Follow me on the crazy, hopeful, discouraging, funny, and ultimately successful (one way or another) path to parenthood while facing infertility.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

New Year's Intentions

Bryce and I went for a walk the other day and talked about our intentions for this coming year. Our goals, singly and together. I don't really like to call them resolutions, because those tend to get broken and not taken entirely seriously once February is over: intentions sound somehow more likely to stick.

Here's a short list of things we intend to do in 2017, to try to make it a better year: 

Schedule our time better. Don't overschedule it, but when we say we are going to do something (like go see an art exhibit, or spend four hours attacking a cluttered part of our house) we need to put it on a calendar and make it so. Also, get a physical, visual, write-able calendar up and displayed in our kitchen again. We do so much better with time management when all our time slots are staring us in the face. 

Make time for downtime. REAL downtime. We used to do this thing called Luddite Night. No technology, no lights even, just candles (the bright white ones and lanterns) and books, or a board game, or coloring (before it was a craze). Somewhere in the past six years or so that went away, and we want it back. On the calendar, twice per month, and if we have to cancel we'll treat it like the dentist and reschedule it ASAP. This is going to be tough when National Board ramps up (halfway done!) and Bryce's new 4-day-per-week course schedule starts at the end of January, but time to unplug and unwind will help keep us sane in those hectic moments. 

Spend less time on our phones. We set up a Phone Box for the coffee table so we could be less distracted, but it's not enough. I just watched a whole video on how the smartphone phenomenon releases dopamine and is just as addictive as alcohol, cigarettes, or gambling. It was sobering because in listening to this guy talk about how damaging constant phone time is I realized I was guilty of frittering away my time, of not being totally present, of being Pavlov's dog to the bings and bongs of notifications. I turned off my facebook notifications (I only see them if I open the app and they are silent) and I think I need to turn off my email notifications, too. Once upon a time nothing beeped at me to let me know that someone said something or liked something or that there's a coupon at Barnes and Noble. My phone has become a time suck, and I don't get all that much out of it in return. Except for blogging comment emails. Those always make my day, unless they are spam. 

Create more. For me, this means write more. I did a pretty good job in 2016 writing more posts -- it was my most prolific year by 17 posts (check my math on that, might be off by one). I want to write more varied things this year, and go out of my comfort zone, and do things that scare me, in a good way. For Bryce this probably means more fancy math and writing more technical stuff about photonics and lasers and wafers and those sorts of things. We are going to reclaim some of our wasted time for creative endeavors that are far more satisfying than a zinger facebook post. 

Complain less. A good venting is always lovely, but I don't want to be the person who is always negative, who always can find something to bitch about, who always focuses on the problems and the difficulties more than the opportunities or solutions to a situation. I think I do a pretty decent job of this now, I've been actively working on it over the last year, but I can find myself getting into a negative rut sometimes that just isn't productive. If the complaining transfers into action, it's okay. If the complaining gets something off my chest that's been eating at me and then GOES AWAY, it's okay. If it's just bitching for bitching's sakes, it has no a very limited place in my life. I am going to be more positive this year, and try to stop and breathe when I feel that I am in complainy mode and try to find something to be grateful for, some little gem in the pile of shit, something to look forward to once unpleasantness is over.

Be Present in the Present. This one's hard, so hard. I think we did a better job last year living our life as is, and trying to the best of our ability to not always bemoan our lack of baby. To find the humor in our situation and do as much as we can to enjoy what we have now, for hopefully it will change but if it doesn't I don't want to look back on all our years of waiting and think we wasted time we could have enjoyed together. We can be excited for adoption and content with where we are. It's hard because we aren't fully free to just live, because we aren't resolved -- we still need the giant chunk of adoption money and the planned finances for my maternity leave and take into consideration plane ticket trips with possible adoption movement (even when there hasn't been much lately, it tends to happen when we try to make plans even though logically I know that's not tied WHATSOEVER), and know that our homestudy is tied to our house and updates for the sake of moving are expensive. But outside of those limitations, we can do things to enjoy our life as a twosome. It will only make our life more enjoyable while we wait and won't take away from the future life we hope for. We could get hit by a bus tomorrow, it's time that's not promised. And while grief is grief and ties you to the past, I am going to try real hard not to relive awful moments from my history and let them ruin my present. Those moments deserve some thought as I could learn from them, or feel the feels if I'm triggered and then let it go, but I am going to try to set the past and the future aside as much as is reasonable and live the crap out of the present, so I don't miss it.

