My 2014 Not-Resolutions.

I admit it.

I’m a little… erm, obsessive when it comes to goals and new year resolutions.

For the past few years, I’ve started thinking about my new year resolutions come fall. And when I alight on a goal, I figure, why wait for the new year to start them? Might as well start them now.

It was November 2012 when I put into place my 2013 resolutions: I decided I would run a marathon in fall 2013. I hired my running coach and started tracking my calories to lose the final 10lbs I felt I needed to get to my ideal “racing weight.”

And I did everything I wanted to in 2013. I ran my marathon, ran a total of 1,538 miles for the year (which, by the way, totals more than the prior two years COMBINED), and lost 10 more lbs.

It was a good year, goal-wise.

Except I found myself in the fall pondering my resolutions yet again.

What could I do THIS year which would be better? Lose more weight? Run more marathons? Run those marathons faster? Make more money? Write more? Leave my job and start a new career?

Change, change, CHANGE.

And it got me thinking.

Every fall, I fall off a precipice into an emotional darkness. Part of is is that I live in New England and the fall gets dark and cold and I know winter’s on the way. The change of seasons, I’ve realized, REALLY affects my emotional state. Part of it, too, is that I’ve suffered a lot of loss in October and November. But a lot of it is knowing that another year’s gone by, and wondering really, what do I have to SHOW for my year? What have I actually ACCOMPLISHED?

So my instinct is to make plans for next year, because it’s a new start and clean slate and then maybe NEXT year I can be the person I want to be!

Um, yeah.

Not healthy.

So this year, when I felt that itch to change everything and set my new year resolutions, I decided to end the madness. And thus, 2014 would be the year I set Not-Resolutions.

And I only have two of them.

1. I will not diet this year. I will refrain from weighing myself and panicking when I see the number on the scale, and then obsessively recording my calories. Because I have plans to run two marathons this year, and I know that as I train I will need to listen to my body in order to fuel properly – instead of listening to some website tell me how many calories I can ingest on a daily basis.

And what I hope, as I let go of the fear of the scale creeping up and trusting that my body knows what it needs to fuel, I’ll be able to take baby steps to a place of real acceptance of my body – the body I have now, with the extra skin and padding in my midsection, crisscrossed with stretchmarks from my pregnancy with Owen (6 freaking YEARS AGO. Yeah, those suckers ain’t going away anytime soon. Sigh).  I will accept that I will never have a thigh gap, and that I have to be careful with jeans because they sometimes are too tight in the butt and calves.

My body can do some amazing things, and it’s time I started really listening to it – and trusting that it can do what it’s supposed to do.

Plus, I am training for two freaking marathons. If that doesn’t earn me burgers and beer and ice cream, what DOES? Food is GOOD. It’s tasty. I run enough that I should ENJOY my food.

2. I will say “no” more often. Just before my marathon last year, after a month of working silly hours – WAY more than full time for my part time job – my boss called me and asked if I’d take on another client. I had been looking forward to a couple of weeks of a break, which would have coincided with the marathon timing. Truth be told, I NEEDED the break – I had worked nearly double my regular hours for an entire month.

But in the moment, I found myself agreeing to take it on. Then I waffled. And agreed. Because, you know, I didn’t want to disappoint, or make my boss turn down potential work just because I wanted a break. And when I started working there, I felt resentful and tired and not at all motivated.

It was pretty eye opening to me: how often I agree to do something which might not be the best decision for me, just because I’m afraid to disappoint someone.

Seriously, I am REALLY shitty at saying no. If you ask me for something, and it’s within my power to get it done, I’ll agree to it. Even if I don’t think I can do it, you’re more likely to have me say, I’m not the best at this, so and so is better, but I can TOTALLY take care of this if you need me to.

I don’t know if I’ve ever said, I’m sorry, no, I can’t really take that on right now.

(Even just WRITING that phrase makes me all jittery and nervous and anxious. It’s ridiculous.)

But it’s not healthy for me and my family for me to be overbooked. So I need to learn how to start saying no.

So those are my two Not-Resolutions. Simple.

I mean, I have goals for this year. I want to learn from my dog – learn how to love the snow, take a nap when I feel tired, and meet new people with real enthusiasm. Which, quite honestly, is a post in itself.

I have running goals – two marathons this year, and I’d love it if this is the year I run a Boston Qualifying time in one of those marathons. But I know I’m still relatively inexperienced when it comes to marathoning, and so really this year I want to learn more about running marathons. By running more marathons.  So if I don’t BQ this year? Maybe some other year.

I’d also like to spend more quality time with my family, take more breaks from work this year, get a membership to a local pool this summer so we can spend more time outside.  Our life feels it moves at breakneck pace, and I’d really like to spend more time together – in the moment – than we do now. (Plus it’s winter and I’m cold and I’m dreaming about summer barbecues and swimming pools and sun… ahhhhh.)

But these are more ideas, rather than A List of My Accomplishments in 2014 Which I Will Be Forced to Outdo in 2015.

And I hope that my Not-Resolutions will be where I start to slow down, look around, and live in the here and now.

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More on Balance.

Owen and I took a road trip last week to visit my sister and other assorted friends and family. And, like most things, conversations turned to work and career and balancing all of it, especially as parents of young children. Even my retired aunt and uncle talked about how hard they thought balancing parenting and work is for everyone now (especially with the DC traffic – holy crap I do NOT know how people sit in that traffic day in and day out!).

In the context of these conversations, I found myself talking with everyone about the positives of my working experience. And it struck me one afternoon: I actually kind of LIKE my job.

It’s true: I don’t love being an accountant.

But I do love my current work SITUATION.

