Thursday, December 30, 2010

Gearing up for another year

With Christmas past, everyone is starting to throw around New Year's Resolutions.  And they are always the same and usually involve joining a gym or starting some similar overly ambitious change of habits that are ridiculously unrealistic and prone to failure.  We have all done it at one time or another: setup some kind of punishment for ourselves to "correct" bad behavior just because it's a new year.

Yesterday I was talking to a friend who wanted to try to start blogging every single day when she hasn't blogged in at least two and a half months (and even before then the consistency was pretty sparse...hey, I'm not judging! Just stating the facts!).  I recommended she start off smaller, maybe commit a specific time slot a week to writing.  I told her about a couple tools I use to help me store thoughts I want to flesh out later (sometimes, much much later!).

Setting up manageable goals every month has been really helpful for me.  December has been a crap month for me as far as working on my goals and keeping up with previous ones.  The holidays kind of do that.  Instead of feeling guilty, I'm just shrugging it off and doing what I can, when I can.  I'll try again next month.

I've found being specific helps.  For example, instead of saying, "I want to lose weight!" I say, "I want to cut out processed sugars like soda and start walking 15 minutes per day!"  The latter example is much more definitive and less abstract.

I'm going to have a long list of goals for January, but they are going to be small, manageable, and specific so I actually have some chance of getting something done.  Somethings I've already started working towards (because why wait for a magic date when you're ready to begin now?) but I'll put much more effort and emphasis on them in the coming months.  And, as always, every mini-goal is a step in an overall effort to better myself in anyway.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Secretly, I kind of hoped I would wake up and find snow on the ground.  Instead, I found a beautiful, red sunrise (and I'm kicking myself for not grabbing my camera).

The last few weeks, I've been giving a lot of consideration to my life and where I want to take it.  Thinking about what I have, what I want to keep, what I want to improve, and what I want to change drastically.  Most things seem to lean on the drastic.  I'm a cardinal sign, it's completely in my nature to wreak havoc on a half-started project and move onto something completely different.  Usually it's because I lose interest or get bored and need a change of scenery before I can come back and finish a project.  This time, I'm reviewing my motivations for getting where I am today and whether those motivations really had my best interests in mind.  I'm finding the motivations haven't, but in their own ways, I've had to admit reluctantly that the end results have served me in positive ways.

So now it's about finding a balance.  Instead of running screaming from old constructs, I need to find ways of improving or remodeling them to better serve me moving forward, so I can work on abandoning them completely or use my energy on other constructs.

For now, I'm off to my dad's for our traditional breakfast and present opening, but I've already received exactly what I wanted for Christmas.  Did you get what you wanted?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Red Moon

Picture courtesy of NASA
Last night (or this morning, depending on your perspective) I had the opportunity to witness relatively common events in a rare arrangement.  The full moon, the winter solstice, and total lunar eclipse by themselves are just parts of the cycles we may enjoy as part of living on Earth.  But this was special.  I was determined to stay up hours past my pass out time (roughly any time between 8pm and 10pm depending on, well, whenever I pass out).  The lunar eclipse took place between 11:41pm through 12:53am Pacific.  The kicker?  Fresno has been experiencing Seattle-like weather since the weekend.  Weather forecasts promises a zero percent chance of rain from midnight to 2am, but the clouds didn't let up during prime viewing time.  

As we craned our necks for nearly 45 minutes we saw glimpses of the orange hue of the total eclipse.  Literally split seconds occurred where the clouds would break momentarily and we could see the faint outline of the lunar eclipse.  I found it beautiful and even though I could barely make out the astronomical event for most of its occurrence I am happy I had an opportunity to witness it.

In fact, I've been feeling rather upbeat ever since.  It's a lot of energy in a single astronomical event.  First the seasonal change from fall into winter and the longest night of the year is cut into by the brightness of the full moon which then goes through a complete 29.35 day cycle in a matter of 3 or 4 hours.  The winter solstice is a time of coming together, enjoying company and revelries, celebrating the fact that the light will begin to wax again.  The moon's wax and wane cycle represents growth and decrease in efforts and projects.  Combine both of those energies and you have a very strong energy for change in general.

I took some time in the evening prior to the event thinking about the last 15 months.  All that has changed in my life.  All the changes I still want to make in my life.  Now that I have closed some very big chapters, I'm getting ready to open some very big new ones.

Perhaps that's why I'm in a good mood.  For once, rather than resisting change and flailing with my lack of control over my circumstances, I'm learning to really embrace the unknown and gearing up to take some major chances that (I hope) will change my life for the better.

The last 15 months have been a toiling of thesis and antithesis energies, a creating and destruction of life energies.  The lunar eclipse, for me, signals true change, not just the contemplation thereof.  It is synthesis.

