Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Year in Review: 2011 Non-Writing Goals

Yesterday, I wrote a post that talked about my 2011 Writer's Goals with an update in purple to report on the progress, or lack of progress, I made.  Today, I'll do the same for my other goals for 2011.


We've lived in this house for 12 years. Twelve years!!! How is this possible? Anyway, gone are the days when we moved every year, which exhausting though it may be, does force one to sort through one's stuff. So, this year, it's time to sort through stuff, particularly my bookcases. I'm holding on to many books that I know I will never read again, books that I don't particularly care about possessing. It's time to set some of my stuff free!

We got rid of lots of books, which meant we could reorganize shelves, which has our guest room feeling much more open and welcoming.  We used to have bookcases back to back at right angles to the walls, which made me feel claustrophobic.  Now we have bookcases against the walls.

I continue to work on getting clothes and other stuff I don't need or use anymore.  I got rid of some clothes, some kitchen stuff, but there's always more to do.

Creative Goals

--Collaging. I'd like to have one day a month where I experiment with old-fashioned collage (by which I mean cutting up magazines and pasting).

I only had a day or two of collaging.  But I tried to continue working in fiber and being open to creative opportunities.  I've done a lot more with photography.

--More bread baking.

My bread baking comes and goes in cycles, but I think I've done more.

--learn to make better sound recordings. Perhaps it is time to invest in some equipment?

I didn't make any investments, but I did learn to use Microsoft MovieMaker a bit more.  I still can't figure out the sound pieces--how to get rid of some sound and add others.  Sigh.

--learning to make better sound recordings would help me create better book promotion videos and videopoems.

I created two book promotion videos, but not as much with videopoems.

Personal Improvement

--Weight Loss: In early October, one of our spin instructors offered us an opportunity to try to lose 10 pounds before Christmas. She would take our measurements at the beginning, and we'd weigh in each week. I had some trepidations about this (particularly the weigh-ins, which I worried would be shaming and would drive me to eat more), but I signed up. I lost just under 10 pounds in 10 weeks! I'd like to see if I could lose 10 pounds every quarter of 2011. I'd like to continue to be more mindful of my eating--and my drinking, which may do more to derail me than my eating. I was successful in cutting in half the amount of sugar I use in my coffee during 2010 (I used to routinely drink 1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar in a day's worth of coffee--now it's half that). And during the 10 pounds in 10 weeks process, I was successful in being mindful about my wine consumption. I don't want to eliminate--just be watchful.

It was in this area that I was most spectacularly successful in 2011.  In June, I signed up for a Weight Loss Challenge at my little gym that's part of a wellness center in the hospital near where I work.  We worked out with our group once a week, we met several times with a nutritionist, and we had a weekly weigh in.  By the end of August, I had lost 22 pounds. 

People ask how I did it, and frankly, it was by counting calories, which I haven't done since I was 16.  I kept my calories between 1200 and 1500 calories a day, which I tried to make mostly fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.  I was surprised by how successful the process was.  Keep your calories down, and you will lose weight.  Add in some exercise, and your weight loss will go down.

I was also surprised by how competitive I became.  I really wanted to WIN.  I wanted to impress the team of trainers.  I wanted to please the person who weighed me each week.  I thought it might have the opposite effect on me, and it did for some participants:  "You can't tell me what to do; I'm going to eat what I want, and I'm going to prove to you that I can't exercise."  Happily, I had the opposite response.

It feels strange to write this, as I've moved away from some of my good behaviors during the month of December.  My severe cold meant that I missed almost 3 weeks of exercise, and I need to get back to healthier eating patterns.  But I'm convinced that I will do this.  I've kept the weight off, even through the holidays.  I'd like to lose a bit more.  It will be easier to get back on track in January.

--Add more fruits and veggies. Some weeks I'm good at consuming plenty of fruits and veggies. Other weeks, not so much. I'd like to continue to do things that work: a fruit smoothie for breakfast, a V8 juice during the day, baby carrots carried with me for snacks, veggie soups for meals in the office, desserts that help me with my more fruits/veggies goal (pumpkin bread, apple crisp, pumpkin pudding, berry crumbles).

Some weeks I do well, other weeks, less well.  But most days, I do get at least 4 servings of fruits and veggies.

--Exercise: I've gotten a bit off track in the last few weeks. I'd like to get back to doing a bit of strength training, and to exercise on Tuesdays and Thursdays (running, ideally, but walking will be fine too). I've been good at going to spin class on MWF (and Saturdays, when I'm in town). I plan to continue to do that.

It makes me feel good to read that this time last year, I had gotten a bit off track.  I got back on track and will again.

--I'd like to be more present in my relationships with people. I feel distracted and disrupted. I want to be more attentive.

With an increasingly electronic world, I suspect I'll continue to struggle with this. 
--I want to be like that TSA agent, who greeted everyone with such joy and enthusiasm in the Baltimore airport on the morning of Dec. 29. I especially want to exhibit this trait in the workplace. I want to be patient, but so much more, I want to see the value in each human who crosses my path--and I want each human to leave an encounter with me feeling any one of the following: enriched, helped, listened to, respected, engaged . . .

A worthy goal for any year--and I'll continue to work on this.

I have noticed that my goals don't change a lot from year to year.  I want to treat my body better; I want to treat my friends and family better.  I want to prioritize so that I'm spending my free time working on activities that are important to me.  I continue to want to move towards the Buddhist teahouse approach of meaningful work. In an interview with Bill Moyers, Jane Hirshfield explains, "Teahouse practice means that you don't explicitly talk about Zen. It refers to leading your life as if you were an old woman who has a teahouse by the side of the road. Nobody knows why they like to go there, they just feel good drinking her tea. She's not known as a Buddhist teacher, she doesn't say, "This is the Zen teahouse." All she does is simply serve tea--but still, her decades of attentiveness are part of the way she does it. No one knows about her faithful attention to the practice, it's just there, in the serving of the tea, and the way she cleans the counters and washes the cups" (Fooling with Words: A Celebration of Poets and Their Craft, page 112).
Worthy goals, and an ever-moving target.

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