Because it’s flexible. I have one client through the rest of the year. Which means I can structure my work weeks the way I want them. I have been working 2 days a week in July, a few hours here and there from home, and therefore haven’t been stuck in the car for three hours a day, 4 days a week.

I am able to take a week off, like last week, at sort of a moment’s notice. Without needing to apply for vacation time.

I love that about my job. I love that I am in charge of when and how the day to day tasks get done.

Of course, there’s times I am needed onsite, and days where I have my work reviewed and come away shaking my head and feeling like a loser and a failure. And the mornings where I have a 9am meeting and therefore HAVE to get on the road at 7:15 at the LATEST because otherwise I’d be too late and miss it.

And then there are the days where the sheer drudgery of doing a job I don’t love makes me loathe to do anything at all. Where I spend the hour and a half drive home cycling through a list of careers and wondering if any of them might actually make me happy.

In 2005, Steve Jobs spoke at a Stanford commencement, and he uttered a quote which I have not been able to let go since I first heard it maybe 5 years ago. This is what he said:

Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Find something you love to do.

For years now, I’ve spent countless hours thinking about what kind of career might make me happy. If you added up all the time and energy I’ve spent on it, it probably adds up to weeks of my life of thinking about what my ideal career would be.

All that time spent ruminating – and I’m no closer to an answer.

I’m 37 years old and I have no idea what I want to do with my life.

I’ve been trash talking being an accountant now, for, what, 10 years? I don’t love it. I don’t like talking about it with people, because they assume I’m good at math (and trust me, I’m NOT. I rely heavily on my calculator!) and am one of those “finance people” who has no personality or communication skills.

And there is always a part of me, deep inside, that wants to cry to these people who think I’m great at math and don’t have a personality or communication skills: But I love to write! And read! I was an English major and I played the clarinet and I have actually cried from the beauty of a piece of music!

The fact is, I AM an accountant. An accountant who blogs and reads and cries when she hears beautiful music.

I envy the Steve Jobs of the world; the people who knew exactly what they were meant to do and do it every day with passion. One of my best friends in college was like that: she knew from the moment she graduated high school that she was going to be a landscape architect. And damn if she doesn’t own her landscape architect business now. She loves what she does, and I often wish I had a career I could focus on with similar passion.

I don’t. But I don’t HATE my profession, either. In fact, I love it right now: Love it for the flexibility, for the freedom to work as little or as much as I want to. I love that I can work from home without having to explain myself. I love that the quality of my work is what’s judged, not the time I spend in the office. I love that it changes and moves and I have to stay on top of changes and figure stuff out on my own.

I love that I can take a week and do a road trip with my fast-maturing 5 year old in the summer before he starts school. I love that I can take him to dentist appointment and swim lessons and have family dinners ready and be able to run miles without having to worry about fitting it all in. I love that when he’s sick (or I am, since I have strep), I can adjust my schedule and not worry about long term career effects.

And you know. Maybe it’s GOOD that I don’t love my job. Because this way, I can be around for my family and run and cook and travel and do things I enjoy, instead of having a single-minded focus on my career, my passion.

And I’m now starting to wonder if my definition of “doing great work” has been too limited. Maybe doing great work, for me, means making sure that Jeff, Owen, and I have dinner together nearly every night. Maybe it means that I keep myself healthy and fit and mentally clear by running long distances. Maybe it’s about having the space and time to blog regularly, cook healthy meals, raise a happy child and have a happy marriage and life.

Maybe that’s enough, and I can stop wasting my energy on trying to figure out the career which Steve Jobs said I should find.

Why I Deleted All of My Facebook Games.

Without any real planning, today I deleted the Candy Crush app from my Facebook account.

And then Criminal Case.

And then Gardens of Time.

And then Bejeweled Blitz.

And then Words World or whatever the new app I just played this morning for the first time.

Why?

Because I spend too much time on the computer, and on my phone, playing games that are essentially mindless. Which would be fine if I could do it in moderation.

But the problem is that I can’t. It’s SO addicting to match colors and crush candy and find hidden objects on a screen; enough that I need a few minutes here and there when I should be doing other things.

Like playing with my kid.

Or running a load of laundry.

Or taking my dog for a walk.

Or connecting with my husband at the end of a long day.

I’m not against playing games, or gaming, or whatever. And honestly, I loved Candy Crush, I loved that my friends loved Candy Crush, and I loved playing it.

But seriously, it’s gotten bad. I figured out that I could play my 5 lives on the computer, and then play another five lives on my phone. And I’d get so angry at a board where I was stuck that I’d play it as much as possible to get the perfect combination of candies to finally, FINALLY, win the board. And then I’d cruise through another 4 or 5 boards, and then repeat the SAME. DAMN. CYCLE. AGAIN.

(If I’m being honest, the final straw was Level 158, with the stupid multiplying chocolates and the cherry you had to bring to the bottom. It was impossible. Ridiculous and impossible.)

And it struck me, this morning, when I lost my first 5 lives on the computer and then switched over to my phone to play another 5 lives, that went just as quickly as the first 5 lives on Level 158…

… This is completely RIDICULOUS.

I don’t have nearly enough time to read, I keep telling people. Yet somehow I manage to spend minutes of my day playing games.

If I’m going to escape from responsibilities, and disconnect, maybe I should do that with a book, instead.

Or maybe I could take those minutes spent on my phone and play cribbage – which is also low-intellect – with my husband and a glass of wine.

Maybe I should meditate. Or go to bed early. Or take the dog for a walk around the block. Or give someone a call on the phone and catch up.

Maybe it’ll help me, overall, to step away from Facebook and CNN and ESPN and Yahoo and Google. Maybe I’m spending too much time a day on my computer.

Time goes so quickly.

How do I want to spend it?