Saturday, November 30, 2013

Eleven Month Check-In!

Yes, this is the post that goes to eleven.  I've been a fan of Spinal Tap for quite a while and I didn't even try to resist using that line for this post!

So - the check-in.  I looked back over the year's posts and I can definitely see progress.  It's weird - I've gotten some very good habits ingrained, but they aren't exactly super-good habits.  For instance, I walk everyday, but I'm trying for a half-hour of a "walking for exercise" pace instead of counting steps.  Yesterday, my pedometer told me that I broke ten thousand steps for the first time in probably months and I felt just fine about that.  Sure, I'd like to do more, but I think it's more important that movement for health is becoming a habit, even if my usual step count is way under what my goal was back in January.

Eating better - that's a plus.  Thanksgiving was surely a feast day, but again - looking at the big picture here, my overall habits are much, much better than they were a year ago.  Lots more plain, fresh water on a regular basis, too.  Taken together, these habits have caused my weight to . . . well, stabilize.  I really haven't lost weight this year, but I also haven't gained a bit.  I think I'm about four pounds lighter than I was at the start of the year.  Yet I don't see that as a failure, either.  I'm not overweight and my doctor is quite happy with the results of all my blood work and routine tests.  I just don't fit the profile of a Victoria's Secret Angel - meaning that when I turn sideways, you can still see me and tell I'm of the female persuasion.  And that I can live with.

House - well, here's the real news.  My house is certainly "lived in" - I'll never have a house that makes Martha Stewart clutch her pearls and say, "You simply must tell me your secrets!"  But it's a happy home.  It's tidier on a regular basis than it's ever been (FlyLady, baby.  FlyLady.  You really can do anything for 15 minutes and those 15 minutes add up over the months) and it's calmer as a result.

Case in point - last year, my holiday season was marked by stress, crying jags, and frustration that was entirely self-inflicted.  Yesterday, for the first time ever, I spent part of Black Friday calmly un-decorating from Thanksgiving.  Then, with FryDaddy's help (he understands the truth in the saying "if Mockingbird ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"), we brought down all the Christmas boxes.  I worked for 15 minutes on getting some of the holiday stuff out and I'll do that again and again until everything is done.  And I'm willing to bet I'll be more serene and peaceful and happy than I was last year - which is really what it's all about.

Also - I'm taking inspiration from the Facebook Nation who posted all through November their "30 Days of Gratitude."  Last year, my holidays weren't that great because I insisted on perfection.  This year, I'm trying something new.  In fact, I'm trying a lot of new!  Over the last month or so, I've really tried to make an effort to try some new things - food, activities, etc. - so yesterday I started my "30 Days of New" by making time to go see the lighting of the town Christmas tree, which was small-town perfect, complete with live music and horse-drawn carriages.

We'll see how it goes, but I'm betting it goes all the way to eleven!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mid-Month Musings

I know that technically, this isn't exactly "mid-month," but I like alliteration and literal truth is so limiting sometimes.  Now that we have that out of the way . . .

I've begun to Take Stock.  To recap, the whole shebang actually started during the 2012 holiday season, when I nearly went out of my mind with stress and unmet, unreasonable expectations.  I swear, I'd never let anyone else talk to me the way I let myself go off on me.  Nuts, and all the more reason to surround oneself with good friends who won't put up with me doing that sort of thing.  So when we had the holidays in our rear-view mirror, FryDaddy and I sat down and applied our oversized academic pointy-brains to our own behavior - what had we learned from the chaos?

Thus began the plan - with The List.

With The List as a guide, I've spent this last year really trying to reshape some fundamental aspects of my life and how I live it.  At the heart of this experiment journey has been the advice of Samuel Johnson - "To be happy at home is the ultimate result of all ambition."  (I've got that written across my mantelpiece, by the way.)  Knowing that I have no control over large swathes of my life, what could I do to make my home happier, more of a haven against the random cruelties and small indifferences of the world?

Thus began January.

Not everything is sweetness and light.  I still get bent out of shape way too easily, BUT - I can report some rather sizable successes, and we still have about five weeks to go in the year.  I'll recap all of that in my usual monthly check-in, but for now, I'd like to just say this:

The holiday season is upon us.  Don't lose your cool.  The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy, peace, prosperity, and All Things Good.  Maybe your year hasn't been the best - there may be illness to contend with, or financial distress, or loss, or a hundred other things that happen to good people.

Find joy anyway.

Do it on the cheap, if you need to.  But take it from me, you're so much better off than you probably think you are.  That's not to say you don't have troubles and that life sometimes isn't painfully unfair.  But if you're reading this blog, you've got Internet access, which probably means you've got four sturdy walls and a roof.  I bet you've got both reliable electricity and clean, hot water available at the turn of a tap.  You might even have a pot of soup bubbling on the stove and a friend to share it with.

If so, take it from me.  You're better off than so very, very many.  You don't have what your neighbors have?  Big deal.  They very well might not have what you're taking for granted.  Heck, I woke up this morning grumping at the amount of weekend work I have to do when, lo and behold, there was a knock at the door, and eight college elves announced their presence - they were here to finish some yard work they had started last weekend, but hadn't been able to finish before dark.  They were young, energetic, cheerful, polite, and were giving up their Saturday morning to rake a stranger's yard.

Not too shabby.