Sunday, March 6, 2011

It’s a Work in Progress

Dandelion Gone to Seed

I’m newly smitten with Christine Hennessey’s blog, The New Me, in which she shares all sorts of good stuff.  She and I have a lot in common: we both eat somewhere along the vegetarian spectrum (I’m a vegetarian, she’s a vegan who eats eggs occasionally), we’re both runners and cyclists, we both like to write and fancy ourselves “writers,” and we both live in east Texas.  The Texas thing is kind of huge for me, as I am still searching for like-minded people who find themselves hunkering down in the Lone Star State, and it’s fun to find a kindred blogger just a click away.

Chrissy is a dedicated goal-setter, which I find fascinating.  She writes lots of lists detailing her goals, her plans to reach them, and she even reviews her progress toward those goals.  I admire her ambition and her honesty.  If she didn’t make much progress toward a goal, she admits it.  And sometimes, in extreme cases, she lets herself off the hook when she realizes that a goal she set has failed to become “her” goal.  By that, I mean experience teaches her that her heart just wasn’t in it, so it’s time to let go and move on to newer and better goals.

I’ve read all the posts that fall under her goals category, and they made me want to revisit my own list of goals for the year.  In January, I shared a trio of resolutions with you, and I’m happy to report that I have been working on them!  It’s slow-going for me, this resolution stuff.  These goals are big ones for me, so it seems reasonable that they take time to develop.  Let’s see what things look like almost two months later.

* My first goal was to expand my cooking horizons with new cookbooks and recipes from friends.  Of my three goals, I’ve made the most progress on this one.  I’m happily cooking lots of delicious things from In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite by Melissa Clark; it’s the book on which I’m focused right now.  I’ve also shared a friend-inspired recipe, the Oatmeal Shake.

* My second goal was to cultivate a more intellectual reading practice.  I’ve been working on my 2011 reading list for a few weeks now.  Compiling the list is tough!  It’s hard for me to know when to stop adding books.  To add to my indecision, I recently bought a book called The Book Club Cookbook, which is filled with suggestions for book club reading selections.  I could probably read for five or ten years based off of the suggestions in that book.  Nevertheless, I hope to share my list with you before the end of this month.  And of course, I’ll be hitting the library to find a few items on my list.  I can’t wait to sit outside on my patio, sipping a mojito and reading classic literature while a breeze tickles my skin.

* My final resolution was the hardest of all to admit: begin letting go of my anxiety.  This one is really, really tough.  There have been some interesting developments in my research lately, so I haven’t felt as anxious, but that could change quickly, so this resolution is still very important.  One thing I am doing regularly is reminding myself that scientific discoveries are made when we take risks.  Risk is inherent in the work I do in the lab.  I think it’s helping a little bit for me to keep reminding myself that uncertainty is unavoidable, so I’d better get used to it.  The other thing I’m going to start this week is a 40-day yoga and meditation project, which I think will be very restorative and calming.  I’ll be writing more about that on my running/fitness blog, Feels Like Flying.  Since I just finished a half-marathon, it’s a good time for me to work on a different aspect of my health while I recover from the half.

I’m pleasantly surprised to find that I am indeed working on these resolutions in small ways.  Sometimes I set goals, but I don’t really commit to them.  I suppose that makes me kind of flaky.  I’d argue, however, that it takes a high degree of self-awareness to set attainable goals.  For example, generally I don’t like exercising in the morning.  If one of my goals was to exercise in the morning, I’m not sure it would be accomplished unless I set up exercise dates with other people.  I would need a lot of outside pressure to change my habits.  Likewise, it’s easier for me to spiff up my apartment if I have guests.  When left to my own devices, I’m a bit messier and dirtier.  But the three resolutions I’ve made for this year are things I really want to do for myself, and only one of them is a major change.  I feel optimistic about what I can do with ten months to work on these challenges!

