22 January 2019

Resolutions 2019

January of course leads to resolutions, many of which are broken by February.  I try to not put obligations on myself anymore, since I have so many for work and other things (I'm on two boards, and organizing a local chapter of a cybersecurity professionals group, etc.), so I have found two articles more interesting this year.  One talks about the religious nature of resolutions, and it's not from a religious source which makes it even more interesting.  The author correlates many New Year practices with religious aspects from various religions, and one person quoted points out that "The idea that you're suddenly going to change is a magical idea. Religions are in charge of magic for most of us. This [idea] gets into the popular culture as well."

The other article says we should count blessings instead of making resolutions.  This ties into a number of articles I have seen suggesting that people take a jar, and put in notes about good experiences or happy occasions or blessings or whatever, and then read them at the end of the year to see what a good year it really was.  Some say to do this daily, or weekly, or just whenever.

In that vein, I like this "Alphabet for the Year", as it has many suggestions of things to do that I think can be accomplished:
If you know me, the "get enough ZZzzzzs" might be a challenge, but I'm working on it.

The "Make (cake)" suggestion is a bit reminiscent of the suggestion from America's Test Kitchen that you learn (with their recipes and online classes, of course) how to make three things:  Authentic Baguettes, SoufflĂ©s, and Latin American Flan.  While I bake bread, I'm not crazy about baguettes, and I've made flan I consider perfectly lovely, but soufflĂ©s are something I've not really done, so I think I may try it this year.  Not making a resolution about it, though, if only because I have to find time to do it when eating with friends (and probably at their house) or figuring out how to scale it down to a single serving.  If I do that, I'll definitely report about it.

It's been interesting seeing what people I know have resolved, and how they are doing, and all the recommendations for what resolutions people should make this year.  One acquaintance said she wants to read a book a month.  I like that goal (it's the "R" of the alphabet above), but finding the time to concentrate on a book can be hard.  I also have three or four almost-finished books that I should finish - maybe that is a more realistic goal this year?

RESOLVED:  Finish the books I have unfinished, including Dreams in the Golden Country (near the end, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is involved, and I'm almost afraid to finish it), Rookie of the Year (started while at camp last summer, so maybe I should wait until at least spring training to get back to it?); The Fortune Cookie Chronicles (the book in the bedside table at my parents', so I only read it when I am visiting them) which started when an unusually high number of people won the multistate lottery in 2005 and it turned out they had all played the numbers on their fortune cookie fortunes; and The Whisperer which I picked up at a dollar store and had forgotten about until I remade the bed and found it along the other side where it had fallen, so maybe that one I don't need to finish?  BONUS RESOLUTION:  Read at least two more books!

Yes, this sounds like a very low bar for a voracious reader such as myself, but I spend more time on articles and short stories these days.  Plus, I expect - or hope! - to surprise myself with how many books I do read.  And no, I won't go with the belief that you need no more than thirty books in your life; there are so many more reasons to have books.  On that subject, an artist I dearly enjoy created this picture, and I agree with it too:
That doesn't mean I haven't been winnowing out the stash, and will continue to do so in 2019.  It just means that I won't do it if someone is telling me that I should.  I think I'll do a stash-related resolution, though, but something more personal and appropriate.

RESOLVED:  I will finish at least two WIPs/UFOs for me this year.  I have three shawls in various states of work-in-progress that I can finish, an "Omega" in Shawl in a Ball "Feng Shui Grey"; a KAL shawl in blue, purple, and grey that I started during the sabbatical in Madison and want to wear, especially in this cold weather; and one out of handdyed, handspun from a friend and her mother that I bought at DFW Fiber Fest a couple years ago.  I also have UFOs which are the longer-term UnFinished Objects, such as a vest for my grandmother (it's plain and textured and I keep putting it aside to make more sparkly ones for her) and a sweater that was going to a charity group but it's not coming together as I wished and it turns out one of the organizers is deathly allergic to mohair so I am going to frog it and reuse the yarn for other purposes.  That counts to make a UFO disappear!

