Category Archives: Resolutions

On the Road to Roadside America

Before we get to the March 2012 Resolution, we have to get through the Lewisburg to Los Angeles Road Trip, don’t we?.  I mean, I’ve never been too strick about the beginning of the month anyway, right?

So, for the six days of cross-country travel, here are my resolutions rules.

1.  No eating at chain restaurants.
This has not been difficult philosophically, since it is my normal behavior.  Logistically, however, it’s been a bit challenging.  When one is traveling on major interstates, a bit of work is required to find something other than Cracker Barrel, McDonalds, or a Love’s Truck Stop.   

2.  We will listen to a whole album each day.
We made a mutually agreed upon list of top rock albums.  So far we’ve listened to Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, by Elton John and Rumors, by Fleetwood Mac.  I also got gifts of road trip CDs from friends so we have seven California themed playlists to choose from.  So far, the most popular song on these playlists is, not surprisingly, “California Dreamin'” by the Mama’s and the Papa’s.  

3.  We will stop at one road side attraction each day.
No high-brow elitist cultural institutions for us, NO.  It’s Grandpa’s Cheese Barn all the way. 

Delicious, Delicious Cheese!

All of these rules are serving us well.  With a small amount of effort (thank you iPhone) we have eaten at some great local diners, a delicious Thai restaurant, and a Columbus, OH purveyor of local foods and the best deviled eggs I’ve ever had.

I like me some deviled eggs.

My favorite rule, by far, has been Rule 3.

My friend Lindsay recommended an iPhone app called Roadside America.  Forget those every day apps like Facebook and Youtube.  Roadside America is THE COOLEST APP EVER.  Seriously.

This app figures out your location and then lists all of the awesome, strange, and wonderful things you can see nearby.  Precious Moments Chapel anyone?  Largest Rocking Chair in the WORLD?  Giant Solo Cup?  City of Murals?  Can you say AWESOME?

No, we are not stopping at everything.  In spite of the fact that almost all of them sound fun, we have agreed that we still need to arrive in Los Angeles on March 7th.  So we limit ourselves to one (or two) a day.  Unless a third one is really close by.

Where else but in Cuba, Missouri?

And sometimes, even when you’re not looking for it, when you’re just having a lovely lunch at Hick’s Barbecue in Cuba, Missouri, you get an added bonus.  I really couldn’t make this stuff up.

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Filed under Cheese, Resolutions, Transitions, Travel

I’m embracing! I’m embracing!

So far, so good.  My resolution for February is to move myself to California.

Oh, and to stay sane in the process.

All things considered, things are going well. With one and a half weeks to go:

  • I have emptied all drawers and cupboards of their contents with the exception of my kitchen (which has some dishes I am sill using) and my dresser (which has clothing I am still wearing).  I have thrown out, sold, given away, or donated many things.  I have packed boxes and boxes, and more boxes.
  • I have requested records from my doctor, my dentist, my ophthalmologist, and Hannah’s vet.
  • I have completed a moving inventory, rented a car, rented a house, and changed my address.
  • My house is on the market, clean and being shown to potential buyers.
  • My in-box at work is almost empty and my major projects have all been handed over.

People keep asking me if this is hard.   They say, “I know you’re organized and everything, but isn’t it hard to go through all of those memories?”

The great news is I can honestly say “NO!”

It really isn’t.  I’m an organizer and a purger by nature.  I am excited about downsizing.  I am elated to let go of things I’ve been keeping ‘just in case.’  And the things I’ve held onto are related to memories I want to bring with me.

So I’ve been sailing along.  Packing, purging, cleaning, organizing.  To do lists everywhere and lots of things to check-off each day!  I’m in heaven!  I should have done this years ago!  This whole transition thing isn’t too hard, I think to myself.  It’s an adventure!  I’m embracing! I’m embracing!

Well, friends.  I’m here to tell you: Everything changes when the end is near.

I know, I know.  I’ll keep in touch with my close friends and my family.  I have e-mail and Facebook, and Skype, and all kinds of things to help me stay connected.  I will fly east regularly.  People will actually come to visit me!  There will even be important friends I will see MORE frequently now that I will be on the west coast. And I really do have a LOT that I am looking forward to.

But this week – my last week at work – THIS WEEK I have to start to say goodbye.

