This is a post I’ve been hesitant to write, but I’m still going to do it. Sometimes we learn the most by doing things we don’t really want to do. As many of you know, I have a practice of selecting a theme for myself each year to help guide my focus and actions for those twelve months. This year, the theme that I selected was “deliberate” and my aim was to become a lot more intentional with my shopping, wardrobe, and life.
First – The Good News…
Let’s start with the good news. As I wrote about in my last update (which sadly was my only update until this one), I made significant improvements with both my shopping and wardrobe this year. Yes, I did some backsliding into overshopping during August and September, but overall I have shopped more intentionally and made better choices this year. Likewise, I also made great strides with my wardrobe over the course of 2015. I now rate the majority of my outfits as “9”s or “10”s and my LIWI Challenge helped me to pare down my wardrobe to primarily those pieces that I love and wear. My at-home wardrobe still needs some work, but I know what I need to do and will make it a priority for 2016.
So I’m quite pleased with how my 2015 theme of “deliberate” has impacted my closet and my shopping practices. But then we come to the much broader area of my life… and the news is not so good. Back in July, I created a list of the ten ways in which I wanted to be more deliberate in the remaining months of the year. I believed that list was quite “doable,” but I have to admit that I have faltered with many of the items on the list. I have also fallen flat on my face with my overarching intention of improving my health this year. If anything, my health is worse than when I started the year, as a number of additional symptoms have cropped up along the way. I have not given up, but I am definitely discouraged and am not sure what to do or where to turn next. I’m sure I will figure it out somewhere along the line. One day at a time…
The Intentions I Accomplished
I’m going to review my progress with the ten intentions I set for myself back in July. I will start with the ones I’ve done relatively well with, as it’s always good to begin on a high note. I will remind you of each intention and share a bit about the steps I’ve taken on it since July.
- Improve my social life and develop new friendships – There is both good news and bad news here… I have developed some new friendships this year, which I’m very happy about. I have new people with whom I interact on a daily or semi-daily basis and that has helped me to feel far less lonely. However, the downside is that all of these people are online and most of them live very far away from me. I was able to meet one new friend in person a few weeks ago, which was nice, but it’s unlikely that I will meet any of the others soon, if at all. Another downside is that I mostly communicate with these people via Facebook, which results in my spending too much time on that social media site. But I love interacting with my new friends, including the wonderful women in the private Facebook group I founded. We have a great community going on over there and there are people around to interact with day and night. I just need to find a way to have balance (hmm… maybe a word for 2016) with Facebook and it will all be good news here. Sure, it would be nice to have more local friends, but given my health issues, it’s hard. I did meet one woman who lives nearby a few months ago and have seen her a few times. I don’t feel as connected to her as my online friends, though, but that could change in the future.
- Improve my existing relationships – I’m including this one in the positive column because I have seen a few of my relationships improve. My visit to Tahoe helped me to feel more connected with my mom and brother and I also spent some quality time with a friend there. I haven’t been as deliberate about reaching out to old friends as I’d like, but there have been a few I’ve spoken to on the phone or chatted with on Facebook. This is going to be an ongoing intention through 2016.
- Cultivate 1-2 new hobbies and interests – I actually rediscovered an old hobby that I’m enjoying again, baking. I bake at least once a week these days and sometimes twice or even more. I’ve made a lot of dietary changes this year and it’s been harder for me to find foods in the stores that fit my restrictions. So I’ve been perusing the web and trying out new recipes. Some have been hits and others have fallen flat, but I’ve been having fun testing them out and am thrilled when I find a few that I love. For those who are interested, check out Carrot Pulp Bread (be sure to use almond flour, not coconut flour, for a better result) and Grain-Free Banana Bread. Both are delicious and you’d never know there are absolutely no grains in either one!
- Further my photography interest – I continue to love taking photos and do it more days than not. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking a short walk by the bay most days at sunset time, as I love to see and photograph the changing colors in the sky and the reflections on the water. I took one online and one in-person photography course since my July update and have joined several photography sharing groups on Facebook. Sadly, there is a piece of bad news to report here as well. Just last night, the new camera that I got in July was stolen when it was out of my sight in a hotel lobby for a brief time. There is still a chance that I will get it back, but I’m not very optimistic at this point. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but I’d really like to find a way to get another camera. Sure, I can take photos with my phone and I will do so for the time-being, but I loved that camera and I’m very sad that it’s gone. Taking photos has been one of the major joys of my life since April and I plan to continue it. I feel bad that I was careless, but I also feel there’s no excuse for people to steal other people’s property. I will never understand some people…
- Take a few day trips – My husband and I took a few day trips this past summer, including flying over to Catalina Island (you can see it here – photo post to come soon…) on my birthday and going to photograph some local piers. I would like to go on at least one more day trip before the end of the year, perhaps to venture a bit north to visit more of the Southern California piers.
- Go on at least 1 trip before the end of the year – I was very fortunate to take a wonderful trip to Lake Tahoe that I wrote about in two posts in early October, one debriefing my packing and one sharing my photos. It was nice to visit family and friends on that trip, see and photograph the amazing scenery, and enjoy some unseasonably warm early fall weather. It had been over a year since I had traveled anywhere and the trip was good for my mind, body, and spirit.