RESOLVED:  Organize the pantry.  At some point this year.  This probably includes another weeding-out of cookbooks, but I've done well in that regard (as well as not collecting more) over the last year, so I feel hopeful.  I'm also trying to work through the food stores, both in the freezer and dried and canned goods, so I don't have stocked-up things that go bad or end up with multiple packages of similar items, beans and pulses especially.

I found one list that someone posted as a "31-Day Decluttering Challenge" interesting partly on the basis of how many items on the list I do not own:
  1. Old curlers
  2. Old Tupperware
  3. Worn out sheets
  4. Frayed towels
  5. Broken down boxes (you think you’ll use one day)  (RESOLVED:  Use these to deliver items to thrift stores and etc.)
  6. Books you’ll never read
  7. Expired medications  (I take these to the police station, and I do have a bag ready for the next collection.  I am learning to not stock up on OTC medications.)
  8. Thick nail polish
  9. Old makeup
  10. Broken or old glasses/sunglasses
  11. Worn out hair ties
  12. Old magazines  (I seem to keep finding these, and am getting better at sorting through and recycling them, either by putting on the free library shelf at work or in the recycling dumpster.)
  13. Old cell phones  (Oops - found one.  Will scrub and drop off at the Verizon donation bin.)
  14. DVDs you won’t watch or watched and didn’t enjoy  (It was easier to watch DVDs when my laptop had a DVD player, because I'd take them on business trips and watch instead of hotel TV.)
  15. T-shirts promoting others businesses
  16. Product samples (especially the ones from hotels)  (I donate these to shelters.)
  17. Electronics no longer working or no longer used
  18. Old cleaning supplies not used
  19. Scraps of wrapping paper
  20. Christmas decorations you never use but think you might “next Christmas”
  21. Kids plastic cups from fast food restaurants
  22. Sets of silverware you don’t need
  23. Excess umbrellas, especially if they are broken  (I disagree with this, because if you don't have an extra, what happens when you lose one and need it urgently?  Plus I tend to keep one in my briefcase, car, suitcase, etc.  But yes on the broken one, I dispensed with it last autumn.)
  24. Toys that are broken and/or not played with any longer
  25. Framed pictures (unhung)
  26. Old cameras
  27. Worn belts
  28. Excess coolers
  29. Games that have pieces missing or no longer played
  30. Excess extension cords or old extension cords   (No such thing!  And if I did, I've donated them to the local makerspace.)
  31. Old TVs
RESOLVED:  While I am at it, finally get rid of china cabinet and build replacement item, which is lower and should hold as many items, but allows for artwork to be displayed above.

And since people always seem to make health-related resolutions, one of those, because why not?

RESOLVED:   Have one week where my FitBit records both the hourly movement requirement every day and I exceed the exercise minimums.  COMPLETED!!!  One reason that I haven't posted is because I thought I'd be able to accomplish it early in the year, and I did.  My FitBit week starts on Monday, so it's hard to meet this type of challenge while traveling because I may be on a plane or in meetings during the day and unable to get steps done.  In fact, I joke that when I have lots of meetings, the tracker thinks I've forgotten to wear it.  I was home last week, which means it's easier to do the hourly steps because my meetings are by phone.  The only tricky day was Saturday, which I knew would be easy for the exercise limit due to my yoga class, but I was thinking of going to a movie in the afternoon and that makes hourly steps hard.  The timing and shortness of the film might have just worked, but we had a storm coming in and in case some of the early start predictions were correct, I decided to skip it.  Of course they were not right, the storm started later, and I'll have to see "Tea with the Dames" some other time.  I'll try to repeat this week when I can, and not obsess when I cannot.

Now that I've stated my resolutions publicly, I guess I'll have to keep up the blog to report on progress.  In the past, I've made resolutions to blog monthly and to cook from some of my historical cookbooks which I've failed to do, so we'll see how I do with this year's resolutions.  Stay tuned.