De-Clutter. This one is hard for me, because I like to hang on to things out of possible future use, or obligation, or pure guilt. Bryce is much better at letting physical things go. I am weighed down by my things. Last year I got Bryce the Kondo method book, and parts of it were great but I DO NOT AGREE WITH HER WHEN IT COMES TO BOOKS. At all. Especially the part where she says if you've bought a book and you don't read it within a couple months, you're never going to read it. That's hooey. I love my stack of "To-Read" books that serve as a little bookshop on my shelves. And I do eventually get to them. All of them. However, looking at other items -- tchotchkes, clothing, dishes... I really ought to do the whole "does this spark joy" thing and think, Am I keeping this because I love it and/or it is useful, or is it just collecting dust and taking up valuable space in our 1600 square foot cape with odd layouts and useless closets? A difficult thing to do but an important one. It will lessen Bryce's stress as he would love for us to live in one of those all-white Scandinavian houses that have clear surfaces where there are surfaces at all. It will make our house more livable until we have the freedom to move. It will make it seem like we have more space than we actually do. And it will lighten our load, physically and mentally. I just have to get over the instant anxiety I feel for some reason whenever Bryce suggests that we attack an area of the basement or the back room. There's a middle ground between Norwegian Nothing and drawers full of tissue paper from years ago or 50 mugs or stacks of coupons I'm never actually going to use before they expire. I am way better at pile management than I used to be, but we have a lot of stuff that we don't need to hang on to. (Actually, I like my drawer of tissue paper and gift bags, it kills me to buy new when so much can be saved.)

Get Up Earlier.  This one's more for me, as Bryce is NOT a morning person (even though I think he would benefit from getting up even just 30 minutes earlier than he does, he says pass). I'm not really, either, but I found when I became a teacher that I became functional in the morning where I wasn't before. I once changed my schedule at a corporation to 9-6 because I literally COULD NOT get there by 8 on a regular basis, and I made a great argument that I could provide additional queue coverage on the phones for an hour before the limited 11-8 shift ended the day, so they let me. But now I am supposed to be at school by 7:30, and I have had years where meetings at 7:15 are a regular occurrence (thank goodness this year I've only had a handful of 7:20 ones). It is HARD, and I am a snooze-hitter. Often I wake up on my own at 6 or a little before and then go back to sleep, which is a mistake. So now I am trying to hit snooze only once, if at all. I am going to reclaim my mornings for unharried moments, showering without wondering if I'll have time to feed the cats AND get a breakfast together that I can eat in the car (often a sad little blueberry oatmeal bar, on fancy days a gluten free everything bagel with whipped cream cheese). I've done it a couple of times (all two days this week so far, wahoo) and it is lovely. So it's dark. A relaxed morning makes me far less cranky during the day. I'm not crazy, I don't think I could get up early enough to work out in the morning, at least not yet, but a girl can dream. In the meantime, I just want to attempt to eat that bagel at the table instead of while driving (which inevitably results in getting cream cheese on my coat and/or my steering wheel). It's a change that just might shift the tone for the whole day from hurry-up/catch-up to relaxed-ly easing into what usually ends up being a hectic day of middle school chaos, anyway.


