Sunday, August 18, 2013

2013: Shifting Ambitions (goals and whatnot)

Baking Together{My ambition in life is baking cookies and being an auntie.} 

{Please note the adorable matching aprons.}

August is perhaps not the most inspiring month, but I’ve been thinking that now is as good a time as any to review my 2013 goals and make adjustments.  It’s been a topsy-turvy year for me, and I’m in a very happy place.  I left one job and started a new one.  I met a great guy and decided he’s a keeper.  I traveled to Louisiana, Michigan, and Ohio.  Paul and I went on an amazing road trip to New Mexico and Colorado, and we still liked each other at the end of the trip.  And now I’m settling back into a regular routine of work and cooking and learning and having fun.  Oh, and running, because I am still planning to run the Detroit Marathon in October.

Because this year was so turbulent for me, several of my goals were neglected.  Now I’m ready to revisit them and decide if I still want to pursue them.  In order from my original post, here are my 2013 goals and a brief summary of how things are going. 

* Finish: The first-author paper.

Sooo…yeah.  This one imploded on me, despite my best effort.  I ended up leaving that job in May because we didn’t get funding for my project.  On top of that, my results didn’t match up with the hypothesis we were pursuing, so that was the end of my project.  At least for now.

But!  I’m working in a new lab now, and my new boss is fairly certain that if I work hard, I can be an author on a paper from her lab.  My new work goal is to be the best scientist I can be in my new position.  Thoughtful, diligent, productive—these are the qualities I want to embody in my work life.

Verdict: Goal revised to reflect a change in circumstances.

* Finish: 26.2 miles at the Detroit Marathon in October.

Yes, this one is still on!  I may not be a very speedy finisher, but I am optimistic that I will finish the race.  Training in summertime Texas is tricky, but I’m doing a mix of outdoor work-outs (mostly walking) and indoor treadmill work-outs (where I can run as much as I want).

Verdict: Detroit, we’re on.

* Explore: Learn some Italian and practice my Italian cooking.

Hmm.  This one has been completely neglected.  I think I’m going to put the Italian language stuff on hold (too much other stuff to learn this year).  For the cooking, I am going to try one new recipe each month from Vegeterranean, one of my new cookbooks. 

Verdict: Bring on the tomatoes and fresh basil!

* Explore: Vincent van Gogh.

Oh, man.  Another neglected one.  This is embarrassing.  But…travel was more important this year than exploring things that require only a good library.  Vincent will be there next year, but I may not get back to Colorado any time soon.

Verdict:  I had bigger places to explore this year.  I’m shelving this one for now. 

* Sparkle and glitter: Open to interpretation!  “Make more of an effort to do small, special things.”

Yes, finally, a goal I can say I achieved!  I attended two weddings so far this year and got plenty of compliments on my appearance.  My friend Courtney taught me how to use curl-boosting mousse to enhance my hair’s natural waviness.  I have pretty orangey-bronze polish on my toes right now.

Paul and I have two more weddings this year, so there will be more sparkle and glitter.  I’m thinking about buying a new pair of dressy silver shoes for weddings—my old ones died.  I love silver shoes and think they are gorgeous footwear for formal events.

Verdict: Success!

And now, some new goals for the remainder of 2013:

* Get a license, buy a car, become a full-fledged grown-up.

“Say, what?”  I know.  I’m 31 years old, and I don’t drive.  It’s a long story, and I’m not going to get into it now.  But I’ve decided that it’s time for me to start driving.  Paul and I have started doing “refresher” driving sessions, and I’m pleased to report that no mailboxes have been harmed by my driving.  I was terrified when he decided to stand behind his Explorer to help me practice my parallel parking, but he reassured me that he could run away very fast if I got too close.

Our plan, not necessarily in this order, is to get me a license and buy an eco-friendly car.  We’ve taken baby steps toward both of these things; hopefully by the end of the year, we will be the proud co-owners and co-drivers of a lean, green driving machine.

* Pay off 2013’s debt (or at least a good chunk of it).

Right now, I have spent close to $4700 more this year than I have made.  Most of that comes from travel and my accident.  My financial goal this year is to come close to breaking even.  I don’t think I’ll quite break even, because of the planned car purchase, the cat I’m adopting, and the two plane tickets I have yet to purchase, but I want to see how close I can get.  Fortunately, I have a pretty short wish list of things I might purchase, such as the silver shoes I mentioned above.  I don’t really need anything right now.

* Begin learning how to teach biology.

It pains me to admit this.  Even though my career goal is to teach science, preferably in a college setting, I kinda suck at it right now.  Paul didn’t put it in those exact words (he tries to be gentle), but he told me I needed to give him a toehold in order to understand my work.  We had a long discussion about how to use metaphors to make science—or anything, really—understandable to a non-expert.  Afterward, I decided that I am going to teach him some basics in molecular biology—he is going to be my teaching guinea pig.  I think he’s okay with this, especially because he knows that it frustrates me to not be able to share anything about my work with him.  Though we do joke about the fact that I have worms now.  (Not that kind of worms!)

* * *

Whew, that was a long post!  It took me many days to complete this; I wrote whenever I could find a few minutes.  It’s a busy month around here, and I’m looking forward to all the good stuff to come.

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