LIGHT UP 2020 WITH BRILLIANT GOALS
As I sit watching the big, fluffy flakes blanket the forest and fields outside my windows, I can’t help but be filled with gratitude at the blanket of contentment I find myself wrapped in this quiet snowy morning. Life rarely turns out the way we plan, and for this I am thankful; I sit here in a home I never planned to own, in a place I never planned to live, alongside a husband I never planned to have, and I thank my lucky stars for every ounce of it.
These annual blog posts originated through an old friend of mine as a way of simultaneously reflecting on the year that’s just passed and looking ahead at the year to come. So as we turn our calendars to a new January each year, I’ve tried to stay true to that practice.
In truth, I’ve never been much of a planner, usually preferring to fly by the seat of my pants. I find that over-planning robs us of that wonderful randomness of life; it can veer you off course with a quick left turn you could have never predicted and, before you know it, you’re off on a whole new adventure. Besides which, I’ve never been a big believer in looking either forward or back, as evidenced by two of my (many) favorite quotes:
“Never look too far ahead; what you see could be a mirage.”
“A man looking over his shoulder is a man who will trip and fall on his face.”
However, all of that being said, as I approach the passing of another decade mile marker in my own life, I’m starting to understand that my somewhat fickle nature isn’t always my friend. With Alice for a hero and always a fan of falling down the rabbit hole, I’m starting to discover that my aversion to setting larger goals has left me somewhat adrift, at least when it comes to professional endeavors.
Speaking of setting goals…I went back to re-read the blog post that started out 2019 for me (and ended it, as it turned out). What did I discover? There wasn’t a single, measurable goal outlined in that entire post. Oh, there were plenty of ideas and plans thrown about, but I did not set one single goal for myself that year.
And so I find myself back here, one year later, and in a similar position. That’s not so say that things didn’t happen in 2019, and that I didn’t learn new things or make progress in any way. I did, and it was certainly still a busy year. But I didn’t accomplish as much as I’d liked. So it’s time to get serious and set some concrete goals for this year.
Settle in, this is a big read.
PLACES OF 2019
Bouncing around the US
Last year I vowed to get back to some more traveling in 2019, and I did a fair job in that department. Starting in February 2019 with some Florida sun and some much-needed warm breezes and ocean-filled re-centering, the spiritual refill that little getaway provided carried me all the way through the spring.
Early summer took me on a two week mini whirlwind through first a tiny town Central Illinois for a family affair, then on to Boston for a travel media conference, and finally back to Florida to reunite with my touring husband. Florida in July is not usually my forte, but what can I say, I’ll usually take any opportunity to dip my toes in the ocean.
Late July I headed off to the East Coast for another hubby visit, allowing me to finally experience the “Roadie Day Camp” of venues in Gilford, New Hampshire that I’d been hearing about for years (and which really did live up to all the hype), then down to Atlantic City for a quick sailboat ride and casino appearance.
Next stop was one of my least favorite spots in North America – New York City.
I am just not a city gal, and all the people/garbage/noise/rudeness/sensory overstimulation are just NOT my cup of tea. But, with that being said, the husband and I always manage to have a blast wherever we find ourselves, and on this particular visit to NYC we discovered aliens.
Well, not really aliens – maybe just alien spaceships, if you’ve seen Men in Black. We went to see the World’s Fair remains at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens. And wow…what an experience.
One of the biggest things that struck me after that visit what a statement it makes about the human race that we no longer have World’s Fairs. The final fair was the New York one in 1964-65; my impression of these fair were that they were beacons of innovation and inspiration, massive showcases to the public of idealism and hope for the future.
And now those beacons have gone silent. Really makes you stop and think about where we’re headed, doesn’t it?
I couldn’t have told you at the beginning of 2019 that I’d end up camper-vanning it across New Zealand later that year.
Ahh New Zealand…there is so much to say about you. Far too much to be confined to a short paragraph or two. In fact, you deserve your very own blog post (and I plan to give you one). Even though there are a million blog posts out there about traveling New Zealand, many of them also via a camper van, our ambitious two-week excursion across both islands will have its moment in the sun (if just so I can share the pictures).