- Find a way to make dealing with my hair easier – Although nothing has really changed with my hair, I did find a few ways to reduce my angst around it (I wrote about that in this post). I bought two hair pieces that I can use on high humidity days, a ponytail extension and a messy bun. Both match my hair color quite well and allow me to have nice looking hair on days when that would normally be impossible. Another thing I’ve started doing is braiding my hair when it starts to puff out and frizz. I often do this when I go on my walks (during which I usually wear a baseball cap anyway). The braid looks polished and when I take it out, I’m left with attractive waves instead of unruly frizz. I kind of discovered this on accident, but it’s working well for me and has decreased some of the worries I frequently encounter with my hair. I’m still working to grow out the layers to achieve mostly one length hair, as I know from past experience that it’s more manageable that way. I hope to reach that goal by next summer so that my hair will be a lot easier to deal with then.
Now for the Bad News…
I guess I’ve fulfilled upon more of my intentions than I thought! Before writing this post, I had mostly focused on the fact that my health is still bad and on the goals that I did not achieve. But as you can see from the above, there is a lot of celebrate as well. Perhaps I should have written another “un-bucket list” this year like I did for 2014…
So now let’s look at the negative side of the equation. These are the intentions I set in July that I’ve been struggling with:
- Go to bed earlier and get more sleep – I’m really failing miserably on this front. If anything, I am staying up later and getting even less sleep than I did back in July. I’ve had short time periods wherein I resisted my night owl tendencies, but for the most part I stay up until 2 a.m. or even later! This is not good because I’m generally unable to sleep in and thus get only five or six hours of sleep per night. That isn’t conducive to my healing process, so I really need to change. I would like to get seven hours of sleep most nights, so I definitely need to get to bed earlier. There are still close to three weeks left in the year, so there’s still time to be more deliberate. My goal is to aim for lights out by 1 a.m each night. Yes, that is still late and I’d like to eventually get to bed more like 12 or 12:30, but it’s a good start and I’ll be proud of myself if I achieve it.
- Start my “work day” earlier – Of course, if I’m going to bed at 2 or later, it’s hard to get up and get moving in the mornings. My goal was to be at my desk and ready to start on my tasks for the day by 10:30 a.m. (not exactly the crack of dawn…), but I haven’t even come close to doing this most days. I like to take my time in the mornings to have breakfast, use my elliptical trainer, and take my shower. Getting to bed earlier will allow me to get up earlier and the whole process will be more in line with what I want to be happening. This goal really depends upon my sticking to an earlier bedtime so I can get up and moving earlier. A lot of mornings, I haven’t even been getting up until 9:00, so that just moves everything back and impinges upon my getting things done. I need to dial back my night owl ways in order to increase my productivity.
- Have 1-3 key intentions for each day – I have been hit or miss with this intention. For the most part, I’m still setting too many “to-do” items for the day and becoming upset when I don’t get them done. The days on which I decide upon a small number of key tasks have typically been more productive. Beginning with this coming Monday, I’m going to be firm with sticking to this intention. I can have a master to-do list of everything I ultimately want to get done, but each day I’m going to designate just one to three tasks that I am committed to completing before going to bed that night. I believe this will help me to be more deliberate about what I’m doing and that I’ll be more effective as a result.
The Home Stretch
While I would have preferred to review my progress with my theme for 2015 more often throughout the year, I’m still glad I did it today. Yes, there’s not a lot of time left in the year for me to work on my remaining intentions, but I can finish on a high note if I set my mind to it. I also learned that I did better than I thought I did with the goals I set for myself back in July. There are still close to three weeks left in the year and I can still finish it out on a high note if I set my mind to it. Additionally, even though we traditionally view the end of the year as a sort of dividing line, there’s no reason why I can’t continue my intentions through to 2016, even if I select a different theme for the New Year (which I will likely do).
I have a tendency to get down on myself and engage in “all or nothing” thinking when I consider my goals and intentions. If I don’t get everything done, I often beat up on myself. My perfectionistic tendencies are really to my detriment most of the time. I need to focus more on the positive and what I did get done, as opposed to primarily looking at where I failed. Of course, there are some areas of life over which we have little control. I have certainly dedicated a tremendous amount of time, attention, and money toward improving my health this year, yet I have not seen positive results. While I could have done better with my sleep, that in and of itself is probably not why wellness still eludes me. I have really tried and I will continue to try. I am not one to give up, even if I get very discouraged.
When I select my theme for 2016 and write about it, I will do a short debrief of how I did with my remaining “deliberate” goals in the home stretch of 2015. It may be late in the game, but I still believe I can be more deliberate in my life this year and carry it forward into next year. Writing this update today and declaring my last-minute intentions in this post has been helpful, so thank you for being my witnesses today, as well as for your encouragement throughout the year.
Now it’s your turn to share your thoughts, either about my theme for the year or your own. If you selected a 2015 theme, I invite you to share what it was and how you have progressed with it thus far. If you would like to set a few last-minute intentions for the remaining weeks of the year, I invite you to do so in the comments section of this post. There is power in making such declarations and we can all support each other in fulfilling upon our goals and ending the year on a high note.