I have been blessed at this place by the most authentic, honest, wonderful, smart, funny, and kind colleagues.  Many have become dear friends.  And for the next few days I will have to say good-bye to each and every one of them.

Not only that, I’m saying goodbye to the comfort of knowing everyone, knowing who to call, knowing who to believe, knowing who to trust, and knowing who to ask for help.  I’m saying goodbye to a place that has supported me as I’ve grown up – personally and professionally – and a work family that has believed in me every step of the way.

I know that saying goodbye is part of the process.  That it is important for me and important for them.  But I hate it.

Officially.  I.  HATE.  IT.

Can’t we just go out drinking together and talk about things like they’re not going to change?  Can’t we be in denial for just a little while?  I mean, what would be the harm in that, really?

Ok.  So it’s a plan.  I’m not really leaving.  Get it?  (wink wink)

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Filed under Community, Family, Moving, Resolutions

The Ultimate Transition

Remember back in January 2011, when I decided my over-arching goal for the year could be stated in six words?

Fully embrace the moment of transition.

I wanted to get better at moving from one activity in my day to another, from one part of my week to another, and even perhaps from one part of my year to another.  I worked on this bit by bit throughout the year.  I tried monthly resolutions as a way to break the year into pieces and I practiced transitioning from one resolution to the next.  I wrote about it here.  It was lovely, wasn’t it?

Well guess what?  I can stop kidding myself that learning to transition from bed to work in the morning is a big deal.  WHY?  Because I decided to make my WHOLE LIFE ONE BIG TRANSITION.

That’s right.  I’ve gotten a new job.  A bigger job.  In another state.  A state which, in fact, is ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
It’s true I will be speaking the same language at work.  And I won’t need to change my citizenship.

But otherwise, I believe almost every element of my daily life is going to change.  Radically.

For example

NOW: 3,200 square foot house in countryside with view of river

SOON: 1,000 square foot apartment in major metropolitan area with view of, well, the street

NOW: Seasons

SOON: Summer

NOW: My mortgage is less than two healthy car payments.

SOON: My rent will cost more than a small car.

NOW: Hotdogs at Market

SOON: Taco Stands

NOW: Eastern Standard Time

SOON: Pacific Standard Time

NOW: 1.5 mile commute

SOON: 15-20 minute commute

NOW: 14 years at the same employer – I know everyone!

SOON: 0.0 years at new employer – I am the new kid on the block.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am EXCITED about the adventure, the challenge, the SUN, and the job.  I know I will make new friends, reconnect with old friends, and learn a lot about myself.

But holy cow, this is a biggie folks.

You will not be surprised to know that my FEBRUARY RESOLUTION is simply to get myself and my dog from here to there in one piece (physically and mentally).  And to – say it with me! – fully embrace the moment of transition.  

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Filed under Moving, Resolutions, Transitions

One in, One out.

So far, my attempts to eat through my freezer and pantry have been met with mixed success.

I mean, I’ve eaten quite a bit of food out of my freezer.  But then I make something with it and have leftovers and more food goes back IN to my freezer.

That was not really the idea.

In an attempt to stop this pattern, I have NOT frozen the leftovers from a batch of Beef Bourguignon that I made earlier this week.

I made the Beef Bourguignon with a large piece of beef (locally raised, grass-fed, hormone-free of course) that I had in my freezer.  GOOD.

One recipe of Beef Bourguignon makes enough to serve a single girl for about eight days.  BAD.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Beef Bourguignon.  It is one of my favorite foods ever and I make it really well (if I do say so myself).  That being said, I think there is a limit to how many times I can eat Beef Bourguignon in a row.  I’ve now had it four times AND shared it with friends.  I still have some left.  I want to eat it.  Just not today.  And probably not tomorrow.

But if I don’t eat it today or tomorrow, I should probably freeze it.  Because throwing out perfectly good Beef Bourguignon is wrong.

So it will go back in to my freezer.

Harumph.

 

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Filed under Food, Resolutions

January 2012: It’s RESOLUTION time.

I have decided that my JANUARY RESOLUTION will be to cook foods from my pantry – especially my freezer.

I want to empty the pantry – to rid myself of things I haven’t used for a long time, and to focus on stocking a pantry with the items I really do use all the time.

