Monday, August 15, 2016

Choosing the Theme for My 54th Year


(Wait — I just turned 54. So, this is my 55th year, right? But that feels like rushing things. I'm just going to say 54th, okay? Let's all take a breath.)

I always make New Years resolutions, and they have changed little over the years: (1) Lose weight. (2) Manage my money better. (3) Write more. These have been the Big Three as long as I can remember.

But when I turned 50, I decided that I also wanted a birthday resolution: a guiding theme for the year. At 50, my goal was "mellow," and that was the year I truly mastered the ability to stop fretting over things I have no control over. I am very very good at this.

Of course, sometimes it takes me a while to accurately assess the situation (such as the case with my daughter's mental health, where I truly believed that my efforts and vigilance were key. They were a factor, yes, but ultimately I had no real control over anything. A bitter pill to swallow, but sister, I swallowed it. And it's good to keep this in mind as I prepare to watch my cherub fly from the nest).

The theme for 51 was "standing on the side of love." I was having a lot of conflicts with my brothers over our parents' anniversary party and was almost ready to write them out of my life, I was so mad at them. I created a lot of fun documents related to our parents' marriage (a Two Truths and a Lie game, a Jeopardy board, a song list, things like that), and I wasn't going to send copies to my brothers. But then I reflected on my theme and decided to stand on the side of love and make the loving choice. And I have to tell you: it felt much better.

I don't remember 52. Dad had just died, and I was a wreck. I think I just tried to get through the year with some grace.

And then 53, last year. Do you remember this theme?

I said yes to almost every invitation I got — but please note the qualifier "almost." I respectfully declined to attend the birthday party of a crazy person from church, I said no to two kayaking parties (dear God), and I backed out of an outdoor barbecue on a 98-degree humid afternoon. But other than that, I pretty much said yes to everything. And I usually left early (big parties are just not my thing), but hey. I was there. My friend the hostess saw me and was pleased by my presence. All was well.
But I'm also glad that it's over.☺︎

And now for this year's theme. Once again I'm choosing something that scares me a little and that will be a challenge for me, and that is: health.

Yeah, I know, I just wrote a whole post about how technically healthy I am (from a blood and organs kinda perspective), and I stand by that.

Having said that, there are some things that I could be a lot better about, namely:
  1. Sleep. I get up around 7 every morning, so I should be in bed with the lights out by 11. Yeah, this happens maybe four times a year. Maybe more if I'm sick. I love to watch movies in bed before I fall asleep, and I am rarely asleep before midnight. Last night I was up till 1:14 watching Midnight Special (it was pretty good!). And guess what: I am tired all the time! Duh.
  2. Strength. I enjoy lifting weights and feeling strong, and I know that increased muscle mass will be good for me for so many reasons. I don't know why I don't do this more often. Maybe I need to move my weights out of the basement (where I work out, when I do)? I will think about this.
  3. Good food = good fuel. Though I eat a lot of healthy things (looking over the low-fiber diet for my November colonoscopy made me shudder!!), I also eat a good number of unhealthy things. I was just reading an interview with an Olympic athlete about what she eats, and she said, "I treat my body like a Ferrari, and I give it only the best fuel." I love this analogy!
  4. Stop when I've had enough. I am very very bad at stopping before I'm too full. For dinner last night I had tastes of Mexican appetizers (guacamole and salsa and queso), four spoonfuls of elote, two ginger peach margaritas, and half a tossed salad with shrimp and avocado on it; it didn't seem like a ton of food, and I thought I had stopped before being stuffed, but I was actively uncomfortable when we got home. 
 Geneen Roth says that we all have a voice inside us that tells us when we've had enough — but that voice is very quiet. If we're reading, on the computer, watching TV, talking to people (i.e., distracted), we are likely to miss it. This makes a lot of sense to me.

I'm sure there are other things I can or could do, but these feel like good starting points and also very achievable. And every one of them will improve my life.

I did sign up again for my deep-water class, and that will start in September. Will I ride my bike before then? We'll see. After we drop off Mimosa this weekend, Mom arrives the following Friday, her surgery is scheduled for September 2, my metaphorical plate will likely be a tad full for a while.

Time to start my healthy day. Let me go contemplate the Ferrari fuel we have available. I am taking Mimosa college-shopping today, at least four stores and tons of walking, I need sustenance!


  1. Listening to that little voice inside your head is always a good idea.

    1. My little head voice says you are very wise! And also cute. ;-)

  2. Happy Birthday! (Already? Your Year of Yes seems like it was just yesterday!)

    I really want to copycat your Year of Health.
    I get enough sleep, but otherwise... yeah.

    (I like "Midnight Special" pretty well too--sad in a good way? maybe sort of like sending your kid off to college???
    I liked "Take Shelter" better as a movie (same dir. & actor), but it was more disturbing.)

    1. Say yes to everything, a year goes by very quickly!

      I will have more to report, but here's this: just being more mindful about exactly what I'm eating and how much of it is such a game-changer. I haven't finished a restaurant meal since I made this resolution. Pretty interesting!

    2. Ha! I recall the year of YES - I think I made you say "yes" before you knew that my "meet me in the city" invitation was THAT CITY! Look at you now - giving up your daughter to it, like she is some sacrificial lamb. How brave! (My sister Meg's daughter did a post-graduate performance-art project which involved her daughter relinquishing - with very few boundaries - her life to someone else a week at a time for one year. I was riveted for the Thursday night posting (each applicant who was awarded the week posted the theme and outline) and the Sunday recap she posted with pictures. But I digress: I think your theme next year should be the opposite of “sex, lies, and videotape.” I assume you are scratching your head at this point, but I can explain. Friends (those people you like, but don’t have sex with), truth (I will let that one linger in the air – what would a year of truth look like? Mmmm), and Real Life Experiences – no more armchair living. Call me, and I will catch you up on my summer and all of the above will suddenly be clear – it’s been interesting! Meanwhile, a toast to your health! and another! And...Tee.

    3. I remember you telling me about Meg's daughter — quite fascinating. Your idea of a year of Friends, Truth, and Real Life Experiences is enticing — hmm! We did talk recently, I think, but we didn't touch on this. I will call you soon! xxx

  3. Love your theme for the year! Hope you got my homemade e-card! Wishing all the best for Mimosa's new adventure and your mom's surgery and recovery. <3 -- SDF

    1. Thank you, darling! I don't know what the next month will look like yet, but I am very eager for another lunch date with you. We will do it as soon as we can. xx

    2. I'll look forward to it!

  4. Sleeping is the best! Do it more!

    1. Good advice, my friend! Though I'm not sure your 8–4 schedule will work for me. If I can master 11–7, I will be a winner!