For now, I’ll just say that New Zealand was a truly incredible experience, not only for the wonder of the experiences themselves, but for all of the ways it pushed us outside of our comfort zones and drove us to play amidst the unknown, from driving on the wrong side of the road AND car to discovering glow worms deep within an extensive network of pitch black caves.
CHANGES OF 2019
We all need change in our lives; it’s how we grow. Without growth and change, what is the purpose of this splendid life?
Sometimes change is good and sometimes it’s bad. In fact, it’s usually a little bit of both, because gain rarely comes without loss. But the loss of a dear family member is never a good change, and this year our family lost my husband’s mom. His parents had just finally returned to their beloved midwest in the fall of 2018 after over a decade of being in the Pacific Northwest, and his mom was thrilled to be a Wisconsinite again (she ALWAYS cheered for the Packers). But in early 2019 a long-standing disease finally started to close it’s grip, and by the summer we had lost her.
As devastating as her loss was to all of us, we took heart in knowing that she wouldn’t have to fight anymore, and eventually in our own strength for the understanding that life moves on, even from the loss of an individual who will forever be cherished and remembered.
Moving on to matters of a (quite literally) lighter fare, in mid-October my husband and I also decided to move to a 100% plant-based diet. We’ve watched many documentaries on the topic over the years, and perhaps the timing was just never right before, but after spending an evening with The Game Changers and having a come to Jesus conversation with ourselves, we decided to take the plunge.
Rarely have I been so pleasantly surprised as I have with this life change.
For my husband, it was a return to the lifestyle as head been vegan for 3 years when I first met him. My declaration of, “I could never do vegan!” decided for him that it was time to let it go for a while. But he always swore up and down that it was far and above the best he had ever felt, and now, as it turns out, it’s the best I’ve ever felt.
I’ve discovered that I quite enjoy proving myself wrong.
Which begs the question, what will 2020 hold?
For 2020? “Clarity”
That same friend of mine also believes in assigning each year a word as it starts, a theme for the year that encompasses all that we want to accomplish in that year.
It’s time for me to get clear on my goals. It’s time for me to clean up my habits and physically get into the state that I have always admired. It’s time for me to cleanse my living space of unloved and unnecessary items. It’s time for me to clarify my spending habits so I can work less and have more time to pursue the things that are truly important to me.
Writing, oh writing…you fickle friend of mine. Well, let’s be honest, you’re not fickle…that would be me.
Over the years I’ve had a complicated relationship with writing. I’ve loved to write for as long as I can remember, also likely connected to my love of reading. In 2013 I tried to take it to a professional level as a copy writer…and failed miserably. It wasn’t failure from the standpoint of acquiring clients and work; it was a failure because I took any and all work I could find, no matter the subject matter or pay rate. Over the next year, that faux pas almost completely clobbered my love for writing. I mean, writing about plastic surgery in a positive light? Just kill me.
There can be a very nasty side effect of trying to take something you love and make a living from it – that what was once fun is now work. All of that settled in some angst toward my beloved hobby, and in retrospect I don’t know that I ever really let it go.
This year I’m aiming to work through and release that old angst, alongside the promise to my talent that I will never sell it short again. I also need to up my game on personal creativity and take back a larger chunk of my time to invest in the directions I’d really like to take my writing – some occasional journalism and, most importantly, novels.
I’ve already made one investment in this goal by registering for a retreat/workshop on writing and creativity in May, which will be lead by one of my biggest real-life heroes, Elizabeth Gilbert. In the meantime, I’ve got my eyes peeled for anything that will help me gear up and start creating some sparks.
Goal: I will write a novel, and I will aim to complete it by the end of 2021.
Almost ten years ago I worked my butt off to complete a Master’s of Atmospheric Sciences degree. After graduation, I followed a couple of random whims through the summer before spending a couple of years in a few ill-fitting jobs that were technically “in my field,” although not stimulating or a good fit for me at all.
And so my “career” took a sharp right-hand turn into entertainment & events, where the pay was better and the appeal of international destinations more enticing. Since that time, although my professional path has meandered about, it has never had the opportunity to realign with my science roots.