You see, my basement freezer died at the end of the summer. It was a SAD, SAD day. It happened at the best possible time of year, since the freezing season hadn’t really begun and I had used most of the stash I had built up for the winter before. Still, I lost some spring vegetables, a lot of home-made broth, and (sniff, sniff), my share of a Tamworth pig from Owens Farm. Ever since this terrible, horrible, no-good day, I have been trying to decide if I should buy a new freezer.

I have a normal fridge/freezer in my kitchen, and the freezer side seems to be filled with food I never use. Shouldn’t I empty this freezer out before I determine if I need more space? Shouldn’t I purge myself of three year old Gogurt that I bought to have on hand for a dinner party which included small children? Shouldn’t I either eat, or pitch, the leftover taco meat from Thanksgiving weekend 2010? Yes, yes I should.

So this is my plan – I’m going to EMPTY the freezer and my pantry so that I can then clean out my cupboards and basement food storage. There really is no reason for me to have a case of tomato paste in my house. Truly, there isn’t.

I come by this problem honestly. My grandmother, Phyllis, lived through the depression and was a big fan of bargains and saving. When she moved out of her home in Ambler, PA we had to clean out her basement, which included her pantry. I am not kidding when I say that we found caned food that had dried out.

Canned beans, which rattled. RATTLED.

There was a station wagon (a gigantic Chevy Caprice Station Wagon) full of paper towels, napkins, and toilet paper which had probably been purchased (on sale, of course) in the 1970s. I think I finished using those napkins about three years ago. There was WWII ration sugar that was over forty years old (hard as a rock). Seriously. (Do I need to mention that my mother has used this sugar? She pounded it out with a hammer.)

I can still picture my brother’s face when he started to clean out my grandmother’s freezer as it defrosted. This freezer was full of meat that had spoiled WHILE IT WAS FROZEN. My brother was brave and strong and a VERY GOOD GRANDSON for cleaning out that freezer.

So I worry, a bit, that I might have some hoarding genes in me.

In my early adulthood, when I was newly married and interested in being PERFECT, I always wanted to have a full pantry of anything we might possibly need. A smart, college-educated, liberated and LIBERAL woman I still thought that my husband should never find himself without toothpaste, or toilet paper, or, well, capers. You know, just in case there was a caper emergency.

Now that I am a real grown-up, divorced, single, happy, and, um – SANE, I am content to have a small pantry of basics that I use regularly and know that I can easily run to the store for anything I really need. I live in America, after all. So I can buy raspberries from Chile in February if I want to.

Since it’s time to shed the past and become a person who doesn’t have five shelves of canned goods and dried food waiting FOR YEARS to be used, I’m going to do this. I’m going to use up what I have (and try very hard not to waste anything) and then start fresh, with a SMALL and PRACTICAL pantry of foods I use every week. And that’s it. No more hoarding. No more taking care of a husband I don’t have any more (who, incidentally, never asked me to take care of him in this way). And no more three-year old Gogurts.

No one should eat those things anyway.

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Filed under Divorce, Family, Food, Resolutions

Happy New Year!

I admit that I’m a little smug about resolutions now. As I read the Facebook posts and e-mails about 2012 resolutions I catch myself thinking, “Oh yea? How about making 12 resolutions? Then I’ll be impressed.”

It may not surprise you that I have a bunch of possible resolutions in mind for 2012. The conference room of Shelbies in my head has been having a three-day retreat to consider the options and make some final decisions.

Just a few of the early contenders are

  • 10,000 steps a day December
  • Scanning September
  • Organizing October
  • Nothing New November
  • No Meat May
  • Canning August

Some favorites from 2011 will likely be revisited, with some extra twists. I’m currently planning No Alcohol for February again, for example, but this year I will invent new Virgin Cocktails each week.

Who knows what shenanigans are in store? I certainly don’t.

What I do know is that somehow, this process of making resolutions and blogging is helping me to live a more present life, and to have more fun with every day challenges and the small but meaningful goals I have for myself. I find humor in my failures as much as I find delight in my successes. And I also now have great dinner party conversation available to me at any time.

So, now’s your chance. What monthly resolutions do YOU think 2012 should include for me?

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Filed under Alcohol, Organizing, Resolutions, The Meaning of Life

The Antidote to Small Talk

One of my favorite things about my One Month Wisdom project has been how it’s changed even my most surface conversations at social events.

