Monday, May 7, 2018

Goodbye Grump

If you recall, this year I began tackling my New Year's Resolutions in September. I also decided to choose one resolution each month, rather than choosing one or two resolutions to attempt - and at which to most likely fail - over the course of the year. With only 30 days devoted to each resolution, my goals have been and will continue to be small, measureable, and empowering. Smaller goals are more attainable, which increases the chance of success. Measureable goals are more manageable, which once again increases the chance of success. And empowering goals are more inspirational, which…you guessed it…increases the chance of success.

My favorite grump.
May's Resolution: cut down on the grump. Lately I have let far too many circumstances bring me down. I take full responsibility for the state in which I now find myself as I choose how to respond to these circumstances, so now I must also take responsibility for digging myself out of this hole. I need to recognize when to literally and figuratively walk away, and when removing myself from a situation isn't an option, I need to think more carefully about how I respond and what my response will mean for my own mental health. I also need to work on "letting go" of what doesn't affect me or my immediate family, and I need to learn a few coping mechanisms to help me think more positively. Any good books, websites, or articles to recommend? Teach me your ways, oh positive ones!

April's Resolution: don't use my phone - specifically email, Facebook, or Instagram - to wake up in the morning. Like many people, my phone does double duty as my alarm clock. Also like many people, after my alarm goes off, I would pick up my phone and pop onto social media to find out what had gone down since 11pm the night before. As I mentioned last month, I couldn't have cared less about social media's overnight report; I would only check my phone because doing so kept me from dozing back off. So I resolved to just GET UP when my alarm went off, and to check my phone only for text messages that have to do with getting the kids to school in the morning. The result? An overwhelming success! I chose the "right" month in which to complete this resolution, because at this point in the year the sun rises earlier and earlier each day. The first couple of mornings were tough, but once I got into the rhythm of waking with the sun, I didn't need to use my phone to help me wake up. I feel noticeably more alert and happier when I emerge from my bedroom each morning,  and I don't miss knowing what happened on Facebook overnight. If you find yourself in the habit of regularly checking social media your phone first thing every morning, I highly recommend giving this resolution a try!

March's Resolution: participate in some form of activism every day. I had reached the end of my rope with regard to a number of political and social issues, and felt the time had come for me act. In the past I had become so overwhelmed when I thought about making a difference that I ended up doing nothing, so I decided to start small, believing that the small things would eventually add up to make a significant impact. This mentality is exactly what drove my resolutions shift this year, so March seemed the perfect time to take my own first steps toward becoming a more engaged citizen and in support of the causes in which I believe. The result? A moderate success. A month later, I'm doing my best to stay connected and engaged, but this resolution has proved the most challenging of all eight I've tackled. The petitions I signed added me to multiple email lists and now I feel bombarded by the organizations' communications. The responses I received - if I received anything at all - from my representatives were of course generic and empty. I still struggle to understand the other side on a number of controversial issues. I feel a bit disheartened, but I'm trying not to give up. Sitting next to me I have this month's issue of O: The Oprah Magazine (free with my Coke Rewards!), and the cover references an article I hope will give me guidance going forward. "What can we agree on? How to listen with kindness, argue without anger, and maybe even find common ground." Thanks, Oprah, for always coming through for me.

February's Resolution: clean out all of my kitchen cabinets and drawers. After cleaning out and paring down the contents of my closets in January, my kitchen cabinets and drawers suddenly felt agitatingly disorganized and unnecessarily full. I expect that my friends and I will hold a joint garage sale in May, so it made sense to tackle clutter in January and February. The result? A moderate success! I cleaned out and reorganized all my cabinets. Months later, I haven't gotten to the drawers and the pantry...but sounds like a good project for spring break summer break, doesn't it? 

January's Resolution: clean out all of our closets. My goal was to take care of the kids' closets with them before they went back to school, and then tackle the rest of the closets throughout the last three weeks of the month. The result? A moderate success, but there remains work to be done! I started off strong at the beginning of January, but getting sick meant I made absolutely no progress throughout the last two weeks of the month. I thoroughly cleaned out both kids' closets, the linen/guest bathroom closet, the front hall closet, the playroom closet, and my half of the master closet. Months later, I finally tackled Tom's closet. We had to replace our water heater, which is in the attic up above Tom's side of the closet, so we had to move all of his clothes and shoes. Though he didn't enjoy it, I made him go through everything before I would put/let him put his belongings back.

December's Resolution: read to my kids every night. My goal was to sit on the side of their beds - or better yet, snuggle up next to them - and either read to them or let them read to me. The result? A moderate success on paper, an overwhelming success in reality! I read to Hallie almost every night, and to Will about every other night. We missed a few evenings because of late-night activities like Snowmageddon 2017, Nutcracker performances, Christmas parties, a birthday sleepover, and travel, and a couple of times Will opted to read his own book rather than join Hallie and me. December worked perfectly for this resolution as our evenings held fewer commitments, and I truly hope I can carry this resolution into January - when our regular evening activities begin again - and protect this precious time together. Months later we don't read together every evening, but we definitely sit down with a book more often now than before our December resolution. I find that it helps to choose a book that everyone - me included - can't wait to get back to and to leave the book in a visible place so we're regularly reminded that reading time is calling.

November's Resolution: write in my gratitude journal daily. My goal was to document at least one thing for which I was thankful every day between November 1st and November 23rd (Thanksgiving Day). The result? A moderate success! I missed a couple of days but realized fairly quickly I had done so; I remembered the days I had accidentally skipped with enough clarity to go back and update my gratitude journal. Months later I don't keep a regular gratitude journal (I only commit to keeping one - at least officially - in November), but I try to use my High Five for Friday posts the same way I would use a gratitude journal.

October's Resolution: drink more water. My goal was to down at least two full water bottles every day. The result? A complete disaster! I probably met my goal only one day a week. I do a great job of drinking water during the summer, but for some reason my school year schedule doesn't have the same triggers as my summer schedule to remind me to drink water. Months later I still struggle with this resolution. I have tried everything I can think of to remember to stay better hydrated (and to make water more appealing), but I only succeed about a third of the time.

September's Resolution: turn off the light by 11:30pm on school nights and by 12:00am (midnight) on weekends. My goal was to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, and to settle into a peaceful schedule of falling asleep and waking up that would continue through the school year. The result? A complete success! Not one cheat day. Months later I still adhere to these bedtimes, and while I wish I could bump them 15-30 minutes earlier (I keep trying and thus far it doesn't work), I'm happy to get a solid seven hours of sleep most nights. Well, I get a solid seven hours of sleep on nights Tux doesn't have to go outside to use the restroom or need extra love at 4am.

What have you resolved to change about yourself and/or your life this year? How are those resolutions going?

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