incredible seafood feast that included shrimp cocktail, bacon-wrapped scallops, stuffed clams, lobster tails, fresh bread and grilled vegetables, topped with chocolate-dipped strawberries and champagne for dessert. A-maz-ing.

After dinner, I challenged him to a Wii Monopoly game and am shockingly in the lead. I’m hoping this is a sign of an improved financial situation in the New Year (he usually beats me within an hour by scooping up all the railroads and utilities). We ended the night watching the ball drop on TV and snuggling with our dogs. An incredibly happy and peaceful start to the year.

Party animals

Now that 2012 has officially arrived, I’ve been reflecting on this year’s resolutions, or un-resolutions as I’ve decided. Cigna’s new campaign urges people to make one un-resolution, to pledge to keep one thing you like about yourself exactly as it is. I’ve decided to take this one step further. Rather than write up a laundry list of resolutions to make myself a “better person,” I’ve come up with a list of goals that I’m excited to reach – goals that are truly about the journey, not just the destination. If I don’t reach them, I won’t beat myself up, nor will I be any worse for it. But I know I will.

Rather than vague resolutions like “lose weight” or overly-regimented ones like “run five times per week,” I’ve come up with a list that I can work toward in whichever way suits me best and keeps me motivated. So here they are:

  1. Run a half-marathon.
  2. Officially change my name (this may be tougher than running a half-marathon from what I hear!).
  3. Take a creative writing class.
  4. Eliminate my debt (my current payment plan will allow for this).
  5. Build up my savings account (I have a particular number in mind).

I’m excited to work toward these goals, mostly because they are goals I want to work toward, not ones I’m pressuring myself to reach. A no-pressure start to the year – I’m already feeling good about 2012.