You know, those moment when you see someone you haven’t seen for a while and they ask you, “What’s new?”

These moments are the land minds of mingling, and I used to hate them.  Why?  Because I’ve learned the following:

  1. People don’t want to hear how great your life is, even if it’s true.
  2. I don’t like to talk about the weather.  It is raining.  Or it’s not.  Get over it.
  3. I don’t have kids, which is fine.  But let’s admit it, kids and their adorable and silly antics often make good conversation.
  4. It’s often inappropriate to launch into what’s really new in your life.  I mean – saying “well you know, I might be pregnant” or “I’m looking for a job” or “I just had the best sex yesterday” is just not OK for most social settings.
  5. I really try hard not to gossip.  This is often what people want, or at least what they like, but it’s not healthy or good or anything I want to be, so I try to avoid it.
The reality is, often, there really isn’t very much new.  I walked my dog today.  I ate a turkey and brie sandwich for lunch.  I went to work.  I noticed a gorgeous sunrise.  It’s a wonderful life, but my routine often doesn’t make for scintillating conversation.  Since I can’t talk about the weather, or my health, or who is (scandal!) sleeping with whom, WHAT DO I DO?
In the past, I’ve usually mentioned something about a movie I’ve seen recently, or a book I’m reading, but often that falls flat.
Now, though, thanks to One Month Wisdom, I always have something to offer.
Tales about my monthly resolution and how I am (or am not) being successful make people laugh, ask questions, and best of all, start telling me their own interesting stories.  It’s a great conversation starter and I’ve learned more interesting things about people this way than I ever expected.  In fact, some times the telling of these tales actually helps me to write a future blog post.  It’s a win-win!

Hopefully.

Unless I’m actually boring everyone in my home town and my friends are just being kind.

If that’s the case, I’m sorry (and someone, PLEASE let me know).

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Filed under Community, Life, Parties, Resolutions

What a STUPID idea!

Over Thanksgiving weekend, one of my family members asked me what my final monthly resolution would be for 2012.  I optimistically said that I was going to try to do a little bit (or a lot) of every resolution from the year.

Gee!  Wouldn’t that be a wonderful capstone to this year-long project!  Wouldn’t it be FUN to revisit my resolutions and to combine them into one fabulously enhanced life?

Um, no.  It wouldn’t.

For those who can’t remember (I couldn’t) or who just haven’t been paying attention, here is the list:

January  – Eat Five Fruits and Veggies a Day
February – No Alcohol
March – Stretching Every Day
April- What Would Elvine Do? Take Care of Yourself
May- Stop Thinking about the Future and Just Relax
June – Get into the Woods, Implement Finishing Touches
July – Clean Underware
August – No Cheese!
September – Get Out the Funk
October – Clean the Basement
November – Um, Keep Cleaning the Basement

When I started really thinking about doing all of these at once it quickly became clear that I was setting myself up for failure.  On a massive scale.

I mean, seriously, WHO on EARTH could go a whole month with NO ALCOHOL and NO CHEESE?  And why, WHY ON EARTH WOULD YOU?

And, if you were sick enough to try that resolution, WHY would you EVER do it in DECEMBER?

Yea, that idea is RIGHT OUT.

I still liked the idea of putting the resolutions together in some way – just not by doing them all at once.  So instead of that crazy scheme, I’ve just been reflecting on them, pondering how they worked (or didn’t), how they changed me (or didn’t), and what this little project has done for me.

One of the first things I did, of course, was re-read all of my posts.  One post in particular caught my attention.  Back in January I wrote a list of potential resolutions that were vying for my attention.  These rejected resolutions are fascinating now.

  • Some of them actually became resolutions later in the year (stretching every day and going without alcohol for a month).
  • Some of them happened, even though I didn’t make them an official resolution (going to the gym five days a week and going back to London).
  • Some of them have become larger goals that I do work on, though I wouldn’t call them one-month resolutions (saving six months of my salary).

I’ve had lots of insights, actually, from this re-reading and pondering.  So many, in fact, that I think I’ll add a new resolution to the rest of my month.

I’m going to post once a day – a short post – with thoughts on the year, and possibly ideas for the next one.

And you can be sure, while I’m writing, I’ll be sipping a lovely glass of wine and eating some cheese.  Snap.