Pretty good list, no? There's more, but these are the top ones. Well, reinstate the chore chart for housecleaning equity. That's a good one too. For me. Ha. Most of these things are about reclaiming time, and readjusting attitudes. All good things to intend for a new year that will likely challenge all of those things. Deep breath. We can do this! 

12 comments:

  1. This is a GREAT list! I definitely need to adopt the phone one (I think we all do anymore really) and also the de-cluttering. I did a massive purge when we moved a year and a half ago, but it's amazing how fast stuff piles back up. My 2 biggest space taker-uppers are clothes (not because I'm fancy but because I have a few different sizes😕) and papers. I'm really really bad about keeping up with the paper piles.

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    1. Thank you! I am not doing super great so far, but 2017 is a long year, right? Still more than 300 days to go. :) I am going to get rid of a tub of my "once upon a size" clothes. If I ever get back to that size, which I sort of doubt, I will buy new. Oh yes, the paper piles. Ugh.

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  2. Super awesome list! I can tell by how you write about each one that they are all so doable! Best of luck!

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    1. Thank you! I hope they are more doable than they've seemed this week, although I have been less phone-y. And less complain-y, for the most part. ;)

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  3. I have intentions too, or I will have in maybe a month. January is my least favourite month of the year so all I want to go is survive it. Was nodding along with so many of your intentions, they are excellent. I hope getting up early works for you. I try to get up early too as I hate being rushed. More than hate: it makes me physically ill with stress. 7:30 is really early for work, especially if it's not your choice to be there so early. I hope you find the meaning and balance you are looking for.

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    1. Isn't 7:30 dreadful? I did okay this week -- I only missed one out of four mornings. I had one really nice leisurely (sort of) morning, so I know it's possible! I just have to remember that it's a baby steps situation. :) I hope you get through January okay. February is my least favorite month, so I need to think of things to keep it moving in a few weeks!

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  4. I'm stealing some of these. Particularly on the technology/phone end. I've been seeing research emerging about the impact of social media and smartphones on neural development. The effects of instant gratification in excess is scare and is a big factor with the pike in depression and anxiety. Not to mention fatalities due to cellphone use while driving, operating heavy machinery and even walking.

    Anyway, I love that you are doing this. And I agree with you about the books. Declutter things that don't bring you joy. Your library does, so it is exempt.

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    1. Oh, yes. I think the more you are on social media the less happy you are (the facebooky/instagramy type things at least). I had an argument with someone about how facebook is so fake most of the time and that's a real problem. I get sucked in and then I get angry at stupid memes or self-impressed posts and then I leave my phone madder than when I picked it up for a quick distraction. I've also noticed my reading habits have changed since the smartphone explosion, and not for the better. And yes to fatalities... so scary! As bad as drunk driving, from what I gather.

      Steal away! I am going to try to be realistic and realize that as intentions, I know that I don't need to accomplish them all at once or even at 100%. If I improve at all I will consider it successful! Thank you for exempting my library... phew! :)

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  5. Great list! I also would much rather get up earlier and have a relaxed breakfast and start of my day than be all rushed. The trouble is sometimes making myself go to bed earlier especially if we are watching some show, it's so easy to be like "oh just one more episode!". I definitely want to try to be more present in the moment also and find ways to enjoy our lives as they are and not keep wishing for how they could be (with a baby). Oh yeah and I'm totally with you on not throwing out books! I have occasionally re-read a book and I love lending ones I enjoyed to someone.

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    1. Thanks! Yes, I agree. I want all the time, but I also want more sleep. It's such a hard balance. I'm pretty good at going up at a decent hour, but then I don't fall asleep for a while. Oh yes to books, and definitely to the present. So hard to execute, but nice to be able to enjoy what is instead of what's missing, even some of the time.

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  6. I intend also to be more intentional with phone time.

    I don't intend to get up any earlier ;-)

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    1. It's a good one, right? The phone is the devil, a rabbit hole that sucks my brainpower away. Good for you! You probably already get up at a decent time, I bet. :)

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