This year I’m looking to get back to those roots, and to the place where my heart directs me. This poor planet of ours and the abuse we’ve put it through…I’d like to be doing something to help address and fight against the frightening and soon-to-be irreversible turn our climate is taking. Maybe finding this kind of opportunity in this tiny corner of the world I love so much will be a challenging undertaking…but it’s one I’m determined pursue. Even if it means I’ll have to learn to build my own opportunities.
Goal: I will get involved with local climate change initiatives, from either a professional or a volunteer standpoint.
Clean up the diet
We’ve successfully made the move to plant-based…now what?
As someone, somewhere once said, “Oreos are vegan!” Which means, just because it’s vegan doesn’t make it healthy. There is still a LOT of processed, junky vegan food out there, most of which comes in the form of meat and dairy substitutes.
Personally I can’t have gluten and I need to keep soy at an absolute minimum in my diet (ideally none), so I have to keep a large percentage of those substitutes out by default. However, there are still plenty of them out there that don’t use those ingredients, making them cleaner, but still not ideal.
Substitutes are a great way to get started on a plant-based diet, but in my personal opinion they’re best used as a gateway and, beyond that, only once in a great while. The ultimate goal of plant-based should be healthy, whole foods and the realization that our western diets don’t need to revolve around animal products (or their plant-based processed counterparts) to be tasty and fulfilling.
I’ve already come a long way since making the dietary switch in learning to try new foods and re-learning how to flourish in the kitchen without those animal ingredients. This year I’m simply looking to continue down that creative path (see, creativity!) and progressively eliminate those processed foods from our diet.
Goal: Reduce processed foods in our diet by at least 50%.
Clear out the living space
Ughhhh clutter. I hate it.
And I’m usually pretty good about keeping things tidy.
But then in 2017, we bought this beautiful house that I adore so, and there was all this SPACE.
Luckily (for my sanity), we’ve far from filled all the space. But I’ve still managed to accumulate more stuff than I want and, as organized as I am, have simply found better ways to organize it, therefore not having to physically experience the presence of that stuff. Yet mentally, it’s creeping up on me, especially as my thoughts and purpose slowly clarify through the years and I realize how little I care about having all that stuff I once thought I needed.
So in 2020, with the encouragement of folks like Courtney Carver of BeMoreWithLess, I’m making more of an effort to go through and get rid of more than I ever have before. Things that no longer serve me, things that don’t bring me joy, and things that I don’t love will be on their way out this year. It’s just a weight that is ready to be released.
Goal: Reduce possessions in general (but especially in the clothing department) by at least 25%.
Clarify where the money goes
This continues along the same lines as the thought above because one of the larger problems areas (as I’m sure it is for many females) is clothes. I simply have way too many.
When I was in my late teens and twenties, my best friend at the time was very much like an older sister to me, as well as very much the fashionista. No matter where we went or what we were doing, in my eyes her apparel choices were always flawless and envy-worthy.
Flash forward to me, circa now, and I have made peace with who and what I am – a t-shirt and jeans kinda gal. I can dress it up a bit when the situation requires, but I’m at a point in my life where I’m no longer concerned with the opinion of the general public, especially when it comes to simple daily wear. My husband enjoys my “style” (or lack thereof, ha) and I’m good with remaining care-free beyond that point.
So an entire walk-in closet full of clothes? Gah, no thank you. Beyond getting rid of it, this also means I need to stop buying it. A Target t-shirt in every color…just, no. I don’t need it. Time to squash that particular neurosis.
I have enough REPLACES I need/want this.
This is where 2020 will take me. The realization that I have enough and that there is very little I need of a frivolous nature in this life. Once I cross the bridge of realization that not only do I not need these things, but don’t want them either…then we’ll really be talking. It’s a work in progress, but I AM making progress.
And that’s what it’s all about, right? The journey, not only the destination. We’re all works in progress, but so long as we keep making progress in the direction we want to go, we’re winning.
Here’s to progress in 2020 and the realization of goals that will allow even bigger goals in 2021!