Today, I begin.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snowman Soup

Finished product in a big Jack mug.
Obviously, I sort of fell half-off the wagon so far this month.  This month is always hectic for everyone, trying to balance work and home and preparations for the holidays.  So far my boyfriend lost his job, my car had a brief stint with death (and I was totally failed by the bus system), and I began gearing up projects for my Etsy storefront.

Fortunately, Jeff is a resourceful person.  And he's pulling extra weight around the house and taking on more chores so I can spend extra time working/researching/training.  He's also cooking all our dinner meals.  So far we've done American week (my first time eating home made macaroni and cheese!) and Indian week (curries for a week, yum!).  This week is Asian week.  I've been trying to photo-document some of the food fares, but it's hard to remember to grab my camera when I walk in the door to mouth-watering goodness.  Really, I'm completely spoiled.

Tonight, Jeff, Danny, and I spent our evening making homemade snowman soup to give away for stocking stuffers.  We could have gone with premixed, hot chocolate mix with mini marshmallows that dissolve instantly when exposed to oxygen.  Instead we got a giant, plastic bin and dumped all the ingredients in, mixed them together and scooped the resulting mixture into single serving size bags.  Toss in mini candy canes, real marshmallows, and chocolate dipped spoons (some bittersweet, some milk chocolate, and some...regrettably...white *choke* know what, it's not chocolate, it's just hard, white cream candy!).  We all had a blast laughing and playing.  We taught Danny how to use measuring cups and the difference between heaping (good!) and level (boring) scoops.  If we bought premixed packets, sure it would have been faster, sure Danny and I wouldn't have been covered in hot chocolate mix.  It probably would have cost about the same.  But dammit, we had a great time knocking out about 45 servings of snowman soup.

Oh.  Drinking it was pretty good, too.

I promise I'll post more this week.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Goals

Recap: On November 1st I made two goals for the month: first to write more and second to stop using the dishwasher. Later in the month, I saw a few other bloggers ((never home)maker and RowdyKittens in particular) I follow make their own lists of goals.  Literally lists and lists of things.  It made me feel a little pathetic about only setting two things aside.

Two was enough for me.  Two goals seemed reasonable and provided a better chance of success.  Any more than that and I would overwhelm myself with my own lists.  I'm happy to report my assumption served to be true.  I posted more entries last month than in any other month and averages a single post per week.  Nothing to "ride home" about, but a reasonable accomplishment nonetheless.  I also successfully refrained from using the dishwasher for the whole month. I did use it to store dishes I didn't feel like cleaning before hosting a party, but after said party I did wash every dish by hand.  On the 24th, Jeff was already talking about ripping out the dishwasher so we could use the space for kitchen storage!  I asked him to wait until the month was up before we made any decisions, so I guess I'm going to have to start seriously thinking about that!

I started seriously thinking last week about what my goals for December should be.  I thought about copping out and picking something like "finish all hand made gifts by the holiday", but goals like that are superficial and don't help me work on bettering myself overall.  However, gift-making *can* be if I work on building up the side-business I keep fantasizing about.  I received my first commission request a few weeks ago from a coworker of my mom's to make a duplicate giraffe amigurumi (a giraffe is the hospital's mascot) and may be picking up a second commission (by trade) request in the next day or two.  I have an Etsy storefront I have yet to do anything with. Soooo....

Goal number one: post one knit item per week on my Etsy storefront.

It doesn't matter if they sell or not.  I'm not even worried (at this point) about how nice my storefront looks.  I simply need some kind of motivator to take the first step to see my fantasy become reality.  No expectations, no unrealistic demands.  Just one item per week.  And I'm totally passionate about crafting.  That makes this goal completely doable.  Fortunately, I have lots of time this month do accomplish this goal and make hand-crafted gifts for the holidays.

Hand-crafting gifts also takes me a bit further in my desire to live more simply.  On that note, my car battery died forcing a renewed interest in taking the bus for my daily commutes.  That means getting about three miles of walking time in every day which got me thinking about my overall health again.  I did really well over the Thanksgiving Day holiday and have kept up the momentum of physical activity and eating reasonably.

Goal number two: incorporate healthy eating habits and daily exercise.

I'll need to flesh out some rules for this a little better so I have some tangible guidelines to follow rather than depending on my decision-making skills (which only seem to work if I'm surrounded by other Libras).  At a time when money is tight and I'll need to be staying closer to home when I'm not at work, it's a good time to start taking my lifestyle habits more seriously.  Spending more time at home planning and cooking meals also feeds into my "live simply" ideal and affords me more time to spend interacting with my family.

I wanted to strive to plot three goals this month, but the two I've established lend themselves to a number of other ideas I had.  I'll also continue to build on last months goals through the new goals I have established.  I know it may seem silly, but I'm really excited about meeting my first two goals. Sometimes I aim to high or only focus on broader, more long-term goals.  Setting smaller bites aside make me feel more accomplished and give me more reasons to celebrate the little things in life, because they're worth it!

What are your goals for December?