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Filed under Alcohol, Cheese, Fruits and Vegetables, Health, Relaxing, Resolutions, Stretching

Talkin’ About a Resolution

So what if it’s the 8th of October?  These RULES about when months begin and end are just silly.

Anyway, it’s true.  I live in an obscenely large house for one person (2,300 square feet) and I have an equally obscene large basement to go with it.  I have a house mate, and lots of her stuff is downstairs.  Another friend is storing ALL of her belongings there while she is away on her Fulbright Scholarship.  And I STILL have enough room to house a small village.

So what do I do with all that space?

I put stuff in it.  In no particular order and with little consideration as to whether I will ever need that stuff again.

It’s not out of control, but it’s annoying.  And since the rains of 2011 (we’ve had some flooding here, and even though my house didn’t flood, the basement did get a bit wet), I have some damp items that are turning moldy and need to be removed.

That and, um, my freezer died.  A terrible and smelly death.

So it’s time.

But here’s what I have to do.  I have to make a list of what this resolution will NOT become.  I have to do this because organizing projects have a way of taking over, well, everything.  I just love them so much.

So,

FIRST, I will not refinish my basement.  Even though it will look better and more tidy if it has dry wall and a ceiling, I just DO NOT NEED more finished space in this house.

SECOND, I will not buy new shelving, containers, etc. unless ABSOLUTELY necessary.  I will not purchase storage items just so that my basement looks like a crate and barrel catalog.

THIRD, I will not start any craft/building projects simply because I discover materials in my basement that could be used to make a mosaic plant stand.  No.  I wont.

So, tomorrow will come the before pictures and we’ll see how it goes.
Wish me luck!

 

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A peace of myself

“An original idea. That can’t be too hard. The library must be full of them.” – Stephen Fry

The British Library

I just stood in front of the handwritten draft of Ravel’s Bolero. And Handel’s Messiah. And Mozart’s Horn Concerto in E Flat. I gazed over Virginia Woolf’s manuscript of Mrs. Galloway while I listened to her voice. I heard James Joyce read from Finnegan’s Wake and saw Charlotte Bronte’s manuscript of Jane Eyre. I saw a copy of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. And listened to the Beatle’s recording of A Hard Days Night while I looked at the original draft of the lyrics, written by John Lennon on the back of his son’s first birthday card.

* How on earth did they play that? (Handel’s music writing is almost impossible to decipher. Beethoven’s had big blotches all over it. Is that a note or an ink blot?)

* Virginia Woolf did not sound like what I expected. At all.

* Even listening to Mr. Joyce read his own words, I still didn’t understand them.

* I could hear Bolero as I was looking at it. I could feel the beat of the music and imagine Ravel writing it. Did he know it was a masterpiece when he was putting it on paper?

Oh! I almost forgot. I also saw two of four surviving copies of The Magna Carta (translated, “the great charter”). From, you know, the 1200s. No big deal.

Now I am sitting in the cafe at The British Library, where these and other treasures are stored, and gazing up at the rare book archive, encased in glass and running from the basement to the top floor.

If I got trapped here, I don’t think I’d mind.

My resolution for this month has been a rather personal one, which is why I haven’t written about it. Since I woke up in a funk when the month began, I have been focusing my energy on getting out of that funk. Planning and preparing for this trip was certainly helpful in some ways. It is exciting to read about all of the things to see and do and to prepare for a two week break from my normal routine.

But my pending adventure also brought its own degree of anxiety with it. Apparently, I am still learning to travel by myself. I am still letting go of all the places I haven’t seen yet (and may never) because I spent my 20s and 30s making someone else’s dream my priority. I am still, I find, trying to figure out where I want to be.

The good news is that the funk is fading. I haven’t answered all of the questions in the background, but I feel nourished by the reminder that I am brave enough to navigate a foreign city, curious enough to try new foods and follow my nose in unknown neighborhoods, and young enough that I still have time to have many more of my own adventures.

It’s true that I am a tad jealous (ok, more than a tad) of the young people I meet here, from all around the world, who have come to London to live and explore Europe. But perhaps since I am doing my exploring at a different age, I am finding more here than I would have. Not just parts of the world’s history, but parts of myself as well.

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Filed under Life, Resolutions, The Meaning of Life