So, tell me: did you make resolutions this year?  And if so, how are they going?  Have you accomplished them, taken baby steps like me, or have you abandoned them in favor of your old ways?


Chrissy (The New Me) said...

Oh my! Thank you, Rosie, for your kind words. I'm so grateful that you found my blog and connected, for all the same reasons you listed here - it's so great to find another lady in Texas who is so like myself! If you don't mind, I think I'll reread this post any time I'm having a bad day. :)

Seriously though - reading this has made my day and has reaffirmed why I love to write and blog and meet people on the Internet. Sharing stories and connecting with like-minded people and finding inspiration in the most unexpected places makes every post worthwhile. :)

As for your goals, I'm looking forward to seeing your reading list. And I think your realization that goals must be attainable and figuring out what is attainable for yourself is huge. Congrats, and good luck with all your resolutions!

Rosiecat said...

Chrissy! Hello! It's been my pleasure getting to know you through your blog. And I think our experiences in Texas have been similar, too: city girl from the North(east) moves to Texas, sets up new life, finds that living in Texas has its charms. I love reading about your adventures.

And oof! I got your blog's name wrong! I always think of it as "The New Chrissy," so I must have had a brain fart when I was writing this post. How embarrassing. But it's fixed now :-)

Yes, the reading list! This morning I just made a decision to cap it at 15 books, so that ought to make it easier to finish it. Reading is my first love, but I'm trying to find a better balance between blogs and books. It's tough because I like them both so much!

Chrissy (The New Me) said...

I honestly didn't even notice the blog name typo! I use The New Chrissy often in other places, so it was an honest mistake. :)

I mostly read blogs at work (shhh) and I try to make my home an Internet free zone (as much as I can) so that when I *am* home, I spend more time reading books, paying attention to my dogs, and doing all the things you can't do online. It works about 80% of the time. But yes. My goal for this year is also 15 books. The last two years I aimed for 25 and fell seriously short. 15 seems more manageable, even though I've only read two so far. If only I could read books at work! ;)

Rosiecat said...

Hmm...maybe I saw "The New Chrissy" when I clicked over from Kate O.'s blog? That would make sense :-)

Ha ha! I read blogs at work too, either during lunch or when I take my afternoon snack break. Sometimes I also read them when I am feeling overwhelmed and not sure what to do next--it helps me to calm down so I can think. I try to make a to-do list every day so I get all my tasks done, but sometimes there is too much blog reading and not enough science (shhh...).

But I think more than anything now, I'm looking for a sense of community with my blogging. I'd rather read "small," well-written, thoughtful blogs than the ones that get a hundred comments per post. My desire for community has helped curb my blog reading so I'm not wasting much time on blogs that don't make me as happy. Thanks for your tips on how you balance your reading--internet-free evenings sound *wonderful*!

Raquelita said...

Letting go of anxiety is something that I struggle with as well. I know there is a lot of research that suggests that optimists flourish and tend to be more successful in their careers and lives than pessimists. I feel like it's pretty easy for me to be optimistic about a lot of things in my life at the micro level - my marriage, my teaching, my running (most of the time), etc., but I can get very anxious about more macro factors - the recession and its impact on trying to start a career as a scholar in the humanities, polarized political discourse, etc. I need to know when to stop obsessing about the negative factors and focus on what I can control and do.

Rosiecat said...

Raquelita, I think my anxiety patterns are really similar to yours! Honestly, as academics, it's hard NOT to be anxious about the future of this profession because the job market has shrunk so dramatically over the last few decades. I think it's bad for people in the humanities and the sciences, but it may be worse for the humanities.

And yet, I remain so optimistic that things will work out in wonderful, unknown ways. I'm still on a path to stay in academia, but if I have to switch paths, I'm okay with that.

I know that I only know you through our blogs and comment exchanges, but you do seem like you have so much going for you. You work hard, you're resilient, and you're dedicated. The path might be bumpy, but I feel confident that you are going to do great things in your career and your life.